Saturday, August 27, 2011

Honda Indy Toronto 2011 Diary - part II

(This may make a little more sense if you read part I first.)

Podium, NASCAR NCATS Streets of Toronto 100, Honda Indy Toronto 2011
NASCAR Canadian Tire Series podium, late Saturday afternoon.

Once again, it was all about crowds, fans interacting with vendors, and generally any photos to tell the story of the event. And I took a lot of those photos, believe me - swinging through the Thunder Alley vendor area, past the team hospitality tents, and generally lurking around in the paddock and pit lane whenever I wasn't doing something else.

But first: some minor clean-up of the "cars in front of sponsor billboards" assignment, since it seems the entire team collectively failed to hand in anything in front of one key sponsor's signage. So - off to turn nine.

On the way, I snagged a through-the-fence shot of popular Canadian driver Alex Tagliani in morning practice, ripping down the back straight (known in civilian times as Lakeshore Boulevard). Here I'm shooting through the brand-new safety fencing - much stronger now, and generating some interesting horizontal stripes. The previous diagonal chain-link was much easier to "disappear".

Alex Tagliani, Saturday practice, Honda Indy Toronto 2011
The Dr. Pepper car would have been better here. Next year, maybe.

Unfortunately, the fence is obscuring the Future Shop logo on the car's sidepod, but what can you do?

Having hit Thunder Alley, still quiet this early in the morning, I took a quick swing through pit lane to grab some driver shots. Here's Graham Rahal, hailing some acquaintances. You can tell it's early - look how empty the grandstands are. Not a bad driver shot, but a total fail as far as capturing the excitement of the event.

Graham Rahal, Toronto 2011
He's got perfect teeth.

I also came across Helio Castroneves. This is the last of a series, from bare head through full helmet, as he suits up to go out on track.

Helio suits up...
Love that yellow/blue/white Penske livery.

And here's last year's winner Will Power. I like how he's staring back across his shoulder down pit lane, looking as though he's greatly concerned about something.

Will Power, pit lane, Toronto
You'd never guess he's actually in line for the porta-potty, would you?

And on the way - finally, a chance for an IndyCar with a crowd in the background. This is a keeper, a nice addition to the "hand-in" shots, banked before race day comes on Sunday. Vitor Meira, racing for A.J. Foyt Enterprises.

Vitor Meira, qualifying, Honda Indy Toronto 2011
That's what we need - car, sponsor signage, crowded grandstand.

And so, to turn nine and the Pizza Pizza billboard, sorely neglected yesterday. I spent the rest of the qualifying session getting shot after dull and boring shot of almost-in-focus cars, until I finally nailed a nice head-on one of Mike Conway. And then, right at the end of the session, what happens? J.R. Hildebrand stalls his car, right in front of the billboard I need! Are you kidding me? Easiest photo in history.

J.R. Hildebrand and the Pizza Pizza parking lot.
If he looks like he's parked - he is.

I'll admit to shooting some fun stuff along the way, including a nice photo of eventual race winner Dario Franchitti, and one of Justin Wilson laying down some rubber, and playing with slow shutter speeds a bit - good fun for me, but not really useful for the event.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, Streets of Toronto 2011
Ryan Hunter-Reay, at 1/25th of a second.

The last race of the day was the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Streets of Toronto 100. Not at all a priority, but we needed on-track shots of a key sponsor's car (the #84 Schick Hydro Chevy of J.R. Fitzpatrick), and last year's winner, popular Canadian driver Andrew Ranger. I threw in pole-winner Jason Bowles as well for good measure. So, off to the "false grid" where the cars line up before the race.

Dexter Stacey, Canadian Tire NASCAR
This is Dexter Stacey, not any of the "key" drivers - but I like the shot.

Next I went trackside, and ultimately to the podium ceremony. On that little jaunt I didn't just nail all three drivers before the race, but each of their cars rolling out, and each on track to boot. And since Ranger won, after tagging him crossing the finish line I high-tailed it to the podium ceremony for good measure, picking up a text message from team leader John asking me if I could get to it. "Already there!" - it felt good to send that reply.

Andrew Ranger and Kim Green, Toronto 2011
Winner Andrew Ranger with Kim Green of Green/Savoree - one of the big bosses of the weekend.

And that was pretty much a wrap. I collected podium shots of all the NASCAR finishers, although my photos of them spraying champagne weren't good. And the ones of Ranger's car taking the chequered flag, from the grandstand, were useless, but a helpful education for Sunday's IndyCar race. You'll see the finish line photo from the marquee event in the next post.

And so, back to the media centre for the usual hour or two of editing and handing shots in, and off home to bed. Saturday's photos are in this set.

Next: Sunday - Race Day. IndyCars, Canadian Touring Cars, and a bunch of podium ceremonies.

The Part I post, including Thursday and Friday, is here.

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