04
Jun

Every year when May comes around I get excited to go cover my favorite race of the year, the Indianapolis 500. Nothing can compare to the history and tradition of the 500. Off to the races!

After the worst travel day in my career, if you are a friend on Facebook then you probably read about it already.

But anyways lets get to the action with Carb Day followed by the Indy Lights race.

Carb Day is the final hour of practice prior to the race. Here are some of my photos from the practice (I’ll warn you theres no cool ones).

Below, crew members for IndyCar Series driver Helio Castroneves practice pit stops during carb day prior to the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

I love the reflection of his car in the sunglasses of IndyCar Series driver Dario Franchitti (below) as he waits to climb into his car during carb day.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 500iso, f4, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

The pole sitter for the race (and all around cool guy) Helio Castroneves looks on prior to climbing into his car, below.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/1000th, Aperture Priority

Below, IndyCar Series driver Marco Andretti (right) talks with legendary grandfather Mario Andretti during carb day prior to the Indianapolis 500.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

Below, Danica Patrick sits in her car prior to heading out on track.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 500iso, f4, 1/1000th, Aperture Priority

Below, IndyCar Series driver Davey Hamilton bottoms out shooting up sparks through turn one during carb day prior to the Indianapolis 500.

Nikon D700, 400mm, 100iso, f5.6, 1/500th, Aperture Priority

IndyCar Series driver Marco Andretti, below, climbs from his car following the practice.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f5.6, 1/800th, Aperture Priority

Below, IndyCar Series driver Danica Patrick points at her new boytoy…uhh I mean turn one as she talks to a crew member about the handling of her car.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 500iso, f4, 1/8000th, Aperture Priority

After the practice was the Indy Light Series in the Freedom 100. The race is usually pretty fast (aka boring) but I still shoot it as if it was an important race.

Below, on the second lap Indy Light Series driver Jeff Simmons lost control heading into turn one……

Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f5.6, 1/1600th, Aperture Priority

……where he slid up the track taking out pole sitter Pippa Mann, below.

Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f5.6, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f5.6, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

As the two cars spun they got too full frame for my 400mm so I shot each car individually as they spun.

Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f5.6, 1/1600th, Aperture Priority

Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f5.6, 1/1250th, Aperture Priority

That would be the only incident of the race. With a few laps to go I made my way to victory lane to shoot the winners celebration.

Below, guess which one went back to the hotel with me…..

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 200iso, f5.6, 1/640th, Manual

The big winner of the day would be Indy Light Series driver Wade Cunningham, below.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 200iso, f5.6, 1/1000th, Manual

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 200iso, f5.6, 1/1000th, Manual

That wrapped up a short and sweet day at the track.

Saturday was an off day for us but after my 10 hours of sleep and Guy Rhodes 15 hours (I cant make this up…) we got bored and headed over to the speedway to fire off some feature photos of the track.

While walking around the rather empty facility we were stopped by one of the dreaded yellow shirt security guards.

He politely informed us that the track was closed and we could not be out there. I really wanted to continue shooting so I told him to contact his supervisor. I figured he would hear that and just let us continue shooting. Instead he got on his radio and called in to his supervisor to confirm if we were allowed to be there shooting.

A few seconds later a females voice over his radio came back saying, “yes thats fine for them to shoot.”

Guy and I looked at each other thinking “really?”

With that behind us we explored the track and shot random pics.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f2.8, 1/1600th, Aperture Priority

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f2.8, 1/200th, Aperture Priority

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/6400th, Aperture Priority

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 250iso, f5, 1/640th, Aperture Priority

Being on the completely empty track was pretty surreal. Since it was such a cool scene Guy and I decided we had to get new photos of ourselves.

Below, Guy Rhodes gracefully leaps through the air like a pixie on the frontstretch.

Below, I relax against the soft wall (which really isn’t all that soft!)

Photo by Guy Rhodes

Ok on to race day!

If you read my blog from last years Indy 500 you might remember me explaining how horrible the traffic jam we endured was. Thankfully this year we got a tip from a track employee the best way to get into the track. Well it worked wonderfully for us and we got into the track in no time.

Getting into the track so early gave me about six hours to kill before the start of the race so I milled around looking for stuff to shoot.

Below, is the Delta Wing concept car on display in the paddock. IndyCar officials are attempting to choose between four designs (the below one included) for their new style car set to debut in 2012. I Love the Delta Wing but the likelihood of that car ever seeing the track is equal to the world actually ending in 2012…..

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/1600th, Aperture Priority

About three hours prior to the race I ventured down to the red carpet area they had set up for introductions of celebrities on hand.

Below, I strike a pose as I walk the red carpet to the disappointment of the fans.

Photo by Justin Tooley

Ok lets move on to the actual celebs.

Mr Dirk Digler himself, aka Mark Wahlberg, below.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

Below, mmmmmm Kim Kardashian (left) and sister Kourtney Kardashian.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/1600th, Aperture Priority

Creepy but very nice guy Rupert Boneham, below.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/800th, Aperture Priority

Former rodeo stud Ty Murray and wife Jewel, below.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 100iso, f5.6, 1/1000th, Aperture Priority

Talk show host David Letterman.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 400iso, f2.8, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

Ok enough of the celeb stuff. Its almost race time.

Below, fans mill around past the Borg Warner Trophy on display.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 400iso, f6.3, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

30 minutes before the race was driver introductions. Most of the photogs set up behind ropes on the track to shoot the drivers during the group shot of the full field. But check out the mass of photogs below so you can see why I decided to try something different.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 400iso, f5, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

When the drivers were introduced they came over an elevated walkway as they headed to the track for the group shot. Below is the result of my position as Dario Franchitti walks past. Not the greatest angle at all but better than dealing with a cluster of photographers all vying for the same shot.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 250iso, f6.3, 1/1000th, Manual

After driver intros they all headed to their cars so I spent a few minutes running all around pit road trying to shoot as many drivers as possible.

Below, Danica Patrick walks to her car prior to the race.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 250iso, f6.3, 1/500th, Aperture Priority

Dario Franchitti (below) ties his shoe prior to climbing into his race car.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 250iso, f6.3, 1/640th, Aperture Priority

Ashley Judd, the wife of Franchitti, walks down the grid towards his car.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 400iso, f5, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

I didn’t even notice this picture till after the race but my assistant Justin wanted to be a jackass so he acted like a goofball as he walked through my background. You would think I might get mad but honestly this is something I do to my friends shots all the time, haha.

Below, movie actor Jack Nicholson looks down from the flagstand prior to waving the green flag to begin the 500.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 400iso, f5, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

After finishing up on pit road we made the half mile walk to my spot on the inside of turn one.

Below, a helicopter flies behind thousands of ballons released following the national anthem prior to the Indianapolis 500.

Nikon D700, 400mm, 400iso, f5, 1/8000th, Aperture Priority

The inside of turn one has a catch fence with a slit in it for us photographers to shoot through.

Below, I model the photo hole so you guys can see what I’m talking about.

Photo by Justin Tooley

Once the race got going it seemed to stop every few minutes for a crash that was in a different area on track.

About a quarter of the way into the race front runner Will Power, below, made a pit stop but left before the crew had pulled the fuel hose out. Power would receive a penalty from it which pretty much took him out of contention for the win.

Nikon D700, 400mm, 400iso, f6.3, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

When the race got boring I headed to the outside of the track for the first time to shoot some car shots through a very small photo hole in the catch fence, below.

Photo by Scott Rovak

Below, Tony Kanaan leads a pack of cars through turn one.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 320iso, f6.3, 1/1600th, Manual

Ed Carpenter (below) follows a car through turn one.

Nikon D700, 400mm, 400iso, f6.3, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

Just after making my way back to the inside of the track there would be a crash right in front of me.

Too bad I was following the wrong car and missed the spin and impact into the wall.

Below is the only semi usable shot I would get of Raphael Matos as he slid backwards along the wall after the crash.

Nikon D700, 400mm, 400iso, f7.1, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

As he continued sliding away I shot but the camera lost focus once he was behind the inside fence.

At least I know of two other photogs who missed the crash, below.  Haha

Nikon D700, 400mm, 400iso, f7.1, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

A short while later (just before I was going to head to victory lane) IndyCar Series driver Sebastian Saavedra would lose control below…..

Nikon D700, 400mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

….and plow the turn one wall.

Nikon D700, 400mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

Nikon D700, 400mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

Nikon D700, 400mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

After the crash it was time to head towards the finish line to shoot the end of the race.

Late in the race Justin Wilson would pit for gas and tires. Below, smoke pours from his rear tires as he heads off pit road with a push from a crew member.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 500iso, f5, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

IndyCar Series drivers race down the front stretch past the scoring pylon during the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, below.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

In a pretty exciting final few laps several drivers would have to pit for fuel and the lead switched around. Dario Franchitti had the lead but was very iffy on having enough to finish.

Luckily for him there would be a caution near the end of the race……

For one of the wildest crashes ever.

…….which would allow him to drive slow and save fuel and win the race, below.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 500iso, f5, 1/2000th, Manual

Below, Franchitti pumps his fist after taking the checkered flag.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 500iso, f5, 1/2000th, Manual

Once pushed into victory lane Franchitti took off his helmet to reveal a massive smile after becoming a two time Indy 500 champion, below.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 200iso, f3.5, 1/2000th, Manual

Franchitti quickly climbed from his car to celebrate for the cameras.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 200iso, f3.5, 1/2000th, Manual

Ashley Judd was quick to give hubby some loving.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 200iso, f3.5, 1/2000th, Manual

Dario then held up the milk and had a drink.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 200iso, f3.5, 1/1600th, Manual

In the 2-3 minute period I was able to get enough good images that I ran from victory lane and to the media room nearby to transmit images to the wire so I could make some sales.

That wraps up another Indy 500. Can’t wait till next year!

Here are some web clips:


 
Posted in Indy Cars, IRL, Me, Racing, Sports   | 2 Comments

2 responses to “Franchitti wins second 500 in the second hottest 500 in History”

  1. Justin Tooley says:

    Guy’s vertical is better than I had imagined…

  2. Jack Megaw says:

    Notice how the two photogs chimping are Canon guys. I don’t make the facts – I just report them.

    -Jack

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