Previously I had already been in contact with people on twitter, (travelling alone on long road trips you have to do these things!) fans of IndyCar from all around the USA who were going to the Las Vegas race arranging to meet up at the track or go out in the evening, none of whom prior to the race weekend had I met in person before on my last trips to America. Throughout the weekend I had met a group of these people by chance, winning a draw or some other way as it seems to happen quite a lot!
I don’t need, or really want to go into details about the race that Sunday, but the motor racing family lost a driver, a star and a friend in Dan Wheldon.
During the days that led up to the race I was offered a ticket to the Sam Schmidt Paralysis fundraising party to go with Robin and Chris which was to take place that Sunday evening at a nearby hotel. I think, understandably, I didn’t really feel like going out that evening, just wanted to stay near to my hotel. So I put a message out on Twitter inviting any IndyCar fans still in Las Vegas that night if they wanted to meet me for a drink I would be in the hotel bar at 8pm. So after a few Wi-Fi issues and‘which bar are you at again?’ people found me and the way to the bar. Chris and Robin from Indiana, Kieran from California, John from Washington, Ross from Texas, and me... from England. For what was a very difficult day for all of us, it was a great chance to sit back, relax, talk racing and remember Dan over a few drinks.
Go forward seven months, we had all kept in touch through Twitter and Facebook, talking about racing, life (including births), the usuals and put yourself in a car park of a local restaurant with over a thousand other people present, and to get the opportunity to all meet up again nearly 2,000 miles from the Nevada desert.
So under very different circumstances to the last time, we all arranged to meet up again.
I had heard through many contacts, that one of the pre-race events for the Indy 500 worth going to was the Burger Bash. Which is part radio show, part fan gathering, and part chance to get a burger type of social gathering at 96th Street Steakburgers, located on the north side of Indianapolis, which is now in its 5th year. The event does not have a set format or guest list, other than an hour long live radio show hosted by NBCSN reporter Kevin Lee and Indianapolis Star writer Curt Cavin. Invites are sent out to drivers and a few turn up for a quick Q&A session with the fans, with raffles and auctions throughout the evening, to raise money for local charities.
On the evening after Carb Day at the track, we were sitting down on the kerb eating burgers and drinking milkshakes, we were all back together again. Some of us taking part in the auctions, listening to the live radio show, enjoying the question and answer sessions with drivers Katherine Legge (British female driver), Alex Tagliani (2011 Indy 500 Pole Winner), Pippa Mann (British female driver, and first female to win pole at Indy in any race), as well as the new IndyCar Race Director Beaux Barfield. It was a great evening, a chance to meet up again, talk, remembering the past seven months, and looking forward to the race weekend ahead.
So, until next time...
*technically speaking, the baby Chris is holding, was also in the first picture!
“Of all things which wisdom provides to make life entirely happy, much the greatest is the possession of friendship” Epicurus