So here we are, at the end of 2012. While I am excited for the future, I have to say that this past year was one of the best I have had in a long, long time. I met a lot of great people and had some awesome experiences, and am happier than I have been in, well, years.
I have a lot to look forward to in 2013, but everyone does. The best part of starting over is that the sky is the limit, so hopefully you get there in the coming year.
With 2013 upon us, I'm going to throw out a few wishes for the next 365 days. Hopefully a few of them come true.
IndyCar: You know, it was a tumultuous 2012...the on-track product was the best but the series, to quote an old football coach I used to cover, "shot itself in the foot so many times they ran out of bullets". Hopefully that ends in the future. I don't need any miracles, I just want to see things get better. I want to see some stability, some better decisions, and a better working relationship between the front office and the owners, not to mention a bigger commitment to the fans!
4-time: We enter this year with something rare, with two three-time Indy 500 winners, Dario Franchitti and Helio Castroneves, looking to take that final step into legendary status and join AJ Foyt, Rick Mears and Al Unser as four-time winners. Truthfully, I think both of them will get there before the end of their careers, but at the same time, there are several drivers who raced for their fourth wins and never got there. And considering Dario, Helio and Dan Wheldon have won eight of the last 12, and there isn't another multiple-winner in the field, if they retire without winning a fourth, it may be a while before anyone gets this close again. It would be great to see one of them get into Victory Lane next year.
Tony Kanaan: Speaking of Victory Lane, if Dario or Helio don't get there, hopefully TK does. I've seen some great days at the Speedway, but TK winning would be one of the greatest.
Ryan Hunter-Reay: RHR was one of the biggest surprises of 2012, winning four times and the series championship. He is on the cusp of becoming a true superstar and drove with so much confidence at the end of the year that he is primed to go to the next level. There is more than enough room in the series for another superstar, and an American one at that (for those people who think that matters).
Will Power: My wish for him is simple, to figure out the ovals. Then again, once he does, he becomes pretty much unstoppable, and that might be boring!
Marco Andretti: 2012 was a total implosion for him. I hope he gets his attitude in order and approaches next season with a true passion for his job and for winning.
Hinchcliffe, Oriol Servia, Simon Pagenaud and Alex Tagliani: Just win, baby!
The fans! Here is my biggest wish of all, that every one of you enjoys the 2013 season. Just have fun, stop spending so much time worrying about the "impact" of every single move the series makes, the impression it leaves on others and how each and every thing "moves the needle". Honestly! I'm not a kittens and rainbows guy, you all know that. But dammit, the guys (and ladies) drive their asses off for our enjoyment. They have a car that lets them put on a thrill show almost every weekend, and as I have harped on before, we are approaching a golden age where the competition could be the best it's ever been.
Still, I spent most of last year reading blogs and Twitter posts of people who are seriously holding on too tight (me included). Enjoy the series for what it is, because if the worst happens and IndyCar goes away, our lives won't end. We'll all find something else to do and hopefully we have great memories to take with us.
My son Matt ran in the Illinois state cross country meet a couple of months ago. If I viewed the experience as most people do IndyCar, I would've spent the last two months dwelling on his off day (he finished 170th after sitting in the top 60 after the first mile), why it happened or how it affects his college prospects. Are you kidding me? Pardon my french, but holy shit, outside of the day he was born it was one of the biggest thrills of my life. It was incredible, despite the fact that no one on his team ran well. At that point, it just didn't matter, because everything that went with it was amazing.
I'm going to try to take that attitude into next season, and you should too. Life is too short, and the seasons too few, to sit around doing some of the things we do. Do what makes you happy, because in the end that is what all that matters.
That's not to say we should care about the series or its future, but instead of worry about what everyone else is doing or thinking, take care of what you can control. Watch the races, follow the sport and encourage people you know to do the same. What happens from there, happens.
I took a bit of a break from blogging and Twitter(ing) because it had stopped being fun. A lot of the stuff I read and people's reactions to things that were posted had just gotten so negative I just didn't want a part of it.
I'm hoping to return with a better attitude and while I don't want to ignore the bad stuff that is going on, because I'm as concerned about the future as anyone, I don't want it to become the center of my fan-dom either. I hope the same for you too.
Lecture over. To all my friends, family and readers, I hope you all have a blessed and happy new year.