Sunday, July 19, 2009

Indiana Sprint Week Ends: Brickyard 400 Next

Levi Jones took the title in the 2009 edition of Indiana Sprint Week driving for Tony Stewart racing in a week long grind all over the Hoosier state that saw great racing, huge car counts and lots of excitement for USAC sprint car fans. After seeing the small but competitive field at Winchester the first week of July, I was thoroughly impressed with the turnout at Kokomo Speedway last Sunday night, and the packed house surely got their money's worth. It has been awhile since I've been to a dirt race and I quickly remembered why I love it so much. I wish I had time to go do more of these events, as even though the feature races are short 30-lappers most of the time, 24 of these howling vehicles sliding sideways inches apart is a sight for sore eyes. And from the infield when the dust is flying, by the end of the night, the eyes are definitely sore!

I had never been to Kokomo Speedway before and it was quite a treat. A short oval with relatively low banking, it was in great shape all night with a nice cushion built up and multiple grooves available. For the photographers like me, you are in no man's land in the infield, with just a couple of concrete barriers to stand behind at each end of the track. There were too many of us to squeeze in there, so we ended up stringing out into the next corner and if you thought for a moment about how unprotected we were, it would make a sane person cringe. But the next thought is always, "their momentum will carry them past me" and you keep shooting.

I saw it as another opportunity to return to my racing roots, as I was introduced to racing by my grandfather at the dirt track at the County Fairgrounds in Warsaw, Indiana when I was three or four years old. I loved the way the fans at Kokomo edge up to the fencing in the corners, as they just know they are going to get pelted with dirt and mud as the cars broadslide through the turns. Maybe one of these days I'll get myself a big Norman flash unit and shoot like the regular sprint guys do. For now, my Canon gear is enough of a challenge to shoot high speed flash at night in dimly lit bullrings like Kokomo. Thank goodness I have the chance to keep learning, and for that I continue to thank American Motor Journal.

Next up is the Brickyard 400 this weekend, and of course I'm going to be pulling for Tony Stewart once again. He, along with Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon, Little E and others, have been paraded through Indy the last few weeks talking about what a great job Goodyear has done testing tires for the race this year. It sounded like ticket hawking if you ask me, so we'll see whether it's on the level or not this weekend. I'll be back with more from there Saturday and Sunday. See y'all at the racetrack.

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