We’re chronicling 100 days of Indy 500 history on #SpeedRead leading up to the historic 100th Running. With two days to go, we caught up with the senior member of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway photo staff.
Jim Haines is an Indy 500 purist.
The Anderson, Indiana, native shot around Gasoline Alley in 1966, but didn’t work Race Day of the 50th Indianapolis 500. So he doesn’t count it in what has turned into a remarkable streak.
Haines will make Sunday’s 100th Running his 50th consecutive as an IMS photographer, a terrific milestone for a lifelong race fan who has taken some of the event’s more famous images.
“I was a race fan from when I was 12, when I first got here and hung on the fence and looked into the pits,” said Haines, 73. “I could recognize them – ‘wow, I’m 10 feet from Jim Rathmann!’ It was just overwhelming.”
One might imagine that “overwhelming” would be a good adjective to describe photographing “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” but in 50 years Haines has seen it all and shot it all. He’s now allowed to roam on Race Day, hitting his favorite places around the track while skipping some of the more crowded ones for photographers.
“I did Victory Lane every year until last year. Now we have new guys that need the experience, and I’m winding down,” Haines said.
But he’s not done yet, which is good news for every race fan.
Here’s some of Haines’ classics (with shots of the man himself), and stories behind the images.
On the job in 1971: We were official photographers (Haines is on the right), so Marlboro supplied us with blazers and we had armbands. I probably still have my blazer somewhere. We shot the race with these on, but it wasn’t a real hot day so it wasn’t too bad.
Fans running with A.J. Foyt, 1978: At that time, it was a huge crowd in the third turn, and they drank all day. At the end of the race, Foyt ran out of fuel in Turn 3, and fans started running out there. It was bizarre – I see all these people rushing toward me, over the fence. That caused them to take a new look at security down there, they made sure that wouldn’t happen again. I’d never seen anything like that before or since.
Johncock over Mears at the finish, 1982: There was article a few years back in “Car and Driver” about the 10 best auto races of all time, this was one of them and they ran this picture. Johncock wins and you’ve got that STP crewman jumping in the air. I was right behind pit wall, when the wall between the track and pits wasn’t as high. It would be hard to get that shot from track level now.
Linda Vaughn, 1982: Linda was very prominent back then, she worked for Hurst and they had a big presence at the Speedway. This is from the pre-race where they drive celebrities around the track. Later that year or the year after, this photo appeared in the German edition of “Playboy.”
Mario crashes in 1983: This won a Photo of the Year award from Hoosier photo, I still have the trophy. This shot just stops the action – the car’s coming apart, there’s smoke, no one was hurt. Johnny Parsons is in the yellow car, after this Parsons’ dad came running down there concerned about his son. I yelled back, “he’s OK, John.”
Pit boards crewman, 1986: One of the things I like to do is tell the story of the race, not just shoot the race. He’s waiting for the race to start and he’s prepared, he’s got everything laid out. The radios weren’t any good back then so that’s how they had to signal the driver, with chalkboards and these things.
Key pit stops, 1987: At the end of the race, I always try to be in either first or second place’s pit to get their last pit stop. It can determines the outcome of the race and the winner. Unser got out here, while Roberto Guerrero killed the engine. They had to push him back to the pits.
Three legends, 1988: I had a long lens and couldn’t get everybody in there like I wanted to, but you only have one opportunity like that, so you have to push the button. Foyt, he could be charming, but he was intense.
Buddy Lazier drinks the milk, 1996: Buddy had a broken back and you can almost see the pain on his face. He’s happy, but you can see the pain there. In Victory Circle, one of our main shots is the milk shot. And back then you’re switching cameras back and forth, print film and slide film. A lot of the publications wanted slides, print film we would sell the public.
Tony Stewart and the IRL trophy, 1997: We all loved Tony, he was a good guy. Like Foyt, he was really intense but he could be your friend. He’d come up and joke with you, give you a hard time. We’re good friends – I’ve been to his house, shot pool with him, played cards with him.
Helio Castroneves, the day after his 2001 win: This is my most famous photo. The next year it was on the race ticket, on billboards, coasters on bars, everything. I had the opportunity to just shoot him with the trophy and he did that. They don’t let you put your hands on it like that now. I was surprised, I knew it was going to be a good photo but I didn’t know it would be that well-received.
With Dan Wheldon, the day after his 2011 win: Dan was a great, great guy. He would race in our support races before IndyCar races, so we knew him. He used to come visit us in the photo department. Here, they did a group shot of all the photographers shooting Dan, and I was taking it. After that was over, I had my photo taken too.
Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis start, 2015: We’re not there to shoot accidents, we want to get good racing photos – but sometimes you get the accidents too. If it’s going to happen, you want to capture it. You have to plan ahead and consider the possibilities, and a guy got upside down here in one of the support races before this, so I sort of envisioned there might be some problems at the start.