It probably doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to figure out the sport which captivates me more than any other… racing. While my career sees me photographing athletes across all types of sports, very rarely do I actually watch the games in which they compete. If anything, I believe it helps me to be unattached to the fanaticism that surrounds them as it lets me be objective and open to seeing art rather than being star stuck and producing imagery that has be done a million times over.
The same cannot be said about race car drivers.
While I have photographed the likes of Danica Patrick, I chose not to talk about racing on set as it would cloud my creative process and no work would get done. Instead, my excitement in my personal photography work has been to photograph the cars that I watched while sitting on the edge of my seat sweating, biting my nails and occasionally jumping and screaming in my living room. From the 1998 Formula 1 car driving by my hero Michael Schumacher to a McLaren F1 driven at Le Mans during the greater years of that racing series, I have been lucky to sit in a studio with some pretty special cars.
Today’s car is no different.
While Indy racing often takes a bit of a backseat in my hierarchy of racing, the passion that it takes to race them exists nonetheless. From time to time I will watch a race, if Formula 1 isn’t on. However every year, I watch one in its entirety, the Indy 500. I even thought of attending this year’s race, however with the insanely large crowds that is expected to attend the 100th running of the race, I decided to stay home and avoid the inevitable panic attack that the crowds bring with them. The Indy 500 isn’t always the most exciting race due to how freakin long it is, but it is the tradition and legacy that makes it so special.
This legacy became so much more special in 2013. To many in the racing world, that was a day that fans and other race car drivers alike shed tears of happiness and celebration, for Tony Kanaan finally won the Indy 500.
For many years, TK (as many refer to him) had been just outside of history, seeing his race end just short of the 500 miles. Yet, even in misfortune that was out of his control, he remained kind and humble. Eleven tries in there was even question if we had seen his last attempt, and it was as if the sun would set on a career before the we could witness it’s golden glow.
Then 2013 came, and Kanaan began his 12th Indy 500. While there was some excitement early on, the world usually tunes in for the finish. Lucky for us all, we tuned into to see Tony leading a racing with very few laps left. Suddenly two other cars collided on track and brought out the yellow flag that the race would finish under. As television cameras panned the pit lane, we saw something very special. Drivers, team owners and press alike were wiping their eyes, for they knew a man that had tried for years was finally experiencing his dream. Tony Kanaan was the Indianapolis 500 winner.
I too was choked up on my couch, clapping at the TV and smiling from ear to ear. He is a man that worked hard and deserved the success that had seemed like it would never come. So you can imagine my surprise when I received a call from a gentleman that collects cars, telling me that he had Tony Kanaan’s Indy 500 winning car and that I was welcome to photograph it. While it isn’t the prettiest racing car ever, it is a significant one that I am grateful to add to my collection of race car images, and equally as happy to share with you today.
In case you missed it, here’s the end of the race from 2013 (fast forward to 16 minutes in for the end and 23 minutes for the driver reactions). Please enjoy, and go watch the 100th running of the Indy 500 this Sunday.