Our race weekend has had a lot of rushing – apropos perhaps for a race weekend. It started with the delay of our flight from Seattle to Santa Rosa. As delays went, it wasn’t horrible – 40 mins – but considering how tight our schedule was, it was less than convenient. When we landed at 4:45 pm, we hit the ground running, dividing and conquering to get the rental car and luggage. At the car rental counter I heard with horror those five familiar words I seem to always hear these days – “We’ve given you an upgrade” – but instead of the usual Grand Marquis or SUV they usually try to pawn off we landed a Nissan 350Z. Now, we had volunteered to drive people, so a two-seater was kind of a problem. No other car could be had, however, so we headed out of the airport texting furiously to see if our friend could drive us to the dinner we were supposed to drive her to.
The minute we hit the freeway, we hit traffic and discovered we were going the wrong way. So, off and on at the next off-ramp – a 15 minute diversion. Now, I don’t like being rushed and while at work I excel under pressure, I do less well under pressure in life. This was evident when the freeway exit I needed was under construction and instead of going up ahead to the actual exit I pulled off between a gap in the cones onto the dirt construction area (in my defense someone in front of me had too). With a lot of directing from my husband through clenched teeth, I managed to back us up to the gap, without going off the edge of the road, and pull us back onto the freeway (who knew the pick-up of the 350Z would be useful so soon). We exited moments later and 10 minutes before we were supposed to pick up our friend, we arrived at my Dad’s house – our borrowed home for the weekend. Fast and furious changing, teeth brushing and make-up came next and 15 mins later we were off.
We arrived at our destination of the evening, the Andretti Winery, 15 minutes before cocktail hour ended and the dinner started. This gave us just enough time to mix and mingle before settling in for the night. Due to our friend Marcy’s connections (check out her blog Food Wine & Marcy) we scored seats at the IRL racing table and spent the night chatting with gold medalist Jennifer Aziz (Grand Marshall for the weekend’s race) and other super nice folks connected to the Raceway and having front row seats for the mini-interviews with Andretti Green Racing drivers Danica Patrick, Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti, Hideki Mutoh, and Franck Montagny. The dinner had yummy wine-country food served family style (filet, salmon, pasta, roasted vegetables, etc.) and the silent and live auctions raised over $54,000 for the Michael Andretti Foundation, which in turn would benefit three local children’s organizations.
Yesterday was qualifying at the Infineon Raceway for both the IndyLights Race and the Indy Grand Prix. Infineon Raceway is a road course, which is like the super deluxe Hot Wheels racetrack you could get as a kid. We watched the qualifying laps from atop Turn 3 in the Paddock Club and were happy to see my husband’s favorite driver, Dario Franchitti (my husband likes him because he’s Scottish, as is my husband’s ancestry, and has a hot wife – Ashley Judd) come out on top and gain pole position for today’s race (apparently position is everything on this course).
Qualifying over, we rushed back to Santa Rosa and over to my sister’s house in Healdsburg to spend time with my brother-in-law and nephew, her friends and neighbors, and my brother-in-law’s mom and brother. It was at dinner that we discovered the Minnesota Juicy Lucy, a food that is indescribably delicious. Toasted bun, thin fatty hamburger patty topped with a hunk of cheese (in this case Cougar Gold), topped with another thin patty and crimped together at the sides. The result, is a thick patty with an explosion of cheese in the middle. And did I mention it goes really well with a bold zinfandel, like Murphy-Goode’s Liar’s Dice? It was the perfect meal to celebrate race weekend in Sonoma – basic, yet, with a cuisine twist. But I’m still dying to know who Lucy is and why she was considered “juicy.”