Showtime: Grandparents, grandkids and grand times!

 

For everything there is a season,
and a time for every purpose under heaven.

In these volatile times as economies begin to grapple with some semblance of normalcy it takes very little to move the stock indices either up or down. For those with a penchant for investing, it’s not about timing but rather, investing in stocks about which you know something. I was reminded of this when I read on the CNBC news channel, “Don’t just do something, stand there!” While whoever made this comment – some say it was President Eisenhower, while others recall it predates him - the point is well made. Having written this it is also worth remembering that it’s not just stocks that change but the seasons and here in Colorado, there are many reminders with each turn of a calendar’s page.

For Margo and me it has been about adjusting to life at home. We have now recovered in full from the terrible car crash we had a few months ago, with bruising and lacerations no longer visible. However, there is just a tad of remorse over our lost car, declared a total loss by our insurer, as it too reminded us of the seasons. What could possibly be mistaken about and orange and black convertible SUV that we called L’il Pumpkin? In a week or so, Halloween will descend upon us and for Margo and me it’s a time to turn off the lights and retreat to our media room.

A simple toast to the season courtesy of Treasury Wine Estates,
owners of Penfolds and Beringer

Now that summer’s heat has mellowed and the cooler evening air is with us, it’s time for outdoor living. Autumn has always been a time to grill and enjoy dining al fresco. The wine cellar is always our first place of call as we have gradually populated it with vintages we will be able to enjoy well into the New Year. Of course, unwinding at the end of the day continues to prove challenging as our work-lives continue to interrupt much of what would otherwise be considered quiet time. If I were completely honest about it, I would be reading books as the day winds down but about the only time either Margo or I do get to read is when we are on vacation and that simply hasn’t been an option for many months.

Yet, here we are, more often than not seated beneath an evening sky that grows darker earlier with each day as we pull the cork from the bottle. On the other hand standing over the BBQ, as I tend to the steak – at the time this photo was taken it was a classic marinated tri-tip steak - I do get to enjoy the heat radiating from the iron grills. Throw in a few vegetables and a little horseradish and all is well with life. The sprinklers are no longer in operation, with all the lines having been blown with the change of season, but looking out across the mix of red, orange and yellow foliage provides a wonderful sight. We were fortunate to get one glimpse of Colorful Colorado as the aspens turned gold but now they too have succumbed to the weather. It’s as if indeed “the gales of November came early”.

There is always something pleasant developing
when we get to throw another steak on the Barbie!

Our combination cellar, bar and media room has become our most visited room in the house. The outside grill may have its upside during summer and early fall but as the temperatures drops there’s no place like a retreat where you can sit by the fire, watch a movie, a sports telecast or just a sitcom on television. For Margo and me our decision to complete the build out of the lower level of our home has proved to be a wise decision. It has become our refuge and as soon as the clock moves past four o’clock, pens are put down, keyboards set aside as we both trek to the kitchenette bar. Drinks, anyone?

This area is adorned with the artwork we have collected over time even as you will likely come across a die caste model of a car we once owned or even planned to own. On two occasions we have had the Sydney artist, Billich’s autograph and he even added a comment on reproductions he created from his originals making them very special renditions. The occasion? Our third and twentieth wedding anniversary. However, this area is also the place where all of our entertainment of late has taken place and even when you consider how short a time we have lived in Windsor, Colorado, we now have more friends dropping by our home than we ever saw in our former home in Niwot, Colorado. 

If you are in the neighborhood,
stop and say Hi!

As much as L’il Pumpkin is no longer a much-loved part of our life, indeed our family, in some respects, at this time of year it becomes very hard to ignore those bright orange pumpkins adorning so many homes’ entrances. Drive down any street in America and that ubiquitous pumpkin takes pride of place on the top step leading into residences whether simple or ostentatious. It matters little the socioeconomic level of the occupants, it just seems the right thing to do with the onset of fall. 

Showtime? You want to read more about showtime? Our good friends Brian and Jan Kenny have followed the exploits of their grandkid, Colton Herta, as he continues to build on his promising start to a career as a professional race car driver campaigning in the Indy Car Series. Even as events overtook him sometimes, he managed to put on quite the show and finish the year with back-to-back dominant wins at Laguna Seca, Monterey, and on the streets of Long Beach where he continually stretched his lead over the opposition that continued even as a flurry of yellow flags appeared late in the race. 

On the tight, twisting, streets of Long Beach at almost the halfway point,
Colton had passed those thirteen cars ahead of him at the start. 

For part of this journey, Margo and I have been there alongside Brian and Jan as Colton has progressed from karting through the junior open wheel formulas. Watching him of late, however, one thing became very clear. The lad is not just talented but in many ways is a true phenomenon. With dad Bryan as strategist and confidant, Colton has not only progressed in this perhaps most competitive of all sports but has reeled off multiple dominant performances in 2021.

As Marshall Pruett recently said in a podcast “this kid at 21  - 22 in March next year – could fire off 1, 2, 3 (Indy Car Series) championships pretty quickly even 2 or 3 in a  row; (Colton) could be this generation’s Scott Dixon; he has the potential to be legendary!” When his qualifying strategy for that last race in Long Beach didn’t work out (even as he had topped every practice session), leaving him in fourteenth position on the starting grid, he showed little concern. Indeed, as we were to hear much later, when asked at a dinner for his sponsors that Saturday night, what his race strategy would be he simply said, “I will have to pass thirteen other cars.” On a street course, with very little space to pass? You have to be kidding, Colton, but that’s exactly what he did.    

When you are a French racer, even when finishing in third place,
you aren’t about to waste the champagne

Hanging out with your grandparents remains an occasion for Colton and his connection to his extended family are something Margo and I have witnessed now for more than a decade. You may have read of the time where we even stepped in to sponsor him in a karting event. If not, you can catch up with a quick read of the post 2013 in review – looking back on what really mattered … That was so long ago  but even so, the more Margo and I hung out with his grandparents we knew that in all likelihood, he would win championships. We just somehow knew he was different to the others he competed against.

 The one truly differentiating aspect of Indy Cars with say Formula One, for instance, is that Indy is way less formal than that European Circus. You can get readily obtain autographs from the Indy drivers and you can get to see them up close but even so, I have to believe that for Brian and Jan, when it comes to Colton they harbored high expectations for him.  Nevertheless, it wasn’t just us or the Kennys who understood the prospect of becoming legendary as very quickly Colton exceeded all expectations even if it was Mario Andretti himself that remarked that you can’t teach quick!

C’mon Colton, smile now; the grandparents are just
thrilled to bits over your meteoritic rise to the very top of Indy Cars.

However, this is where the story goes to a whole different level. Have you been reading the news of late about the team? You may recall that Colton drives for the Andretti family one of the best known families in racing today. Part of my own input into the finishing of our lower level was the inclusion of an 84” television atop a 72” fireplace. There would be no way we would miss watching practices, qualifying runs and the race itself, no matter how cold it turned outside. And a huge thanks to NBC’s Leigh Diffey (he is an Aussie after all) and Peacock streaming as it allowed us to see it all.

Adding an extra two years to Colton’s contract early in the year was exciting enough and Margo and I are so pleased to see this take place as clearly his performance up until then warranted the extension. But that was only half the story as already there were whispers doing the round of the paddock suggesting Colton was headed to F1. Premature perhaps and even a little distracting, but all the same, those whispers kept on coming even after the contract extension was announced. Having written this, news has broken these past few days that Michael Andretti planned to buy into an F1 team and of course, this could prove to be a natural entry point into F1 for Colton. 
 

When rumors begin circulating, you happily look back at those times
you shared the podium with a couple of older lads you just whipped on track!

What has subsequently appeared in the press and through podcasts and television interviews tells the story far better than I can. Starting with an NBC interview by Diffey of fellow Indy Lights compatriot, current Indy champion Max Palou as well as Pato O’Ward , further insights into the possibility of Colton and indeed perhaps Pato both making the jump to F1:

Which then drew remarks from reporters of The Race who asked that all-important question:

But what about the F1 community? According to an Autoweek interview this weekend with Mercedes and soon to be Ala Remeo F1 driver Valtteri Botas, the arrival of Colton may be a good thing for F1:


Margo and I attended Monaco in 2004 and had the opportunity to watch Michael Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya and yes, early on in his career while driving for Jaguar, Mark Weber. Having arrived aboard a five mastered schooner, the Windsurf, we had round the clock tender service to the track and were able to witness firsthand what F1 is all about. But then again, on that twisty road course, if you can pass thirteen cars at Long Beach perhaps you have a chance of passing just as many on the narrow streets of Monte Carlo.  We have no idea where the path for Colton will lead, nor do we have any other insights to share apart from what you can read in the public domain. When I last reviewed recent posts it looks as though for right now, the push by Andretti into F1 has slowed down, according to Pruett’s most recent podcast.

However, and it’s fair to say grandparents, grandkids and grand times lie ahead of us all. I sure would like to see Colton at Long Beach next year – we have the hotel room already reserved for April. On the other hand, if we have to do a mad dash to Monaco then perhaps we should be dusting off all the Jaguar / Weber paraphernalia that we bought way back when the normalcy of the day catered to all those who simply wanted to party on the streets of the most famous principality in the world. And as for further mementos, remembering those earlier times Colton hasn’t forgotten as his grandparents just recently surprised us with the always-to-be-treasured item. Colton … bring it on! 

Enough said!

As I am in awe of Jan’s and Brian’s grandkid and drive Margo crazy with talking about it nonstop even when her attention is directed towards her grandkids. They are growing fast! This past year between COVID19, Margo’s broken leg and everyone on the edge about coughs and sneezes Margo did not see grandkids as often as she’d like. When a Sunday comes that she goes to visit them she tries to bake “Baba bread” (grandkids call her Baba) and while there she loves to read to them. This fall, after having lost our Lil’Pumpkin she was spotted reading a book to them called Big Pumpkin!

And so the seasons change and the first snowfall is not far off. And winter showtime is about to descend up and down the Colorado Rockies.The so called silly season in racing will be with us for a while longer and with it, speculation will continue to run riot. There may be less of showtime with more time spent with each other, with fires being lit and television being watched. And for grandparents everywhere, a time to pause: enjoy the season and talk about the reasons why our grandkids continue to take center stage. Time to grill a steak? Grab a bottle of wine? I think that may be the case … bring it on! 

… and what happened next Baba?


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