Mid-Ohio offers a low-key, low-stress vibe, yet not lacking in excitement. With an abundance of land space and a wide variety of exciting spots to watch racing action, crowds are never overwhelming. Everywhere I turned, I saw families with young kids, all smiling and enjoying the weekend. And, with five different series with multiple events, on-track action was happening more often than not. As a fan, I never faced a moment wondering what I would do next.
Saturday morning came with some of the nicest weather a race fan could’ve asked for. That, of course, was short-lived when IndyCar qualifying followed monsoon-like conditions. Thanks to Mid-Ohio’s genius paddock layout, I was able to stay relatively dry during the storm, enjoying views of both the track and the Schmitt-Peterson and KV garages.
Since monitors are scarce at Mid-Ohio, qualifying was a bit of a raw experience, determining which drivers made the cut based on who continued, and watching Bourdais’ crew celebrate with the checkered flag.
Sundays crowd, despite the expected heat, was outstanding as usual. Though many would not rank the Honda 200 as the most exciting event in terms of racing action, alternate strategies began early on lap 13. Drive-thru penalties were frequent, and resulted in a heartbreak for Josef Newgarden, who may have otherwise scored his first win. A combination of fuel saving and strategy paid off with a last-to-first victory for Scott Dixon, which was spectacular to witness.
Since Mid-Ohio offered endless on- and off-track entertainment, I wasn’t able to spend much time in the IndyCar Fan Village. However, when I did make my way over there, it was usually at the start of an autograph session. Meeting some of the USF2000 drivers in Indianapolis was an enjoyable experience, and it was a pleasure to be able to chat with them again. I also enjoyed some small talk with the Indy Lights drivers, who, like the USF2000 boys, are some of the nicest guys at the track.
My weekend at Mid-Ohio easily ranks as one of my top overall race-weekend experiences as a fan. Though I travelled alone, I rarely found myself without someone else to talk racing with. The IndyCar fans I’ve met this year are extraordinarily nice people, and always offering a unique perspective of the series and exciting personal stories. Arriving, I considered Mid-Ohio to be a track to check off of my “to visit” list, but before I left I found myself already making plans to return in 2015.