Driver Debrief: A day as an INDYCAR Photographer

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Before he took to the oval for the Freedom 100, Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires competitor Neil Alberico spent an afternoon in Turn 3 of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a member of the INDYCAR photo staff.

The 23-year-old Carlin Racing driver became interested in photography while in school and shot Verizon IndyCar Series practice on May 19. He was mentored during the day by his friend and INDYCAR staff photographer Chris Owens. He shared his thoughts about the experience with IndyCar.com’s Arni Sribhen.

I love art photography and have always been intrigued by photo composition and things like that. I took some classes in photography and really enjoyed shooting traditional photography and using film and learning how to develop it. I have a bunch of cameras at home and use them more as a hobby.

Neil Alberico shoots photosI’ve been friends with Chris (Owens) through racing in the Mazda Road to Indy, but we’re usually both working when we are the track, so it was really cool to get to hang out with him while we checked out the Speedway. 

He took me up to the flagstand and then he took me to the exit of (Turn) 3 where we watched those guys run.  Everyone just bottoms out then, and it can get crazy there.

I was partially out there shooting photos, but I was also studying the track for when I get to go out in my own Indy Lights car. You get a real sense of how fast the cars are going when you are two feet from an Indy car with only a guardrail separating you from them.

Chris had me shooting with a big, long lens. I had a smaller, wider lens when I was in the flagstand. It’s really hard to track cars coming through the corner. You have to track them really early and then follow them. You have to have your body positioned for where you want to take the shot. You have to set yourself up, track them, shoot and then hope that you got the composition at the very end.

I was trying to frame up the cars with a PennGrade banner and a wing and wheel from the Speedway and hoping that the car was in the frame and in focus. I shot like 200-something photos and only a few were “reasonable.” That’s what Chris said:  I was “a reasonable” photographer. I’ll take that.

It was super fun to be on the other side of the fence, literally. I wish I could do it again.

* All Photos Below: IMS Photo / Neil Alberico

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