In what is approaching a 40 year career at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I have seen a lot of snow from my 2nd floor office in the Hall of Fame Museum. In November of 1977, my 1st year as Director of Photography the snow came early that season and I was ready to go out and get cold and wet. Early in the morning the day after the 12+ inch snowfall, I trekked to the top of the B Grandstands for my 1st “IMS in snow” scene. The day was bright and clear and the temperature was well below zero with a brisk wind blowing in from the north. Much to my dismay, a car had already been on the track and the scene was not “perfect.” Of course I shot it anyway and after processing the film (remember film?), I became aware that the tracks in the snow showed the depth and the photo was not a loss after all. That became one of the all-time great sellers in the IMS Photo Shop, especially during a hot summer.
In early 1983, a PR contact from the STP Corporation saw that we had a heavy snowfall and called the Patrick Racing shop and asked them to deliver the 1982 winning car of Gordon Johncock to me at the Speedway for a photo. The car was delivered by noon and again, out in the snow I went. We positioned the car in front of the Control Tower.
At the last moment, I asked one of the mechanics to throw Gordy’s helmet on and jump in the car. THE SHOT WENT AROUND THE WORLD thanks to the STP PR machine!
In 2008, one of my employees wanted to duplicate the shot with another car. We went to the IMS Storage area and looked for an easy, modern era car to shoot in the 13 inches of show that had fallen the previous night. We couldn’t find a “politically correct” car ( one with proper sponsorship for a Christmas card) that would be easy to get out of the museum. I called the Indy Racing Experience and arranged a “Show Car” with IndyCar logos. As a joke, I requested the museum bring the 1911 Marmon Wasp out for a quick photo…….just wanting to get a “Sure, we will bring the most important race car in our collection out in the snow today….ARE YOU CRAZY????, reaction. As I was setting up the “Show Car”, my cell phone rang and Ellen Bireley, Hall of Fame Museum Director said the Wasp was “on it’s way to me”. To my surprise, the car was on the way and a great photo session was complete.
Santa’s recent visit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was another one of those “let’s play in the snow” days. Santa (the REAL one) was coming to IMS thanks to Macy’s and he would be practicing for the Christmas Eve altitude by going up on the top of the Pagoda with 2 of his elves, Holly Berry and Peppermint. Camera in hand, off I go in 0 wind chill and 8+ inches of snow on the track to document the proceedings. After the Altitude test, Santa and company decided to “Kiss the Bricks”, the famous IMS tradition. Concern about lips freezing to the surface of the bricks was voiced but no worries for Santa…. Mission accomplished! So, if you notice a little more red in Santa’s cheeks (and especially his lips), you’ll know the whole story!…..
After a visit to the Museum to greet several children, off he went to get ready for the Christmas Eve trip around the world.