||September 13-15, 2001
||Lauri Ouvinen and Ville Tikkaoja
CART series and oval racing finally made its way to Europe and the first race was held
in Germany at the Eurospeedway Lausitz. But unfortunately the event was shadowed
first by the terrorist attacks in the USA (the reason to rename the race's name from
German 500 to The American Memorial) and then in the race itself by the horrifying
accident involving Alex Zanardi and Alex Tagliani, where Zanardi eventually lost both
of his legs. This was a very sad end to the week. The race had been good up until
then and even Zanardi seemed to be in his old form leading the race just before the
accident. Unfortunately it was not ment to be. We at Racing Images hope Zanardi can
recover from his injuries as well as possible. We also would like this gallery to be
in honor of Alex Zanardi - the two times CART champion.
Then to the story of our trip.. Having been following Champ Car racing for many years
we had been planning on going to this race from the day the plans to organize the race
was announced. At the beginning of the year we were also quite lucky as we managed to
win two weekend tickets for the race, so it was then reallity that we would be going
there. We took flights to Berlin and stayed at Dresden, from where we had to take a
train each day to get to the track.
Unfortunately there were a lot of rain clouds over Germany at that time and the rain
kept the cars away from the track the whole Thursday. This was quite a blow for us
as we had planned to go to the main grandstand (where you had access on Thursday
with any tickets) and get photos from the pitlane. It also rained a little on Friday
morning and for a while it seemed whether they get the chance ever to run the cars. But
the rain stopped quite early and kept away the rest of the day. It took a lot of time
to dry up the track, but eventually the cars got running for two hour practise session
at 15:20 local time. The qualifying was abandoned and the starting grid was determined
by championship points. The race day on Saturday was completely dry. During the days
the weather was also quite cold and you really had to have some clothes on you.
It was finally great to be able to see these cars in action. As usual we took quite
a lot of photos. However, we were not very pleased with them. But this was our first
experience of photographying oval racing, so let's put it at that :) The main
distraction was the high depris fencing around the track and you had to take the photos
mostly by panning with slow shutter speed to get rid of the fence showing too much
on the photos. This time we were using only Fuji Superia X-TRA 400 film.
At CART races you can also get to the pits, so we also bought tickets there for Thursday.
We were quite surprised how kindly the teams showed their cars to public. Almost every
teams' cars were on display. You could even get into PacWest's and Bettenhausen's garages
to take as close look to the cars as you wanted. So this was very much in contrast to
the Formula 1, where it's very hard to be able to get this close to the cars.