Thursday, January 17, 2008

Photog History - One View of Indycars

After getting the "royal" treatment at the Indy 500 in 1982, I knew I had to get to more Indycar races. The urge to photograph what I was experiencing also was growing. My best friend and I went to Michigan in the fall of 1982 for the Detroit News Grand Prix where CART ran the feature race with support races for ASA stock cars and the super vee series. We almost got hit head-on on US 12 on the way up to the track the night before but we made it in my friend's van and got into the infield after midnight. One of many adventures getting to or from races as I look back now. Like the first time I went to Michigan in 1981 for the Norton 500. We had enjoyed a beautiful day in the holding area on Saturday only to have the race washed away the next day and I couldn't get back. 1982 found some of us in the Turn 4 infield across from where Hector Rebaque took out AJ Foyt. But I got in the pits that day with a borrowed camera and couldn't get enough.

In 1983, I went back to the infield at Indy with friends but I was growing tired of the madness. I bought my first real camera that year - a Canon A1 with a cheap Sigma zoom lens and thought I was ready to go shoot. Boy did I have a lot to learn. The picture with this post is from the Michigan 500 in 1983 with Rick Mears (1) racing Al Unser Sr. (7), Mario Andretti (3) and Bill Alsup. Several of us went up together and had seats in the pit terrace bleachers where this shot was taken from. About an hour before the race was to start, a tornado warning was issued for the area and they cleared everyone out of the stands. So we went back to my friend's pickup truck and waited out the ferocious thunderstorm that rolled through. As quickly as it came it was gone and the sun came out which dried the track in short order. An absolutely awesome race followed with John Paul Jr. passing Rick Mears going down the backstretch on the last lap for the win, and Mears crashing between Turns 3 and 4 trying to catch him.

500 miles at Michigan was a sight to behold. It's a shame they don't run that distance up there anymore. What's worse is they don't run there at all anymore. Back in the day, they usually had at least 28 cars and more often than not had a full 33 car field. I miss those days.

But I don't miss the craziness that sometimes accompanied those road trips. Maybe someday I'll tell y'all about it.


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