Friday, July 26, 2013

Trust, the Main Ingredient in Life's Kitchen: Five Questions for Indianapolis

Credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images
When I was a kid, being in the kitchen with Mom was one of my favorite activities. I can still smell the spices in the pot as potatoes stewed, the sweetness wafting from the baking cake, the char of food that fell down in the burner’s murky depths.With every recipe came a memory, and, with every cooking adventure, a new one was created.

Being so young meant I couldn’t physically work around the stove, yet I did with my eyes.

Add a pinch in there. No, no, no, not too much! Turn down the heat a smidgen. Perfect.

I learned terms and tricks from Mom, yet I also gained another weighty lesson: trust. As weird as it sounds, pasta is the reason why.

It was Spaghetti Night, and I observed as she checked the boiling water for readiness. She then cracked a handful of long, wafer-thin noodles and dropped them into the Jacuzzi. My feet danced and swished as the time ticked away. We performed a musical. We played charades.

I was in the middle of a solo when her head whipped to the stovetop. Immediately, she took the pot off the heat and went to the sink. As she drained the pasta, my eyebrows came together.

“How do you know it’s ready?” She hadn’t set a timer or glanced at the clock.

Shaking the excess water off the noodles, Mom answered, “I just know. Too late to put the water back, so you have to trust your gut.”

Trust your gut. Seven years later, that phrase sticks in my stomach every time I have a decision to make. It’s hard to gain, yet easy to lose. It’s definitely more fragile than uncooked pasta. When someone you’ve given your heart to injures that key muscle, it’s over. Well-done, burnt, call the fire department and throw it in the trash.

Recently, I’ve been embarking on my own. Media days at the local track, attempting to land opportunities out of my reach, giving life to old book ideas. All those things have happened due to having faith in my instincts.

Also, cooking has been another release as of late. Grabbing ingredients and setting them on the counter, only to make something entirely different half an hour later is invigorating. Smells flooding throughout the entire house, seemingly telling the world what’s on the menu.

Life is a concoction, one full of bitter notes, hints of sweetness, and a huge dollop of mystery. As you stir and whisk and try to make the flavors even out, the truth is that they never will. But you throw in some spice, relaxation, and maybe even love to try, not even measuring how much of what aspects should be added.

That’s because your gut knows what feels - and tastes - good.

So, what’s cooking at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, you ask? More history in the making, of course! The Brickyard 400 will take the green flag for the 20th time, yet should we keep having this prestigious race? What about dirt racing? How about some love for Toyota? I’ve got all of that here, in this week’s Five Questions.

Should Indianapolis be taken off the schedule? This question comes up every year, which is depressing, but it will always have the same answer: no. However, this time around, there’s a different reasoning behind that choice. The history behind this track is encapsulating, yet the car is another thing to keep in mind. It’ll be the first time the Gen-6 rolls around Indy, so everyone’s blind. We have no idea how this is going to go down. I think it’s best to not judge this weekend’s race on races past, take it as it comes. That’s the best strategy.

Will we see more dirt tracks on the schedule soon? If you didn’t have the chance to watch the NCWTS race at Eldora on Wednesday night, I feel bad for you; it’s going to be named The Best Race of 2013 by year’s end. I’ve never seen so many drivers smiling after a race. That’s the main thing: when the drivers are happy, the racing is great, and it seems like these wheelmen were happy slipping and sliding around on sediment. Does this mean that we’ll see dirt more often? I would think so, but not too many; that would have the same effect as too many night races, magic dwindling away over time. Another dirt race in Trucks would be divine, but I’m not sure about the Nationwide and Cup cars. But, who knows?

May the Nationwide series PLEASE go back to Lucas Oil Raceway? While everyone is talking about how dull The Brickyard has gotten, I’m over here fretting about Saturday. Last year was the Nationwide Series’ first time at Indianapolis, and it produced less than stellar results. As much as I appreciate the effort, the ball was dropped with that decision. It’s possible this weekend could be different, but it’s also possible it won’t be. Maybe those in charge will end up regretting this decision.

Can one of this season’s winless drivers break through? It’s befuddling to hear that Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer, Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch all have zeros in the "win" column; some of the biggest names haven’t won yet? What? Well, I’m expecting these four to make up some ground on Sunday. It’s time to take things seriously, guys. I’d hate to see any of these guys miss The Chase (to be honest, I want every driver to have a chance). It isn’t right that three former champions and last year’s runner-up aren’t competitive when the white flag falls. I have faith that they all will get their stuff together.

Do we finally see a Toyota enter Victory Lane? Chevy has won every trip to the Brickyard for the past ten years. However, I’m talking about a different manufacturer. Last year, many TRD engines blew, and the race turned out to be another foiled attempt for a Toyota team to kiss the bricks. That may change due to two words: Matt Kenseth. He’s been a stout contender this year, the only one in position to rival Jimmie Johnson so far. With that bullet in Toyota’s chamber, they certainly have a surefire chance at victory this time around.

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