Friday, May 23, 2014

INDY 500: 2013 Speedway Recollections...

The legendous 'El Zorro, aka Alex Zanardi poses with the Awestruck Tomaso at Mother Speedway upon Carb Day, 2013. (The Tomaso Collection)
With the frivolities of Travel Day over, it was time to get down to business, a la trundlin' off to Mother Speedway for another most enjoyable action packed Carb Day outing...

On Carb Day I had the good fortune of meeting four current IndyCar Drivers: 'FAST EDDIE!, thee "Mayor 'O Hinchtown," RHR and "Ryan-the-Dude" plus the legendous 'El Zorro!

Friday, May 24
Carb Day - One For The Ages!
Whilst most may think that the reason I say One for the Ages will be in regards to the closest ever finish at the Brickyard when Peter Dempsey, remember him? Won a scintillating "Four Wide" finish in the Freedom 100, a feat that had never been accomplished before - as I still recall 'CARPETS pointing out a very upset 'N dejected Carlos 'Silk Munoz in a golf kart immediately after the race, as the young Columbian was on Double Duty that weekend, his "Day Job" being Indy Lights whilst making his Rookie debut in the Indy 500 as one of Mikey Andretti's drivers. Having spotted Munoz as we walked along "Pit Row," i.e.; the IndyCar Pit-lane afterwards...

Yet for Mwah, the day's enthusiasm revolved more around the five Celeb's' I got to "Meet 'N Greet" that afternoon, along with the fact of being at the Racetrack once again. As it's funny how I've just had a conversation with Claudio about his friend Paul who just can't figure out why a blind person would wanna go to the racetrack? (After my latest outing to COTA for this year's 2014 MotoGP event)

And while I don't think I can adequately put my feelings into words, suffice I-T to say that obviously, it's the ambiance, as there's still the sounds 'N smells along with the natural camaraderie that goes along being with and surrounded by people who genuinely enjoy motor racing - most importantly of thy Open Wheel type!

Walking the fenceline, Daye said, do you wanna meet FAST EDDIE? Then puts your hand out - thru the slight fenceline gap apparently made for this very occasion, as next thing I knew I was saying hello to eventual Pole-sitter Ed Carpenter while shaking his hand. And although Ed was very pleasant and polite to me, somehow he reinforced the notion of his not enjoying the PR aspect of his job and seemed pretty lackadaisical about the whole effort, making me feel like the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, as in his step father, somebody named Tony George who I've never felt was a very good public speaker or enjoys being in the spotlight...

Next up was by far the Hippest of the four modern day racing drivers I got to meet, as thee " Mayor 'O Hinchtown" was the antithesis of 'Kuhnadiun Kool! As James Hinchcliffe not only totally gets I-T! But seems totally at ease schmoozing with "Schmuck's" like Mwah, as it was hilarious listening to James give our Toronto Trio driving route trips along with eagerly autographing their wares - NO idea if Hinch' knew where his mayor was; Hya! Along with even discussing tyre temps with me, all the while whilst another man besides me relentlessly pressed Hinch' into a picture with his girlfriend standing alongside him at Indy, which Hinch' totally complied with. As for me, Hinch' was hands down the most charismatic of the four drivers I ran into during Carb Day.

After the Freedom 100 race, Dave and I found ourselves standing upon the front straightaway along the barriers that I presume form the outside wall of the racing surface.

Strolling along the light crowd as we waited laboriously threw the ridiculously LOUD blaring Hip Hop Scratchy-scratch "KiddeeRock" during rounds of the Pitstop challenge, there was suddenly a flurry 'O activity, as a surge of bodies seemed to swell around an individual, who'd turn out to be none other than RHR.

And while my wrath of calling him "BULLY-RAY" has subsided, nevertheless I found myself jostled whilst trying to shake Ryan Hunter-Reay's hand, as he seemed very haggard to Mwah, as I think some 'lil girl pushed her way ahead of me? To which Dave said you'd be distracted too if you had EVERYBODY accosting Yuhs...

The affable 'Aussie Ryan Briscoe. (Source: Getty Images/
Waddlin' further down the jersey barriers, there was some "Sharp-dressed Man" standing atop the inside barrier with his back to us, as Dave said, do you wanna meet Ryan Briscoe? Uh, Duh; Hey Briscoe!

To which the totally affable 'Aussie immediately pirouetted around and quickly jumped down from his perch, from where he'd been watching the Pitstop challenge - as Ryan really went out of his way to make me feel important, not only shaking my hand warmly, but spending a good, solid 5-8mins conversing with me  one-on-one, and probably would have talked longer but I sensed he wanted to get back to watching his team-mates Dario and Dixon in the shoot-out.

Two thoughts immediately came to mind afterwards. First was that Briscoe's team-dud's were so clean 'N sharp that not only could I see the pleated creases in his pants & NTT Data crew shirt; but I could also hear 'em snap to Attenzione for Mwah!

As although I've known that obviously thee 'Cheepster, nee Chip Ganassi's organization is first-class and "Top-shelve," especially in order to be the second most successful IndyCar team, nevertheless, I've never before noticed 'Cheep's attention to detail, as I just couldn't get over how sharp Briscoe's kit was.

Secondly, I was simply bowled over how out of his way Ryan went  to make me feel special, taking time to answer my goofy questions and not giving me any standard "Canned" answers, as  I felt he was truly being genuine with Mwah! As I know, there's probably some grooming school "The Captain's" (Roger Penske) Boyz go to - but I was still overly impressed how Ryan seemed to care about me when interacting with myself and hence, naturally I'd really like to see him succeed at Ganassi this year!

As the following story from Oil Pressure's Susan Phillips perfectly summs up my experience with Ryan Briscoe and I'm glad he hasn't change any since then...

Then for the piece de la resistance... Eagle eyed 'CARPETS asked me if I wanted to meet 'El Zorro! Nee the legendous' Alex Zanardi... Who for obvious reasons has become a Humongous Hero of mine, as his always positive, smiling and persevering demeanor are simply infectious to Mwah!

To which I eagerly told Dave, if you can make that happen I'll be mightily impressed! As Dave said, yeah, that's gotta be Alex over there talking to Dario. (Franchitti) As next thingy I knew, Dave was  bellowing HEY ALEX! Above the drone of the crowd repeatedly, whilst apparently waving towards him to come over to us...


As I simply could NOT believe it was happening again, as Dave is simply magical in getting B-I-G NAME Drivers (and people) to interact with Mwah; as HOLY SHIT! Alex Zanardi is walking over to meet me!

As I was simply so incredibly AWESTRUCK by the affable Italian, who exudes charisma, wit and happiness that all I could think of to say to him was congratulations upon your Olympic medals, as I've never met a (Special) Olympics multiple gold medal winner - who was sticking out his paw' to shake my hand as Dave had to start yelling at me Tomaso, Tomaso; (Hey Idiot!) LOOK OVER HERE! As I had NO idea that I'd get my picture taken with Zanardi - who if Yuhs cannot tell by now, is  just totally AWESOME!

As Alex, who shortened his name from Alessandro to fit in Stateside was on hand this weekend to pick up a very special steed named 'Ol Midnight which he'd used to make "the Pass!"

As meeting Zanardi, who walked over to me, without doubt was the absolute highpoint of the entire weekend for Mwah, as I still marvel one year later how FUCKING cool it was getting to share that brief moment with Alex!

As I know I shouldn't say this, but! As far as I was concerned, I could have gone home right then and been very happy indeed, although Sunday's race was definitely worth sticking round for.

(Alex Zanardi photo Courtesy of No Fenders ‘Offical Photographer ‘CARPETS)