A Hero Gone

This has been a sad week for me. Sunday one of my heroes died.


I am going to write a story that most of you have no interest in and do not need to read, I just need to write it. Sorry.

I have been an indycar racing fan for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid my favorite driver was Bobby Unser. Later I became a Rick Mears fan. I drifted away for a few years until the mid90s when a young Italian came on the scene and l was a newly committed Team Target  fan, that year Alex Zanardi won rookie of the year and his team mate Jimmy Vasser won the championship. A few years later I drifted away again. The split, Greg Moore’s death, and then not long after 9/11, Alex lost his legs in a race in Germany.

When Iowa Speedway opened up, Indycar racing came too. I couldn’t wait to go to my first race, and immediately planned to check out the Team Target paddock.  And there was Dan Wheldon. And he was hot! He had a new fan!  That was the year of the devastating Iowa floods. When Wheldon won the race that day he donated his winnings to the flood relief. Now he had a fan for life.


(Wheldon Banner at Iowa Speedway 2009)


In 2010 I won pit passes from NewmanHaas. Being able to be in the pits put you way too close to the action… And the drivers. Passing Dan Wheldon in the pits, I stopped and wished him luck. He thanked me. I was over the moon.

(Getting in his car in 2010)

 (his back- in his pits in 2010 – I have about 5 pictures of his back!)


 (There’s the side view!)


 (At pit in after completing qualifying)


This season Dan was without ride, but was able to put together a one-off and in a surprising turn of events, he won the Indy 500 – for the second time.

The team he had driven for in the 500 had been chosen as the test team for the new car coming out in 2012, and so Dan was chosen as the driver.  That didn’t start until August so he took a job as a commentator on the Versus channel for as few races.  That brought him back to Iowa.


This year I won pit passes as well as access and all meals in the paddock club. This is where league officials and the broadcast team eat. Catered, and excellent food! And Dan Wheldon.

My brother and I were sitting at a table eating when Dan walked in. I turned into a 50 yr old junior high schooler “oh my god…  Oh my god… there’s Dan Wheldon!!” I said to my brother, who was used to this Wheldon-induced reaction from me. Dan sat at table behind me. I was both frustrated that he was behind me so I couldn’t stare at him, and relieved that he was behind me so I couldn’t stare at him.


(With Robin Miller for Versus)

Since he was the current  500 winner, and without a ride, INDYCAR came up with a challenge. Dan would start the last race in the last position and if he won, he and a chosen fan would split 5 million dollars. After practices and qualifying many drivers complained that the racing there was too dangerous. A high banked 1.5 mile oval with too much grip in open wheel cars with too much downforce and speeds of 225 mph.

12 laps in, one car in a mid-pack of cars drifted, touched wheels with the next car and triggered 15 car pile-up.  It was fire and shredded metal.  4 cars got airborne. Will Power, Pippa Mann, and JR Hildebrand were lucky to walk away, but ironically the safety of these cars saved their lives and they are now all out of the hospital.  Sadly the car couldn’t save Dan.

At 33 yrs old, he leaves behind a wife, Susie, sons Sebastian 2yrs and Oliver 7 months.

And he leaves behind a heartbroken community, of which I am one.


His legacy will live on. Besides his face on the Borg-Warner trophy twice, the new 2012 car, which he was the test driver, will be named after him.


RIP Dan Wheldon – Lionheart.

Here is a link that Indycar has set up:

The Dan Wheldon Memorial Site


Donations for his family can be sent to:

Fifth Third Private Bank
Attn: Dan Wheldon Family Trust
251 North Illinois St.
Suite 1000
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Also Graham Rahal has been spearheading an auction with the proceeds going to the Wheldon Family. More information about it will be available at the memorial site.


382 Days to 50.

How did that happen? 382 Days,  9 hours and 27 minutes.. according to the countdown clock on my computer. Who the hell would put a countdown clock on their computer for when they turn 50? Uh.. Me.  382 Days, 9 hours, 24 minutes and 7 seconds. Wow, that seems like self torture.

So I have lost 50 pounds. Last year my Doctor told me he wanted me to lose 30-50 lbs with in a year. I hit that, but I really wanted to do more. Do better.  Now I have a year.. well 382 days until I hit 50 and that is the real goal I set for myself. I would be happy with another 50, but really… in the small crevices of my brain, I keep thinking about 70.  That would be my ultimate goal.  I will be okay if I just get that other 50 though.

So what does a 50 lb weight loss do for you? It’s amazing! Two weeks ago was the Indy Car race at Iowa. That was to be the real test. Could I handle being there both days? Would I die climbing up to the 34th row in the stands? If I got lucky, I wouldn’t have to find out the answer to the last one…. and I got lucky.

Three Fridays in a row I have won something on Twitter. Another crevice in the brain keeps saying “Get thee to the casino” but I am ignoring that one. Yesterday I won a crew shirt from Panther Racing, a week ago I won some free cat treats, which the cats are refusing to eat, and race weekend, I won pit and garage passes from Newman Haas Racing. And if I was lucky, that would also include Race Mode pit passes.  Did I mention that I had been lucky lately? Race Mode pit passes are amazing!

We ended up spending a lot of time in the Newman Haas pit box, but we did make it to the stands for the support races on Saturday. We never climbed to our assigned row. Row 34? Oh my. I think we settled in to about row 17 or something like that. However, every so often I would look behind me and think… wow, that’s a long way up there… I hope to hell we get those race mode pit passes!  By the end of Saturday night, I was ready to go back on Sunday. When I asked my brother what time he was picking me up Sunday morning he said “10am”  I told him “No. 9am at the latest.” Well we ended up at the track at about 10:30 and found out we did have the Race Mode pit passes! I think I sat down once that day, at about 12:30 and it was my brother’s suggestion. I felt fine. I felt like a different person from the first race two years ago! I will admit that at the end of the race, we were taking one more walk through the garage area and I felt my feet just say “No More”.  They were pretty unhappy that they still had to walk me to the car.  But we, my feet and I, survived to live another day.
So I am pretty happy with myself and feel like I actually reached a goal I set for myself, especially since I am not a very goal oriented person. Or at least a successful goal oriented person.
Here are a couple links from my two days at the track.


And Sunday- until my camera died:


I am also trying to set some goals for this blog. I have a friend who write a great blog and she does entries like  “Wordless Wednesday” (Here’s her link: http://pinkiefae.blogspot.com/ ) so I thought I would steal from her a little bit and try to do a couple days. Magazine Monday will feature ideas or articles that I find in a few magazines I subscribe to, like Fitness and Health.  And then Fitness Friday, since that is the day I work out with my trainer and get my new routine for the week, so I can write more about what I am doing on a weekly basis.  Let’s see if I hit those goals!

Oh and one last update: 382 Days,  8 hours, 43 minutes and 5 seconds until I turn 50. Oh my.

Enduring it for Indycar

I just finished Endurance week..

….and barely made it out alive. This time she stuck an exercise bike into the mix.  It went like this: Chest Press, Squats, then three minutes on the bike going as fast as you can for 1 minutes, then slacking back a bit for 30 seconds, another minutes as fast as you can, and then slacking back for 30 seconds. Now to go to standing rows, then front lunges, and back to the bike. Then do bicep curls, back lunges, and then back to the bike. Lastly do tricep extensions and side squats.. and then three more minutes on the bike. Did I say “lastly”.. forget that because you are repeating that all over again.  Just getting on and off the bike when you are a sweaty mess is exercise enough.. I barely needed to do the actual time on the bike!

Whew.. that made me sweaty just thinking about it.

Now we are in strength week. It’s pretty much the normal routine except maybe a few different ways. Maybe instead of a standing row on the cable machine it is a seated row, etc.  Strength week means increasing  the weight, but doing only 8 reps instead of 20,  yet doing 3 sets instead of 2. Oh and 20 bird-dogs on each side at the end of each set.  If you are like me and lacking the needed balance, then bird dogs aren’t a ton of fun – unless you like being wobbly. I’ll let about.com teach you to bird-dog:


Friday will be the beginning of stability week, another fun week for the balance-challenged. I see a week of squats on a bosu in front if me. However let’s talk about something else… at little more important.

Why we do it what we do

Whenever you chose to do something that involves a major change in your life, there is always something.. small or large… that seems to happen to get you going in that direction.  My thing happened two years ago.  My first Indycar race. Who’da thunk it huh?

I have been a racing fan since I was a kid in the 60s.  One of my favorite memories as a kid was when my cousin, who was much older than me, gave me one of his drag racing trophies as a way to cheer me up one Christmas week when we were out visiting family.

My heart has always been with Indy Cars. I might not be able to tell you who won what 500 in what years, but I will have a favorite driver for almost every decade. Bobby Unser in the 60s and 70s, Rick Mears in the 80s, Alex Zanardi in the 90s.  What about the 2000s? The Teens? Hmm.. Well I might be changing yearly.. but Dan Wheldon is always there on the radar for me.

In 2008 I forced my brother to buy me a ticket for the Iowa Corn 250 (though I wish it had a better name!).  He had gone the year before, the first year at Newton and not taken me. I am sure after 2008, he wished he had done the same.  While he went each day, I just went on Sunday, race day. I was so overweight and so out of shape. I feel almost foolish thinking back that I possibly thought I could handle it. My brother is the kind of person who has to be at the track when the gates open.  I am all for going a couple hours later than that.  I was excited to go to the pits and do all of that, but I was nowhere close to being in any kind of condition to do it. I think my time in the pits was spent looking for a place to sit down. At about 11am, we decided to get something to drink and eat and head up to our seats. Embarrassingly, I could barely make it up the bleachers. I was embarrassed, angry, upset, and well any other term you can think of. I told my brother that there was no way I was going back down (I was really afraid I wouldn’t make it back up!).  As I sat there I knew what a mistake I had made coming. I had ruined my day but most importantly I had ruined his. I couldn’t blame him of he refused to take me the next year.

After the race was over (and the race itself was great!) I knew I had to do something.  However procrastination took control and I just kept putting it off and putting it off. I knew I had to make a choice.. get in some sort of shape or tell my brother I wouldn’t be going (And I am sure that would have been his preferred choice!). I joined the health club in March and in April I started working out with Amanda. I wasn’t giving myself much time. However when Roger called to say he had the tickets, I knew I couldn’t turn back.

The truth of the matter is that when I hired Amanda I only planned to do it until the end of June. Once the race was over, I wouldn’t need her.  However she pulled out a year long contract and I signed it. When race weekend came around I had only been working out with her for about 2.5 months and only the last month or so had we gone from meeting once a month to twice a month.  By the time the race rolled around in June, I hadn’t lost much weight, but I couldn’t believe the difference in myself at the race.  My brother and I were in the pits when it became close to starting time. The line was long for the shuttle and we had no choice but to walk.  The year before I would have had no choice but to stay in line for the shuttle and miss the drop of the green flag, but I wasn’t going to do that this year. We walked. Uphill. To the opposite end of the grandstands to our seats. I did it. And once we made to the grandstands, I made it up to the row and to my seat. I did it.

So the race is this weekend, and I plan on going both days. I am very excited.  I am nowhere near my goal weigh, but as of last Friday’s official weigh in, I am 50 lbs lighter that I was last year.  While I have no idea what I weighed that first year, two years ago, I would guess that I am about 60-65 lbs less.  I feel great about it and while I know I will be wiped out at the end of the weekend, at least I know that it will be because I had a good time, not because I wasn’t able to do what I wanted to do. I hope those days are long over.

What Would Pippa Do?

I think the thing I am most excited about is watching the Indy Lights race on Saturday. I follow driver Pippa Mann on Twitter and Facebook and she often tweets about going to Pitfit to workout in the morning. I will read those in the morning and think how glad I am I don’t have to workout there! However when I am off work, and just want to go home, I think about Pippa tweeting about her workout and I think “Just go do it, you little wimp.”  And so I do. If I could hope to meet anyone this weekend it would be Pippa, to thank her for those tweets and how they helped me get there. To get here.

Whether it is stability week and the damn bosu ball, or strength week with the kettle bells or endurance week with all the sweat, this is why I do what I am doing. I am enduring to be able to go and do enjoyable things and not have my size, my lack of stamina, and the low self esteem that comes with all of that, hold me back. To get rid of the little voice that tells me I can’t do when I all I want is to be able to do.  Those are still goals I have yet to reach but I am getting there. Slowly. Each year IndyCars come to Iowa Speedway, I will be more active, less weighty, more stamina, and less whiny. Well, that last one was mostly for my brother…. who still has to endure me, no matter what!

So come this weekend- Go Wheldon… or wait… maybe go Will Power… or maybe Go TK….  Well I will figure that out on Sunday, but on Saturday I will be screaming “Go Pippa!”