Last Saturday I arrived at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma bright and early (8am to be exact) for the start of my Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma weekend.
Not long after I picked up my credentials, got to the media center, picked up the necessary schedules and general information I’d need for the day I had my first driver sighting.
Graham Rahal was in Victory Lane with his No. 02 McDonald’s Racing Team car for an interview with a local television station. The interview was being aired live and thinking quickly (for once) I called my mom and told her to tune her TV to channel 4. She could see me standing in the distance behind Graham and his interviewer. My mother told me to wave and I was like “Mother, I can’t wave, I’m supposed be a professional and I can’t wave at you.” It was so funny, she kept telling me to wave and I was like “No.” It would have been really obvious and I didn’t want to be “that guy.” I always think it’s cheesy when I see other people do it.
It must be noted that Graham is a cutie. He’s like 10-years-old but a cutie nevertheless. I kid, he’s actually 20, but still to me he’s an infant.
Anyway, Saturday was qualifying and practice for both the IndyCar and Indy Lights series. The crowd on hand wasn’t very large but then again I wasn’t expecting it to be. The paddock area behind the grandstands didn’t have all that much to offer in the way of activities. Although, dudes did have the opportunity to either impress women or embarrass themselves by attempting to do chin-ups at the US Marines booth. Some guys were awesome, while some others were, uh, not.
For the first IndyCar practice session I sat in the media center. I saw the crash that put drivers Will Power and Nelson Philippe in the hospital happen live and it was the scariest motorsports-related crash I’d ever seen. I knew that something very serious had to have happened to Will. It was like his car just disintegrated. While they both suffered multiple injuries I’m so glad they’re alive.
After practice all of the IndyCar and Indy Lights drivers sat at tables underneath the grandstands and signed autographs for fans. People were losing their minds over Danica Patrick and pretty much not anyone else. I mean obviously everyone was taking pictures of all the drivers and such but it was clear where Danica was stationed ’cause there was a big bubble of people surrounding her end of the tables.
To illustrate this point further I actually heard a man say out loud not 3 feet from Helio Castroneves, “What’s his name?” You’re acquitted of tax evasion charges, win “Dancing With The Stars” and the Indy 500 and still the man doesn’t know your name.
I think everyone remembers, or at least you should, my post about IndyCar rookie Richard Antinucci. I was very much looking forward to seeing him in-person and boy that guy did not disappoint.
I scoured the tables looking for Mr. Antinucci, my first glimpse of him for the day, and then all of a sudden there he was looking as hot as all get out. So look at this photo to the left and sing the song “All I Have To Do Is Dream” by the Everly Brothers and you will replicate my experience exactly. “Drea-ea-ea-ea-eam, dream, dream, dream. Drea-ea-ea-ea-eam, dream, dream, dream … “ *sigh*
I didn’t stay long as it is extremely awkward taking photos in that kind of environment. You are always in someone’s way. It’s pretty interesting though that basically everyone has a DSLR camera these days. I plan on getting one this year so I can step up my photography game. But I think I do alright with my handy, dandy point & shoot.
I ended the day earlier than I’d wanted to because I needed to get home in time to watch the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol. I missed the end of qualifying but I got enough of Dario Franchitti on Sunday.
In my next post I’ll discuss some iRacing tidbits, clothing companies as sponsors and ponder reasons why Marco Andretti had a sour puss on the entire freaking weekend.
REMINDER: Don’t forget to ask Richard Petty (aka The King) a question!!
I would like to thank Helio for not looking at me like I was a crazy person for taking his photo.
Helio Castroneves on Saturday, August 22, 2009 at the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Graham Rahal waits to be interviewed by a local TV station on Saturday, August 22, 2009 at the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Ryan Briscoe rides down pit road before practice on Saturday, August 22, 2009 at the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Marco Andretti rides down pit road before practice on Saturday, August 22, 2009 at the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Justin Wilson chats with his team after practice on Saturday, August 22, 2009 at the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)