Normally when I head off for a race weekend, I am excited, honored, thrilled and filled with adrenaline to cover the top tiers of motorsport. It’s fun because you know these drivers are the best on the planet at what they do. I’ve walked around NASCAR Sprint Cup garages, had breakfast with Formula One drivers, shared laughs with multiple Le Mans winning drivers and set foot in pretty much every paddock and pit area known to motorsport. But this past weekend, instead of focusing on the professional drivers at the pinnacle of their sport, I had the chance to photograph the up and comers. The teenagers who are the future of racing. Still learning. Still growing. It was a fantastic change of pace.
Together, with my good friend Nick Busato, we were asked to fill in for the normal photographer who covers racing for Mazda in the USA. Our brief included covering the Road to Indy series’ USF2000 and ProMazda. These two championships are primarily made up of teenagers that are past their karting careers and are moving up the ladder toward professional sportscar racing, Indycar and maybe F1. For these drivers of tomorrow, it’s time to get serious. It’s their proving ground against other drivers their age from around the globe. Mazda does a fantastic job of nurturing them into future superstars. They even have media training (thank God for that) to help them know how to work with, amongst and in front of the media and our cameras. Mazda, I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt, it is working.
What a pleasure it was to work with this group. Nearly all of them had smiles on their faces, and often it was hard to get a nice candid photo as they were usually making faces for the camera and generally, having a great time. Their young, easy going personalities were a far cry from the drama queens that (generally) fill the upper echelons of car racing. Getting to know them on a personal level made it even more fun to watch them battle it out on the track. And battle they did.
So while I have included a few photos from the feature Indycar race on Sunday afternoon, most of this gallery is of the faces that you may not know of yet, but will certainly know in the future…..
THANK YOU to Al, Dean, Mazda, Sean, James, and Nick, my trusty partner in crime, and of course to all the Mazda drivers for an AWESOME weekend.
USF2000 and ProMazda Series, St Petersburg GP
Indycar Round 1, St. Petersburg Grand Prix.