After our drive down to Indy on Thursday, picking up our credentials and driving to Jeanetta's, our first official day at the Speedway was Friday, Carb Day. We got just a little late start and unfortunately that may have cost us a lot of time. After we got to the Speedway it took two and a half hours to get inside the track. Then another period of time to find somewhere to park. This caused us to miss Indy practice. We later learned that the perfect storm was created when a decision was made to relocate the music stage this year to the opposite side of the infield than in previous years causing a lane reduction and with the largest crowd attendance in recent memory, it was a little crazy. We decided to wander around and get the lay of the lane and then watch the Indy Light race. We decided to skip the Sammy Hagar concert which was scheduled for later in the day. I had heard or been told that the Robbie Gordon Stadium Truck Series was supposed to be running, but for the life of me I could not find any information where within the Speedway it was going to run. Consequently, we missed that event.
After visiting the Media Center, Gasoline Alley and getting an overview of the Speedway, it was time for the Indy Light race.
The view from the pits wasn't the best, however congratulations to Gabby Chaves on his win in the Freedom 100. I decided to make another swing through Gasoline Alley on my way to see the vintage cars.
At the end of the day we accompanied Jeanetta to the Brickyard Crossing Restaurant/Bar to meet some of her friends. While there, Mari Hulman George, owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, arrived with her group. That capped a long eventful day.
The day before the 500 is a relatively slow day compared to Carb Day on Friday (see next post). The plan for Saturday was to attend the Public Driver's Meeting and then head out to Lucas Oil Raceway for the 69th Visit Hendricks County Night Before the 500 races, where our friend Randy Simpson is the General Manager.
Having never attended the Public Driver's Meeting before, I really didn't know what to expect. We had tickets for the grandstand, but it was very crowded. So, I thought I would find out if my credentials could get me a little closer. No problem, however the pit wall was crowded so I was shooting around and under things. After all the drivers were presented their Herff Jones Starter Rings, Jim Nabors was called to the podium. Because this was Jim's last go-around at the Speedway, he was presented a Starter Ring. His response was classic and brought a loud cheer. He stated,"I don't know what to say except, GOLLLY!" It was beautiful!!
After the Driver's Meeting it was time for a quick nap and then heading out to the Lucas Oil Raceway. As we entered the Raceway, the first person we ran into was our friend and photographer, Phil Rider. Phil is a long time motorsports photographer who's work you've probably seen in Sports Illustrated and other publications. Having never shot at Lucas Oil, Phil quickly filled Janet and I in on the track. Just before pre-race activities, we hooked up with Randy. He seems to really be enjoying the new job. After shooting pre-race it was off to the area between turns 1 and 2. As I was walking to my position, I hear someone shouting my name. I looked up and it was Mike DiNovo, a long time friend and photographer with USA Today. It was like old home week. The three series that were running this night were the USF 2000, Pro Mazda and the USAC Midgets. The unfortunate part of the night, was the midget car count was way down compared to previous years, numbering only eleven cars and one had already blown an engine.
Congratulations to the night's winners, USF2000-Aaron Telitz, Pro Mazda-Garrett Grist and USAC Midget-Tracy Hines. Afterwards we hung out with Randy, Randy's Dad Terry and Sarah Bonkowski, who just recently accepted a position in Indianapolis with a racing PR firm. It was a really good night.
Now, back one day, to raceday. Our day started very early because we anticipated a very large crowd based on the higher than expected crowds on Carb Day. We also wanted to meet with Rick and Laverne Lane, Bob Ruddick and the rest of the Third Turn Society. The Society is a group of photographers who have been shooting the Indy 500 from turn three for many years. Since I was shooting this event for this blog and not for a national media outlet, I wanted to try to shoot it from a fan perspective. We arrived at the Speedway at 8:05 a.m. Upon arrival at the Pagoda, the first thing I saw was the above pictured, Marmon Wasp, the first winner of the Indianapolis 500 in 1911. Next was our hookup with Rick and the rest of the Third Turn Society.
Rick made us honorary Members of the Third Turn Society! We were stunned and honored!! As race time approached the Society made their way to their third turn positions and we wandered around the infield, soaking in the ambiance and excitement of the upcoming race.
Then it was time to move to our seats. We were seated in the infield side grandstand Section 37 Row HH, which is adjacent to and overlooking Victory Circle. From there we watched the crowds gather around the cars, and the celebrities prepare for their participation in pre-race activities. Jim Nabors was exceptionally animated.
That was a lot of balloons! And then they rolled off the grid!!
The cars did three warm-up laps and on the fourth lap Mark Cuban waved the green flag and the action began.
The race went caution free until lap 149. After which Janet had to go prepare for the Victory Circle presentation of Jeanetta's quilt. I went down and finished watching the race on the gigantic infield flat screen television. The picture was so clear it was like looking at the TV in my family room. It was one of the best Indy 500's in recent memory. Also, this was one of the largest crowds in recent history to watch the 500. Congratulations to Ryan Hunter-Reay and the whole Andretti Autosports team.
First, I need to thank three people. My heartfelt thanks to Jeanetta Holder and her son Bob, for inviting us to Indianapolis and allowing us to stay in their home. Second, I want to thank Tim Sullivan of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for issuing us credentials. Both made it a memorable Memorial Weekend. Next, my original plan was to report the weekend activities as they unfolded. Unfortunately, I had limited internet access, so the plan changed. Instead, I'm going to start at the end and work backwards with our highlights. On Monday morning after the race, the Speedway has the winner's photo shoot on the main straightaway under the starter's stand. Ryan Hunter-Reay and his #28 DHL winning car is parked and all friends, team members and sponsors have their picture taken. Jeanetta and Janet participated in the presentation of the winner's quilt. I will have a complete page dedicated to Jeanetta later.
We arrived for the shoot at 9:00 a.m. The plan was to present the quilt and then Janet and I would have to leave to come home for some family commitments. We stuck to the plan.
The complete album will be uploaded later this week.
We are getting ready to head out to the Indy 500 tomorrow. Packing is always a pain. Although, we don't have the flying restrictions, so that's a good thing. Janet will be assisting with the presentation of the winner's quilt Monday morning. That starts at 8:00 a.m. So who is going to win the quilt (and the race!). Traditionally, my brother and I split the field with the loser from the previous year picking first. Since I lost last year (although I was extremely happy for Tony Kanaan), I will be making the first pick this year. I am looking at the line-up and am struggling with the first pick. I like Penske, however, Will Power's strength is the road courses. He has only one oval course win. If you look at the stats, nearly 70% of the winners come from the first seven cars. I'm not sold on Ed Carpenter and James Hinchcliffe seems to have inherited the Andretti bad luck. Who gets hit in the helmet with flying debris and not be involved in an accident? He got the car stopped and had to be hauled away in an ambulance. I'm thinking Helio is a good pick, but I don't want to give up two of the front row if I'm wrong. Such a dilemma! I don't know how much photography I will get in because I don't have a photo credential. I will try to get in as much as humanly possible. I may be shooting from the grandstand so I'm bringing my longest lenses. I will let you know how this all works out. We are looking forward to catching up with some of our Indy friends that we haven't seen in a while since they stopped coming to Chicagoland. I need to put what IndyCar photos I do have into an album/collection. Maybe when I get back. Here are some of photos from a few years back.
P.S. I ended up selecting Will Power with my first pick. My brother surprised me and went directly to the second row and picked Helio. I was hoping he would pick another front rower and then I would pick Helio, who I really think has the best shot of winning.
On Saturday, I was supposed to go to Rt. 66 for the Test & Tune. Unfortunately, at 4:00 a.m. I woke up feeling very ill. That killed my racing for that day. On Sunday, Janet and I attended the ET Bracket Race. Due to several breakdowns the day ran long and we had to leave before the end. However, it was a very interesting day. There was a dragster that had a history in the movies. The car pictured was used in the movie More American Graffiti. It has several autographs in the in trunk of actors and crew that worked on the movie. The actor, Paul Le Mat, was one of the signatures. One of the Shake, Rattle and Run Chevy's also made several runs.
Janet decided to take some images from last week and make some post processing "art". She has done this in the past using sepia, B & W, and muted colors with excellent results. This weekend we will be at Route 66 for the Saturday Test & Tune and the Sunday, Rockett Brand Fuels ET Bracket Racing Series.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is racing under the lights at Charlotte with Sprint Cup on Saturday for the All-Star race. The Nationwide Series is at Iowa Speedway on Sunday. IndyCar will be qualifying on Sunday for the 500. We leave early Thursday for Indy. Janet has never been to Indy so she is very excited!
If you want to see all the action from the previous weeks action at Route 66 click here.
It was a beautiful day at Route 66 today. The weather was spectacular and the racing the same. This was the first race ever for the Midwest Outlaw Series. This series was formed since last season with two classes, Street and Pro. Congratulations to all the winners, Midwest Top Sportsman-Alex Bosak, Midwest Super Comp-Chad Lamont, Midwest Outlaw Street-Rod Buie and Midwest Outlaw Pro-Gino Cavallo. Next up for Rt. 66 is Saturday, May 17 Test & Tune w/ Chicagoland Buick Club / Gamblers Drag Racing Association.
Congratulations to Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon on their Camping World Truck Series and Sprint Cup Series wins, respectively. Congratulations also go out to Simon Pagenaud on his win in the Inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis
Please click here to see all of today's action.
Please click here to see the complete portfolio
This weekend is Mothers Day and on Saturday, Janet and I will be at Route 66 for the Test & Tune featuring the Midwest Top Sportsman Series, Midwest Super Comp Series and the Midwest Outlaw Racing Series. This will be the first appearance of the Outlaw Series at 66. They run two classes on an 1/8 mile format. Click here to visit their website. It will be fun to see if Larry Wasielewski and Tony Grzelinski can defend their Midwest Super Comp and Top Sportsman wins from their last trip down the 1/4 mile! The early weather forecast looks to be spectacular, so I hope everyone can come and enjoy some great drag racing. If you see us, please stop us, say hello and get a picture with your favorite car.
On the NASCAR front, the Camping World Truck Series will be running Friday night and the Sprint Cup Series will be on Saturday night at Kansas Speedway. IndyCar will be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, running on the road course in the Inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis. This race is a prelude to the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500. Janet and I will be attending the 500.
To see photos from the last Test & Tune, please click here and to see our complete portfolio please click here.
Today's racing at Route 66 started right on time, however about half way through the second qualifying round the dark clouds rolled in and it began to rain. After a bout of intermittent rain, it was decided to pull the plug on the day's activities. I did get some photography in, so please click here to see some of the abbreviated action.
The next scheduled event for Route 66 is Saturday, May 10th. This will be a Test & Tune with Midwest Top Sportsman, Super Comp and Outlaw Racing Series.