The first spring that I started dating Ryan, I had no idea what I was in for. Not only did I meet Ryan’s parents for the first time, but I got my first taste of speed at the Indianapolis 500 (Indy 500). We were pumped when we found out that we would be going. So, we went out and bought our race gear aka the most American apparel that we could find. I bought these bought these awful denim acid washed American flags shorts. Looking back THANK GOD it was way too cold for us to wear any of those clothes.
I went in knowing absolutely nothing about Indy Car Racing, but was determined to have a good time. The only thing that I knew was that I was putting all my chips on Tony Kannan, a Brazilian Indy driver, racing for KV Racing Technology at the time. Lucky for me it paid off. Tony slipped into the number 1 spot on lap 198 and went on to take home the championship title after Dario Franchitti crashed shortly there after and the final laps remained in cautionary status. Besides Tony winning, somewhere in the 200 laps and the humming of Indy Cars zooming by, the anxiety from the drivers switching positions, the wrecks, and the fight for the championship title, I found an appreciation for the sport and a good nap. You realize how much hard work, heart, and dedication the men and women that race Indy car put into it starting at an early age.
My in laws still make it to Indy every year, but Ryan and I have yet to go back. Not to be dismissed though, we have found a new Indy tradition to partake in with my in laws…Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
This year was our second trip to the Grand Prix and although Tony Kanaan didn’t win, it still turned out to be a memorable race. My sweet father in law, always buys the Champions Club Pass which gives you access to the pit stops to check out the driver’s cars and see the drivers ups close and after spotting Arie Luyendyk Jr. and Lauren from this season’ of ABC’s The Bachelor, at the Mario Andretti Pit Stop, and having a slight moment of anxiety Ryan pushed me right up to them. I tapped Arie on the shoulder at the same time he went in to give Lauren a kiss *insert palm to face* and said “Excuse me…” Much to the help of one of the Andretti Pit Team members who let them know they had one more, Arie and Lauren turned to me and I asked shyly if I could take a picture of them while congratulating them. They politely said “Sure!” As I went to get my picture of them, Ryan said “well why don’t you get in there with them?” As I went to give him my camera, I realized that my hands were shaking uncontrollably. I turned to Arie and Lauren and said, “Sorry! I’m so nervous.” The both laughed and reassured me, “Aww..don’t be.” They were genuinely incredibly sweet. I cannot go without giving an extra thanks to my hubs for always giving me that extra push to get in there when I need it.
After checking out the pit stops of both of our favorite drivers, Ryan Hunter Ray for Ryan and Tony Kanaan for me, we hurried back to our seats just in time for the start of the race. The Grand Prix course encompasses the area around Pioneer Park, Al Lang Stadium, the Yacht Club, down to Albert Whitted Airport. The track length is 1.8 miles for a total of 110 laps and a 198 miles.
Canadian Rookie, Robert Wickens racing for Schmidt Peterson Motorsport led for the majority of the race. The last 8 laps were the most eventful with caution flags coming at what felt like almost every 2 or 3 laps. The final caution flag came in lap 108 when Alexander Rossi and Robert Wickens struck each other at turn 1 just in front of us. With their being little to no hope that the accident would clear up before the final 2 laps were completed the final rankings stood as they were at that moment with Sebastian Bourdais taking home his second consecutive Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg title.
On top of the Indy Car races there are several other races including the Pro Mazda, Indy Lights, and GT-GTA-GT (think Ferarris, BMWs, Mercedes Benzes, Bentley, Maseratis, Porsches, & McLarens) races and you can’t forget the gorgeous bay and St. Pete’s continuous growth. If you’re looking for a fun adrenaline packed weekend and in the Tampa Bay area in early March, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is worth attending. Find more pictures from the Grand Prix in the next post.
See original post from 3/12/18 on http://www.georgianajourney.weebly.com