Sweat soaked through my t-shirt as I stood in the humid, 86 degree weather at the Iowa Speedway, photographing the 2009 Iowa Corn Indy 250 winner. It was my first time representing the media at an event. I was trying to take it all in and simultaneously capture time-sensitive photographs. The crowd grew wild when Dario Franchitti entered the winner’s circle, stood up in his car and removed his helmet throwing both hands in the air to celebrate his victory. Shutters went off all around me as fans yelled out, requesting autographs.
Prior to lap 250, I spent a good portion of the day running between the media center, hospitality tent, and the Pioneer suite, where I met Chet Culver, the Governor of Iowa. We briefly discussed the detriment of California’s economy and the production of ethanol in the Midwest. I went on a pit tour with the directors of Iowa Corn, attended a press conference with Helio Castroneves, and stood inside the announcer’s box, listening to the latest stats on the competitors.
Before the race began, the Corn Growers gave away a brand new Chevy truck. I was assigned to sit in the back seat of the truck during the giveaway and push balloons out of the door when the winner, who possessed the key to the truck, unlocked it. I sat in the passenger seat as an Indy employee drove the truck onto the track and positioned it in front of the stage. Driving on the track the day of the race was a thrill, even if it was just a Chevy, and not an Indy car. Once we parked, I sat and watched Shawn Johnson, sitting in a cart, waiting for her big introduction to the stage. She flashed a rehearsed smile each time somebody stepped in front of her with a camera, constantly disrupting her privacy.
With all of the rain we have seen, water was bubbling to the surface of the track, threatening a cancellation, the day before the race. But the weather permitted the race to go on, and I walked away with memories that will last a lifetime.