[ADMIN NOTE: Indy Lights drivers Martin Plowman and James Hinchcliffe were in Kansas this past weekend, performing their duties as Pace Car drivers. Check out what they got into, or their blog first post, here.]
Kansas marked the first weekend that James and I travelled to a non-Firestone Indy Lights race weekend together as part of the Pace Car Team, and it didn’t disappoint. “Hinch and Plowey” sounds like a circus sideshow; we are more like a circus freak show! But less talk about Hinch and more talk about our weekend.
First off, we flew out to sunny Kansas (ironic comment), bright and early Friday morning. We were flying out in style on the IRL’s private jet out of Indianapolis International Airport. We rocked into the INDYCAR aviation hanger, walked inside, no check in lines, no security lines, nothing. “This is the life,” I thought. That was until we boarded the plane, sat down in the second row behind IRL CEO Randy Bernard, and prepared to taxi to the runway.
The cabin attendant motioned me to the front of the plane and told me that since I was new, I had to learn the safety features of the plane. What she really meant was, “Come up to the front and give the ENTIRE safety briefing to the 50+ battle hardened IRL officials.” It turned out to be some sick new boy initiation, which my fellow teammate, Hinch, thought was hilarious, believing he had lucked out by escaping humiliation. What he didn’t know was that bigger and better things were marked out for him, as he was chosen to serve breakfast to the entire flight.
I’m not sure that being a flight attendant will be added to my list of prospective alternative careers after I stop racing, although at least I can now say that I have tried it and respect what they do.
Once at the track, the rain washed out our busy schedule on Friday, but that was the least of our worries! With threats of severe weather looming and the memory of last years tornado that passed through the state at this race last year. I was getting ready to take cover in the hotel bathtub or something to that extent. Once the worst of the weather had passed it was as if someone had flipped a switch. Within a couple of hours the skies cleared up, the wind had died down, and the air was soon filled with the smell of burning ethanol.
During the afternoon, Hinch and I filmed a comedy sketch for IndyCar TV. I’m not going to give away too many details, but it may be aired for the first time at Iowa Speedway in June if it successfully makes the cut. If it doesn’t, then I will totally be pinning the blame on Hinch for his poor performance.
Friday night was by far the highlight of my day, as we went for a very nice sushi dinner courtesy of my boss, Ruthie Forbes. I’m a die-hard sushi fan, so it was a nice end to an otherwise boring day! Saturday morning, I finally got my moment to shine. Despite the poor weather, we still had a respectable turn out for our pace car rides. In total, I gave about 15 rides to 30 people in a 30-minute window after the IndyCars had finished their installation checks. No one died, which for me is total success (and a new record).
I shouldn’t joke about things like, but hey, we Brits are noted for having a morbid sense of humor! I’m just keeping things light hearted. Besides, when I tell my passengers that casualties have been low today, it just adds to their feeling of, “Oh my gosh. What have I gotten myself into?” Their sense of security evaporates, which in turn only enhances their pace car ride experience! Boom! Genius!
Hinch and I made a quick trip to visit the Indy Downforce Club, where we got to meet some really cool people and the real die-hard fans of IndyCar. I always love spending time with them because they get racing. It’s in their blood. If you haven’t been a part of the Indy Downforce Club before, I would highly recommend it.
Our final on track appearance came as we lead out the field in front of the official pace car. It was a cool experience to check my rear view mirror and see 27 Indy cars bearing down on me! A sign of things to come I hope! Overall, Kansas was fun. Hinch and I definitely took it easy on them this time. I suppose we are just saving ourselves for an insanely busy month of May in Indy. I can’t believe it is finally here! We’ve only been waiting for a year…hold your breath!
Well here we are at Kansas! As much as I wish the Firestone Indy Lights were racing here, and we were not here solely on Pace Car duties, it’s always great to be at race track! This weekend Plowey and I were recruited to head up the Pace Car Team responsibilities. I find this very entertaining as neither one of us is really that responsible, but I digress. Our weekend was short, and started with a very early wake up call on Friday to catch the flight to Kansas. On said flight, Plowey was forced to give the pre-flight safety demo and I had an apron slapped on me (that had “Lisa” written on it) and was coerced to serve the whole plane breakfast.
From the moment we landed it was straight to work. Or, at least it was supposed to be! We arrived to weather reminiscent of something Dorothy herself would have recognized. Needless to say, that halted all the on track activity and made for a long day of waiting around in the newly formed Pace Car Team office, surfing the net and eating candy. Plowey was quite good at ‘The Hardest Game In The World”.
The only work we did get done was causing all sorts of trouble with Lauren Bohlander while filming a piece for the race in Iowa. Stay tuned!
Luckily the safety team was able to dry the track and the IndyCars were able to get on track for practice and qualifying. Sadly, all of the duties bestowed upon Plowey and myself were cancelled for one reason or another. On to day two!
We woke up Saturday to cold but dry weather. Our day comprised of Pace Car rides early in the am, which made us both wish that the Firestone Indy Lights series was in town! But our Honda Accords did us just fine and we scared the pants of some lucky guests. From there it was an awesome appearance at the Fan Zone that reiterated how amazing the IndyCar fans really are and then pacing the field before the start of the race.
Congrats to Scott Dixon and Target Chip Ganassi Racing on a great win and also TK and Helio for getting into the top five and helping my fantasy picks! See you guys in Indy.