A Sunday for the Record Books

First things first, a big, hearty congratulations to Simon Pagenaud, champion of the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500. He qualified pole and brought it home in a very exciting fashion. He earned it heartily and I tip my hat to him.

Second, wow, what a Sunday. Laina and her best friend since grade school graced us with their presence for a totally gluten-free cookout and an outdoor viewing of the greatest race on earth. We had fun, a ton of fun, great food (it’s amazing at how great GF food can be!), hard cider. It was a total blast – it’s always fun watching racing with her; virtually is fun but in person is so much more fun.

Anyway, as much fun as that was, I did have one major ulterior motive for bringing her out here, one which she gladly obliged. As an owner of multiple small businesses in the past, I really wanted her here when I had “the talk” with my family so she could offer her perspective on my next major life transition. I had a feeling they’d listen to her better than they would me. Whereas I’d been dropping not-so-subtle hints and references all day, the time came after the race and after dinner to have the talk.

We excused ourselves to my bedroom for some “private conversation” in which we discussed how I should approach the topic (and maybe a few other things). We emerged from my bedroom, sat down side-by-side, holding hands, and I started the comversation.

I can honestly say my parents saw it coming. They could see it in me months ago. They knew what was I was about to say as though I had already said it, but much to my surprise they seem very supportive since 1) I have a plan of action in the works and 2) I’m not going into this blind. They know this is something I *WANT* to do. This time, I won’t be moving because I have to, but because I want to. There’s a totally different vibe to that when one’s heart is actually in it. Cranes aren’t my passion. My passions lie elsewhere.

Of course Laina offered her perspective from having done this herself, to help put out some of the fires that I knew would start during this conversation. This is why I wanted her with me when I had this talk so she could help me put these out, which she was a very effective firefighter through it all.

Being a “corporate slave” (my mom balked at the term but that’s what it feels like to me) is a toxic environment for those of us on the autism spectrum. It just is. If I keep doing what I’m doing now for the next 10+ years I’m going to go insane. That’s just a fact. I’m too “different” and free-spirited to do be just a slave surveillance (insert loud, raucous “throat monster” here) I mean social security number drawing a paycheck for doing mind-numbing tasks day in and day out with people I absolutely despise.

Needless to say I feel better – much better – now that everything is out in the open and I have my family’s blessing in this endeavor. I’m sure they’ll miss me, as well as my Abilene friends when I do take that step to “go home” and start putting my plan into action, but I’m sure they’d rather see me happy, even if someone else, than cooped up in hillbilly hell (which is exactly what Abilene is) doing corporate work for the rest of my life.

All in all, a great day. One of the best in recent memory for me. I can sleep more easily at night now with everything out in the open and knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel and a very real future for me in which I can not only survive, but thrive. It’s a totally different feeling for sure, and a total relief.

Thanks again, Laina. Couldn’t have done it without you. Really. I am in your debt.

Advertisements

Photos and Reflections from the Inaugural IndyCar Classic at Circuit of the Americas

Racing season is in full swing with both the NASCAR National Series (Trucks, Xfinity & Cup) and the NTT IndyCar Series so you know that makes me a happy camper. It actually gives me something to look forward to on weekends. Alas, for the first time since they opened in 2014, Circuit of the Americas in Austin, TX finally hit the IndyCar schedule, and I was chomping at the bit to go.

I was already planning on visiting a good friend the week around the race (the amazing Laina of Who Loves Kitty and The Silent Wave) to check on the two cats my family had placed with her family about this time last year and to do a little show-and-tell with my Linux Mint machine, but when I found out IndyCar was racing at COTA I knew we had to add that to one of our adventures during my time there. After some arm-twisting (interpretation: hardly any) I convinced her to tag along for the race.

After getting some necessities at the dreaded WalMart and a little gas station, we found our parking spots and walked seemingly all over the track trying to find our perfect vantage point (being a 3.5 mile road course, seeing the entire track is impossible but you can see key areas in certain spots). Once we found the right spot, we settled into our lawn chairs and proceeded to talk IndyCar and a lot of the jargon used in the series (which she picked up on really quickly – something that did not surprise me in the least).

During pre-race I walked her through the whole process, pace laps, pit strategies, tire compounds among other things, but before we knew it the field was given the one to green signal, and that’s where the fun started. When the green flag dropped we were both like kids at Christmastime (I’ve attended oval races myself but never a road course race).

Laina amused me with her seeming excitement watching the cars go by and just taking in all the action – the passes, the lone wreck and just the race in general. She also entertained me with her amusing nicknames she assigned to the cars based on the livery they were sporting – “Flash Bang,” “Hello Kitty,” “Road Cone,” Blu-Ray” among other amusing names that were oddly fitting, except for one – though Will Power (#12 Penske Chevy) led 45/60 laps, he retired early with a clutch and engine failure. So much for being “The Immortal” huh? Oh well, as bad as we both felt for him, it was exciting to see Colton Herta become the youngest driver to ever win an IndyCar event – he was six days shy of being 19 years old at the time of the race.

Of course we had done some things right and some things wrong. Looking at the course map I thought I had the ideal seating spot, which I quickly found out was not the case because of the elevation change blocking the critical portion of the track (the home straightaway). OK, fine, the best place is actually between the start/finish line and turn 1 where you can see about half the track. The downside? I had gotten Lot F parking which was on the other side by our original planned set up location. Note for next time: opt for Lot T parking as it’s right there.

Of course, the time at the race couldn’t be complete without a few photo ops so we of course threw those in.

A coupld of selfies (the best we could do because Selfie Sticks are not allowed in COTA, the bastards:

cota3cota6

Of course, the individual images where we were just being our weird selves. She downplayed hers somewhat:

cota4

but I being who I am just had to ham it up and pretend to be glamorous and strike a pose with the background and of course show off my racing tats and you know I’ll never turn down an opportunity to model my ever (in)famous “Davy” Dukes:

cota5

Then they had a little prop where you could put the T in COTA – something rather amusing that neither of us could turn down an op at:

cota2cota

Oh, and just a little video of the action from our vantage point for good measure:

Luckily traffic getting out wasn’t too bad; following GPS and using a TollTag (they’ve really got their shit figured out at this place – plenty of surrounding roads to funel traffic in and out). Alas, needless to say we were starving upon departure so we found a quick bite to eat on the way back to San Antonio. One way or another, I was relieved that Laina enjoyed herself and we both agree we need to make this a yearly excursion – attendance was great so hopefully COTA will become a permanent fixture on the NTT IndyCar Series schedule.

Alas, now it’s time for some rest and on to the next adventure this weekend! I’m on vacation all week this week so what the fuck ever right? I’m going to forget about work and just enjoy some much-needed time off (especially after the fiasco that was this week). Just rest and general fun this week, the I get to do it all over again in Fort Worth next weekend with the spring NASCAR weekend at Texas Motor Speedway!

Walking for Diabetes Research

Lynn reporting to you again from Texas Motor Speedway. This morning, before the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series race, I participated in the NASCAR Fitness Challenge sponsored by Lilly Diabetes. It was awesome to walk for a good cause and actually get a good view from on the track. You don’t realize how big it is until you get down on it and actually look up. Here’s some pics.

And here’s something you just do not see on TV. This is how steeply banked the turns are. I took this of my feet in turn 1. See the height difference in my feet? Yeah, the grade is that steep. You sure feel it.

Anyway, I’m back home as of the time of this post going up (intended for it to be this morning but didn’t have adequate bandwidth to upload the photos) after watching Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kevin Harvick win an overtime thriller of a race. Hope to get back to your regularly scheduled programming tomorrow, hopefully with what was supposed to be this week’s SLS submission. For now, I need some sleep before I go back to prison (ahem) I mean work tomorrow.

Catch you soon!

Hello From Texas Motor Speedway!

Hi all, Lynn here reporting to you directly from Texas Motor Speedway here in No Limits, TX! A triple header this weekend with the Camping World Truck Series race last night, the Xfinity series race about to go down and the Monster Energy Cup Series tomorrow!

While we’ve got some downtime, I figured I would share with you some pictures from the Xfinity Series garage. For the first time, NASCAR has opened up the garage to all those with infield access (just for a couple of hours but still) so I of course took advantage of it. Got some photos, hope you enjoy:

Of course no trip is without its mishaps and I’ve already had two this weekend. Yesterday I dropped my regular glasses somewhere along the way. After looking in the car and freaking out, I called the lost and found and lo and behold someone found them and turned them in! I guess some people are honest after all.

The other issue, well let’s just say I had a wardrobe malfunction. Somehow something caught on the fringe of my light pair of “Davy” Dukes and split them right up the leg vertically. I was lucky that I saw it before anyone else did because that could have had bad results. Luckily I had a few safety pins in the car and was able to get out to the car and address the situation. My temporary repair looks a little ridiculous…

…but at least it will prevent the free end of the tear from being blown up in the wind and giving everyone a glimpse of my skivvies. Hah.

Oh well. Fun times anyway. Hope you all are having a great weekend. I’m heading out for a little Minuto sized cigar before the race gets going. Have a good weekend all, and sorry I’ll be late with SLS this weekend.

New Ink: Race Day Double Header!!!

I have been dying for some new ink lately. It’s been entirely too long – almost 6 months. I longed to feel the sweet sting and the rush that goes with it.

Well, I got a little more than what I bargained for today – not only one, but TWO new tattoos in one sitting. It took some mental focus to get through it but at the end of the day I came out with a matched set of tattoos that show my love of racing – one NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series stock car and one Verizon IndyCar Series open wheel car – each dedicated to my favorite drivers in their respective series – Martin Truex Jr. and James Hinchcliffe.

This was the first time I’ve ever done two tattoos in one day. I must say Jade was a real trouper too, staying focused to the very end. I can’t imagine how hard it was on her too. Needless to say she got a very generous tip.

What will I get next? Who knows, but you know I’m already bouncing ideas in my head. It’s a never ending cycle.

Summer/Fall Tattoo Concepts

I’m definitely itching for a new tattoo. It’s been almost three months since my last ink session and I long to feel the keen sting of the needle etching an artistic design into my dermis once again.

Alas, I didn’t have a clear concept as to what I wanted until today. I was trying to look for inspiration but my recent trip to Texas Motor Speedway gave me the perfect idea – race cars.

So with that I think I will get a matching pair of tattoos – a NASCAR and an IndyCar, same location on opposite sides of my body. I will go with my two favorite drivers for this – Martin Truex Jr. on the NASCAR side and James Hinchcliffe on the IndyCar side.

I’ve pitched the idea of a matching pair to my artist and she loves the idea. Stay tuned for preliminary sketches that hopefully will turn into skin art in the not too distant future!

2018 Texas IndyCar Weekend Reflections and Photos

I got home about 30 minutes ago after the drive back to Abilene after a fun-filled weekend at Texas Motor Speedway in No Limits, TX. Other than it being incredibly hot (95F/35C for highs both days) it was all out a fun time.

So I arrived in Fort Worth on Friday afternoon, went and had a nice sushi lunch at Wild Sushi and Ramen, a little hole in the wall place just a few miles down the road from the hotel I stay at. After lunch and grabbing some snacks to stick in my cooler for the weekend, I made my way over and checked into the hotel, only to get situated and head out to No Limits.

I picked up my pit passes and went into the gate to peruse the pits for awhile. Friday was spent mainly in the garage area looking at the cars and then I stepped into the garage for the post-qualifying tear down. I also got a couple of up-close pictures of an IndyCar just to show how technologically advanced they are. Note the steering wheel – it looks like a video game controller!

img_0809img_0811img_0815img_0804

That was about all the excitement in the pits because Friday night was the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, and NASCAR isn’t as fan-friendly as IndyCar. To get into the garage in any NASCAR series you have to pay an arm and a leg for their own pass. IndyCar lets you in with just a VIP facility pass – something NASCAR should learn from IndyCar if NASCAR wants to bill itself as “the most fan accessible sport.” Sorry, when it comes to fan accessibility, IndyCar kicks NASCAR’s ass.

The Truck Series race was entertaining as always, granted no pictures were taken during the race because let’s face it, a cell phone does not capture very good pictures of a fast moving car. Oh well.

Saturday found me sleeping in after a late night and going back again to Wild Sushi and Ramen for even more deliciousness. Yes, you can tell I love my sushi – I can eat myself sick on it. After a satisfying lunch it was back to the track again for the main event of the weekend: the DXC Technology 600 IndyCar race.

As I was an “early bird” I received this free commemorative bobblehead doll of James Hinchcliffe. Only the first 20,000 got them and as Hinch is my favorite driver it was a “must have” for me:

img_0819

After that it was time to go walk the pits again, this time heading into the garage to watch the crews frantically working on the cars to get them race ready – from fine-tuning various systems to firing the engines to verify all is in working order:

img_0820

Then I moseyed on over to Sunoco Victory Lane where I got a pic with the sponsor car. That was fun and free so why not?

img_0825

Yeah dude, it was so hot out there I actually rolled up my sleeves in addition to sporting the DD’s! I haven’t gone sleeveless in so long my upper arms were so pasty white. Alas, maybe I feel like my arms don’t look that bad? I was definitely a little self-conscious doing it at first (my upper arms are a major source of self-conscience for me – I don’t have guns of any sort) but after noticing how hot it was I didn’t give a crap. I guess my arms don’t look too bad? I’ll let you be the judge of that.

The race that evening (again, sorry no pics of any quality) was one of the best IndyCar races at Texas ever. Long green flag run, minimal cautions (only two wrecks and a fuel line leak resulting in a fire) and all out good racing. The new aerokits provide for a faster car than the previous iteration, which makes for more exciting racing.

Other random stats: 12 beers and two gallons of water killed, two sandwiches, four pickles all down the hatch as well. Two tubes of Neutrogena Clear Face SPF 55 were totally gone through over the course of the weekend. When it’s that hot and the sun is that intense, I take no chances – I reapply more often than recommended even.

So that’s that! It was a fun time. IndyCar is always an incredible experience and I suggest you see a race live if you can. IMO IndyCar kicks NASCAR’s ass in almost every way (though I do wish they’d implement overtime so a race won’t finish under caution). You’ll enjoy it if you ever are able to.

So that was my weekend. Time to prop my feet up and relax at home base for the rest of the day. I’m tired and a bit sore! Oh well. It was worth it.

EDIT: As per Rachel’s request, a pic of my sushi. LOL!!! Just one of many different varieties I had. What a pretty sight huh?

sushi