How to win a Photoshop contest and influence people

“Win tickets to the Honda Grand Prix of St. Pete”, the tweet said. Take a screen shot of the TrueCar Web site and “be creative”. IndyCar driver and British hottie Katherine Legge will choose a winner.

The TrueCar web site - source of inspiration and potential free tickets

Right up my alley, I thought. I love IndyCar, I love being creative, I love Photoshop, and I’d sure like to meet IndyCar driver and British hottie Katherine Legge (note: both Katherine and I are engaged, presumably to other people). The last time I saw her race in person was 2007 at Road America, the year after she had a horrifying crash at the same track. After that, she raced in German touring cars for three years, then spent most of last year trying to get an IndyCar ride.

Thankfully, TrueCar’s site design is incredibly simple – Big main picture, tagline, and testimonials – leaving lots of room to… be creative. My first thought before I even saw the site was to base my concept around IndyCar, and the idea gained traction with the testimonial on the bottom from “Michael C. “.

So I opened up Photoshop, pasted in the screen shot (a technical term. No, really.), and off I went.

For hours. On a Friday night and an earlyish Saturday morning. I Googled photos of Katherine, former Apprentice contestant team owner and former IndyCar champion Michael Andretti, and 2011 rookie of the year James Hinchcliffe. Separated each photo from its background. Tried to line up faces and match skin tones. Checked’s CSS files to match the font and color.

Finally I decided enough was enough, especially since it was nearly impossible to match the pasty white skin tones of a Brit and a Canadian to two perfectly tanned models. So, after several moments of self-doubt with my mouse hovering over the “Post photo” button, I clicked it and walked away. St. Pete was less than a week away.

The winning Photoshop. Changes highlighted for your pleasure

Then I waited.

And waited.

Monday was a flurry of hitting refresh on Twitter and Facebook. Finally, a tweet at 1:45 p.m. – “final judging, results in an hour”. And then, 90 minutes later, I saw the red “1” on my Facebook status notification.

“There were a lot of wonderful entries to St. Pete tickets, but Ed Marsh on Facebook made us laugh hysterically! Congrats Ed!”

I was going to St. Pete! My last open wheel race was the Champ Car series’ swan song in Long Beach in 2008. This year, there are new cars and new engines, and even with the end of winter teasing us in Jersey, a guaranteed few days of warmth and sun.

Meeting Katherine

The author with IndyCar driver Katherine Legge
IndyCar driver Katherine Legge. Some bald dude.

I’ve been a semi-professional stalker of drivers autograph seeker in the past, but I never really got a lot of time to speak with the drivers. As a writer, I always like to have my questions prepared in advance. But when it came to asking Katherine just the right question, my mind came up blank all week. So a bit of stagefright ensued when Katherine finally walked up and said hello. She’s very pretty close up. And my dad was standing there. And I’m not too good at pointless small talk. And I felt like an idiot. So it was really nice, but slightly awkward, and of course way too brief. But she was friendly, and laughed a bit more as she signed a print of my entry.

Kat on Track. @KatonTrack
Kat on Track, a.k.a @KatonTrack

Unfortunately, with a brand new car and engine, and only half a day of testing under her belt, Katherine’s IndyCar debut wasn’t what anyone hoped. She crashed in qualifying. In the race, her car had mechanical problems, stalled twice on-track, and she finished near the back of the pack.

All photos by Ed Marsh


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