From everyone at INDYCAR: Happy holidays and best wishes for a prosperous new year.
Here a sampling of how some IZOD IndyCar Series drivers will spend the holidays and their most-memorable Christmas gifts.
Dario Franchitti: “Christmas in Scotland is a lot like Christmas here. We’ll spend one year in Scotland with my family and next year in Tennessee with (wife) Ashley’s family. It’s very similar. We don’t have Thanksgiving over there, so we tend to do the Turkey and eat a lot more on Christmas Day.”
“Two gifts stick out. When I was 8, I got a motocross bike. That was a big thing because I couldn’t race cars because I was too young. So I got a motocross bike, which I wasn’t really good on, but it was cool. In Christmas 1984, I got this helmet. I pestered the life out of (my dad) for this helmet that was called a GPA. It was the same helmet that Gilles Villeneuve wore. I got one of those and that was one that I always remember. I don’t have it anymore, so I’m looking for one. Still trying to find it.”
Marco Andretti: “Normally, I’m a very traditional guy. I normally go to my mom’s parents and then I’ll go to my dad’s parents – which is my neighbor (Mario Andretti). This year, I’m going to Thailand with Ludacris and Kevin Hart and our girlfriends. It’s a 10-day trip to hang out and work out. We do a once a year getaway before the season and we chose Thailand.
“Best gift was a snowmobile. It’s always nice as a kid to get a new toy like that.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay: “I don’t have enough time on my hands to shop for everyone. I’ve been traveling a lot, I’ve been to London, Milan already this month and I’m headed to Bangkok for Race of Champions. By the time I get back, it will be Christmas. The Gordon clan will be coming from California. It should be a lot of fun. It will be a packed house, but that’s how we like it.”
“My best present was a surfboard. I’m not sure if I got my first go-kart for Christmas, but it was either a surfboard or a go-kart.”
James Hinchcliffe: “Holidays at Casa de Hinch have been celebrated without me because I’ve been gone most of the last few holiday seasons. It only gets worse for here. My own home will be empty, because I’ll be meeting my family in some warmer climates.”
“The most memorable Christmas gift has to be my Greg Moore helmet. It’s a 99, raced-used helmet and it’s one of my most treasured possessions, so that tops the list…that or my Tamagotchi.”
JR Hildebrand: “Pretty much both sides of my family are in the Bay Area, so I’ll go home for the holidays. We hang out with my mom’s side of the family on Christmas Eve in San Francisco, and then my dad’s side of the family comes to our house in Sausalito on Christmas Day. Everybody stuffs their face and exchanges gifts. It’s the one time of the year that I’m almost guaranteed to be home. My birthday is just a couple weeks after Christmas and I usually stay out there. My buddies are home from college or off work, so it’s a good time for me to re-connect with them in the offseason. You get to see almost everybody over the course of a few days. A lot of families don’t have that chance.”
“The best Christmas present? I got a mountain bike. I was big into mountain biking and raced them, and I got my first full-suspension Schwinn when I was in the eighth grade. I’d been eyeing this bike at a store down the street for months and it was on sale and it kept getting cut down. One day I went in there and the guy said we sold it to this guy from Mill Valley. I was pissed. I thought for sure this was going to be my gift and I went to my parents and told them, ‘Guys, come on. This was the one thing I wanted and it was on sale.’ They were like, “Sorry. Whatever.” Then they were the ones who bought it. I think because of the turmoil I went through emotionally, that was the best surprise.”
Ed Carpenter: “(Christmas) changes a lot when you have kids, but it’s a lot more fun because it all becomes about them. It’s fun doing everything we do leading up to Christmas and watching how excited Makenna and Ryder get for Christmas and Santa. This Christmas we’ll be adding a new arrival, so it will make it that much better.”
“There are different things over the years that I’ve liked, but I remember one year my Grandpa – my mom’s dad – got me bunk beds when I was really young. I also got tickets Vanilla Ice one year. It was my first concert.
Charlie Kimball: “We are having a quiet Christmas this year. My sister and her husband are staying in England this year, so we’ll spend one night with one side of the family and Christmas Day with the other. Traditionally we do a Mexican Christmas dinner, so we have tamales and enchiladas and big bowl of Chili and some garlic bread. Then we have fresh pears for dessert. It’s a nice way to come together and we try to enjoy the opportunity to get together.”
“The best gift I ever got was two, actually. My dad’s old go-kart, which came in three refrigerator-sized boxes of parts as well as a box with his old toolbox in it with a set of tools and nice inscription. So not only did I get a set of tools, but I got a project to use my tools on.”
Josef Newgarden: “The best Christmas gift I ever got was a motorized scooter. A GoPed, really.”
Graham Rahal: “Nowadays, Christmas isn’t just one day. It’s really a few days because you have to travel between Indianapolis, Columbus, Ohio and Chicago. We try to find everybody where they are at. When we do, we celebrate just like everyone else. We get up in the morning, open presents – although the older you get, the fewer presents you get.
“My birthday and Christmas are right next to each other, and one year, I got my dad’s 1986 Championship-winning gold Rolex. It was the gift he got when he won the championship. It was one of my very few prized possessions. It sits in a secure place and never really sees daylight or time outside of the box.”
Scott Dixon: This year, we’ve already been back to New Zealand, so we’ll be off to England to see Emma’s family. Now that the girls have grown up a bit, they like to see their cousins and run around with them. Elf on a Shelf has been big this year in keeping them in tow. You can see when Billy the Elf sees they are being naughty. It’s been a big bargaining tool. But Poppy and Tilly are getting excited for Christmas. You see they get excited when we put the tree up or when they see Santa or things about the reindeer. It’s a lot of fun and brings the excitement of Christmas back to you.
“For me, bikes and motorbikes were big presents. I think I got go karts when I first started racing. Anything that was motorized and went quick were the best gifts, but I remember getting my first bike.”