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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!

Friday, May 31, 2019

Indy 500 Qualifying

May 19, 2019

Oriol Servia

Fernando Alonso

Indy 500 Qualifying

For many teams and drivers, qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 is far more tense and nerve wracking than the actual race. With 36 car and driver combinations on hand to make attempts and only 33 spots in the field, there was a certainty that three teams and drivers would not be making the field, which simply ratcheted up the pressure, especially on those teams who were having difficulties in getting up to speed, who had the misfortune of experiencing a crash or sometimes both.

Danica Patrick

The new qualifying format meant that the fastest 30 cars would be locked into the starting field after the first Saturday of qualifying. That meant that six cars would be battling for the final row during bumping on Sunday and in addition the fastest nine cars would qualify again on Sunday to determine the order of the first three rows and who would be sitting on the pole.

Josef Newgarden

Helio Castroneves

Unlike past years, cars had unlimited attempts to post a speed in the top thirty before the gun sounded at 5:50 PM on Saturday to end the qualifying meaning that there were pretty much cars on track all day attempting to better their speeds or to avoid being one of the slowest six who would have to try again on Sunday.

Of course the action at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway draws out all sorts of fans and interested parties and throughout the week, I ran into many friends who were on hand to watch the festivities. Also included in the crowds attending qualifying were a couple of interesting groups. The first was the complete rookie class of the 2019 Indianapolis Colts. These guys, many of them huge and imposing, were on hand to take a tour of the garage area and the pits and to watch some of the action and meet a few drivers.

Rebekah, KayLynn and Michael

Colts rookies with Colton Herta

They were not the only Indy sports team on hand as the entire Indy Eleven soccer team was taking a similar tour and meeting with drivers, watching the action and enjoying the day. In a rare twist, I actually saw driver Jack Harvey getting autographs from the Indy Eleven players, the first time I have ever seen a driver getting autographs.

I also got to witness the return at least for the day of what was once an Indy 500 tradition, the making and serving of Mom Unser’s famous chili. While she was alive, Mom Unser, the mother of Indy 500 legends Bobby and Al Unser would make huge batches of her famous chili during the month of May and feed most of the crews, drivers, officials and about anyone else. It was a beloved tradition that passed into history with her passing yet was revived this year with the help of Bobby Unser and Al Unser Jr. in Gasoline Alley in the Harding Racing garage. For long time Indy attendees like myself, it was a cool throwback to a simpler time.

Al Unser Jr., Bobby Unser and Mike Harding

Owen Snyder and Al Unser, Jr.

Saturday qualifying was an eventful and exciting time, though not for all of the drivers. Poor James Hinchcliffe was once again caught by Indy demons and crashed his primary car, destroying it and his chances at qualifying on the first day. His crew did a massive effort to get the backup car back out on track but he could not break into the top 30, thus was relegated to return to try again on Sunday, along with Sage Karam, Fernado Alonso, Max Chilton, Pato O’Ward, and Kyle Kaiser.

Jordan King

On the other end of the spectrum was the fastest driver of Saturday, Spencer Pigot who locked in a position in the top nine with Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, Josef Newgarden, Colton Herta, Ed Jones, Alexander Rossi and Sebastian Bourdais. Sunday was tension filled as it rained pretty much throughout the day, keeping cars off the track, making it seem unlikely to get any qualifying in, but then it cleared and both the bumping and fast nine were on and the drama was unleashed.

Colton Herta

The powerful and rich McClaren team was bumped from the field in a dramatic last ditch effort by the tiny underfunded Juncos Motorsports team and driver Kyle Kaiser in what was the most shocking result of the day. Sage Karam and James Hinchcliffe snuck into the field leaving Chilton, O’Ward and Alonso all on the outside. The pole qualifying was just about as exciting as Simon Pagenaud snared the pole just beating out Ed Carpenter and Spencer Pigot who completed the front row.

The Friday evening prior to qualifying, one of my favorite annual traditions was held when I had an amazing meal with some of my best and lifelong friends, Jody, Amanda and Kristi. We have been meeting for dinner one night a year in May for a long time and I always look forward to catching up with these wonderful women. A few of the usual attendees could not make it this year, but thankfully our core group was there and we had a really great time at Matteo's Ristorante in Noblesville.

Jody, Kristi, Michael and Amanda



May 17, 2019


Whenever I travel anywhere, I always try to take a look at the cultural and entertainment scene of the place before I arrive just in case there is something going on that I should check out. I usually find that there is, in fact often multiple choices are usually a problem and I get to be selective about what I go and see and what I do. My trip to Indianapolis this month was no different and once again I was able to seek out the new, unique and different to explore.

This led me to one of my favorite venues in Indianapolis, the Hi Fi in Fountain Square which pretty much constantly delivers some of the best music around and where I find myself increasingly spending my free evenings when I am in Indianapolis. My first visit this month was to go and see the band Ganstagrass, which I was previously totally unfamiliar with, but which seemed to fit the bill as something unique and interesting.

Formed in 2006 in Brooklyn, Ganstagrass is a crazy interesting mix of two genres that you would never normally associate with each other, hip hop and bluegrass. When mixed, it produces a totally new and original sound unlike pretty much anything I had ever experienced. The band found initial success when one of their songs was selected as the theme song to the FX TV show “Justified”.

Gangstagrass producer Rench and rapper T.O.N.E.Z were nominated for an Emmy in the category of Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music for "Long Hard Times to Come." And found some commercial success after that through near constant touring. Yet somehow the band had totally escaped my notice, which must mean that I am slipping somewhat on keeping up with newer music. Thankfully I was able to rectify that by attending the show.

It really is a totally unique blend and certainly worth a listen, the live show that the band presented was a high energy blast that had the crowd amped. I was certainly happy that I was able to attend and look forward to hopefully seeing the band again in the future.

Johnny Rutherford

Of course the real reason that I was in Indianapolis was to attend the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 and practice for this year’s race officially began on Tuesday after the Indy Grand Prix under sunny, cool conditions that were just about perfect for the cars. I spent much of the week at the track attending the practice sessions as the teams attempted to get their cars up to speed for the qualifying weekend.


Fernando Alonso and Tony Kanaan

Michael Andretti

James Hinchcliffe

One of the cool things that I did this week, that I had never done in all my years in coming to the track was tour the inside of the Emergency Medical Center which treats both drivers and fans in two separate areas. Not generally a place anyone wants to see the inside of, the tour was nonetheless a fascinating look behind the scenes at the medical center. It is really remarkable what they can accomplish in such a small space and their work has saved both drivers and fans from some horrific injuries during the month of May.

The practice week went fairly smoothly for a lot of the teams, with one of the exceptions being the biggest pre-race story of this year, the return of Team McClaren and driver Fernando Alonso, who is one of the world’s best drivers and was attempting to make a return to the starting grid after being here in 2017 with Andretti Autosports. Sadly the team struggled throughout the week, culminated by a fairly substantial crash that totaled their primary car and had them scrambling to prepare a back-up in time to qualify.