A Smaller View: Hannah visits Panther

IndyCar commentary — By on May 19, 2011 7:54 am

A Smaller View chronicles the adventures of a nine-year-old girl as she takes advantage of the new junior credential program at IMS. Our junior blogger will submit reports on her experiences throughout the Month of May. We’re pleased to have the opportunity to present a view of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway through the eyes of the next generation!


Today was a really cool day.  I went to the track with my grandpa and experienced something that I doubt many other kids my age have experienced — I got to sit JR Hildebrand’s race car!

When we first got to the track, we went straight to the garages.  Most of the garages were closed because of the rain, but we got to visit with the Panther Racing crew.  Bob Grub saw me walking by with my camera and asked me if I wanted a picture with the race car. I said yes (who wouldn’t want their picture with an awesome race car?!).  It was Buddy Rice’s car.  Buddy Rice won the Indy 500 once!

After Bob took my picture, I met Trevor Mitchener and he introduced me to Anna Chatten, a Panther mechanic.  She was really nice, and she knew a lot about race cars.  She told me all about the steering wheel.  Did you know they cost, like, $25,000?!  That’s a lot of money! She showed me the paddles on the back and how the driver uses them to shift. I got to try the paddles, and they were really hard to pull.  The drivers must be really strong to be able to pull on those paddles all the time.  Then, she showed me the race car and started showing me some cool stuff with the wheels and how important it is to tighten the bolts on the car. I don’t remember everything she said. She really knows her stuff!

I asked Anna what she wanted to do when she was nine years old, and she said she wanted to race go-karts.  Then, she said when she was 15 years old she wanted to become a race car mechanic, and now she’s living her dream.  Anna asked me if I wanted to get in the car.  I was so nervous and didn’t want to mess up the car, so I told her no at first.  When she told me I couldn’t mess the car up, I said okay.  They lifted me up and put me in the car.  This one was JR Hildebrand’s camo-colored National Guard car.  Wow — it was really cool!  I felt so small, and I wondered how the drivers can see so well when they drive.

Trevor told me that he gets to help the drivers see from his position in the stands — he’s a spotter.  I think Trevor’s job is really cool.  He gets to tell the drivers what’s happening so that they stay safe.

Wow — I met a lot of people today!  Not only did I get to hang out with these cool people, but I also got some free Panther gear, too!  Oh, yeah — JR Hildebrand was there, too.  I really wanted to talk to him, but I was way too nervous.  He’s really cute!  Maybe next time!

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