With its many maladies of unhealthy mental nature, one of the few things I’ve come to appreciate about social media is the opportunity it gives to also have a positive interaction with someone you might haven’t otherwise. Unless you managed to muster the ability to introduce yourself in-person, while sharing an appreciation for a common interest or event, the ability to share things we enjoy most with relative strangers used to fall on the off-chance of ‘right place, right time’. Speaking directly to another human was, at one time, the only way.
The era of social media has allowed for interactions with multitudes of others, for better and worse. Today’s post is a result of one of my positive social media and Indycar interactions, and I’ve invited that person as a special guest to post here.
Many would recall a former handle, @OpenWheelMom, from Twitter or a blog named ‘Open Wheel Mom’ from an time I’d call the “#Indy500OrBust” era of Indycar. If you know, you know, as the kids say.
A brief conversation recently has convinced Amy to return to writing and I’ve invited her to post here, so please allow me to reintroduce my special guest blogger, Amy Woedl, back to the Indycar blogosphere. As Sid Collins might have said, “Take it away, Amy!”
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has an undeniable, almost living presence of her own. One only needs to take a walk down the front stretch when the stands are empty, and the track is sleeping to feel the ever-present energy that gives goosebumps and chills. She is an entity like no other, and The Month of May, and the Indianapolis 500 ARE her heart and soul.
She gives, and she takes. She will be surprisingly generous to some, and utterly devastating to others all in the same moment. She chooses who basks in her glory, and who gets shut out in the chill of the Pagoda’s shadow.
It seemed that Graham Rahal was the first to be shut out into the chill by IMS this year after being bumped during qualifying. The absolute heartbreak as he cried and hugged his daughter made all of us feel for him, fan or not. He even went so far as to say: “I’m not meant to be in this race. I’m not a super religious person, but I’m a firm believer that everything in life happens for a reason, and the 2023 Indy 500 was not in my cards.” He knows the give and take of IMS, just as his father Bobby did, when he was bumped from the race 30 years earlier.
IMS was certainly not done with her taking after she’d had her first taste. The very first crash this month at the 2.5 mile oval track occurred on the Monday following qualifying, and it was devastating. Katherine Legge ran into the back of Stefan Wilson in T1, causing both cars to shoot upwards and violently crash into the wall. It was about 10 minutes before the safety crew could carefully remove Wilson from the wreckage. It was discovered that he had broken the T12 vertebrae his back, and would need surgery, thus ending the solid month he and his crew had worked so hard for.
After this; IMS must have decided it was time for some surprise giving in light of what had happened to Wilson.
After his bump from the starting grid, Rahal was given an unusual opportunity to step in and race in Wilson’s place. Why so unusual? Because Rahal is a Honda driver, and Wilson races for Chevrolet. Crossover is almost unheard of. Another twist in the fates, perhaps, as Wilson’s older brother Justin Wilson and Graham Rahal were former teammates. Justin was tragically killed in a 2015 accident in Pocono, and following his passing, Rahal organized a massive charity auction for Wilson’s wife and daughters.
Who knows what surprises and heartbreaks lie ahead this weekend at the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500. IMS is an unpredictable and wild place, and she has already chosen her winner out of the 11 rows of 3. Will your favored driver be her pick as well? Will they be the one to bask in glory, wear the wreath of 33 Orchids, and drink the milk- or will they be left in the chilly shadow of the Pagoda, hoping for another chance next year?
Thanks again Amy for dipping a toe back into the Indycar blogosphere and we hope there might be more to come in the future.
Amy, unfortunately, had a recent physical mishap which meant a much anticipated return to IMS and the Indy 500 this year will need to be put on hold, pending a prognosis for treatment of a back injury. After a brief discussion, she decided perhaps, while likely being laid up for an extended recovery period, she could return to writing, being virtually impossible to further injure oneself with that activity.
In addition to blogging Indycar, she also was an active and great ambassador for Indycar families in the real world, co-hosting IMS tweet-ups. She also maintains an active interest in F1 and IMSA which she shares with her 17-year-old son Gage. Amy aims to continue blogging and can even admit to foreseeing the possibility of a Tweet-up reunion someday, if the fates align.
Meanwhile, if you want to reconnect with Amy, or just wish her well on her recovery, she has provided a current Twitter – @amy_ranee_ Email – IndyCarAmy@gmail.com and TikTok – @IndyCarAmy.
Tomorrow, I will return for my Indy 500 and ‘Greatest33’ preview. Only a few more sleeps – the Indy 500 awaits…