This year Janet and I will be attending the Indy 500. Janet has been invited to assist our friend "The Quilt Lady" Jeanetta Holder in her presentation of the winner's quilt. Jeanetta has been presenting the winner a handmade quilt for over 40 years. She told me the actual number the other day, but for the life of me I can't remember the actual number of years. She presented a quilt to the Chicagoland Speedway for their 10th race season in 2010. The photo was taken in the Media Center with then Track President Craig Rust. Several of her quilts are in museums. The 500 winner presentation occurs the day after the 500. We have tickets for the race, but now I have to find a way to obtain credentials so I can hook up with Rick Lane and rest of the Third Turn Society! It will be fun to see the Indy cars run again. It has been three years, Milwaukee 2011, since we have been to an IndyCar race. The only time I have been to the Indianapolis 500 was in 1994, when Al Unser Jr. won utilizing the Mercedes-Benz engine that was soon after banned from competition. It seems Roger Penske's group found a loophole in the rules and just blew everybody away that year. The engine had a totally different sound than any other engine out there. It was like a whisper! Like many IndyCar fans in the Chicago area, I would dearly like to see them return to Chicagoland Speedway. We, arguably, had some of the best races on the circuit. Below are a few images from the races at Chicagoland.
The auto racing season is getting ready to kick off in the Chicago area, if the snow ever stops. My first event will be the WXRX Stone and Double T 200 Enduro. The following Sunday, April 13th, will be Rockford's Spring Classic. I received my credentials for those two races last week, so I'm feeling good about the start of the season. At Route 66, the first Test & Tune of the season is on Saturday, April 12th, with time trials beginning at 9:30 a.m. Grundy County Speedway opens their stock car program in April and their open wheel STARS midget racing in May. I am very much hoping to be able to get there to photograph the midgets.
In the NASCAR arena, I was happy to hear Robin Pemberton announce their plan to reduce horsepower for the Cup series. We were made aware of this several months back, but we weren't able to discuss it until the formal announcement. Optimally, we were told that they would like to get the horsepower down to around 650, but that will be determined at a later date. You ask why reduce horsepower? The way it was explained, was that with today's car package, the engines are overpowering the cars and the racetracks. The engine builders have done too good a job optimizing the package. NASCAR needs to reduce horsepower to complete their plan for better side-by-side racing. So far this year, I have been impressed by the racing even though there were tire issues at Auto Club Speedway. All the teams claim it wasn't Goodyear's problem, but it was caused by the teams using an over aggressive suspension package on the cars. It appears the teams have yet to determine that fine line between fast and crash fast! This week the Cup series and the Trucks will run at the Martinsville Speedway. In the Cup Series, Martinsville has been a Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin playground. Here's hoping Denny, after missing last week's race, is healthy enough to compete. I have been impressed with the NASCAR racing this year. On the mid-size tracks we are seeing the ability to run side-by-side, draft and slingshot by. As soon as the teams get a better handle on the total car package, it can only improve the on-track performance. If the on-track performance is better, hopefully that will result in more butts in the seats.
The GLX Snocross season came to end with the running of the JBT Enterprises - Championship. It was a great season of nine races. The weather was near perfect, low 30's, cloudy to partly cloudy and no snow to interfere with the photography. For this event, I tried to change things up and brought my Sigma 100-300mm f4 lens. I attempted to obtain head shots while the sleds were racing. I had some minor success, but more failures than successes. It was a fun attempt. I also decided to take more pictures of the fans/competitors families, etc. I was attempting to show the family side to GLX Snocross. At this, I was successful and I will do more of this next season. I ended up with more than 1,200 images from the event. I was really happy with the images that were taken when the sun popped out. The contrast of the blue skies really makes all the colors really pop. Up to this point, every event that I had covered was cloudy with snow. This was a good change. The sled count was down slightly due to the ISOC Nationals U.S. Air Force Snocross event in Fargo, North Dakota. However, Jonathan Schwantz, #191 had a good day winning both Pro Lite races. Next weekend is the final Nationals race of the season at the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa in Lake Geneva, Wi., the Nielsens Enterprises Grand Finale. Due to the photography restrictions with the National event, I will not be attending. Now its time to start focusing on the start of auto racing.
Click here to see all the images from yesterday's snocross racing.
Click here to see the complete set of snocross races we've covered.
This afternoon will be a time for watching the NASCAR Sprint Cup race from Las Vegas. I am really anxious to see if the changes NASCAR made to the Gen 6 car are actually going to work as advertised. If so, it should be an entertaining race with a lot of drama.
Just a few from yesterday's racing.
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This Saturday, GLX Snocross hosts the JBT Enterprises - Championships. This will be the 9th and final race for GLX Snocross followed by their awards banquet on Sunday. The hot laps begin at 9:00 a.m. followed by the racing's first green flag at 10:00 a.m. For me that means an 0-dark early rise and drive to the Golf Farm. Also this weekend, is a National event in Fargo, N.D., the U.S. Air Force Snocross. Next weekend the National event will be in Lake Geneva, Wi. at the Grand Geneva Resort and Spa, the Nielsen's Grand Finale. Below are the riders from GLX who qualified for next week's event. Good luck to everyone at the Nationals.
Here are a few images from some of this year's events:
I just received notification that the Chicagoland Speedway/Route 66 Third Annual Easter Egg Dash will be scheduled for Saturday, April 5th from 10:00 a.m. - 1: p.m. The complete details are still pending and will be posted shortly. Janet and I will be doing the photography for the event. I will be doing the Easter Bunny in Gatorade Victory Lane and Janet will be doing candid event pictures. I hope everyone plans to come out as this is a charity event. Post event, the photos can be downloaded from Chicagoland Speedway/Route 66's Flickr.com page. Bring the kids, grandkids, neighbors, etc. and have a photo taken in Gatorade Victory Lane. Click here to see photos from last year's event.
As soon as we are done with the Easter Egg Dash event, I have to leave Joliet, head home to drop-off Janet and then head out to the Rockford Speedway for the WXRX Stone & Double T 200 Enduro. The green flag is scheduled to drop at 3:00 p.m. There will be an open practice starting at 11:00 a.m. This will be opening day for the Rockford Speedway. The following week will bring the Late Models back to Rockford for the April 13th Spring Classic. Now if we can just get some warm weather and get all this snow melted, its time to start cranking them up! Click here to see images from last year's WXRX Stone & Double 200 Enduro. Please click here to see images from last year's race.
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As previously reported, Janet and I were scheduled to represent the Chicagoland Speedway/Route 66 Raceway at the World of Wheels show in Rosemont on Friday, 2/28/14. We ended up working not only Friday, but Saturday also. We had a great time interacting with all the fans and hopefully we recruited some new ones. Janet primarily worked the Kids Club booth while I worked the Team Demo corner. Right across from where I was standing, I noticed a white Chevy II SS. I thought the car looked familiar. Then I saw the name on the passenger door window, Hollis Jones and I realized that I had photographed Hollis' crash back in 2012. I later talked to Hollis and he stated that it took 14 months to complete all the repairs! Please click here to see all our images from the World of Wheels.
And the car now!
On the NASCAR front, they were at the Phoenix International Raceway. Because we were working, I was not able to watch the new qualifying format. With certain codicils, it received positive reviews. The teams want the ability to cool down the engines on pit road to allow them to run tape on the grills allowing for faster qualifying speeds. From what was reported the teams would remove the tape and then drive slowly around the track to cool the engine. Then, they would re-tape the grill and try to run a fast lap. I have no insight as to what NASCAR's response will be. The most obvious move is not to tape the grill and run it in race mode. However, I'm sure NASCAR will be doing some tweaking of the rules. In the delayed, rain shortened NASCAR Nationwide race, it was another Kyle Busch dominating race. There was an immediate uproar and call to reduce the participation of the Cup drivers/teams in the Nationwide Series. I think I heard the best response and that was that we don't need to stop the Cup drivers from participating, only ban Kyle Busch! This is a very sticky situation in that NASCAR, traditionally, has taken the stance if you can construct a car, show up and qualify, you can race. Back a few years ago, there wasn't much hue and cry when Mark Martin in the #60 Winn-Dixie car showed up and consistently won. Who's record for most wins in the Nationwide (Busch) Series did Kyle Busch break? Mark Martin's!! Everyone should remember that this is professional stock car racing which equates to entertainment dollars. Racetracks want to put people in the grandstand, not only for the ticket dollar, but also for the concession dollars. Who is going to draw more spectators, an unknown, underfunded team or a Cup driver? The flipside is what do you do when a dominating driver such as Kyle Busch enters a bunch of races and normally wins? NASCAR is in a very difficult position because we have fans who have voiced their displeasure and the racetracks who want as many Cup drivers in the race for the draw (which by the way also involves track sponsorship dollars). It will be interesting to see what NASCAR does.
On the Cup side, Kevin Harvick had a dominating race car. PIR is one of Kevin's favorite tracks and he has won there more than any track he has won at. The back story that I was looking at, was not the dominating win, but were the cars stable, could they run side-by-side and pass. Knowing that this was only a one mile track and the full effect of the new aerodynamic changes won't be fully realized until they hit this week's high-banked Las Vegas Motor Speedway, I was encouraged by what I saw. The drivers were willing to stick there nose in there in the corners. That equates to the cars being stable. Of course, I realize that there were some loose and tight racecars, but I'm talking about those that have a handle on the new package and make the cars work. I'm very anxious to see next week's Las Vegas racing.
Due to the fact that we had to work at the World of Wheels show, I was unable to attend this past weekend's GLX Snocross event, The Dan Jacksons - Amsoil Raceday. I am looking forward to the last race of GLX' season Saturday with the JBT Enterprises - Championships. The Awards Banquet will be the following day. The following weekend will be the National Event in Lake Geneva, Wi. Due to the restrictions of covering the event, I probably will not be attending. So, this weekend will be my last snocross event until next year. Its been a good season that I have enjoyed immensely. I met some really good people and this has helped in my recovery from knee surgery. I am already looking forward to next season. Fortunately, we will be racing cars very soon.
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