Posts Tagged ‘ drivers ’
Early in the month on May 7, 1987 while shooting photos in the pits, I ran into Al Unser Sr. I asked him if he had any prospects for the month and he said he did not and he needed a job…would I hire him. We laughed and as I walked off, I had an idea. I went back to my office, grabbed a small plastic consumer camera and made him a name tag that stated he was now an “Official Indy 500 Photographer” and set out to find him again.
As he stood in the pits with a group of drivers and officials, I gave him his “Official Photographer” nametag and his new camera and assignments. I think I remember Al Jr getting the biggest laugh out of the whole situation.
That same day, shortly after Danny Ongais’ crash in practice, Al’s career as an “official Photographer” came to an end as Roger Penske called on him to replace the injured Ongais in the #25 PC 16. While the car that Ongais crashed was too bad to run, the team had to get an ’86 March that was being used by the team as a show car in a lobby of a commercial establishment and bring it to the track.
The car was entered but not at the track until that point. Al qualified the car 20th and on the start, was just in front of a spinning Josele Garza who came within a fraction of an inch taking out Al in the process. Al drove his typical smart race and won and became the only “Official Photographer” to win the race.
In 1980 a little know entity crossed our path here at Indianapolis out of the USAC Ranks. Tim Richmond from Ashland , OH came on the scene and stole the show at the beginning of practice. With his movie star good looks and his down to earth attitude, he took off like a rocket in his Penske PC-7 Cosworth and stayed high on the speed charts all week until an accident on the 1st day of qualifying put him on the sidelines for the weekend. He came back to qualify 19th and during the race ran near the front until running out of fuel on lap 197 finishing 9th Fans were cheering wildly when winner, Johnny Rutherford stopped on his Victory Lap in the 3rd turn and picked up Tim, carrying him on the sidepod of his Pennzoil Chapparral “Yellow Submarine” racecar and dropped him off in the pits before turning into Victory Lane.
My friendship with Tim started when his manager, a friend of mine brought him in to the IMS Photo Shop and introduced him to me, saying he was the next new driver to conquer Indy. Together with Chief Mechanic, John Barnes, now part owner of the national Guard Panther INDYCAR Team, they took Indy by storm.
I remember, after the Victory Banquet in 1980, after Tim had been names Rookie of the Year, the IMS Photo staff in attendance invited him to go out for Ice Cream after the event. He not only came with us but brought Linda Vaughn with him and picked up the tab for all. What a guy.
After a tough 1981 season in Indy Car and nearly missing the 1981 Indianapolis 500, taking over an AJ Foyt car , starting last and finishing 14th, Tim took his talents to NASCAR where he excelled with Rick Hendricks new team and almost won a NASCAR Championship.
Tim returned several times to the Indy 500 but never as a driver. He always stopped by the photo shop for a visit. He passed away in 1989 at the age of 34.
INDYCAR heads into the second race of the season this weekend with the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park. Naturally, we’ve got our eyes on 2010 Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti who, after picking up win #1 in St. Petersburg two weeks ago, is ready to grab #2 towards his run at a back-to-back Series championships. To get ready for the race weekend, check out an awesome time-lapse video of Texas-based Motorsports artist Kevin Paige creating a full-color rendering of Dario Franchitti at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Pretty neat, huh? Thanks to Kevin Paige, we’ll be giving away the Dario Franchitti drawing to the first fan to locate all 26 Indianapolis Motor Speedway billboards around Indianapolis. Here’s how to enter:
- Track down each IMS billboard in Indianapolis
- Take a photo
- Put all 26 photos online (a Facebook album or Flickr set are a few suggestions)
- Got ‘em all? Post on our Facebook wall to let us know you’ve caught all 26 billboards and provide a link to verify that you have found and captured images of all 26 billboards
- Be FIRST and you will win!
Check out more artwork from Kevin Paige by visiting KevinPaigeArt.com.
Over 4.5 million photos reside in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Photo archives at the Hall of Fame Museum. In the next few weeks, I will extract some of the most fascinating shots to share the story and provide insight to the “behind the scenes” of how they were taken.
People often ask me what my favorite photo I’ve ever taken here at IMS is and with the hundreds of thousands of them I’ve shot over the years, I would be hard pressed to select just one of them. I do have my favorites.
To begin with my all time favorite photo in the archives has to be the one taken in 1954 of Bill Vukovich after winning his second Indianapolis 500. He was not too fond of the interviews and questions about how the race went for him, all of the photos snapped of him after the race, and the pomp and circumstance of a win. Bill was finally alone in his garage and an IMS photographer (O’Dell & Shields were the “Official Photographers” at that time) happened along and shot the photo below of an exhausted Vuky sitting, sweaty and covered in dirt and grime, on the work bench of the garage.
The photo conveys how draining an afternoon of racing could be in those days and is one of the most often used images in the massive IMS Photo Archives. The photographer was not identified on the negative envelope so kudos could not be given to him. Quite a shame for such a great photo.