I’ve had the privilege of shooting the Indy 500 twenty plus years in a row. I missed a few years, went back and did three more. I vowed the next one would be the 100th anniversary. Well, I’M NOT DOING IT! Why? It’s not the priority it used to be. I hope it’s a great, safe race, and hope there’s a new winner. Here are a few snaps of the great A.J. Foyt. The photo of A.J. hitting the linkage was during the third pit stop where his crew could not free the shifting linkage. The sight of A.J. coming down the pits, pulling his seat belt, and helmet off, and jumping out of the car while it was still rolling absolutely horrified me. I don’t think you could do that today, but I love the photograph.
IndyCar is now in mourning. One of the most liked drivers, Justin Wilson, was struck by debris at the Pocono 500 on Sunday. We as journalists/fans become very complacent in the safety record of the new style automobiles, and then all of the sudden, a tragic loss. I never met Justin, never photographed him, but had the utmost respect for anyone who gets into an IndyCar. My prayers go out to his family.
Sports Illustrated selected this as the third greatest photograph from the last 100 years. I have nothing else to say except Geoff Miller nailed the closest finish, I was proud to say he was my assistant on this shoot.
If it’s May, it has to be the Indianapolis 500. This photograph was selected by Sports Illustrated as the third greatest photograph in the last 100 years of the 500. They reproduced it in the centennial issue and on their website. That’s the good news, the bad news is they never asked me. Does the word “copyright” mean anything to anyone? Who said “power to the people”? No, it’s “power to the corporation”, step on all the people. In this society, we all have to play by the same rules. Actually, I think someone wrote that in the Constitution. To my friends; go out and make some great photos. Capture history with a camera. Life is good, life is great. Health and happiness to everybody, even SI.
Well, next year it’ll have been 30 years since I loaded film into your Nikons at the 1982 Indy 500. It was a complete thrill to finally be able to work the other side of the fence after growing up at the track each May tagging along with my Dad. Of course things have changed a bit since then. In addition to the digital revolution, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has undergone a major facelift and is a World-class facility. I started shooting the 500 for Reuters in 1990 and have been back ever since. Last year, I had the honor of having my college-aged daughter, Ainslie, join the family “business” and become the 4th generation of Millers to pick up a camera at the 500. Back at the 1982 you captured the memorable image of the Johncock/Mears finish, and who knew that 24 years later in 2006 I’d repeat the feat by capturing the Hornish/Andretti finish that would appear double-trucked in SI as well as the NY Times.
I am so proud of you not only as a photographer but as one hell of a fine human being. There are very few young people that would give up their bed back in the day so we could get to the Indy 500 at 5 A.M. to beat the traffic. And like many of my assistants, you did so much more than just load film into my Nikons. Without your help, that photograph would not have been done. It’s something that I’ve been aware of my whole life. We tend to think we work in isolation. We tend to think how important we are. But the same way that Rick Mears would say “It’s a team effort”, I say the same thing. We worked as a team. Your work is amazing. You deserve everything that you get and some more. And who knows- maybe in the next couple of years, we’ll have an opportunity to work together again. Keep on shooting and remember the first rule of photographing racecars: Never turn your back on one.