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SARASOTA, FL - March 29, 2015 -- IndyCar drivers participate in the St. Pete Grand Prix in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  (PHOTO / CHIP LITHERLAND)      SARASOTA, FL - March 29, 2015 -- IndyCar drivers participate in the St. Pete Grand Prix in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  (PHOTO / CHIP LITHERLAND)

SARASOTA, FL - March 29, 2015 -- IndyCar drivers participate in the St. Pete Grand Prix in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  (PHOTO / CHIP LITHERLAND)      SARASOTA, FL - March 29, 2015 -- IndyCar drivers participate in the St. Pete Grand Prix in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  (PHOTO / CHIP LITHERLAND)

SARASOTA, FL - March 29, 2015 -- IndyCar drivers participate in the St. Pete Grand Prix in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  (PHOTO / CHIP LITHERLAND)      SARASOTA, FL - March 29, 2015 -- IndyCar drivers participate in the St. Pete Grand Prix in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  (PHOTO / CHIP LITHERLAND)

SARASOTA, FL - March 29, 2015 -- IndyCar drivers participate in the St. Pete Grand Prix in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  (PHOTO / CHIP LITHERLAND)      SARASOTA, FL - March 29, 2015 -- IndyCar drivers participate in the St. Pete Grand Prix in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  (PHOTO / CHIP LITHERLAND)

SARASOTA, FL - March 29, 2015 -- IndyCar drivers participate in the St. Pete Grand Prix in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  (PHOTO / CHIP LITHERLAND)      SARASOTA, FL - March 29, 2015 -- IndyCar drivers participate in the St. Pete Grand Prix in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  (PHOTO / CHIP LITHERLAND)

SARASOTA, FL - March 29, 2015 -- IndyCar drivers participate in the St. Pete Grand Prix in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  (PHOTO / CHIP LITHERLAND)      SARASOTA, FL - March 29, 2015 -- IndyCar drivers participate in the St. Pete Grand Prix in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  (PHOTO / CHIP LITHERLAND)

SARASOTA, FL - March 29, 2015 -- IndyCar drivers participate in the St. Pete Grand Prix in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  (PHOTO / CHIP LITHERLAND)      SARASOTA, FL - March 29, 2015 -- IndyCar drivers participate in the St. Pete Grand Prix in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  (PHOTO / CHIP LITHERLAND)

SARASOTA, FL - March 29, 2015 -- IndyCar drivers participate in the St. Pete Grand Prix in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  (PHOTO / CHIP LITHERLAND)      SARASOTA, FL - March 29, 2015 -- IndyCar drivers participate in the St. Pete Grand Prix in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  (PHOTO / CHIP LITHERLAND)      SARASOTA, FL - March 29, 2015 -- IndyCar drivers participate in the St. Pete Grand Prix in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  (PHOTO / CHIP LITHERLAND)      ST. PETERSBURG, FL - March 29, 2015 -- IndyCar driver Juan Pablo Montoya celebrates his win with family, crew, and fans during the St. Pete Grand Prix in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. (PHOTO / CHIP LITHERLAND)

 

SARASOTA, FL - March 29, 2015 -- IndyCar drivers participate in the St. Pete Grand Prix in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  (PHOTO / CHIP LITHERLAND)     SARASOTA, FL - March 29, 2015 -- IndyCar drivers participate in the St. Pete Grand Prix in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  (PHOTO / CHIP LITHERLAND)

SARASOTA, FL - March 29, 2015 -- IndyCar drivers participate in the St. Pete Grand Prix in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  (PHOTO / CHIP LITHERLAND)      SARASOTA, FL - March 29, 2015 -- IndyCar drivers participate in the St. Pete Grand Prix in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  (PHOTO / CHIP LITHERLAND)

SARASOTA, FL - March 29, 2015 -- IndyCar drivers participate in the St. Pete Grand Prix in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  (PHOTO / CHIP LITHERLAND)      SARASOTA, FL - March 29, 2015 -- IndyCar drivers participate in the St. Pete Grand Prix in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  (PHOTO / CHIP LITHERLAND)

SARASOTA, FL - March 29, 2015 -- IndyCar drivers participate in the St. Pete Grand Prix in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  (PHOTO / CHIP LITHERLAND)      SARASOTA, FL - March 29, 2015 -- IndyCar drivers participate in the St. Pete Grand Prix in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  (PHOTO / CHIP LITHERLAND)

SARASOTA, FL - March 29, 2015 -- IndyCar drivers participate in the St. Pete Grand Prix in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  (PHOTO / CHIP LITHERLAND)      SARASOTA, FL - March 29, 2015 -- IndyCar drivers participate in the St. Pete Grand Prix in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  (PHOTO / CHIP LITHERLAND)

SARASOTA, FL - March 29, 2015 -- IndyCar drivers participate in the St. Pete Grand Prix in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  (PHOTO / CHIP LITHERLAND)      SARASOTA, FL - March 29, 2015 -- IndyCar drivers participate in the St. Pete Grand Prix in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  (PHOTO / CHIP LITHERLAND)

I’ve never shot IndyCar before this shoot for the fine folks at The Player’s Tribune, but what I learned in a couple days of running around the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg reaffirmed everything I thought it would be from covering other racing:  it’s extremely loud, painfully hot, but so much fun to shoot.  The air smells of exhaust and melting tires and mixed with a hint of turkey legs, cheap beer, and overworking sunscreen.  Luckily access to the athletes (and yes, they’re athletes – one running complaint about misconceptions on their sport I heard from all the drivers I met) is amazing, and all of them want to promote the sport and engage with the fans whenever they can.  The drivers are extremely passionate about their craft, and I spent more time trailer hopping listening to stories from some of the biggest names in IndyCar then actually shooting straight racing action.

There’s no way over a 1.8 mile course to really be everywhere at once as a lone wolf photographer trying to cover a race that winds through hairpin turns on the streets of beautiful downtown St. Petersburg, so I just approached it the way I do for most shoot:  find vibrant, colorful pictures in good light and make pictures I haven’t seen before. Sometimes you’re trying to shoot a car going 200mph through a small hole in a chain link fence and other times you’re climbing parking garages and laying on hot Florida cement to try to make something unusual.  I try not to rely on taking photos given to me my the photo gods, I want to get out there and make my own.  Along the way I spent some quality time with some of the top drivers of the sport, made some fun photos, and worked on this perfect farmer’s tan I have going down here in Florida.

For more, please visit The Players Tribune site here:  http://www.theplayerstribune.com/indycar-photo-gallery/

 

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