It’s the end of August, and high time I wrote something about my gig as a credentialed media photographer for the Honda Indy Toronto race weekend, back in July.
Each of the past four years that I’ve done this, I’ve made time during race week to get to pre-race publicity events – question and answer sessions with drivers, fan festivals, driver appearances at the children’s hospital, and the like. Although not always directly associated with the race itself, these lend some colour to the run-up to race weekend. Occasionally, these photographs have been used in press releases, and once in a while, picked up by the wider motorsports press. So there can be some value to covering these, although the vast majority of my photos are never used for anything.
However, sometimes things fall nicely into place – as they did this year, when former series champion and popular New Zealander Scott Dixon came into town having just won the previous weekend’s race at the curiously triangular Pocono speedway. Dixon was slated to open Toronto’s Stock Exchange – a perfect Toronto-themed photo op.
With a little extra time, I was able to pose Dixon next to the Honda Indy Toronto show car, complete with its “2inTO” tail logo announcing the two-race doubleheader. As it turned out, this was a fortunate choice – Dixon would go on to win both races. What was an obvious publicity shot became a perfect counterpart to the two victories, just because of a little bit of advance work.
But all of that was still in the future. On race weekend, it’s a given that photos of all of the drivers are needed, both on and off track. Shoot everyone, and by definition you’ve got the winner in there somewhere. Among the others, I photographed Dixon riding his scooter, signing autographs, and participating in a Q&A session with his fans – all good background in case of a victory, or two. And of course, the obligatory on-track shots as well.
After Dixon’s win on Saturday, more coverage on Sunday was an obvious need, so I stationed myself right in front of his spot on the false grid. He had brought his family, including his mother, wife and two daughters, making for a picture-perfect photo op.
And then he ran away with the second race as well, although not without some concern from his strategist and team.
The race again offered up some nice photo opportunities – pit stops, isolation shots of the crew, and more on-track action. But the real highlight came when, with a dozen laps or so left, I escaped the “island” in between pit lane and the front straight and made my way to Winner’s Circle. Where I was unexpectedly stationed on top of the trailer used as a backdrop for the trophy presentations – a location I’ve never shot from before, and a ton of fun. Fortunately, I didn’t drop anything on the winners, and managed to snag both wide scenes showing the media scrum and crowd, and a nice tight one of the podium party itself.
But the shot of the event still has to be this one, from Thursday morning – Dixon, prophetically posed with the doubleheader logo, as yet unaware that he’d be taking home both trophies. Just a little preparation and effort ahead of time, and we end up with the storytelling photo of the weekend – taken long before a single wheel even turned on track.
More photos in four sets in my Autosport Collection.