Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Honda Indy Toronto 2011 Diary - part I
Sebastian Saavedra - the most colourful car of the weekend.
I'm a bit late, the race having taken place in mid-July, but here's the beginning of my synopsis of this year's Honda Indy Toronto weekend. You can read about last year's event, if you like, in four, count 'em four, separate posts:
• Pre-Race Events
• Friday - Warming Up
• Saturday - Getting Busier
• Sunday - Race Day!
This year, once again, I was lucky enough to be credentialed by the event (Honda Indy Toronto / Green Savoree), back on a team with seven others (six repeat offenders from last year, and one new recruit). With eight of us instead of twelve, the ship had to run a little bit tighter. Minor modifications to the shot list, more consistent trackside access, and a single team instead of two all contributed to what turned out to be a pretty tight and effective team. I was sporting a Nikon D5000 and a few nifty lenses this time, a big improvement from last year's Sony DSC-R1. And again, the group was great - lots of laughs, hard slogging around the track for three days, good-natured one-upmanship and showing off our shots. And sunscreen. Lots of sunscreen.
The week's fun started off with an autograph session with Alex Tagliani at the downtown Toronto Future Shop - an event I sleuthed out online, and got access to by the gambit of simply asking the store manager, who then pitched the request to the chain's PR person, who said "sure - as long as the store manager says it's ok", or words to that effect. Ask, and ye shall... you know.
Tags was a champ, charming fans old and young, and when he heard who I was shooting for, hauled me off to the brand-new Bowers and Wilkins display - his sponsors. This cheesy-grin-product-shot was entirely his idea, proof positive that the man knows the value of keeping his sponsors happy.
Go on, buy a B&W iPod dock, you know you want to.
First day on-site, and a chance to check out what would be my race-day assignment, the photo holes in turn 1. After some general faffling around trying to discover the access point, I made my way there and explored the scissor lift to raise us above the catch fencing, and a couple of other likely spots through the fence. A chance to practice a bit, and bank a few Ferrari Challenge and IndyCar shots.
One great-looking Ferrari - Ryan Ockey / Ferrari of Ontario
Sebastien Bourdais, from the turn 1 photo hole.
Friday afternoon brought more time for IndyCars in front of sponsor billboards, and a chance to explore the track a bit. Here's my favourite - Marco Andretti, shot using the D5000's kit lens, an 18-55mm zoom, through a friendly corner worker's flagging hole. I reached this area, just inside turn 8, after a protracted hike around the inside of the track from, oh, turn five or thereabouts.
This would have been better in front of the Dr. Pepper billboard.
Of course, the day also required shooting as many fan and crowd photos as possible, since once again the event opened its doors, providing free admission (courtesy of the Honda Dealers of Ontario... go and buy one now!). Catching drivers in the paddock and on their way to and from practice sessions wasn't too hard. Here's Newman Haas Racing's Oriol Servia, grimly taking on the burden of being a professional race car driver.
Yes, it's overexposed. He still looks great.
The day wound up with NASCAR Canadian Tire Series qualifying - not really a priority for shooting, but fun and plenty loud. This time, I stuck myself in the photo hole on the inside of turn 1, picking off the big stock cars as they rumbled around in front of the Princes' Gate.
Dave Connelly, making some noise.
Not a bad day at all. Of course, most of the "shots to hand in" were of fans, crowds, that kind of thing, but in among all that I was pretty confident I'd gotten turn 1 scouted out for Sunday's race.
The next installment will be Saturday... more billboard photos, Helio putting his helmet on, and a whole bunch of NASCAR.
More photos, as usual, are in my Autosport collection, if you want to skip ahead:
• Thursday - Autograph sesson with Alex Tagliani