Welcome to Indiana-ville where on-site photographer Jay Alley was pleased to see the rain at the Speedway disappear, allowing the Indianapolis 500 Pole Day to commence.
The longest Pole Day in Indianapolis 500 history ended after 7:15 p.m. tonight with a sprint car guy and Butler Bulldog taking the first qualifying spot after the Fast 9 shootout: Ed Carpenter! Now rain on the first day of qualifications at Indy is not new, as it has happened many times before. What was new was the early decision by Indycar to let the normal qualifying process play out all the way to the scheduled 6:00 p.m. closing time and then run the Fast 9 starting at 6:30. I don't ever remember the Speedway running after 6:00 and it was well worth the wait for local fans who genuinely rooted Ed and his "little team that could" on. I said earlier this week Ed could be a darkhorse this May but thought sure Will Power would close the deal as the final Fast 9 Qualifier. Even though two Andretti Autosport drivers took the other two front row starting positions with Carlos Munoz second and Marco Andretti third, Ed taking P1 was a huge victory for the little guy.
I had an extremely long day and as I suspected in my last blog post, my Indy 500 OCD behavior took over early. I left home on Indy's northeast side at 5:45 a.m. and was one of the first people to set up in the media center a little after 6:00. I was hoping to get a sunrise shot over the Pagoda tower but it was heavily overcast and it didn't seem like there was any way the morning practice would start at 8:00 as scheduled after the rain we got last night. But it did so I headed out on pit road and then down to the end of the front stretch where the cars turn into the first corner to shoot. About halfway through the session, I walked back to the media center and took my gear to Canon to get a suspected problem looked at, but thankfully it turned out to be operator error and my equipment checked out fine. Can't say the same about the operator however, as sometimes my 7D seems to do things on its own which still bewitch me even after owning it for three years and shooting tens of thousands of images.
Speaking of which, the counters on both my main camera bodies rolled over again this week, so there's another 10,000 images captured. Ironically, my 7D rolled over just as the pole winning celebration for Ed Carpenter was getting started when it became apparent that Will Power was not going to be quick enough, so editing was a snap since those images started at 0001. I didn't even leave the media center until after 8:15 p.m. and still had to get dinner, write this post and finish another file transfer from the Fast 9 session.
Rain, rain go away!
I'm not complaining. I'm just going on adrenaline now, still hearing the track's public address system announcers in my ears along with the turbocharged engine sounds from the canyon which is Indy's front stretch. I am getting a little sick of the rain so far this racing season. It rained almost the whole drive to Salem Speedway for the ARCA race at the end of April. Then I went to Talladega to shoot the NASCAR races the first weekend in May and both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races had lengthy rain delays, not to mention all the rain I drove through to get there. My photog friends already give me hell about bringing rain with me at every race I shoot after I got drenched at Mid Ohio a couple of years ago and almost ruined my camera gear, so enough already with the "moisture"!
My lady friend alternately calls me a "madman" and the "Energizer Bunny". Bump Day will be more of the same on Sunday. And we will actually have at least one car bumped now that Katherine Legge has been confirmed. This wasn't quite the 24 Hours of Indianapolis today, but it sure feels like it.