Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Franchitti Takes Indy Racing League Title with Chicago Win

But for a half gallon of ethanol, my last blog prediction would have been on the money. Too bad for Dixon that he didn't get just a tad better mileage...

So Dario wins Indy and the IRL title - one in the rain and the other on fumes. I had a feeling he was going to get there at Chicagoland about halfway through the race as he went longer than everyone else between pit stops every time and he just tooled around in the draft behind the Ganassi and Penske cars biding his time. It still seems odd to me that Dario and Dixon ended up as the only cars shown on the lead lap, but when I'm shooting at a race with the earplugs in, I can't hear the PA system and have to rely on experience and the scoring tower to keep track of the top 5. Most of the time that works pretty well but when the IRL waved essentially the whole field around the pace car for the penultimate restart, it seemed strange.

But then, what a long strange trip it has been this season. I finally got to an IRL oval race that was not effected by rain. I was fortunate to shoot six IRL races this year (counting Indy) which is the most I've ever done, and I saw a lot of great side-by-side racing and craziness. Dario flying two weeks in a row. Marco upside down at Mid Ohio. Dixon dominating at Nashville. Shooting from the outside at Kentucky. It's all good.

Now this weekend I go to Salem Speedway for ARCA madness on the high banks to see if my man Michael McDowell can put another dent in the series points lead of Frank Kimmel. I'll have another post coming soon on the ARCA season so stay tuned.


Sunday, September 9, 2007

Chicagoland Spin Cycle - Best Indycar Paint Scheme for 2007

Hello from the media center at Chicagoland Speedway, where the ARCA stock cars and Indy Pro Series events have been run largely under yellow so far as a result of numerous crashes. Thus the spin cycle header.

But the best paint job for the season award goes to Marty Roth's team, where he has added former World of Outlaw star PJ Chesson for this weekend. The car is sponsored by a t-shirt company and has the wildest graphics of any in years. Well done Marty!

Today the Indycar championship will be decided and I hope everyone keeps all four wheels on the asphalt. Yesterday a car in the ARCA race got some air in a three-car wreck, and this morning Wade Cunningham flipped in the Pro Series race coming into Turn 3. After Dario's recent aerobatics, that's about enough. So I'l be back later, hopefully with pix of the race winner and Indycar champ.

Scott Dixon.


Tuesday, September 4, 2007

More Tales from the -ville: US Nationals NHRA

Hello again folks. Been away and haven't kept up with the updates because I've had to go back to my regular life away from the race track and do all the things that normal people do on the weekends but which traveling precluded. Until this past weekend...

And a glorious weekend it was to be a race fan in Indy. The Mac Tools NHRA US Nationals were in town and after the multiple rain delays at their last race, I'm sure the sanctioning people were more than overjoyed with the conditions. Drivers probably were not though, as the sun was unrelenting and the right lane seemed to take the brunt of it Monday as car after car spun tires and smoked themselves to the sidelines. Perfect late summer weather. Blue skies Saturday through Monday - never had to change my camera settings except for the Saturday night qualifying.

I had an experience like no other in my life as a racing photographer. I got there Saturday afternoon during the first nitro qualifying session and went out by the retaining wall and I'm thinking I'm ready for this - got my earplugs and my gun muffs, and I've been up close to race cars before, so what's the big deal, right? The first top fuel pass almost blew me off my feet and my thinking immediately changed. Surely the loudest racing I've ever been involved in but what took me by surprise was the shock wave as the cars blasted off the line past me. Looking through the camera, the air seemed to liquefy from the heat and vibration as the cars passed, and my insides felt like they were being pulverized. I felt beat up Sunday morning, but I was happy with the way I adapted and was extremely pleased with the work I did for American Motor Journal. I knew several of the photographers from Indy and other races already, and the new ones I met were quick to tease me about being an NHRA "virgin". So I've been duly violated and can see how people get hooked on that form of racing.

This weekend I'm back on the road to Chicagoland and the ARCA/IRL weekend so the roundy-rounders will have my attention as rookie and rising star Michael McDowell tries to chase down Frank Kimmel for the ARCA title and Dario tries to hang on to a slim lead for the IRL title. As the IRL gang has proven the last few weeks, anything can happen. Let's keep the shiny side up this weekend, however.

See you at the track!