Saturday, April 21, 2012

Carmel Championship Weekend

We arrived at the Renaissance Indianapolis North Hotel in Carmel, Indiana and we were greeted by Jennifer at the front desk. Within a couple of minutes we were on our way to our home for the night. The Renaissance Hotel exceeded our expectations by the hospitality they were showing to the Carmel Championship Weekend guests.
It was an unexpected surprise that they offered a Pasta Dinner buffet for the runners on Friday evening and a Grab ‘n’ Go Continental Breakfast on Saturday morning. We didn’t get a picture of Jennifer when we arrived but we stopped by the front desk when we were leaving. We got a picture of Jennifer and Hope. I’m not sure if they were smiling because they love their work at the Renaissance or because we were leaving.

We then headed to the racing capital of the world, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to tour of the Hall of Fame Museum. As you enter the property the drive takes you under the track. It is a different feeling when you are there and no race is going on. We first visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 29, 2005 when Danica Patrick made her first appearance at Indy and finished fourth and Dan Wheldon won the race while the caution flag was out. On that day, we toured the Tag Heuer Timing Room and also Pit Road.
But this trip, we did something that most people only dream of.  We took a lap around the track! Bob our driver was a great driver of the tour bus and he went around each turn of the Indy track with such skill and precision that at no time did we feel like we might crash into the wall. Oh and I should mention that thanks to Bob, we crossed the finish line in first place. Our victory lap ended in front of the Hall of Fame Museum. Well, I didn’t get to drive the track, but my wife tried to tell Stan, one of the employees of the Museum, that the guy at the front entrance told us we could pick any of the cars and take it for a spin on the track. She was kind enough to invite Stan for a lap too! He recommended the 1954/55 Mercedes-Benz Formula One car. She promised him that if we took it out onto the track that we would try not to wreck it.

Next stop was the Carmel Championship Weekend Fitness Expo and Packet Pick Up at the Monon Community Center. Since we did not have the exact address to plug into the GPS, we tried to wing in by the very tiny map I printed out before leaving home.
We toured beautiful Carmel, Indiana. The roundabouts throughout Carmel are very similar to the Indy track. I was tempted to speed around them, but the turns are not banked and I did not have racing slicks on my car.
We finally made it to the Packet Pick Up, where Taylor and PJ treated us like old friends.

As we made the way around the Expo, we stopped at the Upland Brewing booth where Danny was handing out samples of their signature brew Wheat Ale and their Dragonfly India Pale Ale. It was like a mini-party at the expo.

After the Carmel Championship Weekend Expo we drove through Carmel and scoped out the morning parking. We drove through the dangerous Carmel Arts and Design District where I was afraid to stop the car in fear that my wife would jump out and shop.

After a good night’s sleep, we woke up at 5:00AM(4:00AM Chicago time) and made our way to the Carmel Championship Weekend Start.
As the minutes ticked away the excitement grew and grew. While we were walking around, my wife spotted Todd Oliver, the Race Director for the Carmel Championship Weekend. We stopped and said hello and he took a minute of his busy day for a picture with me before the race.

Special thanks to Jennifer, Hope and Crystal at the Renaissance Indianapolis North, to Taylor and PJ our Camel Championship Weekend volunteers, to Danny from Upland Brewing, to Bob our Professional Driver at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Todd Oliver. It was a great visit to Indiana and we hope you invite us back again soon!

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