Chicago: Race Pro

It’s been so long since my coverage of the Peak Antifreeze Indy 300 – the last Indy race of the 2007 season – and honestly, I can’t remember much. I met the new Team Ethanol Driver, Ryan Hunter-Reay and worked with him throughout the weekend. Sweet guy. I also met PJ Chesson at the ethanol pump promotion. He’s one of those mischievous troublemakers, you know, the ones that are fun to be around. Acted like he was chugging E85 fuel from the pump. I have a pic of that somewhere… it should be in one of the albums.

The track was set up for various levels of access for the media. I didn’t count on getting anything special because, of course, I was a track rookie. And at first, I did just have the basic access. But, that didn’t last long. ; ) The Chicagoland head photog, Steve Snoddy, decided to take me under his wing. He hooked me up with all kinds of cool access. The best part was getting to go to the drop gates.

So what are the drop gates you ask? Okay, there’s always a fence that surrounds the track and getting close to that fence is restricted for anyone without special permission. Along this restricted fence there are window-like gates that you can open. Then you get to stick your head and your camera through the gates to try and snap pics of cars racing below you at speeds of 200, 210+. Good luck! You’re literally bending over the track, hovering with your cam dangling just about 10 ft above the cars that are whizzing past. Each time the IndyCars raced by, you were blasted by a huge gust of rubber tire debris. At one point, there was a wreck on the track about 50 ft in front of the drop gate I was shooting at… you could feel the liquids from the cars raining down on you along with a cloud of rubber tire pellets. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pics of that crash, because, literally seconds before it happened, another photog suggested I turn and shoot the cars from the back. The minute I turned around… BAM! I tried to whip around and snap some shots, but the other photog with me dragged me away from the fence… after he got the shot that is! I wanted to pout about that one for a little bit… but I didn’t. I did get a shot of another wreck, though it wasn’t nearly as bad as the first one. The whole experience was absolutely exhilarating!

I had tons of little pellets embedded in my hair by the time I was through. The first race I got to shoot from the drop gates was actually the ARCA race. During Indy race weekends, there are usually a lot of other smaller races going on at the track as part of the festivities. My pics from the ARCA race aren’t great. I was getting used to the new angle and technique of shooting at the drop gates, and the sun was just reflecting off the cars too brightly.

During the actual Indy race, I was all over the place. At the pits, at the drop gates, at the turns and victory lane. Dario Franchitti won the race, a win that also gave him the 2007 Indy Series Championship Title.

All in all I think I did well enough shooting wise. Steve Snoddy said I’d be one of his official Indy photogs for next year… wouldn’t that be sweet??!

ARCA Race Photo Album

PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 Practice

Autographs, Pump Promotion, Garage Tour

Indy 300 Qualifiers

2007 PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 at Chicagoland

While in Joliet, I did manage to sneak away to downtown Chicago. During my first getaway, I met up with Dustin for an evening of lots of random fun (met him last time my last Chi-town trip… he’s a fellow couchsurfer and now great friend!). First, we met up with his friend Raphael… who was… a complete riot. The best way to describe him would be a “sophisticated tough guy,” if there ever was such a thing. But, I did overhear him say to a group of fellow boxers: “I’d like to fancy myself as a tough guy.” Fancy… tough guy. Do you see my amusement in this? This witty knuckle-head was full of funny one-liners. Some intended… others not so much. ; ) He had me laughing ridiculously all night.

The three of us then met up with Dustin’s boxer friends at a local pizza pub. They were quite welcoming and were a particularly interesting bunch. It was tons of fun just kicking it with them and chowing down on some pizza.

Next, Dustin, Raphael, one of the boxers (who’s name escapes me) and I headed to Kingston Mines for some good ‘ol soul-searching blues. We rocked out and danced to the music and it was so fun! Oh yea, Raphael got us in practically for free because he knew one of the bartender’s boyfriends. That bartender was awesome by the way! One minute she’s serving up drinks, the next she’s stepping in for one of the drummers, taking charge of the music and setting a mood of soul. There was also a group of dancers at the bar. They were all dressed up and would take the dance floor by storm, twirling and jigging. They were fun to watch!

After that we (sans unknown boxer guy) headed to the back deck at Raphael’s to enjoy in the cool, end-of-summer, twighlight. I managed to snag the hammock and I swayed with the light breeze in a sweet, drowsy bliss. Underneath the stars. The smell of fresh flowers and plants…

I can’t remember what time it was when I finally tore myself off that hammock and headed back to my hotel.

After the race wrapped up that Sunday, I headed to downtown Chicago to meet up with Dustin and Ira (one of the guys I surfed with during my last visit to Chicago). Dustin, Ira and I ate at the little bistro in Centennial Park. Then, the plan was for Dustin and I to go check out the infamous Art Institute of Chicago. Instead, we spent the remainder of my time in Chi-town tracking down my rental car. It had been towed. Yeah, no fun. BUT, Dustin and I did wander through the mucky lower city streets where Batman was filmed… because, you guessed it, it’s very Gotham City like. What can I say… it was a great adventure!

Back on the Airwaves…

Most of you know, before I started doing my own online multi-media contracting work, I worked for a statewide radio network in Missouri: the Missourinet. That meant my oh-so-smooth voice was all over the Show-Me-State. Before that, my voice and video was all over Italy, Australia, Japan and on EWTN in the U.S. with my T.V. work for RomeReports. And still before that my voice, vid, and pretty little face were plastered all over mid-MO while I worked for KOMU… but back to the point. I’m back. This time I have one-minute “Land Show” features airing on 20 radio stations throughout Georgia, Florida and Alabama every week day. That’s in addition to my web work. Pretty cool!

You can listen to a few below. The commercial plugs haven’t been added to these so you’ll notice the tease is directly followed by the story:

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No More Ties for Christmas Dad!

Mothers, daughters, sisters, wives and girlfriends. Here’s the answer to what to get the men in your life for Christmas… and any other occasion for that matter.

“Guy’s guys” who were previously left out in the cold when it came to gift registries and giving, now have a home on the Internet — www.ManCrib.com. The ManCrib.com registry site, launching today, will be the internet parallel to that one place in the home — garage, den or basement — where a man can be a man.

The site will provide men with a one-stop-shop to ensure they receive the manly gifts they really want such as work benches, HDTV’s, tools and grills. ManCrib.com will offer the perfect gift for any occasion, including holidays, birthdays, Father’s Day, “man-registering” for a wedding or house warmings.



My Little Bro…

A few pics I just found of my brother Jacob playing Wii. He always gives me the “look” when I try to take his picture…

Gotta Get Rid of the Car…

Those who know me know my car is the bane of my existence. While I do appreciate being able to drive around… it is literally one thing after another in car trouble for me. Latest couple of incidents… I get hit by an acquaintance. He doesn’t want me to turn into his insurance, because as it turns out and which he didn’t tell me, his policy was null and void because he didn’t pay the premium. He then almost got me involved in insurance fraud. I called him out on it… have since received a check from him for most of the damages… still waiting for the remainder $235 he owes me.

Next, I get a flat tire… but this is the third flat in just 4 months. Plus, it was one of the new tires from the first flat in this series of three flats. Unfortunately, that flat was replaced in Columbia and I’m in St. Charles. The shop in Columbia said I had to get the tire to them in Como or I was out of luck then for them helping me get it fixed. I appreciated that. But, I took it to a shop in St. Charles, who has taken good care of me and my family over the years. They replaced the tire for free informing me they could just warranty it. How awesome is that?! So, those of you in St. Charles should give your business to Safeway.

Donate Your Calories

How many starving children could you save by losing a few pounds yourself?

“More than you might guess,” says Terry Dunkle, CEO of Diet Power, Inc. His company has launched a new website, www.DonateYourCalories.com, that calculates dollars you’ll save and children you can feed with the calories given up during a weight loss diet.

Tell this new online computer that you’re a 37-year-old, 150-pound woman on a moderate food budget who wants to slim down to 130 by next July 4, for example. Seconds later, it replies that your diet will reduce your grocery bill by $31 a month. Donated to a typical hunger charity using volunteers and surplus food, that’s enough to feed two children full-time.

“‘Donate Your Calories’ is our way of helping to erase one of today’s greatest ironies,” Dunkle says. “While millions go to bed hungry every night, the rest of us are becoming too fat for our own good.”

Overweight, obesity and inactivity have doubled over the past 30 years, and now rank as one of America’s top 10 killers. The Centers for Disease Control estimate deaths at 112,000 a year, mostly from heart disease, cancer, diabetes and stroke. That’s four times the number killed in auto accidents.

Meanwhile, the Rand Corporation has pegged the annual medical and social costs of overweight and obesity at a whopping $950 per U.S. household.

“Donating your calories is a quadruple-win proposition,” Dunkle says. “How else can you improve your health, save hungry children, cut your insurance premiums and build international goodwill without spending an extra dime? Remember, this is money you’re already wasting on overeating.”

Dunkle is inviting hunger charities to link to www.DonateYourCalories.com, which Diet Power is operating as a public service. He is also contributing savings from his own weight loss diet to charity.