After noon at Barber Motorsports Park, I returned trackside to photograph the Star Mazda Series qualifying session for Open Paddock’s coverage of the Mazda Road to Indy. Five minutes after that qualifying, the IndyCars were due to practice again.
I could’ve resumed photographing from the ‘outside’ of Turn 2 or Turn 3, where I’d been yesterday and today for quite long enough, or try a new vantage. So I went to the inside of Turns 2 and 3, onto a landscaped (pruned trees, flowering shrubs) hill around which the race course loops. Some IndyCars roared to life in the distance, rumbled down pit lane, and came into view as they plunged down Turn 1 and onto the course for another practice session.
I enjoyed practicing panning left-to-right as the cars passed ‘below’ me. And after awhile, the rain that was foretold fell gently upon the rolling hills of Alabama. I stood my ground and tried to make some good photos of cars spinning plumes of water off their tires. I thought that as long as the drivers are willing to pound around the track in the rain, I’ll photograph ’em. Eventually the rain was heavier – raining on us, not just gently sprinkling. And I had no shelter to go to.
If I were on the outside of Turn 2, I could’ve walked to my car on muddy parking lawn C to retrieve a poncho or walk to the media center to upload Star Mazda and IndyCar photos before the clouds poured in earnest. But as I was ‘inside’ the race track, I had to await the conclusion of the session to be allowed to cross the track.
‘Okay,’ I thought. ‘This will be red-flagged soon.’ Wrong! Although the rain may have been thicker than I’d like on me and my camera, it wasn’t a deluge that precluded testing IndyCars, with road-course wings, on Firestone rain tires.
So … I waited, watching the timer that’s atop B.M.P.’s scoring pylon. 37 minutes, 39 minutes, 42 minutes (18 minutes remaining in the rain) … And mercifully, before an hour of scheduled practice time elapsed, someone threw the red flag to end the session. Whew. Only Swiss Missile and another competitor were out there, anyway.
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The sky continued to rain as I slowly descended the slick, grassy hill, motioned for permission to cross the ‘cold track,’ jogged across the track, grass verge, and gravel trap, jogged uphill, then jogged through the sports car paddock to B.M.P’s media center. A while later, the grey sky was still raining as I walked to my car, drove to Birmingham, and later as I went to a restaurant, and now as I write. I don’t mind if rain falls all night (and lulls me to sleep) if we can enjoy beautiful, sunny, clear weather on Saturday and Sunday for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by Legacy.
Photos of the rainy practice session (and the morning practice session) will be found in the IndyCar photo gallery.