Monday, June 17, 2013

Milwaukee IndyFest Notes

-Our Milwaukee IndyFest weekend got off to a bit of a rough start, as we had to leave the track a bit early Friday to take care of some medical stuff (nothing serious, happily). Still, we got to see some qualifying, which was nice, and got a quick sense of changes

-So how did my daughter do? Well, she was definitely tired out by the end of the race, but seemed to enjoy it. She found the cars a bit louder than I thought she would--she's gone to Indy countless times without complaining, but thought it was more noisy this time around. She got to meet a couple of drivers, including Graham Rahal, which was pretty neat. He was extremely patient with all the fans, and was talking up Ohio State football (of course!) when we saw him. I expect Saris' account to go up at some point this week.

-Saris had some spending money for a souvenir, and she wanted a Pippa Mann shirt (to go with her hat) they were selling at the Lids store. By the time we went back (right before the race), they didn't have it for sale any longer. She adapted, though, and picked out a Ryan Hunter-Reay t-shirt she really liked. You know how that turned out--she apparently chose wisely!

-Rick Mears almost ran my daughter over (totally not his fault). I explained what an honor that was. And then I geeked out like I do every time I see Rick Mears. Seeing him at races never, ever gets old.

-The Milwaukee Mile does not suffer mistakes, fools, or inadequacy lightly. A problem in the pits that can be worked out in time at Indianapolis can drop you off the lead lap at the Mile. Over the long stints, the Haves and Have-Nots were on full display. Having on "ok" car is not good enough to stay on the lead lap. I think that's part of the reason I enjoyed this race so much.

-What a rough day for Marco Andretti. When your car craps out, there's nothing to be done. Unfortunately for him, both of his big points competitors had great days. He's 50 points behind Helio, and Iowa is going to represent a huge chance for him to catch back up. No, it's not a "must win", but it would certainly help.

-As far as our defending champion goes, Ryan Hunter-Reay is now the only active three-time winner at Milwaukee. He just looks tremendously sharp out there right now. I thought it before the race, but I'll state it definitively now: he is in championship form, and Helio is going to have a tough fight the rest of the way. I absolutely can't wait.

-Castroneves didn't quite have enough to win today, but he minimized the damage RHR could have caused by holding off Power for P2 (great run by Will, by the way). 16 points is the lead I'm sure he wishes he had going into Iowa, but he looks as comfortable right now as I've seen him in a few years. And few drivers are a more entertaining interview than Helio, before or after the race. The crowd loves him for a reason.

-Several drivers were fun to follow as Saturday's race action unfolded--Takuma Sato and Justin Wilson being two of the biggest ones--but honestly, I kept noticing EJ Viso all day, and for the best of reasons. He was aggressive, but not a kamikaze. He cut his way through traffic, made some big passes stick, and had a superb race. I still believe we'll see him get his first victory sometime this season, and it very well could be Iowa.

-I'm not sure which driver/team is having the more brutal season--Graham Rahal/RLLR or Alex Tagliani/Team Barracuda. I do know I am ready to see Tag and the gang start kicking some butt again.

-I really enjoyed the Firestone Indy Lights race, where a classic case of tire conservation played out. Zach Veach checked out in the first part of the race, but you could really see his car go away in the last 40 laps or so. Sage Karam and Carlos Munoz were able to catch him, with Karam again showing he really has that track figured out. Munoz's lead is down to 18 points, as Karam continues to whittle away the lead as Lights goes through the ovals. Do I still think Munoz has the inside track on the Lights championship? Yes, but Karam is doing his best to keep it lively. We'll see what the Lights drivers do in Iowa.

-I missed the Pro Mazda race, which is a pain, but stuff happens. However, what I missed appeared to be a good old-fashioned Matthew Brabham butt-kicking, his fifth such victory in a row. Brabs is really adding to his overall points lead (now at 49), and as good a fight as we've seen from drivers such as Deigo Ferreira, it doesn't look as if anyone will catch him. We won't see Pro Mazda again until Toronto, so Brabham has about a month off to enjoy that big lead.

-Overall, I thought the racing weekend was quite good, with Saturday's action being really exciting. Passing was difficult but not impossible, several cars had a viable shot at the win in the last half of the race, and the drivers who finished up front earned it. There was strategy, enough wall brushes to let you know how tough it was out there, and plenty of surprises. It wasn't a photo finish, but it was just a good, all-around driver's race with racing talent on display for all to see. At least on the ground, it seemed to keep the fans' attention, and folks were clearly into it.

-So, do I think the Mile will be back on the 2014 schedule? I certainly hope so. I thought attendance was about where it was last year. It's been rotten luck on the weather forecasts the last two years. Andretti Sports Marketing has made a really nice event with a full racing schedule and tons to do. I'd really like to see a title or presenting sponsor worthy of this great event. And if you didn't show up this year, hope that they have it next year and get your tickets. It's a great area and a great race!

Other Notes: Our favorite restaurant of the Milwaukee trip was again El Beso, a Mexican spot where I can recommend the chicken and steak fajitas, washed down with some of their green iced tea...after the race, it appears as if IndyCar fans had completely taken over the tourist-friendly Mars Cheese Castle. Great Wisconsin cheese and pastry items, for those interested...Cream Puffs are delicious, and I can see why folks made such a big deal over them...From what I saw, the most popular driver and team shirts were Marco/Hinch/Andretti, closely followed by Tony Kanaan, then AJ Foyt/Takuma Sato. This is big event for the Beloit-based ABC Supply, who brought in a lot of associates for the race...I saw JR Hildebrand on  Saturday before the race. Sounds like he's holding out hope for a couple more events this year, possibly stringing a handful of events together...I ended up parked next to David Hobbs on Saturday. I tried to act like it was no big deal, and probably failed miserably.

1 comment:

  1. Cool that you met Rick Mears and that your Daughter happened to pick Hunter Reays t-shirt.
    Would love to go to Millwaukee but it's too far. We'll be enjoying Pocono though.