Sunday, August 15, 2010

Honda Indy Toronto Diary - Sunday. Finally.

DSC02161 - Main Grandstand, Honda Indy Toronto

Yes, I know that the Honda Indy Toronto race was a month ago. It now seems longer, with all that's gone on since - not the least of which was sifting through 1,400 or so photos. Nevertheless, here's the final installment of my not-quite-realtime updates. Let's just call it "asynchronous communication", and move on, shall we?

If I may quote from the above link:

A sender can wait arbitrarily long between transmissions and the receiver must be ready to receive data when it arrives.

Sounds a bit like this blog, doesn't it?

Anyway - on to race day, Sunday, the Main Event.

Another early-morning photography meeting, but a different mood - this was Race Day. Today we had the head of Security give us a few words on access and staying safe. Today, we learned about the all-important "Race Mode" - during the marquee IndyCar and supporting Indy Lights races, there would no longer be pit lane access for any save a very limited number of photographers (among whose number I was naturally not counted - not that I'd been expecting it, being new to this, and not working for a major newswire, network, print publication, or the series). Today, there was a more serious feeling hanging in the air. For the professionals in the room, this day is bread and butter - good shots mean photo credits and payments today, tomorrow, and just maybe a little beyond.

And today, I was back in the all-important photo bib again - at least, one shared between three of us. We quickly sketched out a schedule so that I could shoot some of the Castrol Canadian Touring Car race from trackside, while the others could work different aspects of the day's events. The rule is clear - no bib, no access to the track.

DSC01998 - David Bensadoun, J.C. Côté

But first - the day's assignment. Documenting, for the race organizers, every single booth in "Thunder Alley" the infield vendor, fan activity and hospitality area. I won't torment you with these 150 or so photographs, but I will say that as an assignment, it was dead simple. Immobile booths in bright sunshine. Snappity-snap, done. Although I actually made several swings through it at different times during the day, to ensure that I got everything.

And then - on to the Touring Cars. I had a ton of fun shooting the race and the ensuing victory celebrations, including overall winner Sasha Anis getting a firesuit full of champagne, courtesy of his second- and third-place colleagues.

Sasha Anis, winner, Castrol Canadian Touring Cars, Streets of Toronto 2010

Hanging around for the Indy Lights pre-race activities turned out to be worthwhile, with a combined US-Canadian military honour guard, the presentation of an oversized charity cheque to the last race's pole winner, and new Saga lead singer Rob Moratti belting out the anthems.

DSC02056 - Rob Moratti, singing the anthems

Honestly, I had no idea they'd changed singers. He did a fine job.

And then - on to the IndyCar race. Despite some early frustrations, I did manage to get trackside for the later stages, waiting until the victory lap and then scampering over to Winner's Circle for the confetti, the fist pumping, the hugs and handshakes and champagne spray.

DSC02246 - Dario Franchitti leads the way

For the record, the aptly-named Will Power won, and after giving his car a big smooch, leaped up on top of it for the sponsor-logo-laden photo op of the day - that fist pump, with the first inklings of a confetti-cannon shower starting behind him, the ESPN TV crew nearby to document it all for broadcast. Magic moments indeed.

DSC02285 - Will Power - Victory!

And then, back to the Media Centre again - but this time, stopping off trackside for some shots just for me. I'd been waiting all weekend for the Trans-Am race, and, lurking inside a tight little photo hole on the inside of turn 1, I managed to catch the shot of the weekend - Blaise Csida's Corvette, blowing flames as it ripped around the corner. By then, most of the crowd had left, just a few of us quietly cheering on the die-hards in their big V8 muscle cars.

Blaise Csida, backfiring

And so back to the Media Centre, for the final quick edits, photo submission, handshakes all around, and home, the weekend lingering in a heap of 1,408 photographs, a pair of aching feet, a slight ringing in the right ear (thanks, Trans-Am drivers!), and some very, very good memories.

Weekend stats:
- 1,408 photographs, 191 "keepers" (13.5%, or about one in 7.5)
- maximum focal length 71.5 mm, minimum 14.3 mm
- minimum shutter speed 1/2,000th sec.
- one IndyCar driver posing because I asked
- two drunken fans posing even though I didn't ask
- five racing series (IndyCar, Indy Lights, World Challenge, Trans-Am, Canadian Touring Car)
- photos of three podium ceremonies, one pre-race ceremony, countless catch fences
- photos taken from at least five grandstands, five photo holes, two public hospitality areas, several paddocks, and one pre-race false grid
- two sore feet
- one ringing ear

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Honda Indy Toronto Diary - Saturday


A much earlier mandatory photography meeting than the previous day, and a quick brief for today's assignment - shots in the paddocks, the areas where the race cars live and are worked on, when they're not on-track. As my previous paddock shots from various events at Mosport International Raceway were apparently part of the reason I was offered this gig in the first place, this seemed like a fair enough request. And I like looking at race cars up close.

But first... this morning, for the first time, the coveted numbered bibs were distributed - my ticket to trackside shooting, beyond the crowd control fence, and through the "holes" cut in the safety fencing, which, last year and from the public areas, looked like this:

Tony chases Helio through the streets of Toronto.

Now, all good things don't last, and in fact my bib had to be returned fairly quickly so that someone else could use it - frustrating, since I had been looking forward to getting trackside for the World Challenge sportscar race later in the day. Sadly, it was not to be... but at least I did squeeze off a few shots of the Firestone Indy Lights practice session in the morning, including this one of British driver Pippa Mann, who would ultimately finish eighth in the race despite suffering a broken hand earlier in the weekend.

DSC01316 - Pippa Mann, Firestone Indy Lights

And from there, off to the paddocks, keeping in touch sporadically with team leader John via text message, for an enjoyable day of digging around for shots of fans enjoying themselves, and mechanics working on cars. On the way, I came across Indy Lights driver J.K. Vernay, who would go on to win Sunday's race.

DSC01364 - J.K. Vernay, Firestone Indy Lights driver

The rest of the day involved diverse activities such as convincing Armed Forces personnel to pose with IndyCar driver Milka Duno - not so difficult, as it turned out,

DSC01557 - Milka Duno and friends

chasing various Canadian Tire NASCAR teams around,

DSC01628 - everybody pitches in

being distracted by the entertainment in the Bud Zone (and completely missing the NASCAR pre-race activities as a result - in my defence, I just blanked on the fact that there were two stages on that side of the track, one of which was for the podium ceremonies, the other being occupied by a rock band and copious numbers of Budweiser employees),

DSC01679 - Bud Zone (processed)

and finally shooting the NASCAR post-race ceremonies, as practice for the headliner, Sunday's IndyCar race. Quebec native Andrew Ranger won, in a Dodge, and managed a nice podium appearance despite somebody having put the chequered flag on the stick upside-down.

DSC01802 - Andrew Ranger, Victory Lane

And then, back to the Media Centre for a frenzy of editing and submitting photos, and to realize that in my other assignments, namely shooting the NASCAR pre-race (which I missed), and getting the all-important "attractive waitress wearing a sponsor's uniform, pouring delicious sponsor products for happy fans as a race car covered in sponsor logos passes a sponsor billboard in the background" shot, I had, essentially, failed miserably.

So - a day of ups and downs, and building excitement for the coming main event. More, as usual, in the Saturday set.