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.