One Down, Four To Go

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Well, here we are. Officially one month into the IndyCar off-season. As I sit here and hope with bated breath that a certain few charismatic drivers will renew their obviously-titled YouTube series for another winter, I have to admit that my time away from the tracks, while certainly difficult, is well spent and just as busy as ever. We never feel completely disconnected from the sport we love, though – we have the updates from multiple racing websites and from IndyCar itself, we’ve been checking out the new car colors, hearing about newly acquired drivers to the series, and of course reading profiles and updates on what the current drivers are up to during the colder months.

Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for all of this but also love that I can spend more time on some of my other passions – one in particular, actually – live music. In fact, the first concert of my “IndyCar off-season” was the day after Fontana – I jumped in the car a few hours after the checkered flag and drove from Cleveland up to Ann Arbor, MI for a show at The Ark. (Which by the way, is an awesomely intimate venue to check out some serious talent and I highly recommend taking in a show there if you get the opportunity.) The majority of my time since the finale has indeed been spent at concerts or planning to go to them. In fact, this week I’m attending three… in two different cities.

While I absolutely love attending live music concerts, I don’t actually play any instruments. Thinking about this and the fact that I had an article to write made me wonder about connections between the two loves of my life… live music and IndyCar. My first thought was the Carb Day concerts over the Indy 500 weekend, which are always memorable, not to mention the modern-day Snake Pit on raceday. But other than that, I didn’t have any immediate references in the back of my mind. Then I came across this little gem from 2011 on YouTube. The idea of an “IndyCar Drivers Band” certainly grabbed my attention in the Google search. I had to watch.

Let me go on a tangent here for a moment and volunteer this information: I’ve always wanted to learn to play the drums. Heck, in my mind (or maybe moreso just in my car at the steering wheel, banging away while driving) I AM a drummer. It’s even an ongoing joke with my friends and I, that I have a “thing” for drummers – usually the realization that they play the drums comes after my initial infatuation with the guy… but still, it’s uncanny how many times that’s occurred in my life. Anyhow, I guess that’s why I almost spit out my Diet Coke when I was watching this interview and all the male IndyCar drivers were saying how they would play the drums if they could pick any instrument to play. Like I didn’t love these guys enough already!

I mean, could it get any better than that? I’ve always loved racing. I’ve always loved live music. And not just for what they are at the surface level, but I love the backstage of it all… the pits, the paddock, the industry, the musicians, the drivers. I’m starting to see so many similarities between these two passions of mine – it’s not just the end product (the concert, the race) that I’m in love with… but the build-up. The practices, the qualifying, the rehearsals, the sound checks… these are just as great, if not better, many times. Think about when you have a big event to go to, isn’t half the fun of it getting ready? Planning the trip, finding the perfect thing to wear, (and then for us girls, doing our hair & makeup with our friends)… it’s the anticipation of the fun about to be had, the preparation and butterflies that come before you “go live”.  That adrenaline rush is addictive. It makes you feel alive.

Maybe that’s why a passionate fan like me can feel like such a part of these worlds.  Drivers and musicians get the same kind of rush before it’s time to perform – their heart races, their goal is clear, their prep can be methodical – jumping around behind the curtain or the pit wall to get the blood flowing or maybe taking a moment to mentally gather themselves and finding a nearly meditative state prior to taking their respective stages – either way, when race day or show night is finally upon us… we all have the same focus and we all strive for an amazing experience.

Now, while these experiences are not a daily occurrence, I do my best to enjoy every day to the fullest. One of the ways I do that is keeping my music close – I usually have my iPod and my earbuds with me everywhere I go. Hiking, walking around a museum, even running errands by myself or waiting in line at the airport… they’re with me. I had an epiphany while writing this week though – the one place I go without them, is the track. I don’t need a soundtrack when the track itself creates all the best sounds I could imagine! From the revving of the engines, the laughter and conversations in the paddock, and the squelching of someone’s radio next to me in the stands, to the “Fah-kink” sound of my camera lens grabbing a shot of me & my favorite driver and the squeaky horn of a motor scooter carrying a team owner to the pits… I mean, what more could a girl ask for? I suppose that’s why I’ve never understood earplugs at races… I don’t want a single thing to muffle the sound of those engines. During that aforementioned YouTube video interview, reigning Indianapolis 500 Champion, Tony Kanaan, stated that he never played a musical instrument. He went on to say that all he can do is drive. Well TK, I have to say that personally, I find you to be a lovely musician because the sound of an IndyCar on race weekend… is music to my ears.