Wednesday, July 12, 2017

From Le Mans to Iowa Speedway

It was a gorgeous night for a race at Iowa Speedway
Needless to say, Le Mans, France and Newton, Iowa are worlds apart in so many ways. While they are a study in contrast, they also host races so they have that in common. Driving to Iowa from Indy took me about 7 hours and oddly enough, I was struck by some similarities about the Midwestern and French countrysides. We had traveled to Le Mans from Tours, France by car and by train, so we saw a lot of the area. The Le Sarthe and central Iowa regions both contained lots of farmland and numerous small communities, plus I saw corn and beans growing in both. Even the weather was similar: hot and humid. Both circuits also had exciting races with interesting finishes. But that's about where the similarities ended as ARCA's "Fans With Benefits 150" was over in less than 2 hours compared to 24 hours to run Le Mans.

Youngster Dalton Sargeant  won Iowa
An obvious contrast between Iowa Speedway and the Circuit de la Sarthe is size. Iowa is a purpose built 7/8ths mile banked oval which takes a stock car about 24 seconds to lap. On the Le Mans road course, which is comprised mostly of public roads, a lap is more than 8 miles long and takes a prototype sports car over 3 minutes to complete. The sounds you hear are completely different as well, but racing is still racing so I love them both. In case you were wondering, I am already thinking about how I can get back to Le Mans and if ARCA keeps going to Iowa, then I expect I will be back there next year too. I have to say I went through a bit of culture shock last weekend as I arrived at Iowa Speedway to shoot the ARCA race for the series. It was great to be back on the ARCA trail since I hadn't seen my friends and colleagues in the series since Talladega at the beginning of May. It was very cool to have so many people ask about my experience at Le Mans and I had a blast telling stories about our 17 day trip to France and Italy. It was nice to be back at a racetrack, especially since the Iowa race marked the end of my summer break from teaching and I had to go back to my school life on Monday following the weekend.

Helio Castroneves finally got a win after 54 races
Last year my brother met me at Iowa and we stayed through Sunday so we could work the Indycar race also. As much as I wanted to stay again this year, I just couldn't justify it. Last year I got home at 3:15 Monday morning because the Indycar race started so late Sunday afternoon and I remember being exhausted that first day back at school so I headed back to Indy Sunday morning this time. I was safely ensconced on my couch for this year's Indycar Iowa Corn 300 but it sure seemed weird watching the telecast from a track where I had just been less than a day earlier. I did manage to grab a few Indycar photos Saturday in between my ARCA duties, but I probably spent less than 20 minutes trackside to get those since ARCA was my first priority.

Every ARCA weekend starts with an early morning officials meeting
And Saturday had been a very long day at the racetrack as I got there a little after 6:00 a.m. for our 6:30 officials meeting and didn't leave the track until close to midnight. In between, I shot about 1600 photos for ARCA, got over 18,000 steps on my pedometer app, shot a sunset and the full moon rising over the track. This ARCA season has seen its share of wins by young drivers and the series has become known for that. It was fun standing in Victory Lane after the race talking with winner Dalton Sargeant, second place finisher Austin Theriault and third place Sheldon Creed in between photos as I really feel like I get to know these guys n ARCA. I have nine more races to do for ARCA this season and I'm sure that familiarity will come in handy. At one point Saturday, Austin had come into the ARCA marketing trailer where we work up our photos to look at what we had on the 52 car to see how the splitter looked relative to the track surface entering Turn 1. That was interesting and I know lots of drivers do that but it was the first time I had been there when it was happening. That's one of the advantages of familiarity in this series I think, and another reason why I enjoy working for ARCA so much.

My next race is another "home" race as ARCA comes to Indy to run on the short track at Lucas Oil Raceway on the westside Friday July 21st. That will be another very long day but the series always puts on a fantastic show at the relatively flat 5/8th mile oval and the 9:00 p.m. start guarantees we will be shooting under the lights, so it will be another opportunity to hone my night shooting skills. In the meantime, here are links to my photo galleries from Iowa Speedway and a few more photos from the event. Enjoy! Come on out to Lucas Oil Raceway next Friday and say hi!

Shane Lee put the 22 car on pole giving Cunningham two top contenders
JR Hildebrand hit the wall during practice but took a front row spot in qualifying later
Dalton Sargeant organized the obligatory team selfie after winning for the second time this season
The late afternoon sunlight Saturday made for some interesting shooting;  here's Graham Rahal in Turn 4

No comments: