All I can say is what a perfect racing event Labor Day weekend! Put Watkins Glen on your schedule for Labor Day next year if you want to experience some of the best racing in North America at one of the most beautiful road courses in the world.
The Glen did not disappoint the fans as the weather was as good as it gets and the track was in pristine condition with its new surface for the drivers. Speeds were incredible at an average 146 MPH over the 3.37 mile road course that includes some of the most extreme elevation changes of any road circuit in North America. For photographers it was paradise with low humidity and clear air. (I got some beautiful shots of the opening ceremony sky diver demonstration with Lake Seneca, 5 miles away in the background.)
The Glen offers a family friendly atmosphere and the campgrounds were among the best of any race venue out there. I told my wife, who does not attend the races with me, honey you have to go just for the camping and the atmosphere- even if you don't want to watch the race. .
One point for anyone that seriously wants to capture this event in pictures- bring your hiking shoes and be physically ready for the place as it will test your ability to roam the whole arena on foot. That is one of the reasons I love Watkins Glen because it is a challenge and an opportunity to test camera and gear. Over the years I have learned the shortcuts and the best places to be at the best times.
Covering the action starts at 7:00AM in the paddock and it involves making choices for a one person operation. I rotated between taking close ups of the cars in the paddock area with mechanics swarming over and under them and going out to the track viewing areas and capturing shots as the cars practiced. The most important decision is where to be at the start of the race, keeping in mind you need to get to all the best viewing angles around the track before the race ends. That is where experience pays off and every time I go to the Glen, I learn of ways to improve my efficiency in covering as much as one person on foot can. I hope my attempt to bring you the best meets with your approval!
This is one of two posts to bring you what I captured, sorry for the delay as I stayed in New York a week longer than expected so I could photograph the US Vintage Grand Prix September 11th at the Glen. (Future posts coming on that). I also had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with Kip Zeiter, staff member at the International Motor Racing Research Center and Volunteer, John Wilhelm. I can't wait to visit the facility down in town. Also, I want to say thanks for the hospitality displayed by track management- the coffee and doughnuts at concession stand 5 Saturday morning with track president Michael Printup and his family was a nice touch and demonstrates the spirit of a fan focused emphasis that is good for business. Keep up the good work! Enjoy the photo gallery:
The trip down Lake Seneca to the Glen at sunrise.
Paddock Tune Up
Opening Ceremony Sky Divers
Montoya's Car Is Unloaded
Scott Dixon- Eventual Winner
Simon Pagenaud leads James Hinchcliffe
Montoya Slows For A Caution
Alex Rossi- Rookie Indy Winner
Ending on A Patriotic Note -See Post #2 Soon