Truly, More Than A Fan

Change is the only constant. I’ve heard this throughout my life and I’ve taken it to heart. So much so, that I have made an effort to embrace change, “roll with the punches”, and do my best to adapt to my surroundings. This, I believe, is a healthy way to approach and accept change.

Small changes don’t always effect us on a deep level, we deal with it, we move along and with a very short amount of time, we don’t even really notice the difference or long for the past. Big changes however (moving, new job, addition to the family), change us and the way we experience our world and impact us in ways that transform us.

The past few days would be what I classify a significant change for me. The transition from fan to media member at the race track is one that I am falling into comfortably but it didn’t start out that way a short 48 hours ago. Changing the way I approach a race weekend wasn’t something that I could prepare for or rehearse, and the emotional change was something I wasn’t prepared for. If you follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or read my articles regularly, you know that I am straight forward with you. Where one person might pretend they know everything, I’ll flat out tell you it’s a learning process and I’m bringing you the information I have at the time, to the best and truest of my knowledge. This is no different, so I feel no need to hide from you, the transitional period I am currently experiencing.

I am learning the ropes and making the most of my time here at St. Pete’s. I’m enjoying my new role even though at first, I really didn’t know what that was, per say. I threw myself in and had the help and guidance of some pretty amazing individuals who are already in midst of making this “switch” from race fan to race media. Shout out to Amy (@openwheelmom), Erin (lainey_vb131) and Carolyn (@CogitaErgoBibo) for being my spirit guides on this journey – your acceptance of me and direction in the midst of my feeling a bit lost, like the new kid on the first day of school, is something I will never forget and forever be thankful for. I’m sure I’ll be looking seeking advice in the future as well, so I thank you in advance for your patience and help!

I’m prepping right now for the IndyCar Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg which drops the green flag at 3:20pm this afternoon. I have a soft spot for all the rookies competing on the circuit, as I feel like one myself! So I will be rooting for those guys just a little bit louder today…

Mikhail Aleshin, with his mad skills on guitar is looking to prove that he can conduct just as flawless a routine on the streets of St. Pete’s. He starts from P15 today in the SPM #7 and has some proving ground to make up, I think if he can maintain position that it will be a success, but perhaps the goal of finishing in the top 10 would be a good one for him on his first IndyCar adventure.

Jack Hawksworth, a graduate of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder will be in the #98 for Bryan Herta Autosports today, starting from P8. He is going to be one to watch as his practice session were quite impressive, and he even found himself in the advancing Top 12 group, on his career-first IndyCar qualifying attempt.

Carlos Huertas, the latest entrant to the 2014 IndyCar field, is partnered with Dale Coyne racing in the #18. Carlos starts one position behind his teammate, Justin Wilson, in Row 9. He stayed clean during practices this weekend and the warm-up this morning but I believe he is just testing the waters on this circuit, finding his groove and aiming to finish all 110 laps without error. While I do think this race will be unpredictable, I don’t think he will make a huge splash or any jaw-dropping advance just yet.

The last rookie in today’s field is actually a familiar name if you follow the IndyCar Series regularly. Carlos Munoz, the newest driver on the Andretti Autosport team, turned a lot of heads last season with his impressive run at the Indianapolis 500 as well as time in the car both at Toronto & Fontana. He is the highest qualifying rookie this weekend, starting from P7 in Row 4, driving the #34 Cinsay Honda. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Munoz on the podium this evening, if he has learned to control and maintain his unique driving prowess. His obvious talent combined with finesse and speed could be a force to be reckoned with in 2014 as long as he doesn’t get out of control with creating his own lines. Something about being outside the lines DOES work though… after all, he was the fastest lap in today’s warm up session!

The rookies are spread throughout the field today and they all face unique challenges, from finding comfort in a brand new series, to finding their place on a team and the balance of work with a teammate, to making a name for themselves without tarnishing it by being too brash too soon.

I find myself in the same position… just not in the field. I’m finding comfort in a new aspect of the racing world that I was always in admiration of but never an actual part of until now. I’m learning that being a member of the media, while initially made me feel lonely, is now proving to be a welcoming group of talented and well-intentioned individuals willing to help out and accepting me for following my passion. I am continuing the quest of making a name for myself… it was pretty cool when fellow media & even some drivers knew who I was by my writing and/or Twitter handle this weekend… I will do my best to stay true to myself and the series that I love so much. I am as in love with the cars as I am the people and it’s always my goal to give you the human side of racing as much as the analytical & technical side.

As this transition progresses, I am sure I will hit bumps on the way but I can tell you one thing… I will not give up. I’ll fight through, learn from my mistakes, and come out a better writer and a better person for it all. Why am I so confident about that? It’s because these rookies and I have one big thing in common… we have DRIVE.