I am spoiled. Plain and simple.
Take this past weekend, for prime example. I was invited back to Iowa, along with Jon, to attend the 5th Annual Iowa Corn 250 Indy Car Race, as well as hang out in Des Moines for a couple of days and enjoy all the city has to offer.
We arrived on Friday morning, and after a nap (yessss!), Jon and I headed out to a local brew pub, called Court Avenue Brewing Company. Fabulous chicken wings, and the Chicken Pub Pie was great! It was practically bottomless…I couldn’t seem to make a dent in it! (and believe me, I tried!)
After lunch, we walked back to our hotel and took yet ANOTHER nap. (Yessss!) Once crawling out of bed, we cleaned up and joined the other lucky bloggers at Dos Rios, located surprisingly enough just across the street from the brew pub. I was thrilled to see everyone again, especially Mindy, from the Iowa Corn Promotions Board, a few of the farmers from our last trip to Iowa, and of course, the bloggers themselves. We were joined by several people from the Iowa Corn Growers Association, and met up with some new-to-me farmers and their families. it was a great night and the food was top notch – especially the guacamole. According to my last Twitter contact, they are emailing me the recipe. Yay!
After a great night’s sleep, we set out in the rain to Baby Boomers for breakfast. I was elated to see my old friend Roxi and her adorable baby belly…I just wish we could have had more time! The breakfast was amazing – really – and the serving sizes were ENORMOUS. I had hashbrowns with cheese, sourdough toast, scrambled eggs, and ham. Stacked, it barely fit on my plate. And we won’t even talk about the order of pancakes Allison’s husband ordered! While the breakfast was truly great, baby Boomer’s is actually known for their cookies – thanks to President Obama. Turns out he fell in love with them when he was in town, and now has them ordered in to the White House. Now THAT will get you on the map! (Think he needs a cake? I’m available!)
Even though the rain kept peppering down, we headed downtown to the Des Moines Farmer’s Market. Despite getting wet, we had a great time, and that market is amazing! So many local farmer’s, vineyards, cheeses, and craftsmen! I picked up a beautiful cutting board and a wooden spoon made out of the prettiest dark wood – I can’t wait to show it to you! (It’s still packed, as I am a lazy McLazypants.) I also found a great little jewelry company that I am going to have make me a personalized Doughmesstic Charm – when I get it I’ll show it off, I promise! Too cute!
The rain finally held off a bit later, and we jumped in the Corn Bus and made our way to Newton, home of the Iowa Speedway. Like our green shirts? Corn Power!! We had no idea what a true experience we were in for…but was it ever fantastic!
The race features some of the world’s finest Indy Car drivers, from Danica Patrick, to Helio Castroneves, to Marco Andretti, son of the uber famous Mario Andretti. I’ll be honest and tell you – I know nothing about racing. Nothing about Nascar, nothing about Indy Cars. But I HAD heard of these drivers. Danica? Yeah, everyone knows her. And thanks to Dancing With The Stars, most of America now knows Helio.
And thanks to the Iowa Corn 250, I now love Indy Car Racing.
Look at this cutie I got to meet prior to race time…isn’t he reason enough to love racing? His name is Ed Carpenter, and he was super sweet. He drives the Dollar General car, and finished right behind Danica, in 11th place. Oh my God, those cars FLY. They’re basically made out of cardboard and paint, and sticky tape holds in a jet engine. If they crash, they break in to about 4200 pieces, and burst into invisible flames. Lucky for them, there is a crew of amazing people on the scene within seconds to do everything it takes to keep them free of harm. We got to learn all about the rescue efforts in a behind the scenes tour prior to the race. It was impressive!
Want to know what ELSE was impressive? The Indy cars in the Iowa Corn 250 were run on PURE CORN FUEL. Corn propelled these speedsters to speeds around 200 MPH. Corn. Clean, renewable, and obviously POWERFUL. Who would have known? (I mean, other than the thousands of Iowa Corn farmers in attendance at the race, the Iowa Corn Grower’s Association, the Iowa Speedway, and the Iowa Corn Promotions Board?) In all seriousness, I DO think that’s impressive…and I wish my own car was capable of Flex Fuel – as it saves a LOT of money to fill up with Corn Based Ethanol. I also wish my area of the country had E85 as a fuel option. Hopefully someday!
Speaking of the farmers, I was fortunate enough to meet up with many great men and women there, all farmers, and all so proud. I especially love Sara and Kevin Ross. Sara is a new blogger for a group called Common Ground, and Kevin is a passionate young farmer with big dreams and real dedication. He’s even the President Elect for the upcoming year. Would you know it by his demeanor, his sweetness? I didn’t. He’s just a down to Earth farm boy with a mission and a great smile. He and Sara are a wonderful couple, and I am thrilled that I got to know them. Emily and Jay Lynch are also a young farming family that I am happy I got to spend time with. Emily tells it like it is, and Jay? Well, Jay lets me tease him a lot, and you know I like that! All in all, we met so many wonderful farm families, both corporate and family farmers (many of which were one in the same), and I enjoyed getting to know them all just a little bit better.
But back to the race!
I was given a Media pass, which allowed me into the Hot Pits, the garages, and essentially, the entire inner sanctum. Amazing! We were ON THE TRACK for the pre-race festivities, mere feet from the racers as they were introduced. The husbands were even treated to rides in the pace car (I got to ride last time) and as you can see – they had a great time!
Once the race began, we were whisked back up to the Iowa Corn Tent (here I am with Allie from Finding Inspiration in Food), and had food and drinks every time we turned around. The vantage point was great – and even better – we were supplied with headphones that allowed us to listen in to the race teams. It was awesome to be able to hear what the drivers were saying to their crews – it put things in perspective and was just neat in general!
After the race, Jon and I headed to Victory Lane with Mindy, and welcomed in Marco Andretti after his 250 lap win. Like a dork – here are some screen shots I grabbed from YouTube where you can see us…look how close we were! Seriously, we were treated like royalty – it was the BEST time!!
I hope to be able to return to Iowa again, and the Iowa Corn 250. Maybe I’ll get lucky! (maybe THEY need a cake?) Until then, a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone responsible for the best weekend I’ve had in AGES!!