|Dawn at Indy in 2019|
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
In the grand scheme of things, the erasure of my 2020 racing schedule is a small matter, but I had big plans for this year which all got scuttled with the global shutdown. The Indycar Grand Prix which normally kicks off the Month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) is being run this weekend with NASCAR's Xfinity Series on the IMS road course but fans will not be allowed and media restrictions are in place so I will be unable to photograph the race. The Indy 500 which is normally the centerpiece of May and spring in Indianapolis has been postponed to August 23rd and fans will be limited to 50% of capacity. Media status for the 500 is unknown but I hope the fact that I will represent a French media company and the defending 500 champion is French will mean something. At least I know I will have seats for the race if all else fails.
By this time last season, I had been to Daytona, had lung cancer surgery, then went to Salem, Talladega, Nashville, Charlotte, Toledo, Pocono, Michigan, Madison, Gateway and Chicagoland to shoot races for the ARCA Menards Series in addition to the Indycar Grand Prix and Indy 500. This year I haven't even taken a single race car photo or been to any tracks because of the coronavirus. I don't know if I will even get any ARCA assignments at all this season after working 19 of 20 races on the ARCA schedule last year. The only good things about that situation are I haven't hardly put any miles on my car this year and I've only put gas in her twice since the lockdown in March.
I should also have been to LeMans, Paris and Marseille in France and Athens, Greece this month if my original plans had held up. I made plane reservations the first weekend in March for that trip which was planned to take more than three weeks in June. Barely a week later the global shutdown hit so I had to cancel those flights. I still hope I can make it to LeMans this Septemeber on its rescheduled date but the remaining trip for my Lilly Endowment project will just have to wait until June 2021. The airlines have been helpful by giving credits for the flights I reserved that are good for up to two years. Even LeMans has announced it will reduce the number of fans allowed at the race and I still have no idea if I will get a photo credential for my second LeMans or not.
Life is full of uncertainty normally anyway, but it feels like it's all piling on now. With my school year set to resume next week, I don't know what to expect so perhaps the best advice I could give to myself is to just live today. Another good thing about the coronavirus shutdown is I have finally been able to get my manuscript 90% complete of a story I have been working on for most of my adult life but never had time to really focus on before now. I will have much more to announce on that score soon, as I intend to pursue self-publishing of the book. When that will happen, I don't really know, but it will happen come hell or high water. Or Coronavirus pandemic.
Stay tuned race fans. And stay safe - wear a mask.
Thursday, March 26, 2020
|Happier days lie ahead|
My, my. How quickly things change. Two weeks ago when I last wrote, I was feeling pretty good about getting through this coronavirus pandemic and planning for Europe. In the last few days, the 24 Hours of LeMans has been postponed to September and today the Indy 500 was postponed to August. My plans just went kablooey and now I have plane flights, lodging and train reservations to change or cancel. I suppose I was like a lot of other people in the United States who treated this virus as no big deal, but recent events have turned out to be anything but that. It has turned into the biggest deal of my lifetime and I have paid attention to the warnings and the "shelter in place" editc here in Indiana.
Technically, this is my Spring Break week from teaching and our building is shut down until at least May 16th since my school is in a facility owned by Ivy Tech. When school does resume the week after next, we will be teaching remotely utilizing online curriculum. That will be a major shift for our Excel Center staff and students, but that's probably the easy part of this situation. My fiancee works in health care and I hear her every day working on procedures and discussing preparations for the expected onslaught of COVID-19 patients in Central Indiana. I am thankful that right now she does not have direct patient contact but everything in her world is in such a state of flux that it's hard to know what tomorrow holds, let alone next week or the week after.
I had said in my last post here that I was not that concerned about some flu-like bug but I have changed my tune as the numbers of infected and dead continue to mount. What does all of this have to do with racing? That is normally what I write about here and my plans for 2020 have been totally upended by this virus. I am in a high risk group so my plans have become the least of my concerns. Over the last 48 hours, I have only gone out of the house to take a walk, to work in the yard, and today to ride my bicycle. It is just so strange not being able to plan anything for the weeks and months ahead. None of that matters if I get sick. Not only did I have part of my right lung removed in March 2019 because of lung cancer, I was diagnosed with emphysema which puts me squarely in the high risk category. I wasn't concerned two weeks ago when I said the virus wasn't going to keep me from living my life, but that is not the case anymore.
The good news in all of this involves the time I suddenly have had to organize at home among other things. I've been working on a book project for quite some time and I've been able to do more writing on it this week than in the previous six months put together, so that's a real blessing. I've also had time to use the Google Scan app on my phone and scan a huge number of photos that I shot on film which had never been digitized before. That makes me very happy and came with an unexpected side benefit of posting photos on social media: I got a digital autograph on one of my scanned photos from Helio Castroneves! I hadn't even requested it, but there it was in my Twitter notifications. So for now, I will leave you with a few more of those old photos that I've recently digitized. You're seeing them here before I can get them posted on my website but stay tuned for more. Here's hoping we can get back to racing soon.
|Al Unser Jr.'s team celebrates winning the Indy 500 pit stop competition in 1989|
|Sports car racing on the streets of Columbus, Ohio 1985|
|The late Scott Brayton was always quick at Indy|
|Emerson Fittipaldi on the streets of the Motor City in 1989|
Wednesday, March 11, 2020
|Me: dressed and ready|
|Ron Drager and Jim France shake on the ARCA sale|
|I took this photo at LeMans in 2017 just before the start|
The biggest issue right now that could effect my plans for this year is filling all the news reports: the coronavirus. A lot of the coverage seems to me to be nothing more than click bait and hyped mass hysteria, especially on social media. When you've been through a cancer diagnosis and had part of a lung removed like I experienced last year, why worry about a bug when there are so many plans to make and so much life to be lived? I'm not going to worry or be scared, and I'm not changing anything I do except perhaps being a little more diligent about washing my hands. I leave for my trip to France and Greece in less than 3 months now and I'm confident this whole virus scare will be resolved by then. I have continued to make plans and reservations for flights, hotels and train travel. As I wrote in my last blog post, I am acting "as if" everything will work out. I am trying to trust the universe and I am not going to let the fear mongers win. In some ways, today's atmosphere doesn't seem that much different than after 9-11 when people were panicking about terrorism and it kept some from living their normal lives. It makes sense to take some reasonable precautions in today's world, but paralysis due to fear is out of the question. At least for me it is, but then maybe I'm being naive or just in denial.
|"Doc", Rich and I at Salem in 2018|
|In the flagstand at Pocono|
And most importantly, I got photos because that's what I do. Call me if you need some the next time you're headed to a race.