This is going to be a busy weekend for us, but it’s also going to be a fun one. The Grand Prix of Baltimore is something we look forward to every year, and I’m glad to be in town and getting an early start.
The weekend starts with one a visit to Kennedy Krieger Institute with a group called Racing for Kids. It’s a charity involving the Indy Family Foundation and Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis, started by former IndyCar driver and team owner Robbie Buhl.
As part of it, IndyCar drivers visit children’s hospitals when we’re in various race markets to make a difference in the lives of kids with serious illnesses.
These visits are always moving. It’s difficult to see children in hospitals, but it’s also uplifting to see their smiles and know that we brought them something unique. Having three kids of my own, I’m always thankful that they’re healthy. It’s a privilege to visit the great children’s hospitals around the country and support the dedicated people that keep them going.
These hospitals are doing wonderful work. It’s always fun to go see the kids and know that they are getting better and that progress is being made in fighting diseases that affect children. We’re able to stop by and lift them up and give them a distraction.
We usually go in as a group of drivers and take some time with the kids and show them what we do. It’s always a lot of fun. There are plenty of smiles and happiness. We’re there to help a kid have a moment of fun, a diversion from their hospital routine. They’re always ready with questions and eager to hear about racing.
As long as I’ve been racing fulltime -- since 2004 -- I’ve been involved with Racing for Kids. All the IndyCar drivers do. Not all of us go to every single market, but we help out when we can. There are a lot of good guys in this series. We might have our occasional differences on the track, but away from it, we come together to do what we can for charity.
Athletes don’t always think of themselves as role models or heroes, but at the end of the day we’re role models to children whether we want to be or not. I want to be the type of role model that I want my kids to see, but also other kids. It’s important that we, as racers, do the right thing and set an example. I’m proud that this group of guys does that, and I think we’re making a difference.
Let’s talk about racing for a moment. Last weekend’s race at Sonoma was a wild one, as you probably saw. Things got jumbled up in a hurry. We started in the back, but got out of sequence on pits stops and for awhile were racing as far up as fourth.
We were on a strategy that could have played out, but there were just too many cautions. On one of them, I got pushed out wide and lost a lot of positions. Eventually, the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet finished 19th.
It was aggressive and rough, and one of those races you just want to forget. But we’re all excited that we raced among the leaders for a time, and we do have good pace on road courses, just as we did earlier this month at Mid-Ohio. That should bode well for Baltimore’s street circuit.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun