Who’s On First…?
Last weekend was the 50th running of the Rolex 24 hour GrandAm race
at Daytona Motor Speedway.
It happens to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the founding of Curb Records.
“How”, you might ask, “do those have anything to do with each other?”
And, you would not be pigeon-holed as obtuse for also asking,
”What does this information have to do with our illustrious, ever salient blogger?”
I might be constrained to call into question the reader’s lack of patience in not allowing said blogger to luxuriously meander over to his point, unimpeded…but, instead I shall sally forth, as beckoned!
Having been ‘in the thick of’, (for a couple of years), the photography for a commemorative ‘coffee table’ book about Mike (Curb),
as mentioned elsewhere in this blog, attended more auto races in the past couple of years than I ever anticipated, covering them for Mike, who is not only a BIG enthusiast, but also a virtual auto racing encyclopedia.
a living, breathing fount of knowledge.
(I have witnessed his citing of stats that dispelled a driver’s own recollection of his- story.)
AND Mike is an owner.
I didn’t, heretofore understand
I still am a little foggy on the concept of who OWNS the car…who sponsors the car…who runs the team…etc, etc.
Last year he, Mike, was an owner of the Indy 500 winner and this year…so far…his car has now won the Rolex 24…
the first big race of 2012.
Fact is… he had two cars in the ‘24’ and they placed 1st and 3rd .
When I travel on these ‘shooting trips’ I always pack an assortment of apprehensions.
Not usually about the act of taking the pictures…well…sometimes, maybe…
but about all of the other stuff before and between.
I constantly seem to be running late to the airport…
Albeit, I rarely actually am…
Then there’s getting the rental car, and directions
(though I’m starting to know my way around Daytona and Indianapolis)
…and will the credentials office still be open?..
Did someone remember to put my name on ‘the list’?
It’s not that I really ‘stress’ over these things…
They always work out… It’s just a slight nagging trepidation concerning the details…keeps me on my toes, I s’pose!
A glimpse of ‘the author’ in action…or inaction, might be had at the Grand-Am site
First photo on the left…me on the left
The act of photography is a welcome challenge… Or at least I try to make it so.
After the cars; the cars and drivers; cars, drivers with owners; crews; Green flag; etc., I am pretty much on my own…
Until, as this year…I find myself rushing…racing, if you will…towards Victory Lane.
Subsequent to looking over last year’s images, I had a pretty good idea of the places I wanted to be and the experiments I would like to try, photographically.
(As it turns out, the crowd this year was tremendously larger than last year, so some of the more secluded vantage points that I had found and was interested in were teeming with people…)
I often talk to myself while shooting...
To help me keep in touch with ISO’s, f-stops, speed (car AND ‘film’), car numbers, etc., so that I (sometimes) don’t make silly technical mistakes.
And with the noise of the engines, no one notices…
One of the distinct contrasts between photography and …say…painting…
Is that the photographer, for the most part, can only put what is in front of him on the canvas. Certainly, things may be changed in post-production, but rarely is that the goal that is sought.
The ‘prize’ is in capturing that unique moment within a tiny frame.
The goal is to expose what is in front of the camera in a way that resonates…
First, with the photographer and then, hopefully, with the viewers…
…But, first and foremost, with the photographer.
If it’s not true to his/her vision and intent, then it’s not true for anyone.
I have pictures that I have taken that I LOVE, yet have had my excitement tempered by a viewer’s apathetic virtual ‘shoulder shrug’.
But that’s okay!
It says what I wanted to say, and that is the ‘bottom line’ of ANY creative endeavor…
As a matter of fact…
I am posting some behind the scenes images, along with a few car shots…
The car shots you can find anywhere….or many places….
Check this out!
Apparently they have equipped this year’s cars with laser cannons or something. …slow car in the way?!?? Blast ‘em! FIRE!
I didn’t see anybody use these but I hope they don’t put them on NASCAR autos…
Those guys WILL use them…!!!
Of course, employing that same twisted imaginary logic, I suppose the ‘rain’ toggles below the firing switches could be for creating a rainstorm behind you as your opponent is approaching a curve…
(Sounds like too much “James Bond” for yours truly…)
Okay…here’s the real thing.
On Friday, the #60 car, one of the two Michael Shanks Racing Team’s entries…
(And one of two in which Curb was part owner),
was somehow running ‘wrong’ in practice.
The crew completely dismantled the car, looking for the malfunction, and found a small piece of dirt in the gear-box. I suppose it solved the problem. #60 won!!!
I think that shows just how in tune the drivers are with their machines.
Remember the story of “The Princess and the Pea”?
Saturday and Sunday were both warm dry days so ‘racing slicks’ were the only style tires that were used.
Here’s a before and after look.
And, after an hour and a half.
Now obviously this is not entirely typical wear.
The team would ideally catch this approximately one or two laps sooner.
Although the driver, Gustavo Yacaman, in the #6 car, had to limp about a half lap to pit road on two flat tires, the #6 managed to finish in 3rd place.
(A pretty good day for the Michael Shanks/Curb-Agajanian team)
Had it not been for this one set of tires, who knows, Shanks and Curb may have had a one-two finish.
This is more typical wear…and blisters… for an hour and a half of use.
Each of these crews had 3-5 drivers who would generally take 2-3 hour ‘shifts’, to get through the 2709 mile trek.
The driver switch is a split-second operation.
First, the steering wheel must be removed to get the driver out.
Ideally, by the time the tires are changed and the car is fueled, the next driver is in place, settled in…got the radio tuned to his favorite station…
While the replaced driver is catching his breath and discussing any peccadilloes with the pit crew…..mechanical issues…strategy…an interview here and there…before slumping, exhausted into a chair to watch his team-mate for a few laps and then heading to the trailer for a shower, a massage, and a nap. Then he does it all again!
I think one of the hardest things for a driver to do is to relinquish the wheel and give control to someone else. You have to trust your team-mates, but when you are out of the car…it’s out of your hands…!
I couldn’t help but notice the brake pads.
On this type of race track, the brakes are used considerably more than on the typical “Left turn, left turn, straight….” course.
Please pardon these brake photos.
If you’re here for the photography, then move on…there’s nothing to see here.
I’ve included these more for the auto enthusiast. (Poor lighting and an unsteady hand after 20 hours at the track are my lame excuses. I include these only at the request of a friend who expressed an interest in this kind of inside view that most people don’t get to see.)
This is a new pad, about an inch thick. They can be seen in place in one of the ‘tear-down’ photos above.
And this is one after 7 hours of racing… About a 1/4 of an inch left.
That means there are approximately 3 brake pad changes in the course of the race.
3 sets of brake pads, 10-12 sets of tires.
Now, don’t go to your neighborhood dealer, or Firestone, or Jiffy Lube, etc., and expect to have brake pads and 4 tires changed in 20 seconds or so…
But you do expect it here.
Congratulations to the Michael Shanks/Curb-Agajanian team for two ‘podium’
1st place to the #60 driven by Justin Wilson, John Pew, Ozz Negri, Jr., and A. J. Allmendinger.
And, 3rd place to the #6, driven by Michael McDowell, Gustavo Yacaman, Jorge Goncalvez and Felipe Nasr
These guys pick up a considerable amount of road ‘goo’ in 24 hours.
That looks like a bit of a Nestle Crunch wrapper caught in the grill….Wasn’t mine! I eat Zero’s!!!
And finally, Victory Lane.
Here, it’s called the “Gatorade Victory Lane” and when a large barrel of Gatorade is not available, one ‘makes do’ with what one has!!!!