|2011 IZOD Indycar Series Champ Dario Franchitti|
The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is barely a week away for the IZOD Indycar series teams, and with it surely will come bittersweet moments. This will be the first time for the series to return to action in anger since losing Dan Wheldon at Las Vegas last October. A street on the circuit has been renamed in Danny's honor; 2012 Indy 500 tickets are now out with his likeness honoring his 2011 500 win; this race was first won by him on 2005; and his wife and children still call St. Pete home, a place which Danny adopted and which adopted him. Bittersweet indeed.
I wish I were shooting the St. Pete race, as well as the rest of the races in the series this year. If you follow me @alleygroup on Twitter or have seen my website, you know the kind of motorsports photo work I am capable of producing. But until someone hires me to shoot for their team or sponsor, I have other fish to fry right now which will keep me away from racetracks for awhile. I am wrapping up my basketball officiating this weekend and will have done 79 youth games since last October, nearly equivalent to a full NBA regular season. Soccer officiating is starting up this weekend also, so that will keep me busy and help pay the bills. In addition, the school year where I am currently teaching is 75% complete and I must finish my Marian University internship portfolio by the end of April to get my full time teaching license in May. As a result it looks like I may not be able to get back to shooting motorsports until the end of April. I have the ARCA race at Salem Speedway penciled in, then the May NASCAR weekend at Talladega and then Indy 500 practice, qualifications and the race the rest of May. Somewhere in the mix, I must find work for the summer and a full time teaching job for the 2012-2013 school year.
Whew! Lest anyone think I'm spewing sour grapes, rest assured that I consider myself blessed by the experiences I have had since deciding to make a career change in October 2009. Keeping busy has not been a problem, although making a living has been challenging at times. Some of my best experiences have come at racetracks and I've met lots of great people in racing since I started shooting at Indy in 1984. My last Indycar race was at Kentucky last fall, two weeks before the fateful Las Vegas finale, and ironically that may have been the last Indycar race at Kentucky - ever. That would be a shame, but this year's schedule of 16 events should still provide the open wheel thrills and stiff competition for which Indycar is renowned.
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