TESSA GANASSI - 'MY DAY AT THE TRACK'
By: Tessa Ganassi
Tessa Ganassi is the 14-year old daughter of Chip Ganassi, owner of Chip Ganassi Racing Teams (CGRT) which operates seven race teams across three different series. A few weeks ago at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Tessa made her first appearance as an investigative reporter inside the paddock area and examined the different types of fashion, music, entertainment, food and oh yes, racing that could be found. It was her goal to give fans a teenager’s view into the world of an IZOD IndyCar Series race weekend.
This is what she saw…
LOUDON, NH (August 14, 2011) - Last week I went to the Indy car race in Loudon, New Hampshire. What most people see as a race is the few hours that they are finally racing around the track, but what they don’t see are the days of work prior to the race that make it possible.
On Friday, we got to the race in the afternoon and went straight to the track. Raphael, the hospitality chef, made us dinner, and we sat with two of my dad’s drivers, Graham Rahal and Dario Franchitti.
On Saturday, the day before the race, there is a ton going on at the track. The crewmembers and other people are working on the cars in the garage. They take parts of the car off, put new pieces on, clean it, and make sure that it’s perfect for race day. Qualifying is also the day before the race, which shows where each driver will start for the race. They got three warm-up laps, and then they took the average speed of the fourth and fifth lap to determine where the driver would start on Sunday. There were also two separate practices on Saturday.
I also got to interview some crewmembers, sit in on green screen interviews for television, and go to an autograph signing with the drivers. It was fun to go to the autograph signing and see how excited some of the people were to meet the drivers.
At most races, there is a camping ground where people bring trailers, busses, and tents to sleep in and camp out at the race. We went up through the camping grounds to interview fans, and see what was up there. We even saw somebody who had a baby pool outside of their trailer, and a small dog sleeping under a trailer to keep itself cool in the hot weather.
The concession stands have all different kinds of food that you would find at somewhere like an amusement park, like hot dogs, corndogs, ice cream, cotton candy, popcorn, etc.
On the day of the race, the few hours before the race starts are hectic. People are rushing around to make sure everything is going perfectly. I got to interview Scott Dixon on the morning of the race, and also his crew chief, Ricky Davis. It was fun to see Scott, because I remember him from when I was really little. I also got to sit in on the team meeting, which included the engineers, Scott Dixon, Dario , my dad (Chip Ganassi), two other people with big positions on the team, and myself. During the team meeting, they talk about track conditions, pit stops, and a lot of other confusing stuff. The meeting was ended with my dad telling the drivers that he wanted first and second place, and if not, then he wanted second and third place. He was kind of kidding, and everyone laughed, but at the same time they knew that he was kind of serious too.
At 4:00 the race started, and I got to sit in the timing stand. I was handed a headset, and the only thing I was told was to not push the black button, so obviously I wanted to push the black button. When I asked what would happen if I accidentally pushed it, all they said was “Don’t.” I later found out that the black button means that I would talk to the driver while he was on the track. Dario was leading most of the race, until he got crashed out. When that happened the headset got a little crazy, but I won’t go into detail.
I had a lot of fun that weekend, and I hope to be back soon!