Race Day Diary: Iowa 2014

Back for 2014 is my race day diary! I like to do this to share the experience I had and shed some light on everything that happened! For the eighth straight year, my parents and I made the trip down to Newton, Iowa for the Indycar race. Here are some of the events that transpired and observations I made during the day/night:

Pre-Race
  • Hickory Park in Ames is one of the best restaurants I have been to. Very tasty and very affordable. 
  • The threat of rain (70% by the weather app) did not drag us down! It literally rains every single year on race day. It is nothing new to us. Thankfully, it only rained for a short while!
  • I got to meet Sophie Hanson and her dad, Dan! They are both great fans of the sport! I enjoyed spending time with her in the garages and in the Indycar Fan Village! She's also currently P1 in Fantasy Indycar! We'll see if she can hold on to the championship. Also, if I had a dollar for every moment someone commented on her ballin' shoes, I'd be really rich.
  • I got to meet Josef Newgarden. Not only did I get to meet him, but he knew who I was! The priceless moment was when I told him my name, his face just lit up and he yelled, "NO WAY!!" I also told him to stay safe, and he said, "Stay safe, stay fast." He did both of those things on his way to a P2 finish!
  • Other people I got to see and get autographs/chat with include Scott Dixon, Mikhail Aleshin, James Hinchcliffe, Carlos Munoz, Dale Coyne, AJ Foyt, Mike Hull, Juan Pablo Montoya, Sarah Fisher, Paul Page, and Pippa Mann.
  • Speaking of Pippa Mann, she once again organized a get together at a race! She met up with Sophie and I in the Fan Village. She talked about many things, including her desire to see Watkins Glen back on the schedule! She continues to be one of the nicest people you'll find in the paddock! It was a pleasure to see her again.
  • There's something about hearing Paul Page's voice in person that is quite chilling! He's an amazing guy. I asked him what his favorite race he ever called was and he said the 1982 Indianapolis 500.
  • I got to shake AJ Foyt's hand!
  • Sarah Fisher took a lot of time to sign autographs! She is a very nice person.
  • Juan Pablo Montoya is not what I remember him to be and what everyone else has said about him. He was constantly signing autographs and talking with fans! He spent the most time with fans in the paddock out of any driver. It is refreshing to see him loosening up and enjoying Indycar. 
  • I noticed a lot of Robbie Buhl in the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports camp. He was adorned with a #77 (Simon Pagenaud) hard card around his neck and a Valspar shirt. Buhl, who co-owns Dreyer and Reinbold Racing, has only run one race this season at Indianapolis with Sage Karam behind the wheel. Am I reading too much between the lines or is something shaping up here?
  • Verizon is everywhere. They are doing a great job for our sport!
  • The one thing that displeased me about my Iowa experience this year was the inability to walk through the garages like we've been able to do in the previous seven years. That was displeasing. Overall though, it was a great experience again! 
Tony Kanaan - Iowa Corn Indy 300 - Day 2
Another fantastic show was put on in Newton, Iowa (Photo: Rainier Ehrhardt / Getty Images North America)

Race
  • My parents and I have always sat 40-60 rows to see the race. This year, our tickets, which were given to us by Target, were 12 rows up! It was awesome! We could still see the entire track, but the cars were so much louder down below! It was unbelievable! I was def for a couple of hours after the race!
  • Sebastian Saavedra had one of the best cars in the race. My Dad and I weren't sure if that was really him driving. But then he threw it away, per usual.
  • Another driver that had a fantastic car was Juan Pablo Montoya. He dive bombed a handful of drivers going into turn one. He had an amazing ability to make the car stick through the whole corner. I thought it was only a matter of time before a driver shut the door on him. Ed Carpenter did late in the race, sending Montoya into the wall. He still drove a fantastic race.
  • Charlie Kimball had an awfully disappointing race. Sure he finished P10, but that was thanks to some late race strategy. His teammates ran in the top-five all race, while Kimball was in 13-17th place. He still needs to do more with what he's given.
  • It was a shame to see Tony Kanaan dominate another race only to come up short. He'll be a winner soon enough. 
  • Listen, I have nothing against Will Power as a person. He's actually a nice guy. He makes dumb moves on the track and says dumb things off of it. To be honest, my Indycar experience is enhanced because I have someone to cheer against. I never wish ill or harm on him, but it's nice to have someone to root against. Our anti-Power section gave out a nice cheer when he washed up the track late in the race and lost a lot of positions. I'm not advocating for every fan to build up a hatred of a driver just for the heck of it, but rooting against someone makes for a better experience!
  • It was great to see Ryan Hunter-Reay and Josef Newgarden carve their way though the field in the late stages of the race! I lost my voice cheering on Josef! This year's race was the best race in the eight years that we have gone. Iowa Speedway is a race that every Indycar fan needs to see in person! IT IS A MUST!!

Thanks for reading and to Indycar for putting on a hell of a show!

-Matthew Hickey