Tuesday, November 5, 2013

October Insanity - Road Trip Life

Austin Dillon flips Tony Stewart's #14 at Talladega with help from Casey Mears
October was an insane month of activity - witness the fact that I haven't been able to write here in 30 days. The month started off rather slowly with a weekend at hone in Indy when the highlight was going to see the movie "RUSH", which I thought was fantastic. That weekend also featured Dario Franchitti's scary flip into the fence at the Houston Indycar race, which in hindsight was a portent of things to come for me.

The second weekend of October was filled with soccer officiating at local tournaments. We had passed the halfway point of the semester in my teaching job the previous week and the decks were then cleared for my last racing road trip of the season:  to Talladega Superspeedway, where I had my best weekend ever shooting for Associated Press. I had 15 photos used by AP over the weekend and several featured flipping race cars. I felt like I was at a sprint car race. I had never shot so many upside down race cars in one weekend on a paved track before, let alone in NASCAR and at someplace like Talladega which is huge and fast. The road trip entailed 1279 miles round trip and I made it back to Indy on only one stop - which I had never done before - at 3:00 a.m. Monday morning. Going in to teach that day I was still running on adrenaline after an awesome weekend, and it was a thrill showing my colleagues and students some of my work. Naturally there was some teasing involved about being "famous" but I knew it was more about opportunity and being ready than anything else. That was especially true in both the truck series and Sprint Cup races as the big melees with airborne race cars happened on the last lap both days. I learned a lot at the track that weekend, and using a big lens taught me some valuable lessons which I will put to use in the future.

The next weekend involved a much shorter road trip, to Bloomington, Indiana, for a family wedding where I didn't have to be "the photographer", although I did have a lot of fun putting together a slideshow of the bride and groom for their rehearsal dinner. I ended up shooting lots of video that weekend which I still have to edit, but making movies from video clips is something I need to do more often and this was a great opportunity to capture some memories for a very happy couple which did not conflict with the work of the wedding photographer they hired. After the wedding, school was on Fall break so it was back home in Indy for two days before I headed to Akron, Ohio to help my mom. I logged another 650 miles or so on the road in my '99 Integra and she just keeps rolling along, now with over 231,000 miles on her. On the way back that Friday, I was sailing along past New Castle when everything came to a screeching halt and I got stuck in a 90 minute traffic jam for an accident involving two semis which blocked Interstate 70 near Knightstown. The weekend and fall break wrapped up with my last two soccer games to officiate this fall, a visit to Scotty's Brewhouse before going to the Pacers game, and then my son and I went to see the movie "Ender's Game" on Sunday afternoon. In and around all the travel, teaching and photography, I managed to finish a grant application for several photo projects I'd like to do next summer which will put me on the road even more and take me to places I have never been and others I haven't been to in a long, long time.

Next up is the holidays but I am already scheduling my racing work for 2014. I will be shooting for AP at Daytona in January for the Rolex 24 Hours when the combined GrandAm and American LeMans series will debut as the Tudor United Sportscar Series. I have never shot the 24 before so I am really excited about that opportunity and already have my plane flight booked. So even with a little less than two months left in 2013, it's never too early to start making plans for the year ahead. Until the next time I get to go racing again, I leave you with slideshows from my super weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. See you on the road or at a racetrack somewhere soon!

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