Activities cranked up Friday morning as we settled into 3 more days of track-side routine with a full schedule of practice sessions, qualifications and races. The weather couldn’t be better, and the seating for all events was open seating – wander around and plant wherever you want! I’m pretty happy with all the action from my front terrace!
Tom and Micah started their engines early this morning, as soon as they heard the Ferrari boys take the track. They headed to “the 90” seats – a long way away from where we are camped because you have to leave the inside of the track through the tunnel and make your way all around the outside of the track. But, when I walked along the front-stretch grandstands I could spot them (the only ones in the stands!) and could see them waving at me! So close . . . . but so far to walk to join them! Later . . . boys!
I satisfied myself walking around our general area and getting the lay of the land . . . and almost ran right into Simon Pagenaud just a few MoHo’s down from us. I know those drivers don’t always like having cameras shoved in their face, so I hid behind a truck and used my telephoto to zoom in on him!
Tom and Micah made a pit-stop back at the our pitts for fuel -- BBQ pork sandwiches -- and then geared up for their afternoon session. Tom’s hip was sour, but there is a great network of shuttling golf carts standing by for free transportation, and that cut down tremendously on the walking.
They were back at 6:00 and ready to go out to eat in downtown Watkins Glen– Micah treated Tom and I to a 38th anniversary dinner at a local BBQ/Brewery café.
By 8:30 Saturday morning the boys headed out for seats in the 90’s Grandstand. I waited for awhile and then followed, on foot. I got less than half the distance when a golf cart stopped and picked me up and bounced me the rest of the way through the tunnel and out and around the track. I found Tom and Micah on the top row of the Senaca Grandstand. The purpose of my trip was to learn my way around the track, and to grab some cash from Tom’s wallet. I stayed 10 minutes, helped myself to Tom's billfold, and took off. Micah pointed out a road that would take me down the front-stretch, where there was a bridge over the track back to my home turf. Several carts stopped to offer a ride, but I needed the long walk to justify the lazy afternoon I was planning! Here are some pictures from the Senaca Grandstand -- this is where Tom and Micah will watch the race.
The Indy Lights race completed and there was a celebration of sorts at the Victory Lane platform – the announcer had a great, strong voice, but there were few people in attendance to watch the presentations to the racers.
Qualifications for tomorrow’s Indy car race were in the afternoon and only took 1 ½ hours. The boys returned to our garage for --- BBQ ribs, sweet potatoes, and broccoli. Micah took a late-night run out and around the track, and ran into Hinchcliff out reconnoitering with his crew. Tom and I went to bed.
Tom and Micah suited up early race-day morning and drove the truck over to “The 90” and the Seneca Grandstand – climbed to the top row, and anchored down their seats for the race. They were back at 7:30, and I got a picture!
We were out walking around the garage area as the drivers arrived at their driver meeting. We watched as they went in, and hung around to watch as they came out 30 minutes later! Then we continued taking in the sights and sounds of the neighborhood. The race was scheduled to start at 2:37!
I enjoyed watching the driver introductions as they took place on a large dias in the middle of the track. This year's USA Little League team World Champs were lined up on the stage to high five/low five the drivers across the stage. Unfortunately, the pictures of the drivers were taken through the safety fence. It was fun to watch as Helio Castroneves gave James Henchcliff some pointers on his upcoming "Dancing With the Stars" gig.
Finally, the announcer called for people to clear the track, and the drivers reported to those beautiful cars.
From my vantage point at the start/finish line, I was able to zoom directly across the track and shoot a picture of the Silvermine. I also walked to the end of my grandstand to view the Senica stands where Tom and Micah were seated on the top row. Then I hustled back to the center point for the final pre-race ceremonies -- the Star Spangled Banner, a prayer, and a sky-diving appearance.
Now there was only one thing left to do -- start the engines and start the race. I had a to readjust my usual race understanding as the cars raced the wrong way -- clockwise -- around the track. Tom and Micah saw the cars come right towards them on the first lap and snapped this picture.
I now faced with my biggest challenge with my new Sony a6000 camera. I set it for shutter speed priority at 1/4000 of a second, and set it for 3 continuous shoots at a touch . . . it was to be a real test of the ability of the camera to stop this cars as they crossed in front of me going over 200 mph. The down side of that was that I quickly shot a hundred pictures in the first 3 laps and figured that I didn't want to have to preview and send all the extra pictures to the garbage! Enough to say, the camera worked well for stopping action in it's track -- from the top row of the grandstand.
My next camera test was to walk down the steps, closer to the track, to see if the camera could stop those cars at close range. A+!!!
At that point I figured I could keep up with the race very nicely from my lounge chair under my awning, so I made my way back to the Silvermine. What a wonderful place to be engulfed by the sounds of the race over the loudspeaker, and to listen as Scott Dixon drove to a victory.
Tom and Micah came back, and we had a hamburger grill-out to celebrate our last night at the track. We ate with a front-row seat of the garage area as it was completely dismantled, leaving the parking beside us vacant. The drivers were on their way to Sonoma, California -- and Monday morning we would be on our way home! For me, this was a completely eye-opening experience of Indy racing! Will we go again next year . . . . YES!
We don’t go camping any more . . . we go ‘streamin’ ! The “SIlvermine and His” is our 2018 25' Airstream Serenity with Salsa interior and front twin beds., and ‘streamin’ is the name we use to describe our adventures. Stream along as we document everything from weekend trips to longer summer excursions and full-blown vacations. You know what they say: if you’re not in an Airstream – you’re just camping!
Tom & Ella Brown