When I was a kid, Christmas used to be easy. I’d write my letter to Santa, asking him for the latest slot car set or hot wheels track so my brother and I could live our dreams of the Indy 500.Nowadays, it’s not so easy.
We still make lists in my family, but gifts are so much more practical. I take gift giving seriously, so if you’re like me and you’ve stumped your family on what they should get their favorite INDYCAR fan for Christmas? Here are a few suggestions from my lists of Christmases past. (Note to my family, I already have most of this so, don’t bother).
You may know Jim Swintal as the longtime starter of CART or the current voice of INDYCAR’s race control, but he’s also an accomplished motorsports artist. Two of his latest prints involve the Firestone Indy Lights and both are available on his website.
“In regard to “Learning Curve,” the title of the JK Vernay Champion’s painting, it’s the most recent of fourteen paintings commissioned by Firestone since they entered the series as title sponsor. The first piece I did was for Eric Bachelart’ s championship back in 1991. When Firestone rejoined the ’second era’ of the series in 2008, we picked it right back up again. I always select an important moment to portray in the champion’s painting and JK made a decisive pass on James Hinchcliffe for the lead at the Watkins Glen ‘bus stop’ chicane. I knew it was big as soon as I saw it on the monitors from race control, so at the end of the day I went out there with a camera while everything was being packed up and recorded the reference photos and angles of the background that I needed.
25 YEARS of Champions
“The “25 Years of Champions” painting honoring Roger Bailey was a thrill because I’ve been involved with the series for so long. It was my first officiating gig as the Starter for the first Indy Lights Series in the early Nineties, and Roger played a large part in the decision to let me up there! Tony George Jr. and Arni Sribhen with the series deserve the credit for coming up with the painting idea and I just filled in with the ‘ 25 Champion’s’ bit as I had already created images of 13 of the cars. I created smaller versions of those same car images from the champion’s paintings over again and found suitable angles for the rest, back to 1986. The only one I needed help on was Jon Beekhuis’ 1988 winner. I remembered a red, white and blue paint scheme but I only had a black and white reference photo. Jon helped out by showing me a video that was made of his ‘88 Mid-Ohio victory, which he ran for me in the broadcast booth in Sonoma.”
You may never run 225 mph down the Frontstretch at Indianapolis in a real IZOD IndyCar Series machine, but with iRacing.com’s simulator, you can in a virtual replica of the Dallara/Honda/Firestone that races every May. An added surprise is that you may end up racing against IZOD IndyCar Series drivers as Justin Wilson, Will Power and Martin Plowman are avid users of the game. For just $24.00, get a three month iRacing.com membership, and the Dallara IndyCar for FREE!
Officially licensed in cooperation with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indianapolis 500: A Century of Excitement celebrates the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 and is a must-have for any fan of the 500. Ralph Kramer’s book features beautiful photos and an eloquent foreword by David Letterman, which are the highlights of the book for me. I’ve heard that even Randy Bernard is giving these as gifts this holiday season.
Classic liveries of winning Indianapolis 500-winning cars inspired IZOD to create a line of t-shirts that make a great gift for race fans. Drivers such as Bobby Unser , Mark Donohue, Bill Vukovich and Ray Harroun are honored by the 100-percent cotton shirts.
While it may be too late to grab these items for the holidays, keep in mind that birthdays are a good time to gift these items as well. What did you buy for your favorite INDYCAR fan this Christmas?