Wow, the last three weeks have been a whirlwind. I’ve put so many hours into practicing, qualifying, and traveling for media obligations, I’ve barely had time to do my laundry! I had no idea what I was in for with time commitments out of the car, and I have a new level of appreciation for the other guys who have competed in the Indianapolis 500 for multiple years.
That said, I feel like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders after qualifying on Sunday. But I have to admit that making the field for my first 500 was a bittersweet experience. After getting bumped on Saturday, all I had to do on Sunday was go fast enough to qualify. So it felt really odd to have people congratulating me when I knew I hadn’t gone my fastest.
Still, with all the stress of the past three weeks, I’ve found some time to meet fans and hang out with my cat, Tigger, who stays in the trailer I have at the Speedway.
For those of you who don’t know, I’m a huge animal lover. I have two cats, Tigger and Bruce, and I recently adopted a rescue dog named Oscar. I’ve tried to have some fun with the fact that my cat stays at the track, because it gives the fans a chance to get to know a little more about me. This led me to the outrageous idea of making a bunch of buttons of Tigger to give away. Little did I know what a hot commodity these buttons would become. That’s what I love about Indy—the fans are so passionate that they will even wear cat buttons to show their support!
Another thing I love about Indy is the growing food-and-drink culture. When I’m away from the track, I like to hit up some of my local favorites, such as The Libertine, Black Market, and The Ball & Biscuit. Hopefully, after this whirlwind of a month is over, I’ll have time to discover some new favorites and, true to my fascination with vintage motorcycles, get my speed fix riding my 1970 Triumph Bonneville.
Until then, I’ll see you all at the race this Sunday—and don’t forget to wear your Tigger buttons!
Guest blogger Wade Cunningham is an eight-time winner in the Firestone Indy Lights series (with three top finishes in the Indianapolis Freedom 100). He made his IZOD IndyCar Series debut at Texas Motor Speedway in 2011 and will compete in his first Indy 500 this Sunday. A native of Auckland, New Zealand, he currently resides in Indianapolis, and his “Rookie Diary” videos have endeared him to a growing number of fans.
—As told to Taylor Ellis
Cunningham photo by Meredith Cohen. Track photos by John Cote and Jim Haines, courtesy IMS.