Brian Simpson’s favorite photos from 2014

Published On December 24, 2014 » 3315 Views» By Brian Simpson » Blogs, IMS Staff Stories, Photography

Brian Simpson, Indianapolis Motor Speedway manager of digital/social media and photo operations, shares his thoughts and favorite images of the year from IMS.

Managing the photo staff is a unique challenge. There are literally thousands of iconic moments happening around our facility on a minute-by-minute basis. How do we capture all of those moments? Truthfully, we don’t, but we do capture many of them. This is made possible by the extremely hard work our photographers put in each day. We blanket the facility hoping to be in position for that one perfect moment. While the below photos may not all be the most beautiful or artistic images we created this year these tell the story of some major moments at IMS this year. Enjoy!

The Red Rocker on stage on Coors Light Carb Day.

The Red Rocker on stage on Coors Light Carb Day. Photographer: Tim Holle

While the overwhelming majority of images we create are focused around cars, drivers and teams, we do occasionally get to shoot different events. The concerts are always a favorite of the photographers. It shines a totally different light on our facility. The above image of Sammy Hagar on stage during the Coors Light Carb Day concert really illustrates what that day is all about. It’s a party!

Will Power on a wet Grand Prix of Indianapolis track.

Will Power on a wet Grand Prix of Indianapolis track. Photographer: Shawn Gritzmacher

Quite possibly one of the biggest highlights of 2014 was the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Traveling with the Verizon IndyCar Series I have the privelege of seeing these incredible cars and their drivers on all types of race tracks.  Fans in Indianapolis have traditionally only had the opportunity to see the cars turning left on the oval at IMS. While driving 230 mph is certainly awe-inspiring and that event is the crucible of all things racing, the GP was something to behold. The new track layout produced some very competitive racing and fans even got to see the cars racing in the rain. Rain can put a damper on things but I tend to get quite excited when I see moisture on the radar during a road course event.  As you can see from the above image, it produces some amazing visuals.

Jacques Villeneuve returns to Indy.

Jacques Villeneuve returns to Indy. Photographer: Chris Owens

Somewhere in my stacks and stacks of racing memorabilia I have collected from over the years is a Players Ltd. hero card autographed by the man pictured above.  I got this autograph when I was about 9 years old and attended the race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car course. This was Jacques’ rookie year in IndyCar. Fast forward to 2014 and he’s returning to the Indianapolis 500. It’s not often that you get to interact with a childhood sports hero but I got just that opportunity this year. Jacques was an amazing guy and proved that he can still wheel a car at this year’s Indianapolis 500. I, for one, hope that he returns in 2015. The man is a true legend of motorsport.


The SVRA event at IMS. Photographer: Forrest Mellott

We added a new event in 2014 with the Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational. I’m a history nut, especially when it pertains to motorsports. I was beyond excited about this event. Unfortunately, due to my responsibilities with the Verizon IndyCar Series, I had to head to Texas Motor Speedway for our event. I did manage to make it back for Sunday’s events at IMS and I was not disappointed. So many race cars, so much history, and non-stop action. The photo above has been my PC background for a few months. I LOVE this image.


IMSA at IMS. Photographer: Mike Harding

While they won’t be returning in 2015, the IMSA event at IMS in 2014 was one of my favorites. There’s something fascinating about so many different types of cars, multiple drivers, engine manufacturers and classes.

Jack Hawksworth wins in Indy.

Jack Hawksworth wins in Indy. Photographer: Joe Skibinzki

Continuing the IMSA discussion, Verizon IndyCar Series driver Jack Hawksworth drove a great race and won the 2014 event. Jack is a tremendous talent in the open-wheel ranks and showcased every bit of his ability at IMS.


Hendrick Motorsports wins at IMS! Photographer: Chris Jones

I mentioned earlier that a big part of our strategy is to blanket the track hoping to lock in that perfect moment. This is a true example of that. This image was actually shot from the photographers’ riser in Victory Circle. Obviously, that position is intended to shoot the trophy presentation but it just so happened that it yielded a perfect angle of the team celebrating with Jeff Gordon during his victory donuts.

August 8, 2014 Walt Kuhn

A big incident during MotoGP weekend. Photographer: Walt Kuhn

Crashes are one of the toughest things to capture in motorsports. It takes a sharp eye, quick reaction and attention to detail. It becomes that much more difficult when shooting motorcycles. The above photo showcases the danger of this sport. It’s life on the edge. I never cease to be impressed when these riders hop up and walk away after incidents this big.

Valentino Rossi on the grid at the Red Bull Indianapolis GP.

Valentino Rossi on the grid at the Red Bull Indianapolis GP. Photograher: Shawn Gritzmacher

This final photo is quite possibly my favorite photo of the entire season. Valentino has been my favorite rider in MotoGP. He’s “The Doctor” … cool, calculated and unbelievably exciting to watch. This photo showcases his unrelenting focus. The grid is a large crowd of people with lots going on, yet he seems unfazed. “Alone amongst a sea of people” comes to mind when viewing this. Victory requires pure focus … Vale has no shortage of this.

There are millions of photos in our archives and we create millions more each year. I would have to write one of these each day for the entire year to accurately depict my favorite photos from each year. The staff does an incredible job of showcasing our events and I couldn’t be more proud of the work they put together each year.


About The Author

Brian Simpson

I am the Manager, Digital/Social & Photo Operations at THE Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Racing is my passion and has been since I was 4 years old and I attended my first IndyCar race. I grew up going to Mid-Ohio to watch my Dad race and to attend IndyCar races. I'm a Chef, Digital Producer, Photographer, avid Sim-Racer, and hard-core motorsports fan. Follow me on twitter! @Simpson244

Hello Brian, since we are now 15 months away from the 100th running of the Indy500, can you post your favorite picture/story of any of the Speedways four founding fathers?