So, here’s how my Wednesday went:
Wednesday. Hump day. Busy week with the Pacers playoffs, NFL Draft, and Grand Prix of Indianapolis all going on simultaneously. Wonder if I can clone myself. Instead, I plan to get some chores done in preparation, then do some reading on the draft. And try to avoid reading about the Pacers. But first, take the dog for a walk.
Quick check of my email and see a message from Brian at IndyCar PR asking if I want to ride around the new Grand Prix course in a two-seater. I email back: “Ummm…yes!?”
Housework can wait. I’m heading to the track!
What a beautiful day! I open the sunroof and by the time I hit 30th Street, I can already hear the hum of the cars going around the track. It’s such a distinctive sound. And really hard to describe — kind of a mixture of a hum, a buzz, and a zoom. But it always gives me goosebumps.
As I head down Georgetown Road, I notice the signs are up, the banners are hanging, and there is action everywhere. The buzz isn’t only on the track. Speedway is coming alive! And everyone seems happy about it.
I pull into IMS and see more of the same. Trucks and golf carts on the move, food stands being set up, and people walking around. I park my car and head down Gasoline Alley. The flowers are out in front of the suites. Sam Schmidt zooms by in his wheelchair. I start to get excited. This is May in Indiana!
I walk up to the Indy Racing Experience trailer and fill out my paperwork. Then, the lady hands me a fire suit. I’m confused, because they didn’t make me wear one when I did the Victory Lap ride. I ask her, “Am I going slow or fast today?” She smiles and says, “You’re going fast!” I respond the only way I can think of, “Let’s do it!”
I suit up and head over to the pit area by turn one.
There are racing people, emergency people (who I try not to think about), some media people (Scott Jones from Fox 59 went right ahead of me), some contest winners, and me.
I text my husband (who has no idea what I’m doing) to give him a heads up. And also to let him know that if he gets an emergency call, he should take it. Immediately. And no, I still don’t know my blood type.
The IndyCar officials and driver Davey Hamilton explain that we can go either one or two laps. They say many people on the road course enjoy the first lap more than the second one.
Like my dad says, God hates a coward. I opt for two laps. I complement my racing suit with a helmet and matching gloves and I’m pretty much claustrophobic before even stepping into the car. It’s 85 degrees out and warmer on the track (but who’s complaining after the Polar Vortex?).
I settle in (more like, get stuffed in) to the passenger seat behind Hamilton and after they tighten everything up, the only thing I can move is my head (barely).
And we’re off…
Hamilton hits the gas and we fly out of the pits and onto the track (going the opposite direction of the oval course). Then, he hits the brakes. I’m confused because it feels like he’s going to stop. But then, I realize he’s slowing down to make a sharp right turn. We zig-zag around some turns and grassy knolls and pretty soon, we’re back on the oval passing the stands before taking another sharp right to come back around by the pits and turn one…then do it all over.
Now, those G-forces are no joke. They had my helmet pulling my head around and turning so I couldn’t see out. I held onto the bottom of it for the second lap and had a much easier time looking around. I also knew where to brace myself.
And when it was over, I could have gone another few laps. It was like a ride at a theme park, only you’re not attached to rails. And the guy operating it has a lot more training. And teeth.
Afterwards, I called my mom. Who yelled at me and made me promise not to do it again (fingers crossed).
The ride home seemed to take an unusually long time. For some reason, 40 miles per hour just felt awfully slow.
So, how was your hump day?
Note from the author: If you ever get the chance to ride in an IndyCar (at any speed), do it! For as many laps as you can. But, don’t tell my mom I said that. And you may not want to tell your mom either.