Thursday, September 3, 2020

All Eyes on 2021


Kody Swanson was quickest in Silver Crown at LOR
My last blog post was looking ahead to the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 and deferring to friends who got to shoot the race. Afterward, I saw lots of amazing photos from my photographer friends who were allowed to cover the race on August 23rd. Unfortunately, I was not at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that weekend but I was able to watch and listen to the race. Most importantly I got the opportunity to shoot two USAC Silver Crown races as bookends on the weekend. I was really happy to see Takuma Sato win his second Indy 500 and I know my friends at Autosport Japan magazine were too. When Taku won in 2017, they used a lot of my photos so this year I could have perhaps had another nice payday with his win. It was not meant to be, however, so we move on and that's what I've done.

Kody Swanson set quick time in Pro 2000 also

 As it turned out, I got to see lots of great racing over the weekend after all, on two very different kinds of race tracks. They got my creative juices flowing and with my family having the ability to finally have a memorial service honoring my late Father on Saturday, the whole weekend brought a sense of closure and peace about all the loss I've dealt with this year personally and professionally. Added to the two other recent races I shot at Terre Haute at The Action Track, the two around Indy 500 weekend brought my total for the year up to four races photographed. That's a far cry from what I worked in 2019, but it's still way better than nothing. The first event of the weekend was Friday night August 21st at the paved 5/8ths mile oval at Lucas Oil Raceway and featured the USAC Silver Crown cars and the Road to Indy F2000 and Pro 2000 series. Sunday the Silver Crown series moved to the venerable one-mile dirt track at the Indiana State Fairgrounds for the Hoosier 100, a legendary open wheel race which at one point had been canceled by the State. I've been shooting races at both these tracks since I started in motorsports photography in the 1980s. It's still a thrill to stand next to the guardrail as the Silver Crown beasts roar past me just inches away and fling dirt all over me and my camera gear. That never gets old.
Kyle Larson set fast time and took the win

I have to give a big shout-out to my friends at Track Enterprises, the promoter of both events, who I had gotten to know during the years I served as Chief Photographer for the ARCA Menards Series. They made it possible for me to shoot both these events. I was joined by my former ARCA colleague Rich Corbett at the Hoosier 100 who got some spectacular shots of two accidents on the backstretch. Both events gave me the chance to shoot night racing, to work more on my flash photography, and try some experimental photos that I might not normally get to do when I am concentrating on editorial and documentation style photos. Ironically, the Hoosier 100 was the first time that former NASCAR driver Kyle Larson had raced in Indianapolis since his now infamous utterance of a racial slur during a virtual race earlier this year. I am not condoning his use of racially derogatory language in any way. Seeing him sling that Silver Crown car around on the dirt was a sight to behold. I know Kyle has applied to be reinstated by NASCAR and I hope there is a thorough vetting of his application. As a motorsports photographer, having Kyle race on the Indy mile was newsworthy so I made sure I got photos.

Back to racing at the Fairgrounds again!
Being able to get back to racing of some sort was a real Godsend for me. This has frankly been a shitty year for me in many ways and it has affected my outlook on life and my relationships with people around me. Call it grieving or depression or whatever, it sucked and these races, along with my Dad's service, and some counseling help through my EAP at work, have helped me turn the corner on a year of emotional turmoil. Being in a high-risk group during the Covid-19 pandemic has added a layer of anxiety that just won't seem to go away but if you really know me then you know how important my photography work, especially in motorsports, is to me. If you think it's fun hobby that I dabble in then you really don't know me at all. I'm still in good shape physically, I have proven what I can do for more than 30 years, and I will travel. I just need an assignment and I will be there.
Pro 2000 at LOR reflections

This blog post title refers to what's next for me. I don't have any idea. I'm still going to be teaching full time as I have a few more things to accomplish in that field before I am ready to retire. Rest assured I will be taking photos, whether it's increasing my stock photo offerings, boosting my social media presence, ramping up my sites with Canon and Adobe, or contributing to Google Maps. I expect to be looking for new opportunities in motorsports and will be back shooting the Indy 500 next year for some media outlet. I also plan to return to LeMans but it is not clear what MPS Agency plans to do in 2021. The help and assistance of my friends in France at MPS will never be forgotten and I look forward to seeing all of them again next June. As crazy as this year has been, I am certain that next year will be exactly the opposite. When I said, I had turned the corner, that last statement says it all. See you at a racetrack somewhere soon. When you see me, be sure and say hi. I'll take your picture.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

7 Days to the Indy 500


7 days to the Indy 500. I took this photo of Brian Herta in 2006 so I am declaring my support for his son Colton to win the 500 next Sunday.

I am incredibly disappointed about not getting media credentials to photograph the race, or even being able to attend, and that disappointment has added a foul edge to my life recently. As a result, I have decided to stop my daily countdown to the 500 after this post. I am going to try and let that disappointment go and support my photographer friends and colleagues who were lucky enough to be chosen to document the event. In addition, I will not be posting any more of my Indy 500 photography, which dates back to 1984, until this year’s 500 is over in order to defer to those who are out at the track working this race. .As the late Dave Martin at AP used to say, “Go make some freaking pictures.”

My close friends and family know why I say this most recent disappointment has tainted my life, but people who only casually know me may not understand why missing the 500 is such a big deal. For context, I would suggest the last 18 months of my life needs to be considered as a backdrop for this most recent punch in the gut. In February 2019, I had lung cancer surgery to remove part of my right lung; I had found out earlier in the year that I also had emphysema. As such, all of this year during the pandemic I have had to live with the knowledge that I am in a high-risk group and consequences could be dire if I were to contract the coronavirus. So try to imagine living under the cloud of constant anxiety every time you go out in public.

At the same time I was dealing with lung cancer recovery last year, my fiance was preparing for her own surgery after finding out she had breast cancer. So we were both trying to recover from major surgeries most ofl last year. Earlier this year, my fiance’s brother died of lung cancer. While he was struggling and ultimately succumbing to his cancer, my 85 year old father was in a rehab facility in Indy for a variety of illnesses. The last time I was able to see him in person was February 29, 2020. Meanwhile, a trip we had planned for France and Greece, and a return trip for me to shoot the 24 Hours of LeMans race, was scuttled and the Indy 500 was postponed because of Covid-19. On May 12th, we learned that my Dad had contracted the virus. The last time I talked with my father was on my birthday, May 31st and then he died June 10th as a result. In that last conversation he told me that 19 people in his facility had died from the virus, so watching him fight the virus on top of his other infirmities added stress all year long.

Within the last two weeks, I learned I would not be able to go to the rescheduled LeMans in September, nor would I get credentials for the 500. My string of consecutive Indy 500 races started in 1976 and was unbroken prior to this year, so missing out has just been the straw that broke the camel’s back. So if I’m curt or snap at you, then know in advance that I’m sorry. Try as I might to control my emotions, they burst through sometimes. If I am more of a jerk than normal, it’s because my nerves are raw. Living in a constant state of anxiety can only be done for so long before something has to give.

Being forced to miss The Race is no joke. Did I also mention that my work as Chief Photographer for the ARCA Menards Series totally evaporated this year as well? Loss after loss after loss these last 18 months has exacted a toll on me that’s left me feeling exhausted, constantly angry and nearly broken spiritually. But I am getting help and am grateful for the people in my life who can prop me up and point me in the direction I need to go. If I hadn’t been able to go out and ride my bicycle this spring and summer - and I’ve been riding the wheels off of my Trek  this year - I hate to think where I would be mentally.

I write this now not to make excuses for popping off but to explain the precarious state of mind I’ve been living with. The sarcastic joke in our family is that the “Shue Grit” combined with the Alley stubbornness is a double whammy.  I was raised to figure things out myself so it’s hard to ask for help. I do not normally show much emotion and I don’t get too close to very many people. Moving from town to town frequently as a Methodist’s minister's kid is partly responsible. My training as an athlete is behind some of that too - you can’t let people know when you’re upset or that you’re nervous; you have to keep your cool to perform when the pressure’s on. If you know me, then you know the things I am passionate about and motorsports photography is at the top of a fairly short list.

Like a bad country music song, when the things you love are stripped away one by one, what is left? I’m still trying to figure that out but I guarantee you I will. Once I do, I’ll be able to play that song in reverse and get back most of what I’ve lost and come out the other side a better and stronger person.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Finally: A Race to Photograph

USAC Sprint Cars - Terre Haute Action Track
USAC Sprint Cars at Terre Haute
fter what has seemed like an eternity, I finally got a race to photograph this week and I feel better already.

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on every kind of event and motorsports has by no means been exempt. My entire year's plans went up in smoke when the pandemic quarantine was initiated back in March and until Wednesday night July 29th, I had not been to a race since the ARCA Menards Series finale at Kansas Speedway last October 18th. That's 285 days without a race car photo. For someone like me who thrives on the excitement and creative joy of shooting races, that is a record-setting duration to do without. Thanks to the fine folks at racing promoter Track Enterprises and the help of Speedway Illustrated magazine, I made it to the Terre Haute Action Track for Round 4 of the USAC Indiana Sprint Week Wednesday night so I no longer suffer from a dearth of 2020 racing photos. At least I got something, but I have to say I felt a little rusty and out of sorts.
The view from outside Turn 3 at Terre Haute

Last year I worked a total of 21 race events and for Terre Haute to be my first of 2020 at the end of July is almost unbelievable. Terre Haute is less than a 200 mile round trip from my home in Indianapolis, and it turned out to be my very first trip to the Action Track, although I have known of its existence for decades. I'm not sure why I had never been there before but I'm so glad I finally got to shoot a race there. It's a nice little fairgrounds track which is a true oval since there are two looping corners connected by two straightaways in its half-mile length. The clay smelled fabulous and I didn't mind getting pelted by some flying bits of mud when I was shooting on the outside during hot laps.

Ve rapido!
It's been awhile since I've shot a dirt sprint car race and I will never cease to be amazed by how those drivers throw those non-winged sprinters into the turns. They say you have to know how to turn right to go left on dirt and some of these guys were flicking their machines sideways at the start-finish line and flying into turn one completely sideways! The sound those USAC sprint cars make was music to my ears, as the drivers blipped the throttle to help set the car into its slide and then drove through the corners mainly with the gas peddle. I love seeing the drivers work in the cockpit too since they are sawing at the wheel seemingly all the way around the track on the very edge of being out of control. Perhaps most amazing was the fact that there were 42 cars entered and there was not a single flip or wall contact all evening.

A unique push vehicle!
So where did my feeling rusty come into play? As with anything else, practice and repetition are necessary to hone any skill and shooting motorsports is no different. I had a hard time getting my camera and my Canon app on my phone to communicate so I was unable to send out photos to social media until the evening was almost over. I managed to get two photos downloaded and posted, but it was a good exercise to remind me of the steps that are needed for the technology to work properly. I also struggled getting my flash set up to work the way I wanted it to since the lighting during the feature was not very good. Shooting night racing in those conditions has always been a challenge and I never invested in a big Norman flash unit, so I needed the practice. I got it figured out as the night wore on so by the time race winner Justin Grant climbed on top of his car in victory lane, I was in good shape. Shooting during the daylight hours was like riding a bicycle. I was back in the groove almost immediately and happy to have the opportunity.

Beautiful Indiana clay in Vigo County
Before I went to Terre Haute, I had posted on social media that I was going back to my roots at a dirt track, and there were multiple times I thought of my grandfather and the little dirt track he helped get constructed at the Kosciusko County Fairgrounds in Warsaw, Indiana. My Grandpa Jay Shue, my namesake, was on the County Fair Board and started taking me to the races when I was four years old, so the feeling I get now when I feel the clay on my face is the same I got when I was a toddler. I have come home again.

I have no idea what the rest of 2020 will entail for me in racing photography, but I am available for assignments! This year has already been the least busy one of my life as far as motorsports assignments are concerned. My staple has been the ARCA Menards Series the last five season but it's clear that the decision-makers there do not plan to use me for any races this year. It doesn't look like I will be among the few photographers who are fortunate enough to get media passes for the Indy 500 in three weeks. To top it all off, my dream of going back to LeMans in September was recently scuttled when my French friends learned they would be limited on credentials too, never mind the fact that flights from America to France are still highly restricted. People say the only constant in life is change and this year has sure served up a bunch!

My personal mantra for 2020 has been "Go Beyond" which I chose long before the Covid-19 pandemic reared its ugly head and that's exactly what I plan to do. Lots of other photographers have had to re-invent themselves so I am working hard to craft some breakout plans in new areas for the rest of this year and concentrate on new opportunities for the future. Maybe I'll see you at a racetrack or maybe I won't, but you can be damn sure I will be taking pictures. See you soon. Wear that mask! Most importantly, whatever you are doing be safe.

To see more photos from this race event, please check out this Google photo gallery.  

Winner Justin Grant
C. J. Leary on the rail in Turn 1

And they're on it!
Getting down and dirty!

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Racing COVID-19

Dawn at Indy in 2019
arch 13, 2020 was a Friday when they shut down the school where I teach. At that point, the whole world changed as Indiana went into a lockdown quarantine for the coronavirus COVID-19. Now nearly four months later, my son has lost his maternal grandmother (my ex-wife's mother)  and paternal grandfather (my father) to the coronavirus and the world is still in the grips of the worst pandemic in my lifetime. Social unrest over unfair treatment of minorities and police brutality against African-Americans has only added to the anxiety that many people are feeling over the state of society. Even my hometown of Indianapolis experienced rioting and destruction of property, which is highly unusual for this sleepy Midwestern capitol city.

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

WTH? No Indy 500 Memorial Day Weekend?

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.

Thanks Helio!
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
Lewis Hamilton
Emerson Fittipaldi on the streets of the Motor City in 1989

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Stay Calm: Plan for France

Me: dressed and ready
Another month in 2020 has gone by and the ARCA Menards Series has now run two races this season without my contributions as a photographer. Of course the series doesn't need me - I know there are lots of talented photographers around who can do the work. While it's not really surprising, it is disappointing. I love the work, I think I did a pretty good job and I was really hoping that my work as Chief Photographer for the series over the last five years would lead to more and bigger opportunities under NASCAR ownership this year. So far this year that hasn't happened but I remain hopeful that as the series starts to race in the Midwest, perhaps then I will get some opportunities.

Ron Drager and Jim France shake on the ARCA sale
When NASCAR announced at Talladega in 2018 that it would be acquiring ARCA, I suspected there would be plenty of changes. I've been listed on the ARCA website as Chief Photographer for the last couple of years but that will probably be changing too since it does not appear that I will be serving the series in that role. I was never a full time staff member anyway - my profession is teaching after all - and I know how changes naturally follow business acquisitions. The fact that this acquisition involved two racing series doesn't change the usual process of evaluating operations for duplication of services and seeking economies of scale to save money and create efficiencies. On top of that, inevitably new people get involved who have their own philosophies and often have their own people in mind that they plan to use.

I took this photo at LeMans in 2017 just before the start
All of that is just the nature of big business these days where oftentimes growth is achieved through acquisition. Having worked in real estate and utilities for 30 years prior to becoming a teacher, I understand how the acquisition process goes, which is why I can't get too upset about the prospect of not getting any, or maybe only getting a few, ARCA assignments for this season. As the saying goes, this could be one door closing so another one can open. "Endings come before beginnings", as I've also heard, so maybe this run had to end so that something new could begin. Life is all about change anyway and how we react to it. Many times in my adult life when something has ended, that ending has created space for something new to enter so that's why I'm at peace with the changes in my photography career. Beyond that, I already know I will be working two of the biggest races in the world this year - the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of LeMans - not exactly consolation prizes! So those two races are my primary targets now as well as finding other opportunities as a photographer. I am excited about the new Canon photographer matching service in which I've been approved to participate. I also expect I will work the 8-hour sports car race this October that is coming to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. While I may not have as many events on my calendar this year, I have some big ones!

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
As for the ARCA Menards Series, I know it will continue and thrive under NASCAR ownership. I met a lot of great people during my time working with the series and made some great friends in the process. I am grateful for the help and support I always got from Doc Hunter and his dear wife JoAnn who passed away in December. I was fortunate to have other photographers like Rich Corbett to work with so we could expand the photo coverage for the series. The ARCA marketing staff with whom I worked closest are some of the best in the business as far as I'm concerned and I already miss Mark Gundrum asking me: "Did you have a big day?" I often wondered if Charlie Krall wrote until his fingers bled and I was glad he appreciated the work Rich and I did for the website so his stories could be released in a timely fashion. Casey Wagner jumped into Victory Lane responsibilities with aplomb and I always enjoyed his sense of humor. I can't forget George Mergen who first gave me the chance to do multiple races in 2014 and then subsequently moved on to greener pastures in his career that involved far less travel! Tom Legeman and Don Radebaugh are two other men from marketing with whom I worked closely and were always supportive but are now in different roles elsewhere in motorsports. I have to say thanks to Mike Hewer too, for calling me on the pre-race radio check even when he didn't need to! Thanks also to Grayling Call for the technical education and for approving my timesheets so I could get paid. Of course the man at the top was Ron Drager who deserves a special thanks:  Ron had the hardest job of all - keeping everyone together during the transition period when there were still a lot of unknowns.

In the flagstand at Pocono
There are so many other great people at ARCA I worked with whom I will miss dearly but it would be impossible to name them all: Rocky, Denise, Stu, Bobby T., the list goes on and on. Working more than 80 ARCA races as I did since 2013 has been fun and exciting, but it's the people I will miss the most. I can't begin to tell you how many drivers, team owners and public relations people I've spoken to over the years when they needed photos. I will definitely miss those interactions, the selfies in the flagstand, the lunches with other officials, and so many other moments. But I have my memories.

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.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Act "As if..."

Sometimes it just takes faith and you get what you dream of. Sometimes you just have to act "as if" your plans are going to come to fruition and let the universe know that you believe.

When I use the royal "you" I really mean me as that's what I have to tell myself at times. Once I let the universe know that I believe, then I have to take action as though the outcome has already been determined, like the golden slipper I need to fit has already been made and I am just moving along the stream of life until I find it and slide my foot into it. I have plenty of examples in my life the last 15 years to prove this concept if I look for even a minute, but sometimes I forget to look or I don't understand what I'm seeing, as though my glasses are fogged.

Here it is February of 2020 and my racing assignments for this year are standing at just three events so far. Last year at this time, I was preparing to go to Daytona to shoot the ARCA Menards Series race. I planned on shooting the rest of the season schedule after my lung cancer surgery, plus the Indy 500 and Grand Prix of Indianapolis, so I knew I had 21 race events lined up to work for 2019. It promised to be one of the busiest years I'd ever had as a motorsports photographer, plus I had the added challenge of recovering from surgery, but I did it. I will be turning 63 this year and feeling close to 100% recovered. Now in 2020, it's a whole new ballgame at ARCA as different people are making the hiring decisions for the ARCA events and I have zero assignments booked for ARCA races so far. Maybe that will change, but I am going to act "as if" it will not and try to find some other outlets for my photography. The three races I know I will be doing include two of the biggest races in the world so I really can't complain: the Indy 500 and the 24 Hours of LeMans are the centerpieces of my 2020 motorsports season at this time. Heck I haven't even written a blog post this year prior to now as I was hoping I would have more to report on.

Last June I knew I would be going back to Europe this summer. I just knew. I didn't know how I was going to make it happen but I had faith it would. I knew there was a grant program for teachers through Lilly Endowment that might help make it a reality and even though three prior applications of mine had been rejected, I was confident I could put together a proposal that could get funded. So even before I submitted my application, I made lodging reservations for a couple of locations and pre-paid for one of them. The grant program application deadline was the Tuesday after Labor Day last year and I knew award announcements wouldn't be made until January of this year but I made those moves anyway. I acted "as if" my grant proposal had already been approved when I started making those reservations and I continued to act with faith that I would make it back overseas again.

Now I know that trip is a reality and it will go well beyond just shooting a race. The trip will center on work that will enhance my teaching and be spiritually renewing through the study of French and Greek mathematicians and Greek Revival architecture. I plan to visit locations where historically significant people in those fields worked, studied or created finished products in the physical world. I will create videos that attempt to reinforce the importance of their discoveries and show their ongoing relevance to our daily lives, even now some hundreds or even thousands of years later. I heard the question again yesterday from a student - a question that I will attempt to address through math history at locations where some of its most important ideas had their origins: "When I will I use this in my daily life?"

Once the trip begins in June, there will be no shortage of things to report on here and perhaps between now and then my racing schedule will expand. I don't have any control over that so I will continue to demonstrate faith in action and let the universe decide what comes next. Stay tuned!

I created these message images using photos I took and modified them with text in the Adobe Photoshop mobile app.