I fondly remember May 31, 1986. That was the day I got my own TV in my room. It was a big freaking deal. It was an old RCA relic with a blurry picture that kept glowing after you turned it off at night. But it was finally mine. And when I plugged it in for the first time that Saturday morning the VHF dial went straight to WFAA channel 8, our local ABC affiliate.
This was the first time that the Indianapolis 500 was shown live on TV rather than on tape delay, and I was about to pee myself with excitement. David Hasselhoff (back when he was Knight Rider cool, rather than ironic) sang the national anthem. Chuck Yeager (the badass who broke the sound barrier) drove the Corvette pace car. Rick Mears was the fastest man alive in my book, and he was starting on the pole.
Bobby Rahal ended up winning — the first person to ever finish the race in under three hours. It was a great day.
So as a racing fan, I’m quite happy to see the IRL and Champ Car Series reunified. There’s been a void in American auto racing, and it looks like it’s well on its way to being fixed.
For those who aren’t versed in the history of the sport, the shortened version of this story is that a few of the people in charge of “Indy” style racing have been bickering with each other for the last couple of decades. It resulted in the league splitting into multiple different racing leagues, and quite frankly the racing and the show suffered. This season marks the first season the groups have been reunified back into one entity, the IndyCar Series. And it’s a good thing.
My dad and I have been attending the IRL races at Texas Motor Speedway for the last four years, and while they’ve been very good races, Texas has actually been kind of unique in that regard. For the most part Indy racing just wasn’t all that popular anymore. Not only was NASCAR kicking it’s butt, but IRL wasn’t putting on the kind of spectacle that Indy racing used to be about. People would tune in for the Indianapolis 500, but otherwise people didn’t bother. And well, I can’t blame the casual fan. A race with 18 cars (only 6 or 7 of whom have a chance to win) isn’t nearly as exciting as a field of 30 cars. So it’s great to see that kind of excitement coming back.
If the kid sitting a few seats away from us who kept driving his Hot Wheels across his dad’s head is any judge, the sport’s definitely going to be alright.
So it took me nearly a month, but my photos from the Bombardier Learjet 550 are finally up over on Flickr. (Here’s a link to the slideshow.) After past races I have rushed home from the track and gone straight to work organizing, editing and posting my photos. When you figure I take anywhere from 2,000 to 5,000 shots on the average race weekend you can understand what a grueling process that can be. This time around I decided to pace myself a bit slower and be more selective — and to not kill myself with sleep deprivation after the race. This was partially a conscious effort at forcing myself to produce different and better photos. But it was also a simple matter of realizing that June was a pretty intense month work wise, and I needed to be able to concentrate on projects and let the photos come second. (Besides, it’s not like I lucked into something wicked like the Michael McDowell crash back at the Samsung 500, so there was no rush.)
Anyway, sorry for the delay. Enjoy the pictures.