Monday, April 15, 2013

Hunter-Reay Wins Barber Indycar Battle; Angelleli & Taylor Take Grand Am

Ready to go to work at Barber!
My first race for was thoroughly enjoyable and I was crazy busy from the moment I stepped on the grounds at Barber Motorsport Park Friday afternoon. And the racing was good too! Four races over Saturday and Sunday, plus practice and qualifying in the IZOD Indycar Series and Firestone Indy Lights series meant there was little time to rest and hundreds of photos to edit and upload. But I live for that and if you think you want to be a racing photographer, this post will give you an idea of what to expect. But first the racing.

Defending IZOD Indycar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay put Chevrolet on the pole and then took his first win since winning the season title in 2012. RHR led 53 laps and held off Scott Dixon who pushed him hard over the last third of the race. Dixon's runner-up finish was his fourth straight at Barber but he was unable to lead a lap despite his strong pace. St. Petersburg winner James Hinchcliffe was the first driver out of the race and Dario Franchitti left Barber last in the points standings, adding a mechanical failure at Barber to his crash at St. Pete. The star of the weekend however was rookie Tristan Vautier who got into the Fast Six in qualifying after Takuma Sato's times were disallowed for a blocking violation and then raced in the top five most of the day before settling for 10th. Helio Castroneves had a strong race and led 25 laps before finishing third ahead of Charlie Kimball who enjoyed a highly competitive weekend. Will Power finished fifth and was the only other driver to lead any laps with nine (9) total on the point. Helio left Barber with the championship points lead and may finally be in position to claim his first Indycar championship if the first two races of 2013 are any indication of things to come over the remaining 17 races. Simon Pagenaud, Marco Andretti, Justin Wilson and Josef Newgarden took sixth through ninth places.

To view some of my IZOD Indycar series photos from Barber, go to the following link at

Sunday's Indycar race wrapped up a hectic weekend schedule and followed the Firestone Indy Lights race which was won easily by Carlos Munoz from the pole heading up a disappointing nine car field. So now these series move on from the Alabama roller coaster natural terrain paradise at Barber Motorsports Park to the seaside streets of Long Beach, California - the site of one of Hunter-Reay's greatest Indycar wins, following not long after his mother died from cancer. Another Andretti Autosport win will surely set them up as favorites for the Indianapolis 500, practice for which opens in a little more than four weeks from now.

To view my Firestone Indy Lights Series photos from Barber, go to the following link at

While Sunday at Barber was dedicated to open wheel racers, Saturday was a mixed bag with practice and qualifying in the morning for Indycar & Indy Lights, and the afternoon filled with sports car racing. The Rolex Grand Am Series race ran for two hours and was followed by a longer race for the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge which took the racing action almost up to dusk. Both races were highly entertaining as Wayne Taylor's Corvette team took the protoype and overall win with Max Angelleli and Jordan Taylor at the wheel. The Continental Tire series had a huge field of cars and one of my favorite paint schemed cars, sponsored by Rum Bum and driven by Matt Plumb and Nick Longhi, took the GS win. I love these series and am so glad that the Grand Am and American LeMans Series will merge in 2014 under the banner of "United Sportscar Racing", a move I along with many other American fans of sports car and endurance racing have long awaited. I know the 2014 Daytona 24 Hours will be a sight to behold and I hope to be there shooting.

To view some of my Grand Am photos from Barber, go to the following link at

Even though this was my first race weekend to shoot in 2013, it still felt like old home week down in Alabama. And saying I was "busy" doesn't do the time spent justice, as Saturday was a very long day with continuous shooting or editing photos from the time I arrived at the track for the 7:15 a.m. photo meeting to when I finally shut down my editing for the night at the hotel after 11:00 p.m. local time. Sunday was similar and even though the photo meeting was later than on Saturday, I still was at the track shortly after 7:00 a.m. to edit photos and update my blog, and had another 11:00 p.m. curtain call that night after still more editing.

So you think you want to be a motorsports photographer? You better be ready for anything, and come prepared to become immersed in the different world which exists at the tracks. When I am at a race, I feel both safe and confident. People will ask me if I worry about the danger, and I tell them no because I know what I am doing. I do not discount the risks involved by any means, but I've been doing this since 1984 and I know certain things in my bones: don't turn your back on the cars; don't walk in front of a crash track; communicate with corner workers; keep your eyes and ears open; and above all, know where to dive if a car heads in your direction. The challenges at each track are different - access, finding your way around, technical problems with camera gear, the internet or your computer, shooting locations, lighting, etc., - but sometimes the greatest challenge involves just getting to the track, as I discovered earlier this year with my planned Daytona 500 trip. For this trip I changed time zones twice and drove over 1100 miles round trip to make it happen. So if you can manage all that and still come away with some good pictures that help tell the story of a race event, then as tired as you may be afterwards, you will sleep soundly knowing that you gave it your all. And the sounds of race cars will continue to hum in your head for days to come. Until the next race.

I will see you then!

No comments: