Alex Zanardi watches timing & scoring from the Mo Nunn Racing pits during Friday practice for the 2001 CART race in Portland.
I was surprised when I bought my first pit pass at the CART race in Portland at how much access you were given. You could get pretty close to the pits themselves and watch the drivers come and go and you could later go back near the trailers and see the mechanics work on the cars. It wasn’t easy to get pictures in the pits, as not only would the crew immediately surround the car, but the VIP’s in between the cars and the crowd would also swarm in. In 2001 I decided to try visiting one of the autograph sessions but to get pictures not autographs. I realized this was a mistake and never did it again, as the drivers are mostly looking down to sign things, and it was still very crowded and hard to get pictures. I did get this picture of Cristiano da Matta in his first year at Newman/Haas Racing that I thought came out OK. He’d qualify second in the race but the next year he’d win it outright (and the championship too for that matter, in dominant fashion).
When I bought the Canon 20D in March of 2005, after taking test shots of the cats I went up to Ridgefield to test the camera before going on a trip to Japan. A light drizzle turned into a heavier rain when I came across this muskrat swimming near North Quigley Lake. As I was in the car the camera wasn’t fully exposed to the rain, and I did my best to keep it dry, but I was still a little nervous as it was its first time outside and it didn’t have any weather sealing. Most of the pictures were blurry as the autofocus was still pretty limited, but I enjoyed the improved speed of the camera itself. I used the camera for years and the rain never did it in, even though eventually it would get partially smashed on rocks and have a gaping hole at the top.
I upgraded from the Canon 10D to the Canon 20D in 2005 shortly before a work trip to Japan. Although the cameras were similar, I wanted a quick test before leaving, so I photographed my two favorite models then took a trip to Ridgefield. If Scout wasn’t impressed with my new Canon 20D in 2005, to be fair initially neither was I. It seemed such a tepid upgrade from the 10D on paper that I didn’t order it when it first came out. But a user review months later convinced me that the improvements in operational speed would be welcome, and they were, I used the 20D for years until the shutter packed it in on a hike on Mount Rainier.
Eastern fox squirrels have several color variations in addition to the most common one, including this black-and-white variation in the southeast. My stepfather told me to be on the lookout for them when I visited after he and my mom moved to South Carolina. It was bittersweet when I got to spend some time with this one on a sunny winter day in 2006, as it was a week after my stepfather’s funeral after we lost him too young to cancer.
Mauricio Gugelmin, driving for PacWest Racing, waits in the pits during Friday practice at the 2001 CART race in Portland. This was his last year in not just IndyCars but in racing, I think big crashes of his own and others, combined with the death of a son with health issues, led to his retirement. I’m nostalgic for this era of racing in many ways but one thing I’m glad to see after being away from the sport for years, is how much safer the cars continue to get, and that improvement needs to continue.