Chicagoland: a look back

Home sick from work today, so this was a good chance to reflect on the past weekend…

So, there ya go. Thanks Chicagoland, I hardly knew ya. Pretty sad that it’s political bullshit that dictates where and how and who races where, rather than the racing.

Interesting side note observation about ovals… the tracks are usually in the middle of fucking no where, in a really dilapidated part of the town or in a field somewhere. Or both.

There is no “buzz”. There is no sense of race weekend. There is no sense of ‘event’. I had forgotten about this aspect of these types of tracks until I got here yesterday. No one really arrives until just before the race (and even then, as in the case Saturday night, no one really arrives)

Speaking of getting here. Wow. As much as I’m glad I was able to pull it off, I really don’t like flying in “on the day”. I felt like I hit the ground running and had no real sense of schedule or bearings. So many people I normally get to chat with on race weekend, I barely squeezed in a hello on the way by. Hell, I realized today how many I didn’t see at all, or didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to. Of course I’m about to do it again :gluttonforpunishment: (more on that later)

Speaking of goodbyes… my first “moment” when I got there was seeing the “Steve Snoddy Photographers room” I knew I would be emotional, but I didn’t expect to cry suddenly. You don’t realize the effect someone has on you until they’re gone. Steve as I’ve documented here, certainly had an effect on me. His sudden death around this time last year was like a sock in the gut. I was already feeling pretty disheartened by the racing season, and that just pulled the plug on it for me for several months.

Steve was constantly trying to get me to come to the Chicagoland race, and promised to take me to his favorite steakhouse for dinner. (although, with the way the restaurants roll up their carpets at 9pm in these parts, we would have had to have lunch!) Such a lovely tribute to him to name the photographers room after him. I’m sure he would have been heartbroken to lose this race. Maybe fate intervened on his behalf in that regard.

The races.

When we arrived at the track, the Lights were just getting ready to qualify. It was painful to see the dilapidated field. It looked particularly small with the cars lined up nose to tail to pull out for their fast laps. Again, oval qualifying has that paint drying excitement about it. (love or hate street/road courses, but you gotta admit, the qualifying is spectacular) (sometimes way more entertaining than the race itself actually )  Then it was hurry up and wait… then cram in an impromptu Q&A with Randy Bernard, 2 races, 2 podiums, see ya, bye bye.

The Lights race was awesome. Edge of your seat awesome. It makes me sad to see such a small field, with so much talent. They race in front of no one. They get zero tv coverage. Yet they often put on the better show. Saturday was no exception. Between the unbelievable battle at the front between Plowey and Pippa, to the charge from the back of the field to victory drive by Hinch. It was the highlight of my day. Hinch either gets pole or a podium when I’m in attendance, sometimes both. Saturday he got the best of the best, the victory. I love my squishy champagne hug post podium! I wish James was serious when he said, “you’re hired! I’ll fly you to Kentucky and Homestead!” LOL! (I wish I was able to go to both those events)(hmmm…)

The IndyCar race… truthfully, wasn’t as “breath into a bag” exciting as I anticipated. Now mind you, I was in the infield. I was feeling rather out of my element (never shot a night race or an oval before) and I wasn’t backing any particular horse in the race. It’s always weird for me to be at an event without PT in a pitstall. I know that is eventually going to be a permanent reality for me, but for now, with these partial seasons of his, it’s a lot of too much excitement, not enough excitement for me.

Ok, back to the race… by about 50 laps to go, I went back to the media centre, Of course that’s when the real action began. 3-4 wide, squiggly driving, miscues, last minute pit strategy, major FUBAR by Penske, and then Dario “I bitch about everything and talk like droopy dog even when I win” Franchitti crossed the line in first place. I felt like I just witnessed Penske throwing away the championship. My excitement over the podium and perhaps the season, was gone.

All that said, would I have gone back to Chicagoland next year? most likely. It’s a quick, affordable race weekend. (well… day in my case LOL!) They put on a good show. And it’s interesting to see a different style of driving. I love that I managed to take in all of the genres we race this season, live! (Road, street, airport & oval) All have their place in the series. All have their fanbase in the series. The drivers that can master, truly master, all disciplines, deserve much respect.

Speaking of respect. Much respect to my fellow camera jockeys who manage to get those spectacular shots at the track. I realized I have a HUGE learning curve to traverse when it comes to shooting the roundy rounds. I got maybe a handful of o.k. shots. Nothing “wow”  though. At least I know what I’ll be working on over the winter hiatus.

here is a link to the salvageable pics from the weekend

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