10 Spot / Indianapolis 500

Nikon D3s, 400mm with 1.4 convertor (550mm), 320iso, f6.3, 1/1600th, Manual

I was fortunate enough to shoot my sixth Indianapolis 500, in my opinion still the biggest race in the world. My luck hadn’t been all to great the past few years. That would change this year!

Above, IndyCar Series driver Mike Conway (14) goes airborne over Will Power (12) as they crash in turn one during the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was the biggest Indycar crash I’ve ever shot. Both drivers were uninjured in the wild accident.

Thursday before the race when I flew into Indianapolis we flew right over the historic speedway which gave me a nice view of the 2.5 mile rectangle, below. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, there are so many awesome photos you can get from a good window seat if you just take the effort to bring a camera on your shoulder with you.

Nikon D800, 24-70mm, 200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Aperture Priority

Indy Lights driver Esteban Guerrieri celebrates after winning a thrilling Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. What I liked about this shot was his emotional celebration plus I liked how his helmet on the right filled out the frame.

Nikon D800, 70-200mm, 200iso, f4, 1/1000th, Manual

In what was by far the most emotional moment of the Indy 500, IndyCar team owner Bryan Herta takes a tribute lap in the car of last years winner Dan Wheldon prior to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Wheldon was killed in a racing accident a few months after winning last years 500.

Nikon D3s, 400mm with 1.4 convertor (550mm), 320iso, f6.3, 1/1250th, Aperture Priority

U.S. armed forces service members reflect in the sunglasses of IndyCar Series driver Townsend Bell as he waits to be introduced to the crowd prior to the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Nikon D800, 300mm, 400iso, f6.3, 1/1250th, Manual

Here is another shot from the Mike Conway, Will Power crash that really shows how exposed Power’s helmet is to the bottom of Conways car. Luckily the roll hoop did its job!

Nikon D3s, 400mm with 1.4 convertor (550mm), 320iso, f6.3, 1/1600th, Manual

With 15 laps to go I had to leave my position in turn one to make the half mile walk to victory lane for the finish. I always hate leaving my spot before the race ends because I always end up missing something. What I normally try to do is shoot the cars going by, walk really fast for about 30 seconds and then shoot the cars going by the next lap. I keep repeating until I am at pit road, where I can no longer see turn one. The last few years all this plan has done is slow down my trip to the media room to grab some water before the finish. This year it worked as planned when IndyCar Series driver Marco Andretti would lose control as I shot through a catch fence in an infield parking lot and nail the turn one wall to show that the dreaded “Andretti Curse” is alive and well.

Nikon D3s, 400mm with 1.4 convertor (550mm), 400iso, f6.3, 1/2500th, Manual

After a dramatic last lap where an attempted pass for the lead by Takuma Sato resulted in his car slamming the turn one wall. That error enabled Dario Franchitti to take the checkered flag under caution to win his third Indianapolis 500.

Here is a wide view as crew members push Dario into the ridiculously small winners circle. Some of the best parts of shooting this race is hearing photographers in winners circle around me freaking out and screaming at people who stand in their way. Its seriously very entertaining!

Nikon D800, 70-200mm, 400iso, f6.3, 1/1000th, Manual

The shot I find most entertaining in the winners celebration is the celebratory sip of milk. It used to only be the driver taking a sip but the last several years the drivers have begun to give themselves milk baths which always make for fun shots.

Nikon D800, 70-200mm, 400iso, f6.3, 1/1000th, Manual

In my final shot of the race, Dario receives congratulations from his proud wife Ashley Judd.

Nikon D800, 70-200mm, 400iso, f6.3, 1/1000th, Manual

Other than the near record heat and me forgetting my camera battery back at my buddies house and sending him back to deal with horrific raceway traffic to get me the battery literally minutes before the start of the race (thanks Justin!), I can’t wait till next years 500!

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