August 20 2017 - 10 AM The MBCA-NEPA is one of the car clubs that is again invited to the 2nd Annual Car Show at the Pocono Raceway and to watch the ABC Supply 500 Verizon IndyCar Series Race on Sunday, August 20th at 10 AM until the race is over (approximately 6 PM). Arriving late is permitted, but they would like us there at 10 AM.
NOTE: All show cars must remain in place in the show area until the conclusion of the race at about 6 PM.
Two complimentary grandstand tickets to the ABC Supply 500 Verizon IndyCar Series Race held that day, along with two pit/paddock passes that allow access into the IndyCar garage, will be given to you if your car is accepted for the show. Please note that filling out the registration does not guarantee a spot in the show.
Registration deadline: Friday, August 4, 2017 in order to be considered for the show and free tickets.
Cars will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis; so get your registration in soon!
MBCA-NEPA members Brett & Debra Kropf attended last year with their 2005 E55 AMG, and wrote:
On August 21st 2016, we got our introduction to live IndyCar racing starting at the Pocono Raceway pit level. Our Mercedes-Benz Club of America – Northeastern Pennsylvania (MBCA-NEPA) section was invited to their Inaugural Indy Day Car Show. It included two pit/paddock passes and complimentary Grandstand tickets. Our MBCA-NEPA president Mike Ziegler reached out to the group to find out how much interest there was to attend this exciting event. They were looking for classic or rare cars to attend the event. While our 2005 E55 AMG (500+ HP nicknamed "The Beast") is certainly not a classic yet, it apparently is rare enough to be accepted for the show.
We arrived at 10:00 AM on a bright and sunny morning, knowing there was an imminent threat for storms approaching from the southwest. That didn't hamper our enthusiasm one bit as this was our first experience at Pocono Raceway and we were ready to take it all in.
Our computer business has been overwhelming lately but this was enough incentive to get the E55 AMG back on the road after a year and a half. "The Beast" had been waiting to roar again. Now with the new rear main seal that Brett and his son Nathan installed in our lift equipped garage, it's ready for another 120,000 miles.
The show noted that 130+ corvettes would be there, but with the threat of heavy rain it was more like 30. Our E55 was among the 4 Mercedes that were in the rain or shine show. There were various makes and models of classics and hot rods, including a General Lee replica signed by Daisy and Cooter, parked next to ours.
We wandered throughout the paddock area when I caught sight of a firetruck and a firefighter sitting on the front bumper. He quietly sat well-prepared to be called to duty if needed, but silently watched the events go on around him. I caught his eye as I was snapping a shot of the truck to show our fire company in Pleasant Mount PA, and he waved. I smiled and walked over to talk to him. He is Michael Heller and as the conversation rolls, Brett mentions the Mercedes Rescue AssistSM (https://www.mbusa.com/mercedes/service_and_parts/rescue_assist) that Mercedes has introduced for vehicles as old as 1990, and the QR code decals placed on the driver's door pillar, and behind the gas cap cover, and he was intrigued. He said we should talk to the Holmatro safety team and pointed out their trailer and trucks. We headed over and met a member of the Holmarto safety team, Tim Baughman (who is also Deputy Chief of Administration for the Indianapolis Indiana Fire Department) who made a call, and Brad Stevens, the Motorsport Program Manager from the Holmatro Regional Office drove over on a scooter to hear more about how Rescue AssistSM functions. Business cards were quickly exchanged so they can get back to the business of the race, and discuss this further at a later date. Tim also mentioned we should speak to the Pocono Raceway Fire Chief Dave 'Chico' Richards regarding the Mercedes Rescue Assist. We headed to his office area and were kindly greeted by a very busy group of fire rescue workers who directed us to Dave, who took a bit of time from his busy job to hear about Rescue Assist. He said he had just recently seen something about it and was also interested to hear more from someone who actually has it in their vehicle.
We head off to find more adventures of the day. Everyone was very busy in their work, but also very friendly. I saw Suravee 'Nat' Ratanaproek who was from another MBCA section and he asked if I had gotten any autographs yet. I said that I really don't know who's who. Nat helped me figure out how to approach for an autograph and Boom - I got an autograph from Marco Andretti!
I guess I have always been interested in racing from afar. My mother worked for Texaco Research Center in Beacon NY and collected the Texaco model race cars, plus once Bobby Allison came to the Beacon NY facility and mom came home with pictures of her in the race car he drove. My younger brother is an avid NASCAR enthusiast and has been to races. I guess it was inevitable that sometime in my life I would be able to enjoy a taste of what they have all these past years.
It was very exciting to be so close to all the Indy cars and the hard working crews that make the races what they are. As we walked from garage to garage throughout the paddock, we got to watch the crews adjusting and tuning their machines. When not completely engrossed in their job, several were very kind to talk about who they were and what they do. I started to see how a well-developed team was made up of many very important parts. I don't remember all their names, but Don Textor, one of the mechanics of the 'gearboxes' of the Verizon team, signed my paddock pass after stating he was just "a nobody". I mentioned that I would like his autograph anyway, and he then said he'd been doing this for 23 years. My thought was how exciting to be part of a team like this for so many years. He also said that he was currently working on Will Powers car, but that he works on the gear boxes of all of the cars for their team. I had just watched Brett and his son Nathan work diligently to remove and reassemble, what I now found out is the gearbox/transmission of the E55 to replace the rear main seal. I'm sure it's not quite the same, but I have a lot of respect for the ability to prepare the Indy cars to race at the speeds they do and handle turns like the triple turn of "The Tricky Triangle" track at Pocono Raceway.
As the day progressed, the clouds started to creep in and as race time was getting nearer, the skies were starting to threaten with sprinkles. We looked at our radar maps and decided to invest in 2 rain ponchos at the concession stand and a Tricky Triangle seat cushion. Everyone was so friendly, even when the inevitable rain came down 'in buckets'. We decide to eat our lunch in the eatery, and wait to see if the weather would break. When we left the eatery, we found that the race had just been canceled until noon the next day (Monday). We hoped that our clients won't need us as we plan our escape to return tomorrow. The next morning was bright and sunny again and this time, the forecast was a bit cooler and windy.
Our true sport enthusiast friends from NY's Hudson Valley, Beth and Chip Hansen, who often vacationed at Indianapolis, Daytona, and other speedways, decided to make the day trip that Monday, due to the clearer weather forecast. They wore headsets with radios to hear the track chatter. Seated next to me was Beth, who had positioned us near the third turn of the track. She enthusiastically helped to bring the experience to life with her years of racing knowledge that she willing shared as the Indy cars flew around the track.
The entire Indy race went extremely fast. The excitement surrounding the entire event was contagious. There were some tricky passes, wild heart throbbing crashes, and yellow flags just when my eyes were averted even for a moment. As I attempted to keep my focus on one area, I glanced around to see another yellow flag, and asked Beth what happened. She calmly stated "it was the French car, Debris". On the giant TV screen, it showed the windy day had blown something onto the track. After a good laugh, I shared Beth's quick wit with my fellow Indy newbies. We were all smiles enjoying the race.
I noticed the Holmatro truck out on the track when another incident occurred, and watched to see how quickly and professionally the Holmatro safety team and fire crew cleared things up, and the race cars started to vie for better positions again. As we learned about the race car drivers and teams from Beth, we felt a better understanding as to all that was quickly happening around us.
We watched as Mikhail Aleshin, who was driving a red and blue car with SMP Racing on it, lead on and off for a good portion of the race. After her favorite, Ed Carpenter was out of the race due to an electrical failure, Beth mentioned she hoped Mikhail Aleshin would win as the "Russian", as she stated he had never won at Pocono before. Ryan Hunter-Reay drove a yellow and red car with a large DHL written on it, kept moving forward and took the lead only to suffer a setback as his car suffered an electrical malfunction. As he entered the pit area, somehow his team was able to remotely reboot it (computer girl opinion), and the next thing we knew, he was back out on the track working to regain his standing, and it was all quite thrilling to watch. Having no idea how the scoring works (or generally any idea of the sport), I was just amazed to hear Beth and Chip who knew so much about this sport and were so well versed in all that was happening. She talked about the different drivers and teams so confidently and it was so wonderful to have someone like that nearby for my first Indy race experience. Beth pointed out a white and blue car and said that it was driven by Pippa Mann, the only lady driving in the race that day. Even though she was two laps behind the leader and in last place we cheered "Go Pippa" as she zoomed past. I found it quite amazing to see all these drivers tucked deeply into their race cars with a team that supported them to drive 500 miles at such speeds, all while vying for the top position and constantly communicating with their team about all that is happening and changing in the blink of an eye.
As the remaining race laps dwindled, I noticed the Verizon car moving to the lead, driven by Will Power (who Don Textor had mentioned was the car he was working on when I approached him for an autograph the day before). I started to think what irony it would be if Will Power won this race. Imagine, the one mechanic I got an autograph from is part of the team to win the first race I have ever been to. Well, as teamwork, skill and luck have it, this irony came to pass and Will Power took a commanding lead and won the IndyCar ABC Supply 500! My thoughts were reeling and the excitement of the whole experience was still continuing even after the checkered flag had been waved. I was then told we would be able go back into the pits and was very excited to do just that. I would love to go and find Don Textor to congratulate him for his contribution as part of the winning team. Beth and Chip said they would be heading out and had no interest of going into the pits. Beth said they had never gone into the pits. I found that so incredible with all the love and knowledge of the sport that they have. She and Chip are the ultimate fans and we were so happy that they were willing to share their day and time with us newbies.
Mike, Brett and I decided to head from the stands, through the tunnel under the speedway, to the pits, as the celebration was going on the track directly above. I would love to see the winners up close, but none of us had any idea who was who. I happened to look up to see a gentleman getting an autograph in a large book and carrying a larger SLR type camera. He seemed to know who was who. I approached him and asked him if he knew one driver from another. He quietly said Yes (probably wondering who this crazy woman was), and I asked him if he was interested in pointing out who was who to us, and take some pictures as we went wandering through the pits. I introduced myself and my companions and then Joseph Lunceford from Virginia smiled and agreed to accompany us.
First, we went looking for Don Textor and in a short time we found him. I asked him if he remembered me from the day before, and he did. I smiled and congratulated him on being a part of the winning team and thanked him for being so accommodating to me the day before and again today. We asked to take photos with him and he was again gracious and a true gentleman. He had become an important part of our exciting Pocono IndyCar experience and a day we will never forget. We let him get back to his job. Joseph pointed out the driver Josef Newgarden, that is his wife's favorite. We approached him and he was very kind and genuine as he talked to us. Joseph Lunceford stated some information about Josef's not being able to run in Texas the following weekend, again here was another true fan who knew all about the sport. Josef Newgarden was delightful and just added another notch in a truly incredible day.
We took more pictures, and as we were finishing our time with him, the winning car was wheeled in with bright star confetti stuck all over the sticky tires. Time for more pictures!!
As we were taking pictures, Joseph Lunceford pointed out Liz Power, the wife of Will Power. We hurried over to see if we could meet her. As she finished talking to someone, she smiled and said 'Hi' to us. We told her we were from the NEPA section of MBCA, and were part of the car show the day before and wanted to congratulate her on her husband's win. We asked her about how it is for her to watch the race and we learned that she has been noted in the press for twisting water bottles while she anxiously watches him race. Liz Power works to keep her husband calm and minimize his stress before a race, again another important element to any team. A real lady who cares deeply for her hubby and IndyCar racing, and who has found that she could transfer her stress into twisted water bottles.
I know it's a bit cliché to say this has been a once in a lifetime experience, but it truly was. If you haven't been to an Indy race, I suggest you give it a try and I do hope that they have another car show, because we would love to return next year as our Mercedes AMG E55 is a very special part of our life. As even though it is a rare car, it is also Brett's 'daily driver' when he's not chauffeuring me in my over 200,000 mile Mercedes GL450. If you want to know more about Pocono Raceway, they have a very informative website (http://www.PoconoRaceway.com/) that helped us get acquainted with what to expect, and it's also a good idea to search for what to bring to the track based on where you live. There were many sites that had information and tips for newbies like us.
P.S.: They HAVE planned their 2nd IndyCar Show on 8/20/2017, and we've been accepted again. It's first-come-first-served signup by August 4th, so hurry if you'd like to join us there! http://mbca-nepa.com/events.html#20170820
Debra (& Brett) Kropf – Members of Mercedes-Benz Club of America – Northeastern Pennsylvania (MBCA-NEPA) section.
Thanks to Joseph Lunceford for sharing his photos, some of which were used here.