Posts Tagged ‘ IndyCar ’

This entry is one in a continuing series which discusses the images from the IndyCar.com photo gallery.  This entry reviews the story behind a photo taken at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 16, 2011.

MLB Legend Randy Johnson shooting some photos of the on-track action

At each IZOD IndyCar event, it is not unusual for us to shoot photos of celebrities.  On some occasions, the celebrities are there are to promote their latest television show, movie or album.  Other times, it may be a local celebrity or sports star who is there to cross-promote another event in the area.  Some examples this season include Tampa Bay Lightning Hockey Player Vincent Lecavalier, who exchanged jerseys with Alex Tagliani at St. Petersburg, 2003 American Idol Winner Ruben Studdard who sang the National Anthem at Barber, and Chef/TV Host Gordon Ramsay who was the Grand Marshall at Long Beach.

During IndyCar Qualifying at Long Beach, I went out to an area we refer to as the “peninsula.”  From this area, you can see the cars after they exit turn 9, work through turn 10, and take the final hairpin corner as they head down the main straight.  As I walked towards the hairpin, I noticed a photographer was on one knee shooting through one of the photo holes.  Some people have to lean over a little to shoot through the photo holes, but I have never seen a photographer so tall that they had to get down on one knee to shoot.

As I got a closer, I realized who it was.  It was retired Major League Baseball pitcher Randy Johnson whose nickname is “The Big Unit.”  For those of you not familiar with Randy, he was in the Major Leagues for 22 seasons.  He was a 10 time all-star and a 5 time Cy Young award winner (awarded to the top pitcher in his League).  During his career, he threw 2 no-hitters including a perfect game, and he was co-winner of the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year in 2001.  Also, he stands 6 feet 10 inches, thus the need to get down on a knee to shoot through the photo hole.

I had the opportunity to talk to Randy during a break in qualifying.  He wasn’t there to promote anything; he was simply there to be one of us – a credentialed event photographer.  Randy took photo journalism classes while he was at USC, and since his retirement from baseball after the 2009 season, he re-discovered his passion for photography.  I learned this was his first time to shoot an IndyCar event, but he has shot a NASCAR race and an NHRA event.  We talked a little about his minor league days with the Indianapolis Indians, and he said while he was with the Indians he attended an Indy 500 practice session.

Randy, if you happen to read this, we are glad you joined us at Long Beach, and we hope you enjoyed the weekend. Leave a message below if you’re interested in sharing some of the photos you shot over Long Beach weekend with our fans on IndyCar.com.

We’re asking fans to help decide which web writers will rep best at this year’s Virtual Indy 500 competition (Read more about the competition here). Any web writer ready to stake their claim will be put in front of our esteemed panel of sharp, clever, witty and good-looking judges (A.K.A. – you!).

So take a look at this entrant and leave your comments and likes here or hit us @INDYCAR with a tweet if you think OpenPaddock will provide fans with the best Virtual Indy 500 coverage this May and keep your eyes peeled for information on how fans can win a seat to race against up to three INDYCAR drivers at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway next month!

OpenPaddock | WebsiteFacebook Twitter | Flickr “Motorsports Commentary for Fans, by Fans.”

OpenPaddock.net is a website built by fans for fans of motorsports. What makes our site unique is the coverage we give to each facet of racing. So whether you are a fan of INDYCAR, rally, formula or sports car racing, you can get your fill and meet great fans just like you who have a genuine passion for racing. Who knows, you may begin watching a new series and learning even more about one that you currently follow!

Created by Shaun Pechin and Mike Whitesell in February of 2009, the site has expanded in the couple years since its inception. Shaun focuses his efforts on the IZOD IndyCar Series, Rally America and the World Rally Championship. Mike also focuses on the IZOD IndyCar series while also writing on Formula 1. The third addition to the crew was our chief photographer Doug Patterson. While away from the track, he also gives full coverage to the Mazda Road to Indy program and the Firestone Indy Lights series. Ken Poe is the man behind Le Mans and the American Lemans Series coverage. A passionate sports car fan, Ken brings unique insight into the world of class endurance racing. Spike Rogan offers a weekly INDYCAR column and fantasy racing insights, while Kristi Welch serves as our fan ambassador providing fan guides to each IZOD IndyCar Series race event.

OpenPaddock is also partnered with IndyCar Garage, and works extensively with INDYCAR’s official fan club, INDYCAR Nation. Both avenues allow OpenPaddock to connect with fans of the series and allows for the open exchange of ideas and opinion. OpenPaddock also allows for fans to submit their own opinion-driven editorials to be published on the site for the world to read. Have an opinion on a hot topic? Submit an OP-ed segment for the world to read!

There are many awesome plans coming together for OpenPaddock.net and we want you to be here for the evolution of this site and us as fans. We want to genuinely thank you for stopping by and hope you will tell your friends about us. The only thing we ask here at this site is that you keep the posts clean of derogatory language and treat everybody as a person. There are a number of sites on the web today that belittle those with an opinion and we want to be a safe haven where all can participate in an online community populated by sound, reasoned, passionate and courteous motorsports fans.

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.

Drivers pay tribute to Senna

Posted on: April 28, 2011 | Comments(14) | Drivers | By: Arni

Ayrton Senna's gravesite

SÃO PAULO –Racing drivers tend to avoid hospitals and graveyards because those places can remind them of the dangers of the sport.

Those reminders, however, didn’t stop two-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon from paying his respects to Ayrton Senna, the legendary Brazilian racing champion, who is buried in São Paulo’s Morumbi Cemetery.

“Popped out to see Senna’s grave,” Dixon wrote on Twitter. “Very quiet in a busy city. What a legend!”

Senna remains a hero to many drivers from around the world but no place more than in his home country. The fact that the Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle occurs on the 17th anniversary of his passing (May 1) provides extra motivation to the five Brazilian drivers in the field.

“It would be an extremely important win to me because he was a hero not only to me, but for all of Brazil,” said three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves. “(Winning on Sunday) would be a memorable day for me not only to win here in Brazil, but on a very special day to many Brazilians. I am going to do everything I can to make sure that can happen.”

Like Castroneves, Ana Beatriz considers Senna her hero, even though she had only begun to race go-karts a few months before his death.

“Senna means a lot to me,” said Beatriz, who like Senna is a native of São Paulo. “He is still a big reference when I think about the sport. We can still watch his races on video and we can see his determination and focus when he raced. He’s still a big hero in Brazil and everyone remembers the anniversary of his death and his birthday.  Racing on May 1 and maybe winning the race in Brazil will be the perfect way to say thank you to him for all he did for us. “

Vitor Meira will carry a very personal tribute to Senna during the race weekend. Meira had his helmet painter Art Rotondo paint a mural of Senna’s racing accomplishments on the back of the helmet he will use in the race.

“I remember May 1, 1994, when he unfortunately passed away,” Meira said. “It’s just a way to say he’s still in our minds. I put him on my helmet and wanted to do something individually out of respect to what he meant to me.”

We’re asking fans to help decide which web writers will rep best at this year’s Virtual Indy 500 competition (Read more about the competition here). Any web writer ready to stake their claim will be put in front of our esteemed panel of sharp, clever, witty and good-looking judges (A.K.A. – you!).

So take a look at this entrant and leave your comments and likes here or hit us @INDYCAR with a tweet if you think Auto Racing News will provide fans with the best Virtual Indy 500 coverage this May and keep your eyes peeled for information on how fans can win a seat to race against up to three INDYCAR drivers at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway next month!

AUTORACINGNEWS.ORG | WebsiteFacebook Twitter “Off-the-beaten path features, analysis and storytelling of lesser-known or hidden aspects of the IZOD IndyCar Series.”

Auto Racing News is a multidimensional media outlet committed to not simply informing IndyCar fans about Series developments, in the way that traditional sports journalists do, but going beyond race results and driver statistics by engaging fans on an emotional level through provocative and unique content.

Partnered with The Big Lead, an edgy sports blog (think Sports Illustrated meets The Huffington Post) that attracts more than 15 million unique visitors a month, Auto Racing News pads race coverage with off-the-beaten path features, analysis and storytelling (consider:  “What IndyCar Drivers Can Learn From Tommy Lasorda”, “Did IndyCar Break Up Motley Crue?”) of lesser-known or hidden aspects of the IZOD IndyCar Series.

New for 2011 is the loosely defined “Racing Reads” section that highlights books (old and new) that tell compelling stories about earlier days of racing or that bring to light cultural icons whose lives have intersected with open-wheel racing.  The “Behind the Scenes” pieces shed insight into unconsidered sides of the sport such as potential career paths for fans interested in combining their passion for IndyCar with employment opportunities.

IndyCar coverage on Auto Racing News is written by Robyn Lynne Schechter, a motorsports attorney and freelance writer, who lives in Los Angeles, California.  Unlike the well-established elements of IndyCar’s press corp, she enjoys complete creative freedom from Auto Racing New’s owner and editor-in-chief Dale Ford, and is not obliged to write six paragraphs each race about Danica Patrick regardless of where she places. With no political agenda to adhere to, a passion for storytelling and knowledge of the sport, Schechter is able to connect readers to the sport on diverse levels.

Auto Racing News readers can also feel good about this:  each time they read a story on autoracingnews.org, a child fighting cancer benefits.

All advertising revenue generated by Auto Racing News in 2011 will be donated to Racing For Cancer.  Racing For Cancer is a non-profit organization whose global ambassador is IZOD IndyCar Series driver, and recently appointed LIVESTRONG Global Envoy, Ryan Hunter-Reay.  Some of Racing For Cancer proceeds will be used to finance its “Children’s Cancer Fighter of the Race” program.  Through this program, one young child who is battling cancer is given an invitation to an IZOD IndyCar Series race and VIP treatment throughout the weekend at some of the races throughout the season. Other programs under development will be supported as Racing for Cancer expands its support to the cancer community going forward.

The perfect wedding gift for royals

Posted on: April 26, 2011 | Comments(2) | Drivers | By: Dave

Above gas prices and overspending for the 2012 Summer Games in London, the talk of the town in the United Kingdom is the Royal Wedding of HRH Prince William and Kate Middleton on April 29 at Westminster Abbey.

There’s a thriving business of commemorative items for sale — mugs with the mugs of the happy couple, thimbles, plates and T-shirts, etc. – and more than 4,500 street parties have been licensed.

So if IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights drivers who are subjects of the Crown were invited to the nuptials, what would they present as a gift? A sampling:

James Hinchcliffe (Canada): A gourmet bottle of maple syrup.

Alex Lloyd (UK): I would give the couple a pair of Indy 500 tickets. They can pay their own expenses, and get the opportunity to mingle with Mr. Trump. The Donald and Kate could enjoy a nice discussion about hair pieces.

Martin Plowman (UK): After thinking for a long time about what I would take as a wedding gift, I was torn between a toaster and a blender, as I’m unsure which one they needed more. On second thought, (girlfriend) Nicole is telling me that she would gladly be their ‘gift’ as she could fill in for Kate in all Princess roles.

Mike Conway (UK): Since they probably have everything, I’d take a certificate for a two-seater ride with me as the driver.

Paul Tracy (Canada): I’d bring a hockey stick for “Kate the Commoner” to whip out when William steps out of line.

James Winslow (UK): I’d probably take them a sponsorship package proposal … there are quite a few Brits here in Firestone Indy Lights and IndyCar, so it only makes sense for them to sponsor a team.

Stefan Wilson (UK): They’ll get plenty of nice china sets; I’d give them one of those souvenir Royal Wedding tea sets with their faces on it.

Justin Wilson (UK): I have no idea what I would get them.  (Wife) Julia is the gift buyer in the family.  I’m a guy; we’re lucky if we remember the day, so when it comes to the gift for the Royal Wedding I don’t have a clue what I would get.

2011 intro from ArtRotondo

Posted on: April 25, 2011 | Comments(2) | Helmet Designs | By: mrotondo

After a few races into the exhilarating 2011 IndyCar season, the helmets keep on coming out of the ArtRotondo.com shop. For the first time the ArtRotondo.com company is painting the helmets for IndyCar fan favorite Vitor Meira. For the occasion we came up with a few new designs for the Brazilian. We jazzed up his old design by giving it more life and to more suit Vitor’s personality. These are the first of many helmets of Vitor’s to come.

New look for Vitor Meira

New look for Vitor

May 1st 2011 will be the IndyCar’s series stop in Sao Paolo, Brasil for the 4th round of the 2011 season. Sadly this day also marks the celebration of life of undoubtedly the finest  racing driver ever to have lived on this earth, Ayrton Senna. For the occasion both Vitor Meira and the ArtRotondo.com group came up with the idea to mark this grandiose occasion by paying tribute to him. With that in mind, we made Vitor’s usual design but modified with the Brazilian flag stars and most importantly the back of the helmet is a montage of some of Ayrton’s most memorable racing moments.  Each one of these moments was entirely hand painted by Art Rotondo himself. After growing up in an Ayrton Senna influenced household all of our lives, due to our father’s Brasilian origin, it was truly inspiring for us here at ArtRotondo.com to pay tribute to Ayrton but as well to our passed father. We hope the fans in Brasil will enjoy this tribute to a champion and the immense emotions involved with this piece of art the ArtRotondo.com company created and that the IndyCar fans here in North America will do the same and take a minute of remembrance for the greatest racer of all time.

Meira's helmet

Inspired by Senna

IndyCar rookie Sebastian Saavedra will be in his very 1st full time Indycar season and for the occasion we spiced up his 2011 helmets by putting more clean cut emphasis on his native Colombian flag at the back of the helmet to give the overall more mature look to better suit his current Conquest Racing ride.

Sebastian Saavedra

Saavedra with a new look

Keep checking back Indycar.com’s blog for our special Indy 500 themed blog which will capture all of our drivers special Indy 500 themed helmets.

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

Blog Girl

Posted on: April 15, 2011 | Comments(25) | Random | By: Beccy

Hi All.  Some of you may know me from twitter (@BeccyGordon), others from the track and now you will know me as the girl who blogs on IndyCar.com

Here’s my story, so you know where I’m coming from for future blogs…

I’m a girl who literally grew up racing.  My great-grandfather raced IndyCars back in the early 1900s, his name was Huntly Gordon. He raced in several Vanderbilt Cup races and practiced for the Indianapolis 500.  Back in the day, each car entered in the race would have a few drivers practice the car. The official driver was established on race morning.  I assume that’s why, they always say the car is entered in the race, not the driver (ie- the Junquiera & Tagliani situation last May).  It would have been awesome if he could have raced in the Indy 500.  I’m obsessed with the history of IMS and that would have made the story too perfect.

Huntly Gordon

Huntly Gordon

My dad races off-road cars. My mom pre-ran the Baja 500 when she was seven months pregnant with me.   I’ve asked her why, and she looks at me like… “Why? Why not?”  Maybe that’s where I get my spunk.  My parents were young and that’s what they did, they loved the desert.  My mom wasn’t letting a pregnancy keep her down.  Here’s the picture, my parents in my dad’s 1970s buggy, shocks with 2 inches of travel going across the Baja Peninsula, my brother, Robby, ratchet strapped to the gas tank, my sister on my mom’s lap and me in her belly.  It’s a hilarious sight if you can picture it and probably defines our family well.

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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.”