Round 7 – Texas

Slightly Off Track: Texas

When we arrived in the Lone Star State, there was something weighing on my mind. Since Emily (our client relations master) is from Texas, I decided to ask her.

“Emily,” I said, “Is it true that you can walk down the street here and sing ‘The stars at night… are big and bright…’ and then all the people will finish with ‘Deep in the heart of Texas?’”

And also, “Is there a basement in the Alamo?”

Turns out that Emily is too young to even remember Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. Score one for us old people.

I also have to thank Emily (one more time), on behalf of the crew, for booking us a 5:15 a.m. flight from Indy to Dallas-Fort Worth… through Charlotte. Lead engineer Todd Malloy specifically congratulated Emily for the earliest flight he’s ever taken in motorsports. A 2:45 a.m. wakeup call is… special.

Life is made up of moments and Friday afternoon at TMS is one of those that will forever be etched in my memory. In oval qualifying, you get to the front of the line, fire the car, watch it take off and then get the heck outta the way for the next team in line. Then there’s the long walk back to the pit entrance to greet your driver after the qualifying run.

On this particular walk back to pit in, I moseyed on back (Texas vocab, folks) and happened to glance up at the scoring pylon. There it was: As the skies parted, a trumpet blared and the 98 gleamed at the top of the list. At least that’s the way it happened in my head.

I threw my hands up in celebration and ran the rest of the way down to meet the crew guys (they get a pit cart… no moseying for them). We watched the second lap anxiously and tried not to get too excited about the qualifying attempt that we knew in our hearts was good enough.

If you haven’t heard the story yet, Tag made a bet with his engineers that if they gave him a good enough car to be on the pole, he would wear cowboy boots for driver intros. Always a man to honor his bet, he did just that. Helping him “tight roll” (another reference for us old-timers) the bottom of his firesuit pant legs and cram him into the boots was (painful but) precious. My favorite part was not that he actually looked like a little action figure cowboy, but the fact that he said, “These are brown. They don’t really go with our Barracuda blue and silver.” Yes, THAT’S the only thing wrong with this picture.

I’m sure I could write an entire blog series on how fun it is to be part of this great team. I’ve been trying to give the fans a glimpse into just how dynamic our crew is through social media and other random opportunities. It’s great to perform on track because it’s visible proof that Barracuda Racing is accomplishing what we set out to do. But I honestly believe that it’s the guy behind the wheel and the people behind those setup changes that are the essence of why we’re the team you should cheer for. And follow. And tell your friends to follow. And their friends.

On to the Milwaukee Mile! Being a Wisconsin girl, The Mile is my home track and I can’t wait to see what this weekend brings. Did you know that the track opened in 1903? A full eight years before the Indianapolis Motor Speedway! It’s the longest continually-operating speedway in the world.

*grabs some Wisconsin cheese, raises (Miller & Leinenkugels) beers* Cheers! We’ll see you out at The Mile!

The Hot Lap

Miles traveled by the Barracuda Racing crew: 2,989

Percent of crew guys who don’t believe “it’s a dry heat”: 100

Bottles of Gatorade and water consumed: 237

Sets of Firestone tires: 9

Golf carts stolen by Emily and yours truly: 1 (thanks, Townsend!)

BBQ pits at the Cuda Lounge/Motegi Racing hospitality: 4

Tweetup tshirts given away this season: 589

Times IndyCar has raced at TMS: 23

Cars in front of the No. 98 at the start of the Firestone 550: 1 (the pace car)

Peak Pole Award: $10,000

Laps lead in race: 20

Chances of Tag wearing the boots when he hasn’t lost a bet: Pretty good

Number of pics in the Firestone 550 photo album: 90 (check them out here: http://tiny.cc/k1sufw )