Sunday, July 29, 2007

Stewart wins No.2

Check out The News-Sentinel and it's new community photo sharing site CU for more pics and coverage from race day at the Brickyard.

Clearing up Confusion

This is an example of what a reporter with a camera might carry while walking about covering an event such as the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.

This, however, is what I carry for six to eight hours while walking around a two-and-a-half mile racetrack in 80-90 degree heat looking for different angles to cover an event such as the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. I'm the size of a small NFL lineman, so that's not exactly a walk in the park.

***Note: everything pictured in this photo, except for the 400mm f/2.8 lens (I hope to have one soon) is 100% bought and paid for by ME.

After the race is all done, and I've run up and down pit road with this gear trying to get celebration photos of the winner so that I don't get outdone by the Associated Press, I go back to the media center and drink a few bottles of water because I've usually sweat out all the fluids in my body. Then I sit down and edit through more than 1000 images to get to the 10 or so I will submit to the paper. Next, I tone all of the select photos to make sure the color and size is correct. After that, I write captions for the images and finally transmit them back to The News-Sentinel.

Now my responsibilites include writing stories to go with the photos. **Note - not on race day; Reggie Hayes and Pete DiPrimio handle those duties.** I have to be knowledgable of the drivers' story lines and statistics. I have to think of questions that don't make me look more ignorant than I am to ask the drivers. I transcribe quotes to make sure I'm correct, that is if I was lucky enough to make it to the press conference in time. Thank goodness at events such as the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard a lot of the quotes are tanscribed by track staff. But, if I'm not present I might not get the context of the conversation. Once this is all done, I write the story(s). That part takes me a lot more time than seasoned writers such as Hayes, DiPrimio, and Blake Sebring. Those guys can bang out a story. Finally, I read through the story to make sure it makes sense then send it off to The News-Sentinel.

This year I tried my hand at shooting video to go with the still photos, but with my other duties I just didn't have time to edit and process the raw footage.

I suppose that just about covers what I do in one day at the track.

Oh, then I get to hike with all that gear about a quarter mile or more out to my car in the media parking lot. Follow that up with a dinner stop and 2-hour drive ... if I'm going home.

Stats: 2 full-size digital SLR cameras (sometimes 3)
400mm f2.8 lens
300mm f2.8 lens
70-200mm f2.8 lens
16-35mm f2.8 lens
50mm f1.4 lens
1.4x teleconverter
waist pack
Extra batteries and chargers
Flash cards
Audio recorder w/external microphone
Computer bag with laptop
point and shoot digital camera for web-sized video
a lot of other miscellaneous crap I probably don't really need

Total weight: around 40-65 pounds of gear
Total miles walked during one day: upwards of 5
Total hours: 14-20 depending on the day
Total meals: 2
Total restroom visits: 1 at the track and 1 at dinner

Amount of perceived appreciation for what it takes to cover a race such as the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard: negligible

More Photos for Saturday at the Brickyard

News-Sentinel photos by Chad Ryan

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Sorenson captures Brickyard Pole

News-Sentinel photos and story by Chad Ryan

Reed Sorenson captured his first Nextel Cup Series pole position on Saturdya to become the youngest driver to win the pole for a major race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. NASCAR rookie Juan Pablo Montoya will join him on the front row as the Chip Ganassi Racing teammates claimed the top two spots for Sunday’s Allstate 400 at the Brickyard Nextel Cup Series race.

Running second in the qualifying order, Sorenson posted the fast lap of 184.207 mph that held up as 47 other drivers tried to knock him off the top spot.

“This is a great place to get our first pole,” Sorenson said. “I’m pretty excited. I know it means a lot to Chip (Ganassi) and for everybody involved, and hopefully we can stay up there all day (Sunday). I think we’ve got a pretty good racecar.”

With David Stremme’s qualifying position, Ganassi placed his whole team in the top 12 spots.

“We showed up here today, and all our cars were quick,” Ganassi said. “We were working as a team, and it paid off.”

Rounding out the top five spots, Ryan Newman qualified third, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., took the fourth spot and Kasey Kahne drove into fifth. Earnhardt took the track first in the qualifying order and ran a lap speed of 183.419 mph. He had been running in the top five all day during practice, and fast lap during practice would’ve put him in the second position.

Other notables were Mark Martin at No. 13 and Tony Stewart at 14. Last year’s race winner, Jimmie Johnson qualified at 19 and Jeff Gordon came in 21st.

The 14th running of the Allstate 400 is set to start at 2:00 p.m. Sunday and will be broadcast live on ESPN.

For more race coverage go to and the new community photo sharing site CU

Juan Pablo Montoya, left, talks to J.J. Yeley on pit road during qualifications on Saturday for the 14th running of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.

More pics to come

Tony Stewart story for Saturday

News-Sentinel photos and story by Chad Ryan

Winning relieves pressure. Few people understand that better than Tony Stewart. When the second half of the NASCAR season kicks off Sunday in Indianapolis, Stewart won’t be feeling the pressure.

Winning two weeks ago in Chicago, Stewart snapped a 20-race winless streak. After his first win of the season and a week away from racing, he says now is a good time to start having fun. Stewart looks to continue the party at his favorite race in the Nextel Cup Series: the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.

“If you have to have a streak when you don’t win and then you get your first win, and it’s about a week before you come (to Indy), that’s the week to do it,” Stewart says. “If you get a good package here, it’s a good package for other racetracks we have to run in that 10-week stretch that get you to the end. So, if you run good here, you got a good shot of doing well the rest of the time.”

Statistics say drivers who win in Indianapolis have better than just a good shot of doing well through the rest of the season. Six of the 12 Brickyard winners, including Stewart in 2005, went on to win the Series championship. Stewart dismisses that fact as a “neat stat.”

“We still race them one race at a time, so anything can happen,” Stewart says. “If you’re a betting person, you always bet on the odds, but there’s no guarantees. I’d rather bet on a guarantee.”

It took seven tries for Stewart to win at Indy. Stewart considers the Brickyard his home track having grown up minutes from the speedway and making the annual trek to watch the Indy 500 with his father.

“It’s my home race, obviously,” Stewart says. Growing up in Indiana and every year watching the Indy 500 and the whole month of May leading up to it, a race at the Brickyard is more than just a regular points race. It’s always been a big race to all of the Cup drivers, but then when you grow up in Indiana, it just makes it that much more important.”
The betting person can be guaranteed one thing: Stewart wants to win it again. He says he now knows what it takes to make it happen.

“Definitely last year, the race level wasn’t as intense,” Stewart says. “It wasn’t that we weren’t trying to win, it’s that now, you go out with no pressure on you. Now you can just go out and focus on and have the knowledge of what you got there before. You know what it takes to win, and that’s half the battle.”

One feature of the track at Indy that makes it difficult for NASCAR drivers is the flatter, non-banked turns that are separated by straight-aways, giving the track four 90-degree turns instead of two 180-degree turns. Stock cars don’t have as much down force as Indy cars do, forcing drivers to work the brakes harder in the turns. It is especially important that stock cars are handled correctly in the first and third turns. The front and back stretches are long compared to other tracks, allowing the drivers to push the speed.

“I think the biggest thing is the way we ran at Chicago,” Stewart says. “The package is pretty good. It’s not the same setup, obviously, but the approach is the same.”

Right now Stewart’s approach is to stay relaxed during this stretch of the season.

“Every day, I wake up, I’m pretty happy, so everyday is just a new day, Stewart says. “It’s not about, really, stretches, you just go out and do what you do, and we’re having fun as a race team, being able to do what we do. I’m having fun as a driver …”

For more race coverage go to and the new community photo sharing site CU

Foggy start

It's quite a foggy start to the day here at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Practice is set to begin at 8:00 a.m., but crews are working to dry the track. I'm sure the practice will be pushed back, but no announcements have been made yet about when that might be.

Finally, an internet connection ...

Yesterday's track activities, as you know by now, were rained out. There was a brief time where we thought the cars might roll out to the track, but the rain kicked up again as crews worked to dry the track. Finally, officials shut it down from good around 6:00.

Members of Jeff Burton's crew hang out in the team garage during a rain delay on Friday that later forced NASCAR officials to shut down practice sessions for Sunday's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Kevin Harvick, left, and Tony Stewart look back as a friend jokes with Stewart in the team garage during a rain delay on Friday that later forced NASCAR officials to shut down practice sessions for Sunday's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Jeff Gordon speaks to the media during a press conference during a rain delay on Friday.

Tony Stewart smiles as he talks with a member of his crew in the garage during a rain delay on Friday that later forced NASCAR officials to shut down practice sessions for Sunday's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Country music singer Tracy Lawrence performs during a concert at the Pagoda Plaza at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Live from the Brickyard

OK, well, I'm not live at the Brickyard yet. It's actually 1:40 a.m., and as is usually the case, I am still awake trying to get things together. I will, however, be leaving home in just a few hours to race to Indianapolis Motor Speedway where I'll be posting content all weekend. I plan to post more pictures than anything else because I'll be shooting and writing stories for The News-Sentinel - and I can only handle so much writing.

Later today, (Friday 07/27) I'll be shooting practice sessions, a Tracy Lawrence concert and interviewing Tony Stewart. Saturday is qualifying. I'll post a link to a story for the paper, car and driver pictures from the day and if I'm not burnt to a crisp, I'll stick around and shoot the Gretchen Wilson concert. I'll try to get some stuff up on Sunday, but I can't promise anything there as it will be a LONG day, and I'll be hauling the usual 50 pounds of photo gear for countless miles walking around the track to get photos from various angles.

Oh yeah, I'll try to work in some fan photos too. The only problem with that is my wife thinks I just run around taking pics of ladies allowing as much of their bare skin as is legally possibe to soak up the sun. I got in trouble because of some pictures from Miami Beach during the Super Bowl. I tried to explain that most of the 10 people who read this blog are males, and I was only catering to my audience. That argument wasn't well-received. So this time, I'll provide balanced coverage.

Anyway, if NASCAR is your thing, check here and let me know what you think. My bosses at The News-Sentinel would like to know that my efforts are worth the sacrifice of sending me out of town for a whole weekend.

Next stop ... Terre Haute.

Monday, July 16, 2007

More racing to come

Recently, I've been covering motorsports for The News-Sentinel. Up to now, all of my experience has been gained providing the paper with photo coverage of the Indy 500 for the last few years. This year, however, I am writing about racing as well, and it started with a story I did about Baer Field Speedway a few weeks ago.

It was my first time at the speedway, and I was a little surprised at the speeds those cars can get to on such a short track. I can also say with certainty, those race drivers don't do it for the money. The payouts were somewhat less than I expected they might be. In some case, I bet the payout for winning doesn't cover the team's cost of the fuel used during a weekend. Baer Field pictures can be found here.

Last week, I travelled to Rossburg, Ohio, to cover a race at Eldora Speedway. NASCAR's Tony Stewart owns the half-mile dirt track that sits out in the middle of nowhere but boasts tremendous history providing a starting point for several hall of fame drivers careers, including A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti. NASCAR drivers Kasey Kahne, Dave Blaney and Stewart entered Tuesday's race in the winged sprint car division.

Although the NASCAR drivers said they were there to compete, the best finish of the group was Kahne's fourth place. Afterward, thought, the placingg didn't really matter to those guys. They were there to have some fun without all the pressure that the Nextel Cup Series brings. I had heard that Stewart was hard on the media, but aside from having to wait a long time for a short interview, I found him to be relaxed, quite personable and easy to talk to. Although it made a long night for me, I didn't mind too much. Stewart and the others signed hundreds, if not thousands, of autographs so I took the opportunity to talk to some fans to try to get some inside information about the NASCAR fanatacism. I talk to some nice folks who waited all day for a chance to meet one of the drivers.

During Stewart's endless line of autograph signing, he talked to one fan who asked when he was going to get it done again. Stewart told the guy he hoped to be back in Victory Lane soon. Well, Stewart made that happen Sunday with a win in the USG Sheetrock 400 in Chicago. Maybe the fun he had on the dirt track Tuesday was enough to help deal with the pressure. Maybe not, but it must have been nice to get away from the big time to take a step back. I plan to ask Stewart about that when I meet up with the crowd down in Indy for the Brickyard weekend. Until then, I plan to spend some time learning a little more about the racing world.

More Eldora Photos can be see on The News-Sentinel's new community photo sharing website named CU: here.

"All photographs and content within are produced by the author and are strictly copyright protected. No content from this site may be reused or reproduced in any way without author's written permission."