TORONTO, July 6 – Photographer Chris Owens is an expert at capturing high speed racing, plying his trade at Indycar events across North America. On Sunday, Chris enjoyed an all access pass to The Queen’s Plate to bring us images of a different type of horsepower while also soaking up Woodbine’s unique raceday experience. Enjoy the photos below, complete with commentary from Chris.
This moment. What first caught my attention was the bright color of the Blue Diamond Cocktail.
The second, was the fact that this group of friends made time to see each other on this long
weekend, in perfect (horse) racing weather, to get dressed up and come to the Queen’s Plate.
Old fans or new fans – either way, they’re clearly having a great time at Woodbine.
The look. It’s a look I often see on racecar drivers right before they unzip their helmet bag, and
really focus on what’s to come. I’m obviously new to the sport of horse racing, but I can only
imagine jockey Luis Contreras is doing the same thing here.
The unsung heroes. Seeing these guys reminded me a lot of our pit crew technicians who are
responsible for our IndyCars. I got to talk to these guys while I was waiting for the
"Starting Gate Experience", and you can tell the camaraderie and respect they have for each
other. They aren’t the ones crossing the finish line, but without them there is no race.
The pomp and pageantry. The heritage, the history, and tradition is what makes the Indy 500
so special to racecar fans. This is what the Queen’s Plate is to horse racing fans. Somewhere in
that crowd is a fan who has been coming to the Queen’s Plate for years, and they can’t wait for
the main event to start.
An IndyCar race lasts from anywhere between an hour and a half to three hours.
With Holy Helena finishing the 1 and 1/4-mile event in about 2 minutes, a photographer has an
impossibly small window to get his shot. You either get the picture, or you don’t.
The weather at the 158th running of the Queen’s Plate was touch and go for a bit, but luckily
the sun decided to stick around for the main event. I grabbed this shot right before he was
swarmed by the media. I like how clean and simple this shot is, and how he’s acknowledging
the crowd after his win.
When a driver wins the Indy 500, he gets a flower wreath and a bottle of milk. Seeing them
throw a flower blanket on top of the horse and jockey reminded me of that moment. Seeing
Luis Contreras throw the petals in the air, and how they look so dynamic in the shot is what
stands out to me.
I love the look of the jockey silks because of their contrast and sheen. Racecar driver suits are
covered with sponsor logos, and need to be flame retardant. The colors of the Adena Springs
logo are super rich here, and of course you can see Luis holding the trophy close.
Athletes kissing trophies is universal. No matter what the sport, it’s pure joy.
I think this photo speaks for itself.
Chris Owens is a track photographer for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indy 500. His work has been featured in USA Today, Sports Illustrated, and ESPN. Follow Chris on Instagram @chrisowens.