At the 2002 CART race at Portland, familiar with his success in the Indy Lights feeder series, I wanted a picture of young Townsend Bell, driving that year for Patrick Racing. I came across him giving an interview in the pits and got a picture of him, but was pleased to also get a picture of his steering wheel with the orange body of his car sweeping out past his name. I quit watching racing not long after for a variety of reasons but started watching again when Formula One returned to regular cable on the NBC Sports Network. They also cover some of the IndyCar races and I was pleased to see Townsend again, now providing color commentary for those races, as well as still racing in sports cars (winning at LeMans last year!) and in the Indy 500.
Best known as a great actor and for his extensive charitable work, Paul Newman was also the Newman in Newman/Haas Racing. The team he co-owned had extensive success at the track, although they came close but never won the big race at Indianapolis, I think they won one out of every three races at Portland. Here, Paul watches from the pits during Saturday practice for the 2001 CART race in Portland.
Dario Franchitti sits in his Team KOOL Green car during Sunday practice before the 2002 CART race at Portland International Raceway. As I recall I first became a fan because I liked his helmet when I saw him as a rookie racing for Hogan Racing, but I stayed a fan because he was personable and quick yet fair. He’d eventually win four championships and three Indy 500’s before retiring a few years ago.
Rookie Scott Dixon in his PacWest Racing car during Friday practice for the 2001 CART race at Portland International Raceway. While I spent most of the time focusing on my favorite drivers, I was familiar with Scott from his success in Indy Lights and wanted to get a shot of him in his car. The next year he’d switch to Chip Ganassi Racing where he’d win 4 championships and the Indy 500. He’s currently in contention for the 2017 championship, despite a savage crash at this year’s Indy 500 that almost gave me a heart attack. I love watching him race and am glad I have a photo from the early days.
Mo Nunn in the pits at the 2001 CART race at Portland International Raceway. Although Mo had a long career in motorsports, I first became aware of him when he worked for Chip Ganassi’s racing team. He later started his own team and in 2001 ran two of my favorite drivers, Tony Kanaan and Alex Zanardi, so I was thankful to get a picture of him during the race weekend.
Imagine my surprise a few weeks back to be watching TV and hear that Helio Castroneves was on Dancing With The Stars. I don’t normally watch the show, but Helio was one of my favorite drivers back when I followed open wheel racing. I caught a couple of his appearances and he had the same great attitude and winning smile from when he stormed on the Indy car scene way back when.
This picture of Helio is from June of 2001 at Portland International Raceway, taken as he prepared to climb in the cockpit. He was driving for one of the most storied teams in Indy car racing, Penske Racing, and had just won his first Indy 500 a few weeks earlier (he’d win another the following year). The Penske team switched to a rival league the following year that didn’t race at road tracks like Portland, so this was the last time I got to watch Helio drive in person. I eventually lost interest in racing due to the ridiculous fighting between the rival leagues, but it was still fun to see one of my old favorites pop up in the news again (and go on to win the dance competition no less).