Helio Castroneves earned a major slice of Indy 500 history Sunday, becoming the fourth driver to win the Greatest Spectacle in Racing for a fourth time. The 46-year-old Brazilian, who now drives for Meyer Shanks Racing, also won the Indy 500 in 2001, 2002 and 2009. This major accomplishment brought back all my memories of working with Helio on a number of assignments for Verizon and mcgarrybowen’s NY office. Let’s go behind the scenes of my two shoots at Charlotte Motor Speedway!
Strapped to the back bumper of a truck and barely a foot off the ground.
Was this risky? The drivers were only going 70 miles per hour. These cars are designed to go 200 mph and generally don’t explode or blow out tires unless they hit the wall or another car, right? With that in mind, I was laughing my fool head off.
You can see the camera car, with me strapped to the back, on the right .
Verizon commissioned me to shoot a campaign for their Indycar sponsorship. While researching racing photos, I found that most were taken with long lenses from the sidelines. Were there unique angles that would put fans into the action? What’s the opposite shooting with long lenses? A super-wide lens mounted on the car. Yeah, let’s do that.
Many hours were spent sketching out plans for this shoot before I even got on a plane to Charlotte.
We spent two days behind the scenes prepping at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and two days shooting.
During pre-pro, we scouted the track and checked out the cars at the garage. We spent a full day with the Penske mechanics rigging cameras to the vehicles to shoot “bumper-cam” shots.
Cameras were mounted next to the driver to shoot across one car to view the second car. Other cameras were mounted over each of the front wheels to get an angle back at our hero vehicle. We also had a set of cameras installed on the back wing to get a forward-facing shot. We might as well attach cameras on the railings of the camera truck too. Finally, my first assistant and I shot handheld while strapped shoulder-to-shoulder above the camera car bumper.
Pre-pro behind the scenes. We worked with a local rigging crew and the Penske crew to determine how and where we could safely attach our gear to the Indy racecars.
For Helio Castroneves, driving 70 miles per hour is boring.
To spice things up, Power tried to come up behind the camera truck and get close enough to touch his bumper to a camera. He didn’t manage it, but it felt like his car was about to slide under our truck.
During a lunch break on the first day, Power and Castroneves previewed some of the initial images from the bumper cameras. When they became awestruck, that was the moment my stomach settled down a bit.
This was the ultimate assignment. I was asked to shoot something new, and I was given the time to do a little of everything. Exciting action, reflective portraits, and I even brought the drone!
Andy is the artist-in-residence, owner, technologist, cook, brewer, and cocktail maker in chief at Andy Batt Studio. He loves to work with a good crew on complex projects and a good coffee cup. No, a good cup of coffee— there’s a difference. On the side, he teaches lighting workshops because he likes giving back to his community.