Crash! Boom! Bang! Yes, it happens to us all.

Absolutely a dominating performance
to take the pole in Nashville

How can we start out with anything less than reminiscing over what could have been at the inaugural Indy Car event through the streets of Nashville. Around the carpark of the NFL Titan’s football stadium, across the bridge, around a tight Nashville city triangle and back over the bridge! Margo and I have been following the Indy racing this year and haven’t missed one weekend watching practices, qualification as well as the races themselves. When you have almost-family members as full time Indy racer it brings with it just that added spice of excitement.

Following a brief summer hiatus which we think had a lot to do with the Olympics being televised by the same network that covers Indy races, there were back-to-back races in Nashville and Indianapolis. A twisting and unforgiving street course in Nashville followed by a proper road course in Indianapolis. Before we cover the race at Indy, it’s worth revisiting the weekend in Nashville as it provided added drama to the pursuit of the championship for the contenders.

Now, listen to dad, Colton, and perhaps
there is still room for improvement.

What can we say about the Indy race in Nashville that hasn’t already been covered by the popular press? And what can we say about Colton Herta? Colton, grandson of our good friends, the Kennys, continues to amaze us all and it looked very much like this would be his weekend where he would be able to add some serious silverware to his collection as well as much needed championship points.  

By now we all should know of his big win early in the year at the street-course race in St Petersburg, Florida, where he had the perfect weekend in the perfect car. He led for 97 of the 100 laps and delivered a performance that separated him from all his competitors. It was also the venue of his fourth Indy race victory that tied him with his dad, Bryan who took many more years to achieve that same number of race wins.  

It’s good to have fans wearing #26 in gold!

As the Indy 500 took center stage Andretti Autosports together with Gainbridge and yes, as we were to later hear, support from Honda, announced a two year deal that would see Colton not just finish out 2021 but compete in all events in 2022 and 2023! Perfection, so it seems, was clearly rewarded this time!

Returning to the event in Nashville, for all of the practices and right through qualification, Colton topped the time sheets. It looked like he had the perfect car once again and on a street course that bore similarities to that at St Pete. As the weekend unfolded, he proved that he was in a class of his own so much so that during qualification, on his penultimate lap, he locked in P1 for the race. But wait, he wasn’t finished.

He then clocked an even faster lap on his final outing around the streets of Nashville. This lead to some interesting tweets from Racer Magazine reporter, Marshall Pruett who has been following Colton’s career for a number of years:

Qualifying first meant Colton would have the track to himself running, as he would be, in clean air! However, come Sunday and the race proper, after Colton absolutely dominated the first half of the race there were a couple of yellow flags that saw him having to then drive the race of his life as he played catch-up. Clawing his way back to second place with only a handful of laps remaining he was looking good.  

And then he crashed.

When you miss an apex and there is nothing but wall!

A mental error and one where as the week unfolded he just couldn’t forgive himself. No St Pete, Re Pete! No points to add to his championship standings! No celebrations on the podium! Of course, it’s racing, but then again, you just had to feel for the young lad. This pretty much ended his challenge for first place in the overall championship. It also puts him a big hole when it comes to finishing in the top five – you may remember that in only his second year he finished third in the championship.

Whereas last year was all about consistency and this year it’s clearly been about tire and fuel management, there have been times where he just didn’t have the car or where the timing of yellow flags or even miscues among his pit team have all had an impact on his overall performance. It’s probably best left to making martinis when you consider shaking or stirring but then again, Indy racers are just out there providing audiences with one more form of entertainment.

A podium at Indy and a racer’s life is back on track!

Yes, it is racing and yes, it is as much a mind game as anything else and picking yourself after a depressing late race crash that took away everything you had worked for all weekend – you and your team – and then to come back and stand on Indy’s famous podium must have seemed magical to Team Herta and the Andretti family. And so we will continue to watch Colton race these last four events with fingers crossed that he climbs up to fifth place overall. But the story wouldn't be complete if we didn't reference how happy Colton was to see the winner at Indy, Wil Power, almost choke on his celebratory swig of champagne. 

There you go, Wil; drink it all up. It may be your last time in 2021.

Returning to our daily routines, this past weekend was a reminder that it’s not all about racing or about the racing personalities we have met. Margo and I spend a lot of time on the road and already business has taken us to both coasts and the time we spent on the road was among the more satisfying moments of the year. Yes, we drove the Tail of the Dragon but we also drove the interstate across the prairies. We negotiated city traffic in places like Atlanta and St Louis even as we did find time to spend a night in Nashville.

Unfortunately, it always seems that simply going about our daily routines can be every bit as dangerous as driving an Indy car. This past weekend as we began a short drive down to Boulder, we had our own “Nashville moment”. Our Interstate highway in Northern Colorado has been ripped apart almost from the time we first moved into our Windsor home. More recently though, temporary lanes have been laid down while the real work of expanding the Interstate’s lanes and interchanges meant all drivers were funneled into two lanes surrounded by concrete barriers. No emergency lanes with absolutely no room to pull off the pavement. 

The cars that carry PYALLA1 and PYALLA2 – we have backup!

Entry to the temporary lanes was via a savage entry chicane that in turn, fed another temporary chicane less than a mile later. With hindsight, it seemed like an accident waiting to happen and indeed, there hasn’t been a weekend where we haven’t passed one multicar pile-up or another. This weekend we had elected to drive our Range Rover Evoque two-door ragtop SUV convertible. As we passed the first chicane where we had no need to brake as it was pretty routine we headed up the hill to the second chicane.

An older Ford F150 pick up towing a caravan decided to catch up with us. Accelerating up the hill to where his speed passed 60 mph (in the 50 mph zone), the driver had nothing in reserve when drivers ahead slowed to a crawl to pass through that second chicane. It all happened in slow motion but even so, nothing prepares you for being rear ended by a truck and trailer combination going at 60 miles per hour.

Smashing Pumpkins – L’il Pumpkin is on life support …

Crash became boom and bang as cars were thrown in many directions. The severity of the hit we took triggered all the airbags to inflate, thankfully, and to propel us into the rear of another pick-up truck. A last minute decision by the blue Ford F150 to attempt to swerve around us only meant that the full impact was felt on our passenger side rear quarter. However, it also meant that cars passing in the second lane also became victims.

Shutting down an Interstate highway on a Sunday afternoon at a time when so many visitors to the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally were heading south, caused pandemonium. Emergency vehicles simply couldn’t reach us. Both lanes were blocked. Eventually it was all sorted out but it took more than an hour before our car was lifted onto a flatbed tow vehicle and before we took a ride first in the fire truck that attended the scene and then all the way home in the back seat of a Colorado State Patrol trooper. 

Took little chitchat to get Margo smiling in the fire truck

We relayed this news to our daughter and told her about our ride in the fire truck and the police car and we hope that our grandkids got excited by the news. But no, they wouldn’t let us turn on the sirens; oh well!

Whereas I looked at ease in the back seat of the police cruiser

With both of us nursing bumps and bruises we simply looked at each other and sighed! Could have been a lot worse! Accidents on Interstates where vehicles routinely ignore speed limits are unpredictable and a few inches, either way, and the results could have been devastating. Having said that there is much praise we can heap onto out beloved and perhaps mortally wounded Range Rover – it took the beating that otherwise could have been inflicted on us both.

So sad … what can we possibly add to this image!

You may recall that last month we wrote about the addition of a used SUV onto our driveway. It had been our daughter Anna’s well looked after daily drive for many years. With the future of our Range Rover uncertain it’s almost serendipitous that we have a backup with fall on its way – last year we had a serious snowstorm hit us before summer had officially ended. Who could have imagined it would become our go-to car for the foreseeable future? Who would have thought that there would now be space in the garage to park where once we parked “L’il Pumpkin” as we had so lovingly called our Range Rover?

Once again, we have been reminded that nothing should ever be taken for granted. A simple drive to the store for a head of lettuce would easily turn into an adventure where we would otherwise not want to participate. We are taking a few days to sort out our bumps and bruises even as we let the adrenalin leave us. Indy car drivers take crashes in their stride as unwanted as they might be and yet, being a form of entertainment many of us enjoy watching, it is so far from entertaining when it happens to you. 

To take a sip only after a win? Seems fair, Colton!

Summer isn’t done with us yet and fall is most definitely around the corner with perhaps snow lurking in future forecasts. It will be hard though to shake those memories of crash, boom, bang, and yet our commitment to driving to any and all events hasn’t lessened in any fashion. On the other hand, there is something to be said about the safety provided by modern cars if only it wasn’t that Margo and I now have bodies that well, should neither be shaken or stirred. 


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