Archive for the ‘ Race Tracks ’ Category

Twinterns in Trois-Riveres

Posted on: August 7, 2011 | Comments(3) | Race Tracks, Road to Indy | By: Kate

My Public Relations twintern Emily Lewandowski and I hit the streets of Trois Rivieres Thursday night in an effort to give away 20 free tickets to the Grand Prix de Trois Rivieres. As my only foreign language is Spanish, the experience was a hilarious mess of me running up to random people asking “Parlez voux anglais?” in a Spanish accent. However, I got through to several people who did indeed walk away with a three-day pass to the event. My personal favorite, Rose, was an elderly (yet extremely hip) local woman who actually flagged me down and demanded tickets (a woman who knows what she wants). I also gave one to our very sweet waitress at dinner in a desperate effort for a free drink, which worked like a charm. Look for our video blog coming soon!

As I went through our adventure, the most amazing thing was how alive the city was. When we landed in Trois Rivieres and eventually trekked over to our hotel, the city seemed quiet and fairly unassuming. As evening hit, the city roared to life with a street festival that brought in hundreds of people of all ages. There was a swaying pirate ship ride, men on stilts walking the streets, street musicians and booths along the beautiful Rues de Forges. We learned that the festival runs the Wednesday through Sunday of the Grand Prix week, and is a major attraction of the area.

It’s a totally different experience than racing anywhere else on the schedule. People have no idea what the IZOD IndyCar Series is, so it gives them a bigger appreciation for the Firestone Indy Lights, which can often be overshadowed when scheduled with their big brother. The track is a first for all but five of the Indy Lights drivers, who raced here with Star Mazda. It was with a bit of pride that I observed the fans watching practice today, knowing they were getting their first look at an extremely talented group of drivers who deserve every bit of the attention they get this week.

Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres

Spotted around Rues des Forges: Star Mazda drivers Sage Karam, Gustavo Menezes and Patrick McKenna; Indy Lights drivers Anders Krohn, Peter Dempsey, David Ostella and Gustavo Yacaman.

Catching up with Dan Aykroyd

Posted on: July 13, 2011 | Comments (1) | Race Tracks | By: Kate

No, he wasn’t wearing the hat or the shades, and he didn’t have a proton-pack strapped to his back, but Dan Aykroyd could have been wearing pajamas and I still would have been honored to shake his hand. I got the opportunity during the pre-race festivities for the Honda Indy Toronto, when Aykroyd met up with driver and fellow Canadian James Hinchcliffe.

Dan Aykroyd

Chatting with Dan

The experience was one to remember. Firstly, I was so excited for the chance to interview him that I didn’t realize I was standing in the middle of his golf cart’s parking spot. I nearly avoided that disaster when someone yelled, “Look out!” just in time for me to jump out of the way. And yes, if I had gotten hit, I would have bragged that I got hit by a golf cart carrying Dan Aykroyd.

After shuffling my feet for a bit, I mustered up the courage to be the first to interview him. After the glorious hand shake, I asked him about being an INDYCAR fan, what he liked about Hinch and if he was looking forward to his experience as grand marshal. He was a true professional, answering every question with the fervor of an INDYCAR fan and the pride of a Canadian.

As I thanked him and stepped away, indycar.com editorial director Dave Lewandowski congratulated me on my brush with fame. IMS and INDYCAR photographer Chris Jones let me know he snapped a picture of my interview and would email it to me later, officially becoming my hero for the day. I take comfort in the fact that if my computer ever crashes, the photo will forever be memorialized here on the link to this blog.

This entry is one in a continuing series which discusses images from the IndyCar.com photo gallery.  This entry reviews the story behind a photo taken at the Milwaukee Mile during the Milwaukee 225 on June 19, 2011.

Tony Kanaan wrecks at Milwaukee

Each race weekend, a small army of IndyCar staff descends upon the site of the IZOD IndyCar event.  The IndyCar series has full-time year-round employees in most key positions, but come race weekend, there are a significant number of part-time employees who assist in all aspects of the weekend’s activities to help make sure the race runs smoothly.

The part-time employees occupy a number of important roles.  The most visible of the primarily part-time crews is the Holmatro Safety Team.  Most members of the team are full-time firemen or paramedics.  The IndyCar Series wants to ensure that drivers and team members get the best possible attention when an incident occurs.

Some of the other areas with significant part-time help include timing and scoring, pit techs, observers, and even photographers.  All of the part-time “Weekend Warriors” I have worked with are truly professionals who take their responsibilities seriously.  I often see a strong camaraderie among members of the various support teams.

Many of the part-timers take time away from their primary job and their family to be involved in a sport for which they have a deep passion.  You may be surprised by the diverse occupations of these part-time employees when they are away from the track.  For example, one of the observers is a County Superior Court Judge, and one of the pit techs is a former member of the Indiana House of Representatives.

During a typical race weekend, I try to shoot pictures of the various IndyCar personnel as they handle their duties.  I know they are not working for the notoriety, but for many part-timers, the memories of their race weekends are more valuable than the compensation they receive, and sometimes the pictures we take help keep those good memories alive.

Here are a few more photos of some part-time employees at work at the Milwaukee 225.

Milwaukee Pit Lane

Crew Member

Do you have any IndyCar “Weekend Warriors” stories to share?

Yes, this post has a somewhat peculiar title. Think about it and you’ll realize it’s a throw back to Limp Bizkit of all artists. Lyrics aside, this post is all about a his and hers perspective on everything that’s happening down here deep in the heart of Texas.

You probably already know him or are familiar with his website already. He’s Tyler Carmichael of IndyCar Garage. Whether you know her or you don’t, Julie can be found behind IndyCar.com or here. First, we’ll talk about each other and then we’ll talk about three photos from today with a his and her’s perspective.

Julie’s Perspective on Tyler: I met Tyler last month at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway but we began working together a few weeks prior. Tyler had put his website, IndyCar Garage up for an IndyCar.com contest for motorsports writers to represent fans in an iRacing Virtual 500 Race. Before “allowing” him to stake his claim to fans, I of course had to dig in and read. Just like me, Tyler loves using different types of content and letting everyone else have a voice too. Visit his website and you’ll see videos, forum threads, photos, and more but, most importantly, you’ll feel like you’re there for a chat among fellow fans. In person, he’s every bit as genuine as his website comes across and I hope you enjoy the perspectives he shares below.

Tyler’s Perspective on Julie: I met Julie through the virtual Indy 500 competition that she was promoting for IndyCar writers and bloggers. I participated in the virtual Indy 500 on behalf of IndyCar Garage but with very poor results, I think I finished 8th out of 10 drivers. Julie was kind enough to help www.IndyCarGarage.com get some recognition through IndyCar.com and the promotion of the Virtual 500. Julie seems to be an out of the box type thinker and person that has thousands of IndyCar thoughts coming through her head at any moment. In all reality Julie represents the future of what social media is for IndyCar and motorsports in general.

Photo 1 – Simona de Silvestro

Simona de Silvestro still recovering from burns suffered at Indy

Simona de Silvestro

She Says: When you meet Simona in person, she is warm and friendly. It’s as simple as that. And when Simona gets into a car and starts flying at speeds over 220 mph, I think of her like that badass best friend that skipped class in college to go drink at the bar. When I saw this photo it was like relief to realize she’s recovering from Indy. Everyone should have a badass best friend to laugh about the hangover with later…

He Says: When you see Simona you automatically think of the word HEARTBREAK, Texas last year comes to mind when she was on fire and literally couldn’t find anyone to put her out. Indy for Simona this year makes you think of more fire and ruining her primary car, and driving some thing called porkchop. The girl is still wearing gloves, driving an eight year old car, and doesn’t have much oval experience, but you can’t tell! I also can’t wait to talk with Simona before Saturday’s race (see more below).

Photo #2- James Hinchcliffe

Rookie James Hinchcliffe talks with his engineer during qualifying

James Hinchcliffe

She Says: Sometimes, I notice different things than other people. You see James Hinchcliffe and his silly hand position. I see the water bottle in his hand. Specifically, the Canadian Maple Leaf proudly represented on it. Growing up an hour and a half from the Canadian border (Erie, PA) I happen to be somewhat fluent in Canadian culture. Well, at least, how to order at Tim Hortons: large coffee, black and a box of cherry Timbits please. With Tags on the Pole now, all I can say is, “Go Team Canada.”

He Says: James is actually giving a thumbs up or down to his engineer about how his car felt when he drove it around the streets of Dallas last night for the Mavs/Heat Game. In all reality the young Canadian is probably trying adjust to his first experience at Texas Motor Speedway. Hinch is well spoken, considers himself a Mayor on twitter, and is one of the bright young stars of IndyCar. I think he would be a great guy to see in victory lane.

Photo #3- JR Hildebrand

JR Hildebrand focuses during qualifying

JR Hildebrand

She Says: Fresh from a wreck at the Indy 500 with the 5 o’clock shadow to prove it. I can be a perfectionist and not doing my best can cause me to lose sleep at night too. But here’s the thing, the guy did he best and caught some tough luck. He’s out here today and he’s FAST plus, he’s packing the incredible experience of running the oval at Indy. When I see this shot, I see a young guy that’s hungry. He wants a win and came close enough to taste it two weeks ago. Tomorrow night, my eyes will be on JR.

He Says: JR is thinking, can I catch a freaking break? I am 300 yards from Indy 500 history and I hit the marbles? Then I injury my knee promoting the Texas race? What are the chances I hit the marbles and tear my ACL within two weeks?. They say bad things come in three, well lets hope JR had something bad to him that no one knows about. He is a young American that deserved a ride two  years ago and finally caught one this year with a great sponsor in the National Guard. JR  can’t play the “What If” game or he would drive himself crazy, he is focused, determined, well spoken, and a huge 49ers fan, lets hope he catches some better luck at Texas.

Last things last, He and She have a challenge. We’ve decided to try and get 500 “Likes” on this blog post. Julie is starting with an email to her friends and Tyler is starting by placing a phone call to his mother. Perhaps if you’re an INDYCAR fan you could show us some love with a “like” too. He mentioned it above,  but keep an eye on IndyCar Garage for Tyler’s interview with Simona…. he’ll be talking with her tomorrow about her improving team, new sponsor, and upbeat attitude about how she wants to be an INDYCAR driver, unlike some other female drivers driving Open Wheel.

The Final Laps

Posted on: June 7, 2011 | Comments(2) | Race Tracks | By: Iowa Speedway

Thanks for stopping back to the Iowa Speedway blog here on Indycar.com! Like the drivers who will be thanking their sponsors before and after racing in the Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer on June 25th, we too need to thank some people first before we get into this months topic – our readers. Without you we wouldn’t even be writing this story so thank you!

Watching this year’s Indy 500, which by the way was amazing, and seeing the final pass for the win an idea popped into my head – this month’s topic.

JR took the lead with three laps to go; I thought for sure the race would be over in the neighborhood of 120 seconds since drivers completed laps at just over 40 seconds when running at full speed. Could I have been more wrong?! Maybe. When JR took reins of this year’s 500 and until the winner, Dan Weldon, crossed the finish line there was an elapse time of 128 seconds. Eight seconds is a big deal in the world of motorsports!

A combination of Weldon being behind JR and not running at full speed to conserve fuel makes up that eight second difference. In my opinion, that final eight seconds is and probably will always be the longest of JR’s racing career, sadly.

Shall we compare the last 128 seconds of the Indy 500 to what might be the last 128 seconds here at Iowa Speedway so you can see how vastly different things can be from track to track? Lets!

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Tony Kanaan leading at the Iowa Speedway in 2010

In the time they turned those three laps at Indianapolis they would’ve completed over seven laps at Iowa Speedway. Circuits around this 7/8 or .875 mile oval are 17.5 seconds long at full speed in an IZOD IndyCar. That is a total of 28 turns here compared to only 12 they completed at Indianapolis, plus the lap traffic.

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Kanaan and Castroneves after the 2010 Iowa Corn Indy 250

Look back to 2010 when TK took the lead with 10 laps to go, about 175 seconds left in the race, and you can really see there was a greater chance of something going wrong. He had 40 turns to get through while dealing with several lap down cars. The winner is never known until the car crosses the finish line, and never has that been more true following this year’s 100th Anniversary of the Indianapolis 500.

Be sure to come out to Iowa Speedway on June 25th to see if we have that same excitement during the final seconds/laps of this year’s Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer. Thanks for reading. Please keep your comments and suggestions coming. We’re listening – and thanks again for the support!

Car Town!

Alex Tagliani tweeted that the first person to win his Big Rig gets the gloves he’ll use in the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500.

Huh? It all makes sense if you’re playing Car Town on Facebook.

The game that features the IZOD IndyCar Series now includes actual races on 17 different tracks, including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that is playing host to the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500, for players to compete.

Lead your favorite driver to first place on each track to unlock the team’s Big Rig.

Cars are available for multiple drivers plus the 2011 Indianapolis 500 Event Car, which honors the 100th anniversary of the first running of the race.

In the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Garage, users can select a car driven by top IZOD IndyCar Series drivers and complete the Indy 500 Challenge with the help of a pit crew they select from among their Facebook friends or by spending in-game points. Players can even race against the clock and compete against other Car Town pit crews, striving to top the Indy Pit Stop Challenge leaderboard.

Race now in Car Town. CLICK HERE

Iowa Improvements

Posted on: May 11, 2011 | Comments(2) | Race Tracks | By: Iowa Speedway

For this month’s blog from Iowa Speedway we are switching it up a little.

We normally would talk about all the great racing you will see for the 2011 Iowa Corn 250 presented by Pioneer, which is under the lights this year, but instead we thought visuals would be short, sweet and to the point.

Lets start with parking as that is typically the first impression of the speed factory here in Newton, Iowa. The biggest improvement in the parking lots this year is the addition of more than a dozen 20 foot tall polls in and around the parking lots with numbers and letters to help identify where your at. Many of our fans have said it has been hard to find their car post race and we listened.

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Next is the fan walk which runs behind pit road and by victory lane. Casey’s General Store has come on to sponsor the fan walk and the things which are going to take place there are just too many to list. So that means you’ll have to come out to take in all the experiences!

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Do you have a motorhome or tailgating bus? Why not get your party moved inside the fence with one of our new RV spots. We have over 100 of these spots on the back stretch and located off turn four 20 more RV spots have been added for this 2011 season.

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Lets finish off this article with the Pizza Ranch Victory Lane and a picture of the construction going on there as this is where a driver wants to end up at the end of the race. In the past the winner has drove down the fan walk three foot away from fans on either side. Yes this was cool, but a huge safety hazard.  Starting this year the driver will now come in behind victory lane. Make sure to come down to the Casey’s Fan Walk following the Iowa Corn Indy 250 to enjoy victory lane. Maybe you will even get a slice of Pizza Ranch Pizza from the winner as winners have done that in the past!

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Thanks for reading (viewing our pictures). Please keep your comments and suggestions coming. We’re listening – and thanks again for the support!

It’s evident when driving through the streets of Sao Paulo that Brazilians are extremely passionate about motorsport.   Ayrton Senna murals are painted on building sides and under bridges all over this massive city.  As a result this South American country has not only produced the world’s most legendary driver (Senna) but also some great racing circuits and outstanding INDYCAR drivers.

One of my favorite racetracks is here in Brazil.  Without a doubt, it was one of the most unique ovals ever built (the exception being Trenton, NJ). The Circuito de Jacarepaguá in Rio was quite a site to be seen in the mid-90’s when INDYCAR came to town.

Rio, in every definition of the word, was a Roval.  Turn 1 was a sharp corner, requiring the drivers to get on the brakes, downshift once (maybe twice) and jump back on the throttle. Turn 2 was wide open all the way to turn 3 which was full throttle for some drivers and then back on to the brakes for turn 4.  The layout produced great passing and promoted aggressive driving.

Rio was also the site of one of the most spectacular shunts in INDYCAR history.  Mark Blundell essentially tore down the outside wall in Turn 1 when his brakes failed going down the front stretch.  He made an attempt to collect his teammate to help soften the impact but he just  barely missed.  The resulting impact is terrifying and miraculously Blundell emerged from the car unscathed.  Fast forward in the above video to the 10:40 mark for video of the incident.

The list of Brazilian drivers who have driven in INDYCAR is long and prestigious.  With names like Fittipaldi, Kanaan, and Castroneves, Brazilian drivers have proved that they are and will continue to be a force to be reckoned with.

Emerson Fittipaldi, one of the greatest drivers in any car, was one of my favorite drivers growing up. “Emmo” was fast, brave, and exciting to watch.  Below is video from one of Emerson’s hard fought battles with Nigel Mansell.

For many people when they think of the IZOD IndyCar Series they think of Helio Castroneves.  The personable, excitable, and energetic Brazilian 3-time Indianapolis 500 winner has been a staple of the IZOD IndyCar Series for many years now.  His personality, passion for racing, and on camera antics have been great for the sport.  What some seem to miss, especially lately, is how impressive Helio is behind the wheel.

Tony Kanaan is without a doubt one of the fiercest competitors in the IZOD IndyCar Series.  The tough driver from Salvador, Brazil has proved this year that just because he’s changed teams it doesn’t mean he can be ignored.  Taking KV Racing Technologies to some of their best finishes in recent memory TK has proudly positioned himself in 3rd position in the overall points standings.  If you watched the Indianapolis 500 last year and didn’t pay attention to Kanaan’s drive you missed one of the most exciting and entirely legendary performances a the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Starting 33rd and passing 22 cars to finish in 11th position was nothing short of miraculous.  TK showed once again that he’s not lost a step and certainly hasn’t lost any of his nerve, the man is still a master of the outside pass.

You’re watching the streets

Posted on: April 16, 2011 | Comments(15) | Flickr, Race Tracks | By: Daniel

Sunrise in Long Beach

Sunrise at Long Beach

My favorite type of track happens to be street circuits. You may disagree and I hope you let me know why. I like urban environments. I like that our drivers are racing around concrete, surrounded by walls, speeding by hotels, restaurants and parking garages. I love that street circuits are unforgiving. And I love that street circuits are usually in pretty cool locations (St. Pete, Long Beach, Sao Paolo, Toronto, Baltimore on this year’s schedule) – not to mention circuits from other Series’ like Monaco, Singapore, Macau, Surfer’s Paradise, Trois Rivieres and more. That atmosphere at these events always feels intense – it must have something to do with the heat, the concrete, the number of fans, the coming together of an event that is defined as temporary. Temporary street circuit.

Circuit Singapore Grand Prix, F1 night race, Formula 1 (www.yoursingapore.com)

F1 in Singapore (from Flickr user YourSingapore)

I also happen to love photography from these events. Where else can you capture palm trees with high speed cars? Drivers using the curbs to bounce into a corner. The colors of the chassis’ illuminated by the reflection of the light. And the sun causing unique shadows. In theory street circuits are unconventional. Photography serves to reveal that. It’s what we’re doing this weekend at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Simona de Silvestro

Wasn't kidding about the shadows

Part of my job this weekend is to sift through hundreds of images. We look for pictures to post to indycar.com, our Flickr page, INDYCAR Nation and our media site. It’s one of my favorite parts the job.

Morning practice

Cars stream through an actual street

Some of the images make me think about the photographic process. What settings did they use? Why did they chose that location? How did they get even get to that location? Photographers definitely think outside the box.

Takuma Sato with speed

Takuma Sato and the streets

The shots from above on a street circuit are cool. Everyday buildings or hotels provide perfect platforms for photographers to capture a unique vantage point. And honestly, who doesn’t love a good palm tree.

Danica Patrick with the shadows

Danica Patrick passing through palm tree shadows

So when you watch the race on Sunday (4:30pm ET on Versus) consider the different views you experience. This entire track came together this week. On Monday after the race, barriers, fences, curbs and signage will start coming down. Honda powered IndyCar’s will be replaced with Honda Accord’s and other street cars. That’s what I love about street circuits. They’re unconventional and temporary.

But we at least have the photos to show that it all came together, temporarily for the weekend.

A beautiful morning in Long Beach, California

Temporary street circuit

Catching up with Kevin Jonas

Posted on: April 15, 2011 | Comments (0) | Race Tracks | By: Dave

Way back, before the Jonas Brothers phenomenon really got rolling, the group played a gig at Kentucky Speedway before the IZOD IndyCar Series race day got rolling.

Kevin Jonas catches up with Indycar.com

Kevin Jonas catches up with IndyCar.com

“I remember that show,” said Jonas, who is competing in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race – an adjunct to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach – this weekend. “We pulled up with all the other busses and then we hung around in the back of the media center. Miss America was there, too. That seems so long ago.”

Indeed. It was before “Camp Rock,” appearances on the cover major magazines, No. 1 songs and celebrity A-list events.

The family grew up in North Carolina and has been auto racing fans of the stock car bent, but Jonas certainly appreciates the focus, stamina, athleticism and competitive nature of the IZOD IndyCar Series drivers competing on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn Long Beach street circuit. It was enough for him to handle the Scion tC during practice.

“This is the first time I’ve done something like this and I love,” Jonas said. “It’s a lot of fun but you have to get used to it. How often these days do you drive a manual car? Growing up you get your permit and license, but then you get here and you have to re-learn how to drive. We had four days of training before this practice and coming here you had to find your braking points and get used to the track.”

Kevin Jonas catches up with Indycar.com

Kevin Jonas

Toyota will donate $5,000 to Racing For Kids in the name of each celebrity racer and another $5,000 to the winning racer’s charity of choice. Additionally, a $15,000 donation will be made in conjunction with the 14th People Pole Award (sponsored by People magazine).

The celeb racers visited with patients at Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach on April 14 as part of the Racing For Kids event. For 22 years, Racing For Kids representatives from the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights have visited children’s hospitals in race markets.

“I walked into one of the rooms and there was a poster of me and my brothers on the wall, and that made me feel good that our music maybe brings some joy to a young person’s life because they’re going through so much,” Jonas said. “No matter how much fun it is to race, it’s really getting out there and doing this for the kids.”