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On Sunday I took a quick trip up to Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama to take part in a very special event; the “IndyCar Series Open Test” Weekend. This is where the big name Indy Car teams spend a weekend prepping for the Indy racing season which kicks off right in my back yard with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg coming up in two weeks.

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I was there as the guest of one of the readers of this blog, photographer/designer Jeff Rease (that’s him on the left above—photo by Pete Collins), and we had a ball (well, Jeff seemed like he was having fun, but I had one of my most fun sports shooting days ever!).

The weather was just incredible—the Barber Motorsports track and facilities were really just beautiful, and I was really taken with how friendly everybody was, from the media crew, to track officials, to everybody involved with the Indy team. It was just a first-rate, well organized, kick-butt day of Indy cars screaming around the track. Plus, Jeff was a lot of fun, really helpful, and put up with my lame jokes all day, which is really saying something.

I met lots of other photographers who were covering the Test Weekend, including photographers who read this blog, have bought my books, been to Photoshop World, etc. and that made it even more fun, as Jeff and I wound up hanging out with some of them.

The big buzz at the track was around Indy racing driver Danica Patrick, and scores of her fans lined up behind her pit and the day before stood in line a country mile long to get her autograph. I took shots of her in the pit (I had an over-the-wall pass, so when she made a pit stop, I could actually climb over the short wall and shoot standing right on the track, directly in front of her, behind or to the side), on the track, and at the media-only press conference.

Anyway, here are some of the shots from the day (You really need to see these a larger size to appreciate them, so click on them for a larger view). All the shots were taken with a Nikon D3 with a Nikon 200-400mm VR lens, mounted on a Gitzo monopod, except for Danica standing in the pits; for that I used my 24-70mm f/2.8.

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A big thanks to Jeff Rease for giving me the opportunity, and to Darrell McCalla and all the great folks at Barber Motorsports for just an incredible day!!!