Here we are almost a month after the close of the season, and I’ve been pondering the many ways we can call a wraps on the 2012 IZOD Indycar Series season. I’ve already published a breakdown based on teams. I could go thorugh and break down individual drivers, but to be honest, that has a rather hollow feel to me.
no images were foundInstinctually, the first driver I wanted to talk about the 2012 season with was Dan Wheldon. That’s when I remembered my friend from Milton Keynes had been whisked away from us, much like how October takes the warmth of summer and the verdent beauty of the growing world away from us, and replaces it with winter’s chill and barren landscapes of leafless trees.
October is a transitional month in so many ways. Sometimes it’s a transition from the thrill of racing season to the long offseason. Other times it’s the Silly Season, as crews and drivers transition from one team to another. We transition our wardrobes here in the Northern Hemipshere from our cool Summer clothing to warm Winter clothing. This October had my my mind in different places though. Like many of us here in the INDYCAR community, I had Dan on my mind, which made me think even more about the transition none of us ever like to talk about.
October is a rough month for the world of racing in general. Obviously, we lost Dan on that tragic, yet strangely beautiful October afternoon last year. We’ve been over that so many times. Personally, I’d rather not rehash that incident. In Indycars, we also lost Tony Renna back on October 22, 2003. One thing I heard in the wake of dan Wheldon’s death from “those in the know” was that the incident reminded them a good bit of the Tony Renna incident. One thing I DO know about the Tony Renna incident is if it happened during a race, it would have been the end of Open Wheel racing in the United States.
We also lost Gonzalo Rodriguez in October, back in 1999 at Laguna Seca. A highly touted Ureguayan driver tapped by Roger Penske to be the next big thing, Rodriguez spent the weekend at Laguna Seca whoopin’ the tail of his teammate, Al Unser Jr. Gonzo was set for big things until an unfortunate error at the top of The Corkscrew.
Let’s not forget Greg Moore. Superheros ALWAYS wear red gloves.
Thinking back over the 2012 season, one of the most touching moments was after making his first Quals run at Indy, James Hinchcliffe pulled a pair of red gloves out of the chest of his firesuit. Hinch had indeed taken Greg for a ride around The Brickyard, something the young Canadian never got to do before he was taken from us just a few weeks after Gonzalo Rodriguez. I think if any of us could take back that weekend at Fontana, we would.
That’s not counting guys in other series, like Tony Roper. October has been a cruel month to the racing world.
On October 16th, I removed the Dan Wheldon memorial sticker from the back of my car and put it in a special place in my house. The time for mourning is over. Dan would have told you the time for mourning was never. It’s important that we remember everyone though. When we all look at that final lap of our lives, it’s important to be ready to embrace it. Don’t waste one second of your time. it comes for all of us, be it a two time Indianapolis 500 winner, a driver just coming into their prime, or a rookie with all the potential in the world. We’re not guaranteed our next breath, and October constantly reminds us in the racing community of that.
Here’s to you, Dan, Tony, Gonzalo, Greg, and Tony. Thanks for all the joy you brought us. I’m looking forward to some celestial bench racing with you guys one day.