March 28, 2015
Tony Kanaan & Helio Castroneves
Reluctantly crouched at the starting line...
The opening of the 2015 Indy Car racing series is finally
here after what seemed like an interminably long off-season. The first race of
the new season kicks off as it has for the past few years on the street course
in St. Petersburg and as usual I made the trip up to be in attendance, flying
in to Tampa and getting a hotel downtown in St. Pete with-in walking distance
to the track.
I arrived in plenty of time before racing activities began
and was able to take a day and make the quick drive over to Orlando to make use
of my annual Walt Disney World pass and visit Epcot Center and Disney’s Animal
Kingdom. I love Epcot at this time of year because they are hosting their
annual Flower and Garden Festival and the entire grounds are even more
festively decorated than usual.
They have all sorts of garden displays, vendors and special
food vendors as well, though I found myself eating in the German Beer Garden
again. I next headed over to the Animal Kingdom where I watched the bird show
for the first time, it was pretty impressive as they had all sorts of birds
from Toucans, to raptors like Bald Eagles flying around the stadium. It was a
After a nice day at the parks, I was on my way back to St.
Pete, but not before stopping at what is arguably the best microbrewery in the
state of Florida, Cigar City Brewing. It was my second visit to their awesome location
and I was able to taste a number of their wonderful beers, including a few
special seasonals that are only available at the brewery itself.
The next day was the opening practice session of the 2015
Indy Car season and I was on hand with my shiny new Indy Car Hard Card which
gave me unprecedented access to just about everyplace including the pits,
paddock, victory land, on track in the photographer’s areas and such. It
allowed me great access and opportunities to get up close and personal with the
cars, teams and drivers.
Robin Miller & Simon Pagenaud
Ed Carpenter & Luca Phillipi
There are a lot of exciting new changes this year in Indy
Car, starting with the new Aero-kits which radically change the look of the new
cars with both Chevy and Honda creating their own distinct versions that look
much different from last year. Lots more body work on the cars. Also there were
the usual driver changes between teams. One of my favorite drivers, James
Hinchcliffe moved from Andretti to Sam Schmidt Motorsports, replacing Simon
Pagenaud who joined team Penske as their fourth driver.
Will Power with St. Pete mayor.
Kirsten & James Hinchcliffe
The initial practice went well, though a light rain wiped
out the second practice later in the afternoon. They did get in some of the
support races including a WC sports car race and Indy Lights practice. The Indy
Lights cars are all new as well and they look great and really racy. It was a
really good day to start the season and weekend off and I was thrilled to be
back at an Indy Car race.