I was going to do a full report of taking my family to the IndyCar race at Road America, but instead I want to focus on one particular thing that happened (a really good thing).
First, a brief rundown of the weekend. I have been to all the IndyCar races at Road America since they returned to the track in 2016. This year, for the first time, I took my family as well. It was the first time my wife had been to Road America at all, and the first IndyCar race both for her and my daughters (whom I took to the IMSA race at RA a couple years ago).
We had a ball. I took my girls on scooter rides, we walked the paddock, bought souvenirs, ate tubed meat, saw cool cars, met nice people, all that great stuff that happens at racing weekends.
So, here is the thing I want to talk about, because it struck me as discussion worthy. Last week my daughters decided that they each wanted to give their favorite driver a card wishing them good luck. They wanted to know if it would be possible to give the drivers that card. Knowing that the paddock would be open, and given IndyCar's stellar access to behind the scenes, I told them that it may indeed be possible. And so, they set to work on their cards.
My 6-year old made this card for Colton Herta.
I never saw the card my 8-year old made for Scott Dixon.
She sealed it in an envelope before any of us saw it, and when she gave it to him she told him not to open it until he was home. She spent over an hour just decorating the envelope, which I stupidly did not take a picture of.
We attended the event Friday-Sunday, and made our first attempt at meeting the drivers on Friday. We didn't see any drivers around. I'm a bit shy (so is my wife) and didn't want to interrupt any of the team workers, so we continued on our way to the souvenir areas. I bought them a bunch of stuff, and I got a couple stickers.
Saturday there was a morning practice, followed by qualifying right around lunchtime, followed by an afternoon practice. Before the afternoon practice I figured was our best shot, so we headed back to the paddock.
We came to Colton Herta's pit first where they were readying the car, and I fought back my shy nature and told one of the team members that my daughter had made Colton a card. He told us to wait right here, and Colton would be there any minute. A few minutes later, Colton arrived on a sweet Honda Cub scooter, and immediately autograph hounds descended. Without so much as a word Colton instantly began signing away at hero cards and whatnot. I waved Colton over, and told him my daughter had a card for him. He asked if he could open it, and my daughter froze, so I said yes for her. He opened it, and said, "Well, he's got a lot of hair, so you sure go that right." She wished him good luck, he thanked her, and we moved on with one very happy child.
We then got to Scott Dixon's pit and waited there. A couple minutes later, we heard another fan say, "Oh, it's Scott Dixon!" We turned around and he was walking up doing the classic racer walking and signing thing. As he walked by, I told him that my daughter had made him a card, and he instinctively reached in with a sharpie to start signing something. He then stopped, and seemed a bit taken aback (in a good way) that this was not an autograph seeker, but a child with something for him. They had a little conversation, and then he resumed his walking and signing while carrying his card. We moved on with a second very happy child.
It struck me as we headed back to our campsite, that there were throngs of people there wanting something FROM the drivers. And credit were credit is due, the drivers were dutifully obliging in a way that IndyCar drivers are known to do.
My daughters, on the other hand, wanted to give something TO them. In exchange they both had a nice little moment that nobody shoving a hero-card in a driver's face to be signed ever gets. I was really proud of them, because the idea to give them a card was completely theirs, and in return they both had an experience that I've never had.
I've never even tried to meet a driver. My shy nature prefers to just watch the happenings. My girls are a lot different than I am, and I really respect that about them. They're so generous and so friendly. It was a damn good Father's Day for me (even if this happened the day before).