I had an opportunity to attend the Firestone 550k at Texas Motor Speedway and had a blast. The last time I saw an IndyCar race was back when the track opened in 1997. So I was pretty pumped about getting to hang out in the hospitality area and see a race. I felt like a kid in a candy store since there was so much to see. We were guests of Andretti Motorsport and they had a great setup. It is kind of like being in a luxury box at a stadium but much bigger and portable.
We were invited by one of Marco Andretti’s sponsors so we had an chance to pose for a picture and grab an autograph if we wanted. The way this stuff works is humorous to me as an outsider. He shows up out of the blue and we shuffle through the line to meet him. Then he is whisked away to get ready for the race. I think he was there all of three minutes. He might have been willing to stick around a bit longer, but the premier sponsor wasn’t there. This has to be one of the more uncomfortable things that drivers have to mess with right before a race.
One highlight of the day was going to the garage. I don’t mean shuffling through the center aisle with everyone else I mean, we were in the path of the mechanics while they worked. This was pretty impressive to see in action. If I had half a mechanically inclined bone in my body I would have offered to help. That’s how close we were to these guys.
The race was great and the Andretti Motorsport team had to be pretty pumped. All four drivers were in the top 7. Danica Patrick couldn’t quite get first, but she fought hard to stay in the top four the entire night. Marco had something happen in the pits that put him way back in the pack toward the latter part of the race. After he pulled back onto the track he blazed a trail and while he couldn’t quite catch up to top two had a really solid comeback for 3rd. Tony Kanaan and Ryan Hunter-Reay were the other two drivers for the team and while Kanaan seemed to be in cruise control for a majority of the race Hunter-Reay was up and down all night before getting dialed in at the end.
All told it was a great experience and was blown away by the entire event. Highlight of my night was meeting Michael Andretti.