Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lumbering life on road for IndyCar drivers in motor homes

The IndyCar series features top-notch drivers in some of the world's fastest race cars, which will hit speeds of about 180 mph in Sunday's season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

But racing these relatively light machines requires heavy travel — this year, 16 races in a 28-week span in 11 states from coast to coast plus Ontario — and because many drivers in the series have young families in tow, something more spacious is required on the road.

Often that's a motor home, where these very fit athletes leave sleek race cars behind to pile into lumbering behemoths usually more associated with middle-aged guys with dad bods.

"With all the back-to-back races and the time I was going to spend in Indy and in the Midwest, it just made sense," St. Petersburg resident Sebastien Bourdais said of traveling with wife Claire, 9-year-old daughter Emma and 6-year-old son Alex in their motor home. "It's also a great way to discover the States with the kids when they're off school. They come to the Indianapolis 500, we go to Detroit, stop at Cedar Point (in Ohio) on the way. Around Pocono (in Pennsylvania) time two years ago we went to New York City. … We went to see The Lion King."

Life on the road can require a lot of patience, even if, thanks to GPS, stereotypical arguments over directions are becoming passe.

"It's gotten a little harder as the kids have gotten older," said owner/driver Ed Carpenter, who lives in Indianapolis and has children ages 8, 6 and 3 (he no longer owns a motor home, instead renting one when needed). "The 8- and 6-year-olds are into their own things. When they were younger, they pretty much came to every race. Now they still come to most — (but) my daughter and wife are missing St. Pete because of a gymnastics meet."

Fort Lauderdale resident Ryan Hunter-Reay and wife Beccy don't have the problem of sons Ryden, 3, and Rocsen, 1, being distracted by outside interests yet, though he compares having two that young to "a Rubik's Cube.

"With my oldest one it's just all about race cars," Hunter-Reay said. "We've been talking about the St. Pete race for two weeks and he says he wants to see his IndyCar. It's his, it's not mine. As soon as he hears race cars, he doesn't need toys or anything else."

During the season an Andretti Autosport employee ferries the family in their home on wheels, but in the offseason Hunter-Reay will do his own driving in his Newell motor home, especially to the 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring.

Bourdais, on the other hand, does all his own driving between races, unless there's a long enough break in the schedule for the family to fly back to St. Petersburg.

"It's like a moving house, really, for us," Bourdais said. "We just use it as kind of the anchor point. … We do stuff that's adequate for a 6- and a 9-year-old. If they have a good time, you have a good time."

That was a common theme — spending quality time with their spouse and children is well worth the effort.

"I think when you have an awful day at the track, you go back to the bus and you have your family there, it kind of takes your mind off of your work problems," said Miami resident Tony Kanaan, who with wife Lauren has son Deco, 14 months (Kanaan's older son lives in Brazil). "If I have a bad day, I get in the bus and see my kid. And if I have a good day, I get to get on the bus and celebrate it."

Having a wife/mom who can coordinate activities is vital too, Carpenter said.

"Heather does a pretty good job of finding children's museums, science museums, things like that," he said. "In St. Pete, for instance, in the past they've gone to the beaches, visited the Clearwater (Marine) Aquarium. A thing like that where they've seen the movie (Dolphin Tale), it's cool for them."

Because, as any parent of a teen can probably attest, even something as exciting as auto racing can't keep a kid entertained forever.

"I've heard advice from other dads that you're only so cool for so long to them before they end up finding other things," Hunter-Reay said.

. Fast facts

Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

IndyCar season opener, 12:30 p.m. Sunday

TV: Ch. 28

Course: Downtown streets, 1.8-mile circuit that also includes part of Albert Whitted Airport

Tickets: Call toll-free 1-877-725-8849 or go to gpstpete.com. Three-day packages start at $30 for general admission for ages 12 and under and $55 for general admission adult packages. Three-day paddock and pit pass is $125 for ages 18 and over only. Three-day reserved packages $70-$100 for 12 and under, $105-$135 for adults. Single-day tickets start at $20 on Friday for 12 and under and range up to $100 for adult race-day reserved tickets in upper rows.

Lumbering life on road for IndyCar drivers in motor homes 03/09/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 9, 2016 10:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Steven Souza Jr. snaps out of slump as Rays defeat Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — After Tuesday's shutout loss to the Angels, Steven Souza Jr. stood in front of his locker and talked about his need to contribute to the offense.

    Tampa Bay Rays catcher Jesus Sucre (45) hugs right fielder Steven Souza Jr. (20) in the dugout after his two run home run in the second inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, May 24, 2017.
  2. Tom Jones: Rays made right move sending Blake Snell to minors

    The Heater

    tom jones' two cents

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Blake Snell’s struggles on the mound were only one of the reasons the Rays sent him to the minors; some other red flags existed. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Angels game

    The Heater

    Rookie RHP Ryne Stanek has had his early struggles, but Wednesday he showed his high-octane potential, working around a one-out walk to strike out the mighty Mike Trout (on a 98.4 mph fastball) and legendary Albert Pujols (98.7), both swinging.

  4. Rays journal: More bullpen changes as Diego Moreno heads to DL

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays bullpen has another new look.

    Rays reliever Diego Moreno, pitching Sunday against the Yankees, heads the DL with shoulder bursitis.
  5. ACC baseball tournament: FSU beats Notre Dame on 12th-inning HR

    Colleges

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Jackson Lueck hit his second two-run home run of the game in the 12th inning, lifting Florida State past Notre Dame 5-3 on Wednesday at a rainy ACC baseball tournament.

    Florida State outfielder Jackson Lueck (2) connects for a game-winning home run in the 12th inning during game 4 of the 2017 ACC Baseball Tournament in Louisville, Ky., Wednesday, May 24, 2017. (Wade Payne/theACC.com via AP)