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.