Friday, April 28, 2017

Race Photography Adventure Begins

Salem Speedway will host the ARCA series for the 101st time this weekend
And so it begins: a race photographer's heaven full of events starts this weekend with a road trip to Salem Speedway to work the ARCA race for the series. The weather forecast isn't great for either Saturday or Sunday but ARCA knows how to get an event in so I am pretty sure the 200 lapper scheduled for Sunday afternoon will get run sometime before I have to be back on my teaching job Monday morning. Those old Salem highbanks drain fast and the track workers know how to get it dried off. There have been numerous times where it didn't look like racing was possible there but it happened despite my prediction, so I am going to stay out of the weatherman business and just go with the flow. I will have pictures to make regardless.

Dega is one monster of a racetrack: I love it
This Salem weekend begins a stretch of racing unlike anything I have ever experienced before. Next Wednesday May 3rd is Fernando Alonso's test on the big oval at Indianapolis Motors Speedway (IMS) so my plan is to get out there for a couple of hours in the morning to get some photos for Vision Sport Agency. Then Thursday night May 4th I hit the road for Talladega as soon as I get out of work, which usually means I get there about midnight Indy time. Friday is ARCA's day on track at Dega so I will be there shooting for the series as we practice, qualify and race all on Friday. Then Saturday and Sunday I will stay over and shoot the NASCAR races for Associated Press, which should be interesting since Dale Earnhardt, Jr. announced this week that he intends to retire from NASCAR at the end of this season. The Alabama fans absolutely love Junior so I will be trying to get some candid shots of him at one of his best racetracks. Then I drive home Sunday night to be back at the head of my class Monday morning.

Simon Pagenaud won the 2016 Grand Prix
The following Friday May 12th action picks up on the road course at IMS for the Indycar Grand Prix event which includes support races for the Indy Lights series. I will be there both days for VSA and hoping that Simon Pagenaud or Sebastian Bourdais can snag a win as those pictures would go over well in Europe for VSA. I will be a one man gang for VSA at Indy this May so I will probably end up setting some steps records by the time the month is over. After the Grand Prix May 13th, I get Sunday off but I will probably still be doing some editing as the track time far outweighs the editing time for the road course event. The rest of that week I will be teaching all day and trying to zip out to IMS for Happy Hour any day the weather permits for Indy 500 practice and more photos of Alonso and all the rest of the Indycar regulars who will be getting ready for the 101st running of the 500. I will also keep an eye on Takuma Sato for Autosport Japan magazine which has used quite a few of my Indy 500 photos of Taku in its publication the last few years. Keeping up with international and domestic relationships has become a major goal of my photography work in motorsports. I am grateful for every opportunity.
There's nothing like the start of the Indianapolis 500

Saturday and Sunday May 20 and 21st are qualifying days for the 500 so I will be working at IMS both days. Then it's race week and after teaching Monday through Thursday I will be at IMS for Carburetion Day Friday May 26th, covering the final practice session for the 33 qualified cars, plus the Freedom 100 Indy Lights race and the pit stop competition. I have always considered race weekend my birthday weekend since my birthday is May 31st, so we will be celebrating my 60th the day after Carb Day. Then 300,000 or so people will join the celebration the next day at IMS for the 500 on May 28th. So between now and the 500, I will have one day off where I am not teaching or working a race event. And I couldn't be happier about that.

Then life calms down for a few days as we wrap up our school year and make final preparations for my biggest travel adventure ever. We leave 10 days after the 500 for Paris, France and the 85th 24 Hours of Le Mans. My fiance and I are going together and while I am unsure what kind of access I will have for the 24 Hours race, you know I will bring back pictures. That's what I do.

So stay tuned race fans! Follow me on twitter @alleygroup to read all about it!

Salem Speedway is a historic track which used to test the best that Indy had to offer
Talladega is a high speed crapshoot to see who can miss "The Big One"
Running clockwise at Indy during the Grand Prix still seems a bit odd to me
Indy 500 pit stops are choreographed mayhem where the quick and precise prevail

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