No Direction Home

This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

March 17, 2018


Kate and Olivier

Alex and Michael

Tony Kanaan

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

The start of the Indy Car season is always something that I look forward to with great anticipation, the off-season is far too long and by the time the first race arrives in mid-March, I am more than ready to head to the track to see some racing excitement. This year, the level of excitement is raised somewhat by the continued growth of the Indy Car series, the largest entry list in some years, a brand new aero package that improves the look and style of the cars and the infusion of a lot of new rookies to the series, which adds to the excitement.


Santi Urrutia after winning the Indy Lights race

Drivers changing teams and new sponsors all add to the different look of the field as I hit the temporary road course through the streets of downtown St. Petersburg to check it all out for the first practice of the year. The weather was beautiful and the practice was busy as all 24 car and driver combinations took to the track for the first official practices of the year.

Sebastian Bourdais

Dalton Kellett

Michael and Mario Andretti

One of the cool things about having new cars is that it is a great equalizer, the richer, more experienced teams have not had the prep time needed to gain a competitive advantage so the results can be much different at the start of the season than what we will see once the season is rolling. Personally I quite enjoy seeing some of the smaller teams topping the speed charts and the young new drivers excelling. 


This was illustrated in the qualifying session held on Saturday, with light rain impacting the sessions as they went along, the results were not what anyone would have predicted with three rookie drivers making the fast six and rookie Robert Wickens driving for Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports grabbing the pole position. Newcomers Matheus Leist (AJ Foyt Racing) qualified third and Jordan King (Ed Carpenter Racing) nabbed the fourth position after setting a new track record in the first round. Veteran Will Power (Penske) was in second and rounding of the Fast 6 were Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Takuma Sato (fifth) and Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Conor Daly and Michael

Robert Wickens

Jack Harvey

I was joined on race day by my friend Alex, he and his wife Anna recently relocated to a beautiful area of St. Pete only a short walk from the downtown racing circuit and I had the chance to visit their beautiful new home and Alex met me at the race on Sunday. I had my traditional seats above the pits, thankfully across from a large screen TV. Prior to the start of the race I watched the Indy Lights race and wondered down through the paddock and pits.

James Hinchcliffe

Simon Pageneuad

Michael and Arie Jr.

It is always great to be able to hang out with the drivers and teams, there are few sports where fans can intermingle with the athletes just prior to the start of an event, but Indy Car drivers are as nice and accommodating as can be. Creating something of a stir along pit row was the presence of the star of the recently completed reality TV show, “The Bachelor” Arie Lyendyk Jr. I have seen Arie around for years as his father is a two time Indy 500 champion, but never seen the show.

Conor Daly and Arie Lyendyk Jr.

Colton Herta

Ryan Hunter-Reay

He had caused some sort of controversy by dumping one potential suitor and choosing another at the last minute and created something of a pop culture moment. He had even been spoofed on Saturday Night Live the previous night. I have seen him around the paddock for years but nothing like the throng that surrounded him prior to this race. He had his lovely girlfriend who had been his final choice on the show and she was getting a ride in the two-seater with Mario Andretti, so that was sort of interesting to watch.

Ryan Hunter-Reay

Becky and Hinch

The race was damn good, Wickens jumped in to the lead on the first lap and two-time Grand Prix winner Will Power spun out. Former Indy 500 champion Tony Kanaan went sideways. Veteran Charlie Kimball got off-course and stalled near the Turn 13 tires, all by the end of lap two. It was something of a crazy start, but it soon settled down a bit with Wickens proving to be a dominant force.

Wickens led a race-high 69 laps (including 19 of the first 24) in his No. 6 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda and needed only 11 laps to open up a two-second lead on the field. Alexander Rossi, the 2016 Indy 500 champion seemed like one of the only cars that could challenge him on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street course.But Rossi made a costly error with 12 laps to go when pushed too hard to make up Wickens' one-second lead. He went wide and had to slow down, costing him two seconds and, it seemed, the race.

Robert Wickens

But two late cautions bunched the field and on the final restart of the race, Rossi tried an ambitious inside move going into turn one that ended up punting Wickens aside and into the barrier, while Rossi dropped to third as Sebastian Bourdais and Graham Rahal slipped by to take first and second in the race. Bourdais, driving again for Dale Coyne returned to Victory Lane for the second straight year, but more importantly for the first time since a vicious accident during qualifying for last year’s Indy 500 sidelined him with injuries for most of last season.

Sebastian Bourdais

Bourdais and family

It was a fun and celebratory time in Victory Lane as Alex and I joined my friend Kate and her husband Olivier who is the engineer on the winning car in the Winner’s Circle to watch the fun and celebration. I felt gutted for Wickens, who drove a brilliant race, but very happy to see SeaBass back on top.



Tuesday, March 20, 2018

"Beauty is in the Eye of the Beer Holder"- Kinky Friedman

March 14, 2018

"Beauty is in the Eye of the Beer Holder"- Kinky Friedman 



Tampa is ground zero for the continuously exploding craft beer scene in Florida. The boom shows no sign of abating and the week that I happen to be visiting the area for the Grand Prix coincides with the annual craft beer week that features a week-long series of beer related events and activities related to craft beer. It is always a good time to be in the area. The main event is the annual Hunahpu’s Day Beer Festival hosted by Tampa’s own Cigar City Brewing.


The once a year annual huge festival in celebration of craft beer is held as the culmination of craft beer week and now in its ninth year, it continues to grow and get bigger and better. Already recognized as one of the top 10 beer festivals in the USA, the festival is the only place to get the rare and highly desirable Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout beer, which is released one day a year, Hunahpu’s Day. People come from all across the country to get the beer and attend the festival. There was a contingency from Key West  on hand including my friends Brian and Ammie, who may be the biggest fans of good beer that I know.


Michael and Brian

The festival features craft breweries from across the nation, many of them offering up their own rarest brews. The festival has grown massively over the past few years and over 300 breweries were represented this year. The opening of the festival is always fun as it features a mad dash of participants, a majority of whom are rotund and bearded white males which makes it pretty fun to watch


In addition to the massive amount of quality beer there are also a plethora of food trucks to keep attendees full and happy (and hopefully less drunk). Two of my favorite breweries from my home state of Indiana were represented, Three Floyd’s Brewery and Sun King were serving up yummy rare beers including one of my all-time favorite brews, Zombie Dust. There were amazingly good beers at every turn and unlike some previous years, short lines and seemingly more availability for all.

Three Floyd's

Sun King

Courtney, Chris, Erica, Chris, Michael and Livi

After the beer festival, I went to rest for a bit before hitting the second big festival of the weekend, the Gasparilla Music Festival which was held again this year at Curtis Hixson Park in downtown Tampa on the riverfront. Once again friends from Key West were in attendance as my friends Chris, Livi and Courtney were joined by former Key West residents Chris and Erica who now live in St. Pete. The music festival is fantastic in that it is small, manageable and VIP tickets are very reasonable and provide up close viewing at all the stages and a private bar and restrooms.


The line-up this year was not my favorite, but whoever picks the bands does an amazing job as they are always diverse, interesting and good. This year my favorite band that played was the first one that I saw on the main stage, Warpaint. I was only vaguely familiar with this all female, synth-rock band from LA but they put on a great live show. They were the perfect way to start. Next up was a smaller side stage where rapper Chali 2na and Naughty Professor played an excellent show of free-flowing hip hop. Chali 2na formerly of the band Jurassic 5 was excellent, but what made it all the more interesting is that he was rapping over a horn section, which I had never seen before, but worked really well.

Chali 2na 


The Roots

The opening night of the festival closed with two more amazing performers, Spoon, the indie rock darlings from Austin and the Roots, Philly’s hip hop legends fronted by Questlove. Two totally different styles and bands that were each excellent in their live performances. The crowd seemed to love them both and though I am not huge fans of either band, they were both really enjoyable as was the festival in general.

The Roots

Father John Misty

Hard Working Americans

Todd Snider

Sunday evening, after attending the Indy Car Grand Prix, I headed back to the festival where I caught the final three acts of the evening, The Hard Working Americans, the SPAM Allstars and Father John Misty. I was really looking forward to seeing the Hard Working Americans, a band fronted by one of my favorite singer/ songwriters of all time, Todd Snider. Sadly I did not really enjoy their set at all. Todd seemed somehow off, certainly not his normal self and he really did not appear to be well, thin and drawn out. The sound was still good, but I could not get past just how off Snider seemed.


The SPAM Allstars are frequent visitors to Key West and they put on their usual high energy set and the crowd seemed really into it, but once again, I was a little let down by their show. I was hoping that Father John Misty would salvage the evening and he was the best of the three, but perhaps I was already too bummed out by the others to really appreciate his performance and the entire evening was something of a disappointment. Thankfully the excellence of the Saturday performers helped make the overall experience still a very positive one and it is always great to just hang out with friends

Father John Misty 

Silent Disco