Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ed Carpenter Indy Opening Day Surprise - Rain Returns For Day 2

Ed Carpenter Drives the Dollar General
car for Sarah Fisher Racing
Yesterday I wrote that if it's May, this must be Indianapolis. Well since that's true, then it also must mean that rain is going to be a factor in the Indy 500. While Ed Carpenter setting fast time on the Opening Day may have been a surprise, the fact that rain interrupted track activity certainly was not. Practice day 2 looks like it may be a complete washout as for once the forecasters seem to have gotten it right, unfortunately. Yesterday the rain came just like clockwork around 3:15 in the afternoon and I wrote on Twitter a few minutes later that it looked like we had lost the racetrack, as it went from the nice grey color to a shiny black in short order. But as the Hoosier saying goes, "If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes and it will change." Which it did: for awhile. I hoofed it back to the Garage Area from the outside of Turn 3 where I had been shooting for only about 45 minutes, and sure enough, the sun came out, the wind started to pick up and things started to dry out. Alas the extra green light time was short-lived as rain came again about 5:15 and shut down the track for good.

As you know, I don't tend to cover results and standings all that much here, since you can get that information lots of other places, and my focus is on the experiences involved in racing as a photographer who has also been a lifelong fan. One of the great things about being a racing photographer is the people I get to meet. Wherever race fans gather, there are always going to be interesting people. Standing alongside the entrance to Gasoline Alley talking to a couple of friends yesterday, we stopped in mid-sentence as a car rolled by with the engine running and we got a strong whiff of ethanol exhaust. We just looked at each other, smiled, and then continued talking. Then there's the complete strangers who see me with cameras and strike up conversations out of the blue when there's time to kill. Or the fanatics like those pictured in the following slideshow who don crazy homemade hats or outfits to attract attention and gather autographs from any driver they see. There's also the inevitable novice who somehow got a pass to pit lane and is taking pictures with a pocket camera and asks me who the driver is in the 82 car when we are standing six feet away from it! But I love it all and race fans come in all shapes, sizes and colors at Indianapolis. We all had to start somewhere and I will talk with anyone who is an Indycar fan.

While I was at Opening Day, I posted quite a few Blackberry photos and comments on Twitter and got to meet another Indy 500 Oldtimers Club member with whom I had been tweeting for quite some time. I knew there were others at the track too, plus I got messages from as far away as England in response to some of my tweets. I enjoy that kind of technology immensely, even though some people think I've lost my mind, and I still have to thank the young man we met at Kentucky Speedway Indycar race last season who convinced me that I should be on Twitter too. The social media aspect of Indycar racing has exploded even since the start of the season, and when Camera makers figure out how to transmit high resolution images directly to the internet from a high speed megapixel pro digital camera, then lookout world. The images will come fast and furious and there won't be enough storage space on web servers to handle all the traffic. For now, having to go home and sort through roughly 900 images from Opening Day to cull a reasonable number for posting is still far better than waiting on film to be processed, but the task is sometimes daunting when looking for the right photos to tell the story. From my viewpoint, the story Saturday was fans, drivers and rain so that's why I've included the images which follow. There will be much more to follow and photograph this week and new stories to tell, so I hope you come back and visit with me again. You might have a better chance of reaching me @alleygroup on Twitter though! See you @IMS for the #Indy500 practice, qualifying and the race. @Indycar rules!

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