August 4, 2015
Nestled just outside the village of Lexington, Ohio about
halfway between the cities of Columbus and Cleveland is the beautiful natural
road course, the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course which is home to the fourteenth
stop of the 2015 Indy Car series. I had wanted to utilize my Indy Car hard card
one more time before the season completed and this venue offered the best
chance with my schedule.
I headed out of Chicago late Friday night after the
conclusion of Paul McCartney’s set at Lollapalooza determined to drive as far
as possible before stopping and continuing on to Mid-Ohio on Saturday morning.
I made it to mid-northern Indiana and drove the rest of the way in the morning,
arriving at the track in time for the first Indy Car practice.
I love Mid-Ohio, it is the first track outside of
Indianapolis where I ever attended an Indy Car race, back in the early 80s and
my first experience watching the cars run on a road course. I have been a fan
ever since though I have only been back infrequently since that first visit.
The track itself is beautiful, sitting in the Ohio
countryside the thirteen turn, 2.4 mile winding road course features elevation
changes and historic turns such as the keyhole and thunder valley. There are
permanent grandstands as well as elevated mounds throughout the facility
allowing fans to wander about to see the action from a variety of viewpoints.
Another cool feature is the open-air garages that have
elevated walkways where fans can look directly down into the garages as the
cars are being worked on. It offers a really cool perspective that is not found
elsewhere on the circuit. I just love the place and the festive atmosphere that
goes along with it. Many of the fans camp on site as do some of the teams
themselves which is also an interesting feature of the track which adds to the
close comradery that is felt between the fans, drivers, and teams.
I arrived in time to see the final practice, the sports car
race, the first of two Indy Lights races and the Indy Car qualifying. The crowd
was great, it had to be in the top 3 or 4 crowds for any Indy Car race of the
season after Indy, Long Beach, and possibly St. Pete. It was cool to once again
have the ultimate access during all of the action, whether it be being on the grid
pre-race, in victory lane or just hanging in the pits during the races.
Scott Dixon was fairly dominant during the practice sessions
and during the Indy Car qualifying, easily snaring the pole position and
smashing the track record in the process. Will Power grabbed position two
followed by Sebastian Bourdais and Helio Castroneves.
After qualifying, I headed north to downtown Cleveland where
I had booked a hotel so that I would have access to the excitement of Cleveland
nightlife rather than staying closer to the track where there is not so much to
do. Cleveland is a happening place with a number of excellent breweries and
brewpubs to experience- which is exactly what I spent my evening doing.