I’m feeling quite inadequate today. I’m sitting here in the media room at Barber Motorsports Park amongst the cream of the crop of IndyCar media. (By the way, Brian….Are you happy I capitalized the C in IndyCar?) As I sit here at my station looking across to see Curt Cavin typing away, Kevin Lee and Jon Beekhus going over notes for NBC and Amy Konrath pulling everything together, I am reminded that I should probably have a yellow stripe on my laptop in here. Behind me is Jenna Fryer from the AP, John Oreovics from ESPN and Jeff Olson from USA Today.
It’s a rarefied air kinda day.
During this nasty, rainy day in lovely Leeds, Alabama, it’s been a constant parade of drivers pretty much since 10am. We spent a better part of the morning fighting technical gremlins as the internet went out for a long time. Much love to whomever set up “SuperWanker” as a wireless network name; probably the Penske PR folks. The amazing thing is how laid back the environment is here. Then again, hope always springs eternal at the start of the season. Everyone’s in first place. Everyone has a full allotment of engines.
One of the amazing things about IndyCar drivers is how realistic they are. One particular statement that jumps out at me was when Josef Newgarden talked about what a horrible season results wise 2012 was for him. He talked about how he planned to avoid a Sophomore Slump by simply not finishing lower than 23rd in standings. Others have come through and discussed simply getting the best possible finish out of the car and not trying to overdrive the vehicle’s capability.
Another thing that strikes me is what a great group of folks these drivers are. They’re generally humble, personable people who are more than happy to take a moment and chat. We got to bust Newgarden’s chops about his Acura (Yeah, you have one, but what year model is it?) I had a nice chat during lunch with E.J. Viso about his time in Miami and attending the Ultra Music Festival. I talked to Graham Rahal about Rusty’s Barbecue, a local place frequented by IndyCar Drivers when in town.
As I type this, Takuma Sato is at the microphone, discussing about how much of an honor it is to be with A.J. Foyt’s organization. There’s a lot of interesting information being exchanged. One thing is for certain though; IndyCar is definitely one big family. It’s really interesting to hear the drivers cutting up with each other. Sometimes they stand in the back and harass each other during press conferences. These guys are all super competitive, but they’re super protective of each other as well.
As Taku talks about qualifying at St. Pete, I can hear the sound of strobes resetting from all the pictures being taken. Tomorrow, I look forward to hearing the sound of cars on track. It’s springtime, and opening day is only a short time away. Today though, we get the chance to see beyond the helmet, and find out about the real people behind the visor.
Pleasantries are forbidden tomorrow, though!