Juan Pablo Montoya on the track for the 2015 Angie's List Grand Prix of Indianapolis at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Shooting at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

This year I will be shooting a few days at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I have been looking forward to this for a couple of months now, and I was super excited to get out to the track yesterday to shoot. I have never shot Indy car before. I have just shot a few ARCA races here and there. This was a chance to shoot some beautiful race cars that can really fly. Over the course of the last couple of weeks I have leaned very heavily on my friend Steve Kinnett who has shot at the speedway before. My constant tweets about this and that had to get annoying at some point. I really just needed to get a feel for this track. I was given some great advice over the course of the last couple of weeks that led to some nice photos. I also stumbled upon a couple of shooting locations that I liked as well. For the most part I stayed away from the straightaways. I wanted to see the cars in the corners. I will show you a few of the turns that I liked the best. This was a fun practice to shoot. I think that shooting the cars on the road course would be much more thrilling than shooting them on the big track. The big track has the history, but the road course has the action. Maybe after shooting the cars on the big track next week I will come away with a different outlook though.

Sebastien Bourdais on the track for the 2015 Angie's List Grand Prix of Indianapolis at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Turns 12 & 13

I started off shooting here because of extensive planning and research. Actually I stopped at the first place that I could shoot the cars to give it a go. I started off looking back into turn 13 shooting the cars head of as they came off of the turn. Again this was because it was the first place I could shoot the cars. I moved down to a spot with a hole in the fence to shoot the cars head on as they entered turn 13. This was an okay location, but it was missing something.

Juan Pablo Montoya on the track for the 2015 Angie's List Grand Prix of Indianapolis at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Turn 7

Turn seven was my next stop. I shot the cars as they came down a long straightaway with a lot of Indy Car signage behind them. I liked the idea of the shot, but I really could have used a little height to get over the safety barrier. I found a good location with the best background, and I was able to get a few shots off before I was told that it was not safe to shoot there. This was a good idea for a shot that was a little wider. Believe it or not I put my 1.4x converter on here to get a little extra reach. The crash barricade was in my way closer so I went out further to make my wide shot. The converter stayed on the rest of the day as I wanted to get in tighter on the cars.

Marco Andretti on the track for the 2015 Angie's List Grand Prix of Indianapolis at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Pedestrian Bridge

Most of the pedestrian bridge that crosses the track has a barrier on it so that you cannot see out of it. Right at the end though it has an area that you can shoot through. It may not be the best angle on the cars, but it was a nice way to shake things up a bit. I like to try and get a different point of view, and this was it.

Ryan Hunter-Reay on the track for the 2015 Angie's List Grand Prix of Indianapolis at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Turn 8

I found my favorite spot here at turn eight shooting from the exit of the turn. I really liked the look here as the cars came off of seven rolling into eight. There was a nice rumble strip, and a decent background if you moved around enough. I started off shooting the turn straight on, and then quickly realized that it was not the best angle. My background was filled with trucks and people sitting around. I moved more towards turn nine, and that is where I sat for a while. I wanted to move, but I was really liking the photos that I was making from the spot I had found. I think that I stayed here the longest, and I achieved the best results here. At the end of the first practice I decided to find a new location for the second practice though.

Helio Castroneves on the track for the 2015 Angie's List Grand Prix of Indianapolis at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Turn 6

My final location for the day was shooting into the exit of turn six from the bottom of the spectator mounds. I stood just to the side of the TV camera platform to get a good shot back into the turn. The cars had a similar roll off of turn 5 into 6 as I saw at turn eight. I was a little farther away though to get a new angle. I had some signage as my background that I normally would avoid, but I thought it was better than some of the other things that could have been in the background. From where I stood I could also play with some panning on the straight away from turn six into turn seven. This was probably my second favorite location on the day. I needed to put the 1.4x converter on my 400mm here though to get the reach that I wanted.

Kyle Connery on the track for the 2015 Pro Mazda at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway


I tried some panning just to kill some time while waiting for the Indy cars to come back out. I really don’t know any of the drivers in the lower series so I decided to have some fun with them. I kept creeping lower and lower with my shutter speeds until I got down to an 8th of a second. When you are shooting something that fast with a shutter speed that slow your hit rate will not be very high. When you do hit though it looks amazing. The background which was not much to look at turns into a very cool background of smooth lines. You don’t come away with many photos here, but the ones that you do make become instant keepers. Both the shot above as well as the shot at the top of the post with Juan Pablo Montoya were made at a tenth of a second. The shot of Juan Pablo was made at turn 12 while the shot above was made at the straightaway between turns six and seven.

More to Come

I will post a little more on my practice day in the next couple of days. I have a lot of photos to share, but I really have not gone through most of them yet. Once the busy weekend is done I will have a few more for you to see.


About Pinola Photo

I am a sports and lifestyle photographer based in West Lafayette, IN home of Purdue University. I cover sports for Big Ten teams as well as other colleges. You can follow me on twitter @pinolaphoto. You can also view my website at www.davewegielphoto.net

4 responses »

  1. Now I’m jealous.
    Love the shot with the IMS logo at the back.
    Have fun!

    • Pinola Photo says:

      That was amazingly fun, and anyone can get to those spots to shoot. I imagine that it will be the closest I will be to the cars while they are on track during this month at the track.

  2. Steve Boer says:

    Love the panning. So hard, but so satisfying when you get a keeper!

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