Awesome weekend at St. Pete!!

Jimmy W1

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What a race!! The threat of rain passed by on a few occasions so it turned out to be a fabulous day! The best part about it was the autographs that my son and I got over the weekend. I'll try and post a few pictures later if I can. But here's a list of the autographs we got: some of them I would never have dreamed of getting-

Simon Pagenaud, Conor Daly, Charlie Kimball, Tony Kanaan, Spencer Pigot, JR Hildebrand, Carlos Munoz, Helio Castroneves, Max Chilton, Scott Dixon and Graham Rahal, James Hinchcliffe, Marco Andretti, Mikhail Aleshin, Sebastian Bourdais, Dario Franchitti and Will Power. Most of these we got at the autograph session.

There are a few autographs that I have always wanted to get and never had the chance. But Friday, I spotted Roger Penske going up and over the crossover bridge of the track. I hustled my broken down ol' legs up after him and caught him at the top and he said, "Sure!!" when I asked him to sign my book. Mr. Penske's is kinda hard to get. I told my son, "It isn't going to get any better than that!! I spoke WAY too soon!!

Well, I have never gotten Michael Andretti's autograph. I always wanted his so badly, too. Then my son walked up to me a few hours later and said, "Oh Yeah??" He'd gotten Michael Andretti and today we each got his again. I was flabberghasted!!

Today, for the first time ever I walked up and got Bobby Rahal's at his tent. He sure was nice. I've wanted his autograph for years. I told my son- "Top that, big boy"!!

Then he came up to me about an hour later and said, guess what?? "I got Ken Griffey Jr. AND Mario Andretti's autographs on my ticket. Plus Griffey's again and Mark Schlereth on a Racer magazine cover. My son said Griffey caved in when my son showed him his Cincinnati Reds and his Cincinnati Bengals tattoos on his arms. Then he said to me, "Top that, pop's!!!"

Well, I knew it was about time to toss in the towel on bettering my son at getting autographs- then while I was watching the race, I got a message on my phone saying, "I just spotted Letterman!!" This was about half way through the race. Sure enough, he came up to the stands with a fan guide that had David Letterman's autograph on it. That one sure is a toughy to get for real!! You just don't get David Letterman's autograph every day.

Well, I sat back, enjoyed the race and was tickled to death with all of the autographs we had gotten. Our seats were directly behind Tony Kanaan's pits. Then a few pits away from us- this pretty young lady caught my eye standing behind the Steak and Shake pits watching the Graham Rahal team. Holy cow!! It dawned on me- it was Courtney Force-Rahal!! I went back, grabbed our Racer magazine, called down to her and she walked over to the fence, took my sharpie and my magazine and signed the cover. Oh my gosh!!

So, don't even ask, guys. None of them are for sale!! My son will keep the Letterman, Griffey Jr. and one of the Michael Andrettis down here at our condo. I'll probably give him the rest because I have most of them from the past few years. I get one of the Michael Andrettis but the Penske and the Bobby Rahal goes home to Ohio with me for sure!! All in all we had a great time at a fantastic race. Got sun burnt all to heck. But doing things like this with my son- it just doesn't get any better than that!!
 

gnomesayin

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Cool recap, sounds like a great time. It was a fun race with Bourdais winning after starting at the back.
 

Hotrod

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My gosh you guys hit the motherload! Good work. I always hit the autograph sessions at
the Indycar races. I even like going to The Road to Indy lower classes sessions. They are the
future and its cool to get their cards early in their careers. Penske,Courtney and Letterman is crazy
though. Curious - did Letterman still have his mtn man beard?

Those support races were great ! I watched just about everything at their websites. Good quality
streams on everything. I hope ya'll got to see those trucks. That was wild! PWC's were awesome.
 

Jimmy W1

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My gosh you guys hit the motherload! Good work. I always hit the autograph sessions at
the Indycar races. I even like going to The Road to Indy lower classes sessions. They are the
future and its cool to get their cards early in their careers. Penske,Courtney and Letterman is crazy
though. Curious - did Letterman still have his mtn man beard?

Those support races were great ! I watched just about everything at their websites. Good quality
streams on everything. I hope ya'll got to see those trucks. That was wild! PWC's were awesome.
I didn't see him but my son said Letterman's beard is a good 8" long. I don't think he even spent that much time at the race. He was down near the Rahal camp/tables and when my son got his autograph, he was just walking with some lady out in the open, heading up toward the Dali Museum. Of course, most of the fans were inside at the race. My son said he was hardly recognizable. I have noticed that most of the drivers/ celebs walk right down through the crowd and hardly get noticed. If you're not looking for them, most of the time they go undetected. At least until some A-Hole like me forgets and starts freaking out and screaming, "OH MY GOD!! IT'S MARIO ANDRETTI!!!!" About then, you see them go into a panic mode and you realize you did something really stupid.

Like yesterday, when we got Michael Andretti's autograph. I was so excited and I must have appeared like a little teeny bopper when I said, " Gee, Mr. Andretti, I've been wanting your autograph for 40 years!!" He just smiled and nodded. And after we walked away, I told my son, "40 years Michael Andretti was only about 14 years old. Geez, I'm such a moron."
 

Jimmy W1

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I did get Pippa Mann's autograph. She is always such a nice person. She took the time to have pictures taken with all of the kids. One little girl in front of me in line had a Pippa Mann blouse, skirt and hat on. Pippa really went out of her way for pictures with her. She was so gracious. She always is.

Of course I think she got a kick outta me. I asked her if she was going to be driving in the Indy 500 this year and she said that she was hoping she is. I asked if she would do me a favor and she said, "Sure". I said, I'll be sitting up in the stands on turn four, so on the 10th or 15th lap, could you forget about what you're doing for a second and wave to me real big when you go by? She just looked at me and laughed. I don't know if she was actually laughing WITH me or AT me. But either way, she got a kick out of it. I think.
 

Hotrod

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My autograph collection is right at 310. Another 100 or so are duplicates from multiple years.
Its fun to get them to say a word or two when getting a signature. My brother got an Al Sr. signature for
me yesterday at the Concourse car show in Amelia Island yesterday. Cant wait to put that in my
Indy book. Those Indy guys are really nice at the autograph sessions. I wish Nascar would coordinate
something like what Indy does. Sportscar is good about that to. I have done 3 Indy 500's,89,93,94.
Sat all times about 14 rows from the fence across from the tote poll on the front straight. The F1 race in
2000 we sat in Indy T4 to get a good look at the T1 of the F1 config. Indy is a very special place
and the museum is outrageous. The only autograph I got at Indy was Teo Fabi's in '94. Hope your son
sticks with the hobby. Not every day you get to call Michael Andretti by his dads name.
That's too funny.
 

Jimmy W1

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My son collects and sells collectibles. He does more football and baseball stuff. I do more Indycar because I go to different races and I've always enjoyed Indycar. Jimmy Clark won the Indy 500 (65) the year I graduated from high school. My first actual Indy 500 race that I attended was in 2011. Yep- Dan Wheldon. I've kept our seats on turn four ever since. We were celebrating my son's birthday 10/16 in 2011 and watching the Las Vegas race. That kinda put a damper on the day. My first race here in St. Petersburg was 2012. I loved it here so much I bought a condo down here and come down for the race every year. My son lives here now. After we split the fees for everything, it's actually cheaper for an entire year than staying in a hotel for three-four weeks. It's a fabulous place.

I always make it a point to go over to the cemetery to see Dan's gravesite. Like always, I'll take a plastic garbage bag and sit and pull weeds that always grow up around his headstone and the bench, there. Then I'll kinda fluff up the mulch and make it look really nice. I always read what a neat freak he was. So, it should look nice during Indy week, especially. Sometimes people will leave things at his site. Last year someone put a pair of white sunglasses on his headstone. Sometimes flowers. Sometimes little pennants. It's pretty cool. Maybe creepy I guess but kinda cool.
 

Jimmy W1

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Here's a pic you might like. The road sign on the track. This is the sign that Helio beat on with his fist honoring Dan in 2012 after winning the race and doing his traditional "fence climb." It's on the second to last turn at the corner of Dan Wheldon Way. I'm thinking about making one of these up and hanging it in my condo one day. This sign is just one they hang on the fence during the race. But there is and actual street sign/pole there on the other days of the year after the race marking Dan Wheldon Way.
 

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Hotrod

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Interesting. I 'll never forget that day. My b'day is 10/15 and I was at home loading a new laptop that day
of the race. I was glad the racers gave him a nice salute that day. Just devastating though.

I have a buddy in Columbus Ohio and I have Mid Ohio penciled on the bucket list.
Nice signatures!
 

Jimmy W1

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Another find!! I always go downtown after the race and pick up a few posters, tire rubber from the track, banners, etc., before the clean up crews destroy them and toss them in the trash. Last Tuesday, I happened to be walking past the parking lot where the Andrettis have their rest area tents and found this in the garbage. The Rahal/Letterman camp was next door. I would say it's the bottom plate off of one of their cars. There's nothing like dumpster driving!!

:D
 

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Jimmy W1

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Here's a picture I found of the St. Pete race- I believe it was last year. That is me on the far right hand side of the picture in the yellow shirt and the red ball cap behind Tony Kanaan's pit. We were directly behind him again this year. We get the same seats every year. I always wear a bright yellow Walmart t- shirt to the race because it makes it easy to pick myself out in the crowd.
 

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Hotrod

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Here's a picture I found of the St. Pete race- I believe it was last year. That is me on the far right hand side of the picture in the yellow shirt and the red ball cap behind Tony Kanaan's pit. We were directly behind him again this year. We get the same seats every year. I always wear a bright yellow Walmart t- shirt to the race because it makes it easy to pick myself out in the crowd.
Interesting..... that's a good idea. Did not see head phones. Do you do a scanner?
 

Jimmy W1

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No, I don't get the headphones. I have thought about it. I might try it one day. As for the yellow shirt, if I ever go to a ball game or the races or some event that I can look for on TV, I always wear a yellow shirt. Hardly anyone wears yellow and it makes it easier to pick yourself out in the crowd. Walmart always seemed to have the brightest yellow shirts, so I have a few on hand. It's good if you can get everyone in your group to wear them, too. That makes it even easier.
 

Jimmy W1

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At 2:22 minutes into the race, if you look to the back of the crowd, in the upper right hand corner walking down the walk, you can see me in the background with my yellow shirt, white ball cap with my camera over my shoulder. Actually, I was looking for the margarita stand. :D

At 3:05 minutes into the 2012 race the two announcers will be talking in the booth across the track from the pits. If you look across the track in the upper left hand corner, you can see Ryan Hunter-Rhey's yellow umbrella/cover over his pit. Up in the front row of the stands about an inch to the right of the yellow umbrella, you can see me in my yellow shirt on the aisle.

 
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Hotrod

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That's awesome. That 3:05 clip, you got a lot of tv time!
I was a Dario fan back in his day. Now I lean toward Rahal.
 
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