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Running of the Bulls at San Fermin 2019

Event poster for the bull fights at Pamplona.

July 6 is the first day of the San Fermin Festival in Pamplona, Spain. San Fermin is the celebration of Saint Fermin, who was born in Pamplona. Fermin was beheaded for his Christian faith and that is the origins of the red handkerchiefs around their necks.

There are a lot of events during the nine days of the festival but probably the most famous is the Encierro or the “Running of the Bulls.”

Central to the festival is a bull fighting tournament that features the best matadors vs the best bull ranches. July 7, Sunday this year, is the first run.

There are actually two runs each day but one is a private event that is only attended by ranch hands and authorities are very strict about who witnesses it. It is late in the afternoon and moves the next days bulls to the holding pens for the morning run.

The other, the first of the day is the event of the day. The run moves the days bulls from the holding pens the 848.5 meters to the fighting ring where they will be featured against the best matadors.

The bulls are joined by several steers with bells that are used to direct the bulls to the ring. The steers are castrated and very docile. 

But there are also several thousand people on the weekends and probably more than a thousand on any day anxious to run with the bulls the 848.5 meters. 

A lot of the injuries are caused by people slipping and be trampled not by the bulls but by the mass of runners. One of the most dangerous spots on the run is the entrance to the stadium. It is very common for people to fall from all the shoving and jostling and soon a large pile of runners block the entrance with six fighting bulls approaching. There are some unbelievable photos of the bulls jumping over the pile.

The photos from the run are some of the most dramatic photos every year. There is a special contest for the accredited photogs that is celebrated during the festival for the winners from the previous year.

The 2018 winning photo from the 2017 run.

There are a couple of statistics that are released and tracked after each run. Time of the run, number of runners gored, and the number of tramas or injuries not the result of a goring. 

The record time is 2 mins 5 seconds on the last day of the 2015. Last year had several ranches within seconds of beating that. 

My thoughts are that goring takes time. You will see that on runs with goring the time is slower. Usually those quick times are when the bulls stay in a pack and run together with a minimum of injuries and zero goring. 

The worst thing that can happen for the runners is a bull gets separated or becomes a solo runner. These are the times when multiple goring and a large number of injuries happen.

Experienced runners learn to count the bulls as they go by for just this reason.

Several years ago a bull refused to run, he started the run stopping quickly turned around and ran back into the holding pens. This was a big cause of confusion because only five bulls advanced and runners were concerned about a solo bull following behind.

Seven of the ranches have appeared before with the Miura Ranch appearing 38 times. They are the prototypical fighting bull. When you picture a Spanish fighting bull this is the animal that comes to mind. Black muscular with the sharp forward facing horns. They are fast athletes that have an .5 per run goring rate. The caveat on that goring rate is that they have 15 in the last 18 runs. They will put in a fast time.

A relative new comer will lead off the week, the Puerto de San Lorenzo with only two previous appearances, one goring and 8 injuries. With the runs starting on Sunday, traditionally a very large field of runners will be present. Look for a moderate time something in the 3 min range, they will probably double that injury number and don’t be surprised if a runner gets the horn. I think this will largely be a function of the first day, on a weekend large number of runners will be in the way. The steers may get credit for an injury of two on Sunday. 

Monday another long time participant is scheduled. Cebada Gago has 30 runs with 56 goring, just shy of a 2 per run rate. Don’t look for a speed record out of this ornery bunch but if you’re looking for a first time run there are some better ranches coming up. Grab a sangria and enjoy what should be a classic bull run with a little bit of everything.

Another ranch with only 4 appearances will charge out of the holding pens Tuesday, the athletic bulls of Jose Escolar. This group has a solid 2 per fun goring avg. and are the exception to my rule, they can gore quickly, so pack your track shoes and keep your eyes open. If this group gets spread out look for an exit. 

Wednesday brings the Jandilla a fierce group of bulls. 19 runs they have produced 31 gorings, Those 31 have come in groups several years without any and then a stretch of multi attacks. This ranch also has a death to their credit. Deaths are not as common as you might expect. In the 110 year history of the run only 16 runners have been killed. The latest ten years ago by a Jandilla bull.

Thursday marks the ninth appearance of the bulls from Victoriano del Rio. These athletes are speedsters with only 4 gorings in their past. Look for a quick time out of this group, but don’t take them lightly their are included in the week’s line up because of their performance in the ring. They may have a break out year and put a horn to a runner or two.

Nunez del Cuvillo will take to the streets on Friday bringing a bit of notoriety. This ranch had a bull pardoned in the fighting ring by the top matador Jose Tomas. The bull named Idilico was returned to pasture siring 66 bulls, several running this year. With ten runners gored in their previous nine appearances look for Nunez del Cuvillo to be workman like in their run. Their history is a fast run with the bulls tending run single file. This opens opportunities for runners to step in front and receive the horn which they are more than willing to deliver. Last year they put down a respectable 2min 15 sec time into the arena but they regrouped and delivered themselves to the pins in an official time of 2 min 40 sec. Still a good time with two gored in the process.

The closing weekend will again bring large numbers of runners powered by sangria and testosterone. Saturday a new ranch will be introduced to the run. La Palmosilla has been producing fighting bulls since 1996 in the south of Spain and bred from the aforementioned Nunez del Cuvillo ranch and bulls of Domecq. 

Domecq is Alvaro Domecq y Diez the man who literally wrote the textbook on fighting bulls. He is credited with bringing modern breeding techniques to the fighting bull industry. Using artificial insemination to improve the breed. He wrote the book El Toro Bravo which is still considered the textbook on fighting bull breeding. 

These ranches are considered the top fighting bull ranches based on their recent performance in the fighting ring so this rookie bunch should be taken serious on what could be the most crowded run of the week.

The week concludes with the previously mentioned Miura, the ranch with the most appearances. Miura has been on a slight slump in goring but time wise they are the record holder at 2 min 5 sec.

Other records to keep an eye for is the slowest run a 11 min 57 sec stroll through the streets of Pamplona, most goring is 8 and 21 injuries.

The weather can present some curve balls for the run. Looks like Tuesday may be the only day with rain forecast the rest of the week looks warm and sunny. Great sangria weather to enjoy festival.

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Motorsport’s Big Sunday

That’s right Sunday of Memorial Day weekend is a high water mark for motorsports fans.

The big four Monaco, Indy, The 600 and the Springfield Mile all happen on this same Sunday every year.

All four of these events have a long storied past. Indy is the oldest starting in 1911, the streets of Monaco hosted their first race in 1929. The first AMA National was held on the Springfield Mile in 1937, this one race determined the National champion until 1953. The relative new comer is the World or Coke Cola 600 first run in Charlotte in 1960.

The day will start with F1 breakfast here in the states. Because of the time difference lights out (F1 starts from a standing start and when the starting lights go out above the grid, the race starts) will be 9:10 am here, 3:10 pm in Monaco.

The 500 is the midday event with the command to start engines at 12:38 pm, green flag about 12:45 pm eastern.

The Springfield Mile consists of several heats, semis and features with the big twins 25 lap feature scheduled for 4 pm central/ 5 pm eastern. This event you will have to stream to see live or watch a rebroadcast about a week late on NBCsports.

The Cole Cola 600 green flag is schedule for about 6:18 pm eastern. The 600 in the ne refers to 600 miles on a mile and a half race track. Depending on yellows and weather this race can and has gone into Monday.

Along with these four important races the world of motorsports is truly at it’s busiest time. The Isle of Mann TT will begin practicing for that annual event. Look for practice times and updates throughout the day on Sunday. This motorcycle race is probably the most dangerous event on the motorsports calendar.

Teams are also finishing up preparations for the mid-June 24 Heures du Mans, the final jewel in racing’s triple crown combined with Monaco and Indy. Graham Hill is the only driver to have won all three of those races in his career. Indy and Monaco used to both be on the world driving championship schedule pre-F1 days.

Fernando Alonso has won both Monaco and Le Mans which is why this year’s failure to qualify for the 500 stings.

Alonso failed to qualify by .0129 of a second over a ten mile/four lap run. At the close to 230 mph avg. that IndyCar is running at the Brickyard, that equates to about four and a half feet at the end of ten miles.

That is the type of drama Sunday will bring. From the tight extremely difficult to pass streets on some of the worlds most expensive real estate in arguably the pinnacle of automotive machines.

To the open wheel almost spec series racers at Indy, that should feature plenty of passing and puts a premium on driver and strategy.

Onto the raw horsepower and guts of motorcycles racing on a mile long dirt track. Drafting in the straights and sliding sideways within inches of each other through the turns. Running so close together that riders have been known to turn a competitor’s bike off. An action which is highly frowned upon.

Capping off the evening in the hometown of stock car racing. A throwback to rear wheeled, V8 powered machines built to withstand the kind of car to car contact most series frown on. Racing in over engineered 1980’s technology combined with the pressure to produce in one of the few series that a driver can earn a comfortable living. Put 10-15 too many cars on the track and often the engines aren’t the only thing to boil over.

There will be smiles, tears and blank stares of wonderment Sunday. The wide world of motorsports will deliver “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat,” Sunday.

IndyCar Preseason Media Day

Today was Media Day for the IndyCar series and of course the event was held in Austin, Texas. Well of course it was. Having attended preseason media day in the past, it is an opportunity to hear from the new drivers, old drivers in new rides and the series officials themselves on what they think the up coming season will bring. Why Austin when the series opens in St. Petersburg, Florida and much of the racing takes place in the midwest including two races in Indianapolis?

This year the series will be racing at Circuit of the Americas in Austin on March 24 for the first time. The track is well known for hosting MotoGP and F1. It is a technical track with a couple of high speed sections. COTA has produced some exciting racing in the series that have raced there, now it will be IndyCar’s chance to shine in the Texas sun.

Scott Dixon will be looking to repeat his 2018 series championship with two team goals, win the series and the 500. Dixon will be back driving for Chip Ganassi Racing in 2019.

A couple of Swedes lead the new drivers part of the season. Marcus Ericsson driving for Arrow Schmidt Peterson in the 7. Felix Rosenqvist also of Sweden will debut in the 10 for Chip Ganassi Racing. It has been 15 years since the two have raced against each other in karts. 

DragonSpeed enters five races this year as a rookie team and driver with Ben Hanley in the Chevrolet powered entry. Hanley and team will be at St. Petersburg, Barber, the 500, Road America and Mid-Ohio. DragonSpeed is expected to be full time in 2020.

Other rookies in the series include Santino Ferrucci at Dale Coyne, Patricio O’Ward and Colton Herta both at Harding Steinbrenner Racing. Ferrucci has had some limited time in Indy Car and teams with Sebastien Bourdais. O’Ward and Herta both drove Sonoma for Chevrolet powered Harding racing, this year the team makes the switch to Honda.

Will Powers takes a moment to soak it all in after winning the 2018 Indianapolis 500.

In the old driver new ride catagory, Conor Daly will be racing with Andretti Autosport with Air Force backing. Jordan King moves to Rahal Letterman Lanigan from Ed Carpenter Racing. Ed Jones will be at Ed Carpenter from Ganassi.

Preseason testing kicked off at a rainy Luguna Seca and will continue tomorrow Feb. 12 and Wednesday at COTA. The actual racing season kicks off March 10 on the Streets of St. Petersburg. Races Mar. 24 at COTA, April 7 and 14 at Barber Motorsports Park and Streets of Long Beach lead up to the month of May at Indy. 

The Art of Travel

Often you hear, “it is not the destination but the journey.” And just as often you realize that it is neither really. It is the anticipation of either that really brings the joy. The planning and the expectation really are what often gives us joy. The hope of experiencing something new. The wonder of the new that takes hold and puts the smile upon out face.

If we brought this same sense of wonder and joy to the small journeys we undertake everyday, the smiles and happiness we could pass along.

Today’s journey can be one of wonder and joy if that is the destination we set our sights on.

A thousand mile walk to the sea begins with a single step. A journey of a lifetime begins with a single smile.

Small town in the middle of?

John Mellencamp sang about it, I’ve lived it. The small town which I grew up in, and currently live near, is and isn’t like a lot of small towns everywhere. Several generations of most of the families have lived here and if yours hasn’t you’re an outsider. There are families that share the same last name that insist they are not related. Truth is there was a falling out several generations ago that few if anyone really remembers. It is always safest, until you learn otherwise, to assume that everyone you talk to is family.

The county that my particular small town is located in is rolling out a new marketing campaign to attract visitors and perspective residents. We are a rural area that is roughly equal distance from Chicago, Indianapolis and Detroit. The intersection of a couple four lane highways that the state is trying to reestablish as major transportation routes is also in the center of the county.

The slogan or tag line the county is looking to establish is a play on the fact that while we are located in the center of these three large metro areas, it could also be called the middle of nowhere.

This is like a large part of Indiana. Small communities of several families that have farmed the land around the community for generations. Retail and industry grew up out of necessity in the agrarian economy that dominated the landscape. As transportation improved and the ability to ship products into and out of these communities improved the industry changed from small specialists that serviced the area to large manufacturing that capitalized on the expertise of the local entrepreneur.

As shipping, transportation and communication continued to improve even these manufacturers had to compete in a world labor market. That is where these communities find themselves.

That is how my small town is similar to just about every other hamlet in the state. How it is not similar is that a hundred years ago a private school was established on the shores of the relatively large spring fed lake. Along with the school the rail system brought a steady flow of visitors to the lake from these previously mentioned urban centers. Initially the vacation home owners and visitors were from the Indianapolis area. Eventually in later years it transitioned to include a large number of Chicago area vacationers also.

So while the local number of residents that live year around has remained unchanged for years the small community grows during vacation times. This has given the community some insulation from the loss of residents that other small communities and the state as a whole have sustained.

This is where we have come from and there are some interesting prospects on the horizon that will bring the process full circle. The rail that helped establish the community as a vacation getaway, there is an effort to reestablish commuter high speed rail that would put the area within commuting distance to Chicago.

Communication technology continues to improve that will make working and producing content in a rural location competitive. Competing in a world labor market for these skills makes the wages and cost of living in the small rural areas competitive again.

I like my small community, I like the lifestyle it affords me. I also like the location because I can get away easily to those urban areas and beyond. The world is smaller everyday. Not that long ago I knew most of the photographers and graphic artists in the area. Now I work with and communicate with photographers worldwide. My photos are as likely to be published in Europe as they are here. I am currently working with a paper in Idaho and fortunately I don’t have to travel to Idaho in February.

Like it or not Mellencamp probably got that right also, I’ll probably die in a small town.

Beauty through the lens

Taking advantage of the weather to catch up on reading and writing. The aesthetics of our everyday life have always been an interest of mine. What part does beauty play in our life? Do we have a collective sense of quality? Is there a degree of beauty?

While different cultures have different tastes or fashions. The true sense of quality is universal. The subject matter of a painting, sculpture, opera may not be to one’s liking, but there is an overall goodness or element of quality that the individual can determine.

A capture from 2018 that I was asked to take. This was an example of the type of thing that is not my taste. This isn’t what I do. But a family member of this young man wanted a photo and this young man wanted it without a shirt and sans smile. It forced me to convey a side of racing that I don’t like capturing.

There is an aspect of some contemporary art that takes this idea of a universal aesthetic and turns it on its head. But even that has different levels of ability and quality of message. The materials selected for a piece of art often will determine the emotion or message it conveys.

I am a true believer that art can be found everywhere if you are open to experiencing it. And as art is everywhere, so is the beauty that accompanies it. Beauty is often thought of as a subjective term or property. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” is the axiom.

Beauty is as constant as truth and good. An ultimate, something is the truth, it is good. These are often expressed as absolutes. One’s perspective can alter what we perceive as good and what is truth. Ultimately, it can be argued, there is only one truth, an ultimate good and I would argue one standard for beauty. What changes is us, what perspective we bring.

And just as we strive to be truthful and to do what is good, we should strive to bring beauty to everything we do.

Welcome Back

Hello again, it has been awhile since I last posted on this site. I have decided to begin using this again because I have a couple of items in the works that having a personal website will be beneficial.

First off I have a trip planned that I am going to be blogging about and that is exactly what this site has been set up to do.

Secondly I have some photo work that I will want to have available on the web and again this is probably the most convenient format for that also.

So no real post just yet, more of a space holder, divider for keeping track of old posts and allowing me to get familiar with the workings of the site again.

Greg

Memorial Day Weekend Motorsports

Memorial Day is for recovering from the four marquee motorsports events of Sunday correct? In all seriousness I know that Memorial Day is to honor the Americans who lost their lives in the armed services.

Today while going through the gigabits of photos I have taken over that last couple of days a couple nice surprises came up.

Crawford in a shower of sparks.

Crawford in a shower of sparks.

I remember after this round of pit stops a lot of the cars were throwing a shower of sparks in turn three. I looked after taking these and knew I caught this one, but the one with the sparks enveloping the car was a surprise when I was looking through them.

Sparks envelope Crawford in turn three

Sparks envelope Crawford in turn three

While I was in victory circle I thought I had a nice spot to catch Alex when he got out of his ride. It turns out I did, it was so nice ABC’s camera walked in front of me as the car entered the victory circle and completely blocked my view. I tried to shoot over them, around them and even thru them.  I will vent about TV coverage another time.

I did get this shot of Alex giving Brian Herta a big genuine well deserved hug by shooting between their camera and their talking head.

Alexander Rossi with a big hug for Brian Herta.

Alexander Rossi with a big hug for Brian Herta.

Saturday was a nice evening at the Plymouth Speedway. Highlights for me?

Watching one of my heros, the I just love to race, Ken Schrader race his modified. Seeing the three local sprint cars fill the “podium.”  Zane, Garrett and Eric moving the podium celebration to Eric’s car. Watching a kid I saw race quarter midgets several times win the 600 main. Ending the night with an exciting Super Street main that had two and three wide racing almost every lap.

100th Running of the 500: Qualifying

IndyQual0005The month of May continues with qualifying happening over the weekend. Yet another qualifying format was used this year to set the 33 car field. Saturday the field was split into two groups, the top nine and the bottom 24. Sunday the final field was set with the top nine running for positions in the first three rows, the bottom 24 fill out the field.

With only a couple of practice sessions followed by single car four lap action on the track, photographers and press are given increased access to the track. Lots of photo opportunities makes it tough on a single photographer trying to cover different aspects of the event and this one bit me.

IndyQual0025

Not all the teams took advantage of the short practice sessions. Once qualifying started the teams that accepted their time was orchestrated thru a photo session by the track photographers. Nice opportunity to get some candid shots by not real action packed.

So I thought I was staying on top of the teams that had a shot at the Pole and also some teams that are single car, Indy only deals. But some how I overlooked James Hinchcliffe.

I got his car, his team but somehow I missed him. Combined with only being able to be there the one day, I don’t have a candid for the pole winner.

Open Wheel Weekend

Had a busy weekend covering a couple of open wheel events. First up was the Bob Newton classic at the Plymouth Speedway. This was the first time the World of Outlaw Sprints had run at Plymouth. Most of the laps run were under the old track record. The new track record stands at 11.526 sec which is about a 115mph avg.

USAC midgets were also on the race card. These are probably my favorite class to watch. They can consistently run several wide. Always close racing with this class. The rest of the show got rained out but I think the large crowd got their money’s worth.

Saturday it was a trip to IMS to cover the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis. With three classes of open wheel support races and the Indy Car warm up and race, the track was busy all day. The road course is a nice venue with plenty of areas for fans to watch the racing.

Between the two I have several hundred photos to edit and post. Here is a quick gallery of some of the highlights that I posted on Facebook. I think I will start posting more galleries here and preview on Facebook.