Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fired Up for the Freedom 100!

I am so overwhelmingly excited for this race weekend. I spent all of today out at the racetrack and I cannot wait to get it all started. I went and looked at the new paint on the car at the workshop on Monday. I was a little afraid it wasn’t the exact right color, but once we got the car out in the sunlight and got the sponsor logos on the car to match, it is perfect. Also, the matching crew shirts showed up from the manufacturer today and they look so professional! They match the car and sponsor’s look perfectly. All in all it was a great day out at the track!

Let me start from the beginning…. I woke up to a beautiful day. The sun was shining and the meteorologists are predicting good weather through our race on Friday. I was whistling before I had left the driveway! I swung by a Starbucks to get a coffee and then out the Speedway. Today was Community Day at the track and so fans were out in the droves to attend both Indy Car and Indy Lights autograph sessions, pay some extra money to drive their own road car around the track, and wander through the garage and pit areas. The IMS museum had pulled a lot of the previous Indy 500 winning cars out to pit lane for display. It made me feel really safe comparing cars from 20 years ago to today! I digress- as I walked in from the car park I could smell the hot dog stand food, sunscreen and hear kids already having a great time. Not only was it a great day to be alive, it was a fantastic day to be at the racetrack…any racetrack would have been good, but since it was Indianapolis, it was very special. Then it was time for my autograph session and as always the line of people were very friendly, appreciative and always quick to wish each driver the best of luck. It always serves to remind me why we put on such a show. Don’t get me wrong- I love to drive for it’s own sake, but doing it for the fans adds another great element.

After the autograph session, it was lunchtime where I was informed the IRL had randomly chosen me for a drug screening. There were a whole group of drivers and crew members chosen and wasn’t a big deal. It did lead to an interesting conversation regarding diabetes, insulin usage and the fact that synthetic insulin is on the IOC’s banned substance list. I remember my endocrinologist, Dr. Anne Peters (a saint on earth!), talking about arguing Gary Hall Jr’s case to the IOC before his Olympic swims. As I understand it, she had to prove that she was only prescribing the insulin needed to bring him back to a level playing field and not an unfair advantage. I am not sure of the mechanics or chemistry in the body, but some people (without diabetes) operating outside the rules use synthetic insulin to bulk up somehow. So after a very interesting conversation regarding that, it was back to the team to oversee the new logos going on the car. And WOW was it looking good!

I headed back to the truck to organize the shirts for my crew. Also, sat in the front office and did a phone interview with for a print article in the next month. Then it was time to change into my suit, check the seat belt fit and make sure I was perfectly comfortable in the car. Then we pushed the car out to the pit lane and the ‘yard of bricks’ for a photo shoot. The emotion of a newly painted car pushing down the pit lane at Indianapolis with my name on the side was almost too much for me. It really was a very special moment.

Then it was back into street clothes and head to Macaroni Grill where I am writing this in the waiting area. My mom and dad have just landed at the Indianapolis airport (I saw their plane on final approach as I was driving out of the track) and are headed up here to eat dinner with me.

With all the work the crew has put in since we tested here a couple of weeks ago, I am very confident heading into the race weekend. We have done the best job we could so far and I believe we should be strongly in the top-10 all race weekend (well 'race week' as we race on Friday!).

Here is a decent photo of the car with me in it from my iPhone:

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