Ah, the romance of the Verizon IndyCar Series. It is wonderful to be part of the color, glamour and excitement of these incredible races.
That moment when all the cars sit side by side on the grid before a race is very special. The sun dances off the cars and pit gear. The uniforms are bright and vibrant. From the stands or on television, it is a swirl of color and the pulse quickens.
Then the flash of green and the scream of the engines. Inches apart and closer they fly in formation. No one gives quarter. Then the pit stops, the choreographed 7 seconds where the team interlocks to pick up a few thousandths of a second if possible. The timing, the tactics.
Then the end and winner’s circle. It’s joy and smiles and again the kaleidoscope of color. Elsewhere, other celebrations happen with other teams who have met a different goal they sought. And the disappointment of those who tried as hard as possible. It’s INDYCAR! Wouldn’t you love to do that?
Hold on a second. All the glory comes after heavy payment.
Consider these weeks in mid-summer. Drivers are constantly being pulled from all directions with appearances and sponsor commitments and yet their key job racing and testing. It is constant. But think about the people, the team members.
One race right after another. Go to a race in a romantic place – of course, you don’t see much other than the track and your hotel room – and come home. Not so fast. Crews are at the track at first light. They are the last to leave and it is not uncommon to work into the night.
While winners are celebrating and we are talking about results, the crews are taking everything apart and loading the transporters. The trucks drive overnight, sometimes straight to a test as is the case this week with everyone going Thursday to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course ahead of the next race July 31, The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.
When races run back-to-back, it gets harder. After a race, teams hustle their cars back to the shop in Indianapolis, North Carolina, outside Chicago – wherever they are based – scramble to fix any crash damage, get the car set up for the next race and head back on the road on Wednesday or Thursday. Load the car and send it to be all set up Friday morning at the next event.
And when it’s only a shop week, the long hours are tough. Again, assuming you didn’t wreck the car.
These crew members have families and private lives and try to balance both. But racing requires this dedication and they are happy to give. Again, the price is heavy. The life is unpredictable in a wide variety of ways.
INDYCAR is at the pinnacle of racing, but not without sacrifice, dedication and devotion. Is it worth it? These hard-working crews think so.