Monday, April 14, 2014

Who Do You Think You Are? Mario Andretti?

(This is Part 1 of the "My Epic Weekend" series of posts ... because everything amazing that happened over the weekend will take more than one post to explain.)

I was prepared for a whirlwind of activity as the Long Beach Grand Prix weekend arrived, but I had no idea of how mind-blowing it would end up being. The first day, Friday, was overwhelming, and I spent the next two days coming down from that high (and watching good racing).

To start things off with a bang, my friends Barb and Mary arranged a surprise for me: all three of us got rides in a two-seater IndyCar. That means a pro in the front seat and a passenger (us) in the rear. For one lap around the LBGP circuit, at plenty of speed.

That was exciting enough, and then I was randomly placed into the line to take a turn in the first car. The one being piloted by Mario Andretti. Yes, THE Mario Andretti.

Really, is there anyone you would trust more to drive you around any pavement in any vehicle anywhere?

I got one exhilarating lap around the Long Beach circuit, during which I kept thinking, "REMEMBER THIS! This is Mario F**king Andretti driving. REMEMBER THIS!"

To make matters even more awesome, Barb and Mary had found a friend, pro photographer Scott James, to record our adventures. Like this great shot of me waiting for Mario to pull away. (This image and the next are copyright and courtesy of S. James Photography.)

So not only did we experience an incredible moment—we all did, since Mary got a lap with former pro (and current team co-owner) Davey Hamilton, and Barb went a lap with current pro (and friend) Martin Plowman—but we also got incredible shots to help us remember the moment.

Like this one, just after I'd gotten out of the car and been divested of my helmet. You can hear what I'm thinking, can't you?

"I just got out of a car that Mario Freaking Andretti was driving!"

(Yes, I actually used the swears in my head.)

Then we made our way back to the Indy Racing Experience trailer, where we got out of our firesuits and lingered, talking. That's when Mario returned, changed clothes, and was kind enough to pose for photos with me to commemorate the moment.

And that was what happened in only the first two hours of the race weekend! More to come about the incredible generosity and kindness of the racing family in Part 2....


  1. Barb and Mary are the best at arranging wonderful surprises for friends and family. It looks like it was an amazing experience for all.

  2. It really was, Jackie! Barb and Mary are the best.


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