A.J. Foyt: Four Time Winner of the Indy 500

aj foyt B&W

© Joe DiMaggio

To all the ships at sea,

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.

@ Joe DiMaggio

@ Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

The Closest Finish, circa 1982.

Third Greatest Indy 500 Photographs in the last 100 Years

S.I. Indy Third Greatest Photograph in 100 yearsR

© Joe DiMaggio All Rights Reserved

Most photographers spend the majority of their time building their photographic reputation for decades. Occasionally the sun, the moon and the stars are in perfect alignment and a photographer will come up with their definitive photograph that particular day. Like many things in my career, I’ve had some amazing mentors who taught me the ins and outs of a venue like the Indianapolis 500 Raceway- Rex Miller, Jim Arnett, Jim Schweiker, Chuck Robinson, Ron Thompson… to name a few. On this particular day, I was on assignment for Sports Illustrated. I had a game plan, photographing the start from the crow’s nest. At the end of twenty laps, I ran down to turn one where I “accidentally” cut a small hole in the fence (I do not recommend this), shot another thirty laps, then worked my way around to turn three and then into the pits. I started from the last pit and worked up to the first; halfway back the gasoline alley, I climbed the pagoda to shoot the finish. It was the closest finish in the history of the Indianapolis 500 up to 1982. I had a great assistant- Rex Miller’s, son Geoff Miller. A little bit of luck? Lots of practice, lots of preproduction. Know your spot, know your focal length, know your exposure. Don’t freeze, make your photo, get on the learjet and bring it back to New York. This is another short excerpt from my memoirs, not the whole story. To all the ships at sea, great shooting and have a wonderful day. Joe D.

Indy 500 Month of May

10 Greatest Indy Moments Indy Finish © Joe DiMaggio

10 Greatest Indy Moments
Indy Finish © Joe DiMaggio

S.I. Indy Third Greatest Photograph in 100 years © DiMaggioIt’s the month of May, and the Month of May means the Indianapolis 500. Sports Illustrated, selected one of my photographs as the third greatest photographs in the last 100 years of the Indianapolis 500.  As we know Sports Illustrated, is the definitive expert on all things photographic and sports oriented. Now at this point, I have to take my humility and modesty, and for a few seconds and put them aside. Personally, I think it’s the best photograph in the last 100 years. Putting that photograph aside for a moment, let me share one of my favorite photographs of the Indianapolis 500.  In 19?? AJ Floyt passed the start-finish line (before the days of radio transmission) screaming at 185 miles per hour, waving his arms.  At the next lap he came into the pit  – there was no speed limit and he came in at 150mph and slammed on his brakes. He screamed at the top of his lungs that he only had two gears and his linkage was hung up!  There was nothing his crew could immediately do, so he got back in the car, went back on the track (while still screaming I add.) He made another lap, and came back in; only this time he took his belt off. By the time he hit the brake box, he had jumped out of his number 14 racer, removed his helmet (almost knocking me over), grabbed a hammer, and started to beat the linkage to death.  When he was satisfied, he put his helmet back on, & jumped back into his car.

A.J Foyt Indy © Joe DiMaggio

A.J Foyt Indy © Joe DiMaggio

Oh My God, it’s May!

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

To all the ships at sea,

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.

Indy 500

Hi to All the Ships at Sea,

The tulips are coming up, seems like the snow is almost gone and the Indy cars are starting to run. Remember what I said, one camera, one lens, all the time. Here’s a shot from the old days with one of my assistants. Count the cameras. Thank god for assistants. Would hate to be looking at his MRI today. On a recent Formula One, which in many ways is much more difficult than the Indy 500, I used 2 cameras and 2 lenses. Two Canon 5D Mark III, one 80mm-200  f/2.8 zoom and a second 5D Mark III with grip and 400mm f/5.6 and carrying a 1.4 extender. Gitso Monopod and 6 lexar cards, 8 gigs up to 32 gigs  Simple. Keep it simple. The photograph on the bottom was named by Sports Illustrated as the third best photograph of all time of the last 100 years.

All the Best,

Joe D

You can now follow me on Twitter @dimaggio_photo                                                                                                                                                              © Joe DiMaggio
Visual Impressions with Joe DiMaggio, Sponsored by Adorama
Adorama Learning Center

The Student Becomes the Instructor


Closest Finish © Joe DiMaggio

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.


Geoff Miller



     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.


     Joe D.

Photos below ©Geoff Miller

Adorama Inaugural Street Fair


My dear friend Monica Cipnic asked me if I would come and do a few programs for the Adorama Inaugural Street Fair. My answer was, “Of course!” She put me in contact with Brian Green, who is Vice President of Marketing. Two phone calls, one email, and we were ready to go. To say the program was successful is really an understatement. They had over 9,000 attendees and it was a great cross-section of photographers, beginners to well-seasoned pros. And the bottom line is: It was a lot of fun. I managed to squeeze in 3 separate programs, and from the response on Facebook, that was pretty successful. (Notice how I’m throwing around all those high-tech, modern things like “Facebook”? You didn’t think I knew what that was, did you? If it’s good enough for Lady Gaga and President Obama, who am I to say it’s not cool?) Hopefully, this will be just the first of many. Thank the powers that be for the opportunity.

Joe DiMaggio