It struck me on Friday night (at 30,000 feet, somewhere between Chicago and Salt Lake City) that I haven't really thanked or made an effort to thank everyone who has helped me get to Indycar. I hope that everyone involved understand the depths of my gratitude. I won't be able to name everyone here, but I would like to hit some highlights before I start driving this season. And since I will actually get to drive said Indycar on Tuesday, I should really (attempt to) do that now.
Firstly, at the top of my list, always, is my family. I would never have even gotten into a go kart, let a alone a racecar without them. It starts with my immediate family- my dad, my mom and my sister. They have always been and will always be my biggest fans, staunchest allies, fiercest defenders and best of friends. I remember our family trips fondly and while sometimes there was….tension, we always had fun in the end. A special thought for my sister: even though sometimes she and I fought like cats and dogs, the fact we had each other's backs was never a question. From England to Italy, Ventura to Camarillo, Woking to Witney, Pietrasanta, Indianapolis and everywhere in between, she has been there for me. The week I was diagnosed, my dad and I were in England, my sister was in Brazil (for work) and my mom was in So Cal. And my health wasn't the only crisis happening. But even from three very distant points on the globe, we rallied and, as my mom would say, 'circled the wagons' to get through it. Their strength gave me the courage to keep going.
I also want to thank all of my extended family for their years of support. From grammar to humor, business advice to relationship help, hiking the county to surfing Mondos, they have given me a lot. Thank you.
My friends are still a very important part of my life and as our lives get busy, we get to see less and less of each other. But it doesn't mean that when we do hang out, we don't act like we did in high school. Well, I hope not exactly like we did in high school (hoping for a bit more mature), but the important point is we still mesh. We may be scattered across the country- Fremont, Washington DC, Ventura County, Oregon, Indianapolis- but it sounds like the 500 this year may be a bit of a reunion. I can see it now: Monday night awards banquet after the 500; -Other big name Indycar driver "Hey Charlie, you look tired. You have a big party to celebrate finishing your first Indy 500?" Me, "Yeah, my friends and I got together since they are all in town for the race. We played RISK until the sun came up. And man did we destroy some take and bake pizza…." Yeah, we may not be the rowdiest bunch on the block, but we have fun.
There are many people in racing that I need to thank. And if I was to try and name them all, I am sure I would miss some. There have been lots and lots of great people from karting all the way to today. I want to thank my mental coach. And my physical trainer. So, thank you, thank you all.
On the partner side, I have had many 'champions' and I do want to thank them for everything they have done. Even something as small as a quick phone call makes a huge difference. And most importantly, I have to thank Novo Nordisk for their support and commitment to my racing career. With their help, I will be living a dream this year: competing in the IZOD Indycar series.
Finally, all of my fans and friends at the racetrack, thank you. A large part of getting to do what I love is because of you.
Tuesday I get to drive the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing car. I wish I could DVR the whole day so that I could replay it in perpetuity, but I will just try and soak up as much as possible. I will also try to remember everyone who was a part of me getting into that car. And honor their contribution by making the most of this great opportunity.