Posts Tagged ‘ Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach ’

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.

The week started with a celebration of life service for long-time Indianapolis Motor Speedway public address announcer Tom Carnegie. Fans could view Livestream coverage of the event, which included eulogies by Sarah Fisher and Ed Carpenter, online and archived footage of the event can still be viewed here. Fan memories and tributes from Teams, Drivers, former drivers and notable members of the racing community continue to pour in. Carnegie truly was a legend.

On Tuesday, fans were given the second photo in our series of photo caption contests. This time, Helio Castroneves could be found talking race strategy. While that’s what was really happening, fans submitted some clever, funny, and, at times, off-beat captions for what Helio could possibly be saying. From over 200 comments, tweets, and messages, the field of captions was narrowed to five. Congratulations to our week 2 winner, Jeff Chiszar who wins an IndyCar prize pack and, most importantly, bragging rights. Keep on submitting those captions, we have a good photo in store for you this week.

This weekend the iRacing.com IZOD IndyCar Premier Series kicked off. Read more here about this INDYCAR sanctioned, 16-race, 36-week series contested online on oval road courses on alternating weekends.

In case you missed it, Chip Ganassi Racing followed up last week’s IndyCar.com race shop  (Read about it) visit with an updated Twitter handle this week. They can now be tagged @CGRTeams. Follow them for updates on @INDYCAR and drivers Scott Dixon, Graham Rahal, Charlie Kimball, and Dario Franchitti.

Speaking of Dario, the reigning IZOD IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 champion was inducted into the Motor Sport Magazine Hall of Fame during ceremonies this past week in London. Read more about the honor and find out which of your favorite drivers are also in the Hall of Fame by clicking here.

Franchitti is not the only driver picking up accolades this past week. Verizon Team Penske driver Will Power was voted Road Racer of the Year by the readers of RACER Magazine (Read more).

More signs of the season have emerged as work on the circuit layout  for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Read more here) and New Hampshire Motor Speedway announced plans to enhance the fan experience with more race footage and replays on a new, $1.2 million Panasonic scoreboard and video system in the middle of the infield (Full story here).

Conor Daly, Shannon McIntosh, and Bryan Clauson all found their way across the web this week. Shannon will join the Mazda Road to Indy in 2011 as part of the Cooper Tires presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda. She’ll drive the No. 2 Mazda for the 12 events for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing (More here). Bryan Clauson continued to catch fans up with an inside look at his experiences on the Mazda Road to Indy. Find out more about what he’s already doing to prepare for the season by reading BC’s Blog here. 2010 Star Mazda champion Conor Daly  (Twitter @ConorDaly22) is moving up to Firestone Indy Lights in 2011. Find out more about what the 2011 season looks like for the son of former Indianapolis 500 starter Derek Daly here. All three, Daly, Clauson, and McIntosh are drivers to keep an eye on.

Late in the week, we let it leak that this Tuesday, IndyCar.com will give fans a chance to win something cool. Hundreds of messages poured in to say what the ideal prize for an IndyCar fan would be. Imagine our surprise when, yep, someone guessed exactly what we’re giving away. Glad to see we’ve nailed it and came up with a great prize, so stay tuned to IndyCar.com and our Facebook and Twitter pages this Tuesday to find out how you can win.

Racing is right around the corner — 32 days until the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg!