I’ve been obsessed with cars and motor racing since the day I was born. Growing up in Scotland we had Formula 1 and various types of rally races on TV, that was about it. When I moved to Canada in ’78 I discovered a whole world of motor racing – from snowmobiles to lawnmowers to swamp buggies. It was the Indy Cars that caught my attention and I’ve loved that type of racing ever since. When the big break between CART/IRL came, I went 100% behind CART/Champ Car and have never wavered. This year I had a look at the IRL (and NO it wasn’t because of Danica) and enjoyed it. Most of my Fab 5 from this year are from the IRL, but I’m still a Champ Car fan first and foremost. I’m very fortunate that I converted my wife into a race-obsessed junkie in less than 5 minutes back in 2003, otherwise I’d never have been in the position to cover more than the Toronto race. For that reason alone I’ll always be a Champ Car fan : >)
To all men out there: get your women to the races!
How can I pick 5 pictures out of the 1200+ pictures that I took at race tracks this year alone? For me just trimming the number down to a reasonable amount for the Paddock Talk gallery is tough. The ones I’ve selected are my favourites for various reasons. They are in no particular order…
The craziness of all the teams lighting up the tires and racing out to the track for the beginning of the race. I love the way the sun hit’s Bourdais’ helmet and at the same time Tracy is peeling out. It’s a shot I’ve been trying to get since 2000, but was never in the right place at the right time. It’s not a spectacular shot, but to me the excitement of the entire weekend builds and builds to this particular moment … a huge adrenaline rush.
I like this picture because of the angle. It’s a difficult photo hole to get into because once a photographer gets there, they hog it for the day and won’t share it. I came along and it was empty! I jumped at the chance and was amazed at how close you really get to the cars, and at the speeds they actually take the corner. It’s a very challenging picture to take, because the cars just arrive at the spot suddenly. You hear them coming, but you don’t get a chance to set up the shot – you have to snatch at it and hope it comes out. The blurred car helps to make the sense of speed come through.
The IRL season opener at Homestead. My first oval and first IRL race. I shot this from the roof and it turned out just the way I wanted it to. The action of one team and 2 drivers coming in for a pit stop at the same time. It really shows how small the pit-boxes are and the precision that is required. I really like this shot – organized chaos.
I really like this picture, but it is really evidence of the disadvantages of still-photography… One frame doesn’t tell the whole story. We were told Wheldon would be coming into the pits at the end of the race and that he would be stopping in the timing pit box … however, the Andretti/Green drivers had orchestrated their own celebration! The 4 drivers lined up nose to tail on the main stretch, turned a sharp right, drove straight into the wall, and then stomped on the gas. As they floored the throttle the air filled with tire smoke. Wheldon jumped out of his car and up onto the rear wing. I got this shot once the smoke had cleared but before anyone made their way to him.
After the race and celebrations were over, we were standing around taking in the ‘moment.’ After experiencing all of the noise and excitement of the weekend, this time of peaceful contemplation stood out in stark contrast. The teams had all packed up and cleared pit lane. Pat was the last driver just hanging out, savoring the moment. All was quiet as the sun went down and Pat reflected on the race, drinking his Red Bull….. it really captured the moment.
This is my ‘cheat’ honorable mention picture…
It was pouring on the Friday and we were soaked through. I took this shot just before the morning practice was cancelled for lack of visibility. When I saw the picture on the laptop at the track I was going to delete it because I thought it was rubbish. Gail liked it and she insisted kept it. Turns out several people love this shot and wondered if I doctored it in PhotoShop. Nope – straight out the camera.
Copyright © 2005 by Iain Shankland. All rights reserved.
Text: Iain Shankland / Images: Iain Shankland
Originally published at PaddockTalk.com, December 2005