Occupation: Racecar Driver
I’m the first to admit, I have a pretty cool job. I race cars—amazing cars (Corvettes) in some incredible locations, including Long Beach, Monterey, and the beautiful countrysides of Wisconsin, Connecticut, and Georgia.
But while I love my current job and team, there’s more I want to accomplish. There’s a great, big world of racing out there that I’m going to be part of. High on my racing bucket list are tracks like the Nürburgring in Germany and Suzuka in Japan, as well as events like the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Daytona 500.
And now there’s the new number one race on my list: the Indianapolis 500.
When I attend a race I’m not competing in, I feel a lot of conflicting emotions. Sure, there’s part of me enjoying the race-day atmosphere without the pressure of the competition—but it’s a very small part of me! Because I’m always disappointed and frustrated I’m not competing, and I’m jealous of the drivers who are. Multiply those emotions by twenty-three, and you might get close to what I felt as I experienced the Indy 500 for the first time last May.
Everything about the event is huge. The track itself is gigantic—a 2.5 mile oval so big you almost can’t see the stands at the other end of the long straights. The occasion is also enormous—practice is two weeks before the race and qualifying takes place the weekend prior. The drivers participate in a variety of state fair–like festivities the day before, including the third largest parade in the nation through downtown Indianapolis.
But the biggest aspect of the race is the weight of its history. This year was the 98th running of the Indy 500 on a track that’s more than a hundred years old. I stood on pit lane early race-day morning and squinted, sure I could see drivers from decades past sweeping out of Turn 4 and roaring down the front straight.
Not gonna lie: my fingers twitched and my right foot tried to feather the throttle. I desperately wanted to be on that straightaway, topping 220 m.p.h. average lap speed, testing my car and skill against the field…
The best part of my Indy weekend was that I spent it in the company of my friend and fellow racecar driver Pippa Mann, the only woman in the Indy 500 field this year. (Yes, we agreed that’s a statistic that must change. I’ve got ideas.).
I should clarify my statement: I was Pippa’s guest for the race, but I didn’t spend more than a few minutes here and there with her. When Pippa wasn’t driving the car, meeting with her race engineer, or fulfilling sponsor and media commitments, she was stealing moments away to interact with fans. I didn’t expect anything more, because I know how a busy race weekend goes (and I’ll give her the same treatment when she comes to visit for the next Petit Le Mans!). The value for me in being there, however, was spending time in her garage or pits, talking to her team and crew, and getting a feel for the rhythm of an IndyCar team. Now I know what Indy feels like.
Instead of just watching the Indy 500 on television this year, I was there—and that’s one step closer to racing for the trophy myself. I learned it’s a long race day and a long month, but one of the most epic events a racer can be part of. Each race has a personality all its own, and I got to know the Indy 500. I made new friends and business contacts. I got a taste of the energy in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
And I’m determined to be back. In my own car. Soon. Start your engines!
This is the last stop on the Avoidable Contact Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. For other stops on this tour, click HERE
You can read more about Kate in Avoidable Contact, the third book in the “Kate Reilly Racing” mystery series, published by Poisoned Pen Press. The first book in the series is Dead Man’s Switch.
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About the author
Tammy Kaehler created the Kate Reilly Racing Mystery Series to share the dramatic, competitive, and friendly racing world with readers. Mystery fans and racing insiders alike praised the first two books, and Tammy takes readers back behind the wheel for the third time in Avoidable Contact. Find out more: website, on Twitter, or on Facebook.