Sunday, September 28, 2008

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Red Bull Moto X

This weekend was a busy one. I was planning on just hanging out and not doing much on Saturday, but I got a call to photograph the Red Bull Moto X team doing their exhibition. Turns out it was on the Parkway in front of the Art Museum. They did two shows while I was there. The first was shot from the ground near their ramps, the second from the roof of their RV which made for a really great angle with the museum and loads of people in the background. Mazur was there shooting skateboarding. He actually nailed a few shots of the skaters hitting a barrier while the mx bikes were overhead. The riders, Jeff Tilton, Miles Richmond and Tommy Clowers were really good and put on a great show. Tommy has actually won X Games gold a few times. Later that night, we went out in Old City to hang out with the Jeff and Miles and Keith, Mary, Mazur and his friends.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

NASCAR at Dover Day 3

The morning traffic as seen in my rear view mirror

These guys had it all – an old rusted box van complete with roof seating and Tony Stewert flags, parking in the infield in front of the jumbo–tron, a sweet poster of the beer girl and a generator with enough gas to keep the party going all day.

The overview from above pit lane near the start/finish line

Kurt Busch spins during the second lap of the race.

Jeff Gordon took the pole and lead for a while, but would never regain the lead.

Jimmy Johnson, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch race through turn 4

Race action during one of the many restarts. (This would also describe the traffic
driving down Rt 1 on Sunday morning.)

Kurt Busch and Mark Martin race through turn 4

Greg Biffle ended up winning and had a pretty lame victory celebration at least on the track

He and his team celebrated in victory lane then had to push the confetti covered car back to the garage

By Sunday morning I thought I had everything figured out. I got up early again to make it to the track by 9. The traffic traveling south on Rt. 1 was fast. I was doing 95mph at one point just to keep up with the traffic and was passed by a state trooper just cruising along. I'm pretty sure there was a family in a Ford Taurus station wagon covered with nascar stickers trying to bump draft for a few miles before they could finally pass. The police are fully prepared to deal with huge amount of traffic coming into the exit. They direct you onto the shoulder - I pulled over about a mile before the actual exit. I heard later in the morning traffic was backed up about five miles to the exit. Then through town and into the stadium. It took about an hour to get to my parking spot, which wasn't too bad I thought.

I got in and met up with Steven and Jared again. There wasn't too much going on until the race started so I sat in the media center and edited the images from the first few days. NASCAR and Dover take really good care of the media and provide enough workstations for most photographers and also have a ton of food and drinks in the air conditioned media center right off pit road. It was fun watching all the people come through pit road and see the cars and crew up close. That is about as close as I got to the fans until I decided to walk around the infield which they open up on Sunday after the pit space from the previous days race is cleared. These people wait to get in at 4:30 A.M. and come fully prepared for a full day of partying. Most have pickup trucks with some sort of decking built above the cab to watch the race from their position. Others had vans (one guy even had a set up to have fires on the roof of his van – which I'm sure is a good idea after a day of drinking). They were super nice people and most commented on how nice my camera was.

I made my way back to pit road after it went hot and all spectators were cleared. I had to shoot the Jack Daniels car and driver – Clint Boyer – with the JD VIPs. It was three frames, but that's all they needed. While I was waiting for Clint to get there, I was talking with one of Jamie McMurry's crew members. He was about the same age and seemed like a hard working guy. He told me he works in the shop all week building racecars then flies to the race early Sunday morning to work on the pit crew, then flies back that night to be at work on Monday. He said they have to chop up the chassis into tiny pieces when they get wrecked so people from the other teams can't check the angles and try to use that to their advantage. I had no idea just how secretive they were about that kind of stuff. He also said that if someone on their race team (they have 6 or 7 different race teams) wins or does well they'll cater lunch on Tuesday.

After I got the shots on the starting grid, I walked down to the first turn and shot the first 100 laps from the photographers post above the garage there. Kurt Busch got a little anxious on the second or third lap and spun out and hit the outside wall. It wasn't nearly as loud cause the Sprint Cup Series has so many cars in their race that you can't hear much until they get spread out. There was another caution by lap 13 and then again just a few laps later. I moved down to the start finish line for another hundred laps. One of the race announcers talking about pit road. I don't know how he heard anything and wasn't sure how the mic didn't pick up all the race noise, but they do it every weekend so I guess they've got it pretty well figured out. Dale Earnhardt blew a tire right in front of me. The sound of the tire exploding echoed off my chest and throughout the entire stadium. When the tire blew it shredded the rear fender and most of it was laying on the track right in front of me. I noticed a lot of people – his fans – heading for the exit after that happened.

As the light moved I walked up to turn 4 and shot from a photographer tower there. That one was just a steel tower that is about 40ft up. It provides a good view of turn 4 and the front strech. There were already about 4 other photographers up there, but everyone's cool about moving around and not getting in each others way. I made some good shots of the leaders and cars toward the front coming through there three wide. But with about 40 laps left I walked back to the start finish line to shoot the winner – Greg Biffle – doing burnouts and getting the checkered flag.

By this point, I had had about enough. My ears were ringing, I was sunburnt and I had my fill of racing for a while. I walked back and watched the celebration in victory lane and waited for Jared. While I was waiting I was watching the crews tear down their pit boxes. It's quite amazing just how organized and well thought out these things are. All packed up they are about 7 feet long by 5 feet tall. Expanded they are a tool box in the front complete with air hoses and compressors for the impact guns, work bench and viewing station in the back (most have two flat screens where the crew watch the race on tv) and seating on top. Most have three or four seats up top with computer monitors in front of each seat. Most also have a covering above the seats on top. By the end of the race they're all packed up and ready to be wheeled back onto the trailer.

I said my goodbyes and headed out to deal with traffic leaving. Luckily I caught the tail end of the Phillies and Eagles game. Unluckily traffic wasn't moving – at all. I was in line to leave, but I might have well have been in my origianl parking spot. Some people were still tailgating – but this time for the Eagles game. It took about two hours to get back onto Rt. 1, but their was so much traffic leaving that way it was slow moving all the way until Wilmington.

This experience left me with a great appreciation for everyone who does this all weekend, every weekend for 40 weeks in a row. There is so much work that goes into everything there from the race teams, to the media, to track officals and planning. I would definitley do it all again and would suggest going to a race even if you don't like racing – it's an incredible experience.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

NASCAR at Dover Day 2

Kyle Busch accepting his poll award

Traffic in the garage area

Working hard to get the car back to the track.

Kyle Busch lead for most the race.

A spinout with 10 laps to go sent three cars to the garage.

Kyle Busch celebrates victory to the dislike of his haters.
And then does about a 30 second long burnout.

I got up at 6 A.M. to make it to the track figuring there would be a ton of traffic. Sure, it was still only Saturday, but these events are known for the horrific traffic. It turns out it wasn't too bad and I got there by 7:15. The Nationwide cars had qualifying so I shot some of that, then met up with Jared and Steven who both work for Action Sports. They were kind enough to let me follow them around and were pretty cool about answering my dumb questions. After qualifying was over they award the poll and have a little ceremony in victory lane. I walked over with Steven and shot photos of Kyle Busch getting the award. It's more of a press and advertising photo opportunity as they just make him hold a flag and put on his different sponsor's hats. He knows the drill as here's been there many times before and was pretty quick about it.

The cup guys had two practices before the Nationwide race started and it was a good chance for me to shoot some photos in the garage while they were working on the cars in between practice laps. The drivers don't pay much attention to people while they're driving through there and if you're in the way the crew guys will just push you out of the way. Dale Earnhart Jr. almost ran me over trying to get into his garage stall and Tony Stewart's crew guy pushed me out of his way so he could get behind the car. It's pretty cool that they let press and people in there while they're in the middle of such serious work. I did manage to get a few good shots of the drivers hanging out and stay out of the way.

Once the Nationwide race started I walked around pit lane making photos of the race action and tried to get some good pit shots too. Most of the time I stayed in the photo tower by the start finish line. I could get good shots of the cars as they were approaching the line and had a pretty good view of most of the track. With 10 laps left to go, I captured a spinout and got five or six good shots out of it. Being right at the start finish, I was also able to shoot the winner, Kyle Busch, getting the flag and getting flipped off by the fans who don't like him. He did a few burnouts, so much that you couldn't see the car through all the smoke. I opted to stay out of victory lane to other photogs could get their shot.

It was 5:30 by the time the race was over and I was prett burnt out from being in the sun all day and listening to the roar of the racing. Traffic wasn't too bad getting out either.

Friday, September 19, 2008

NASCAR at Dover Day 1

Clint Boyer waiting for qualifying

Start of the Camping World Series 150 race

This happened right in front of me. The sound of the car slamming into the wall was incredibly loud.

Ex–motocross star Ricky Carmichael (on the outside) fought for the lead at one point.
Track officials watching the race on the big screen (which was going on 30 yards behind them)

I was able to secure photo credentials for the NASCAR race in Dover through a friend of my mom's who happens to work for an auto magazine in Detroit. He got me hooked up with Action Sports Photography, who actually got my credentials. They provide imagery for Rousch–Fenway racing. Until Thursday night, I thought I was going just to watch the race, and make photos at my leisure, but they called and asked if I would help out on the starting grid Sunday morning. I agreed and was excited to have something to accomplish while I was there outside of my own personal photography.

When I arrived on friday, I could hear cars on the track before I could see it. The track is near a ton of strip malls and shopping area and all the stores sell out space in their parking lots to race fans with giant RVs. I don't think I'll ever see that many RVs in one spot again. I picked up my credentials and was excited to see I had hot pit access so I could go pretty much where ever I wanted.

I parked (in the media parking section right next to the entrance) and walked in with my gear and went right over to pit lane. The Sprint Cup cars were just starting qualifying so I hung out there and took a few shots as the drivers were getting ready to hop into their cars. After qualifying, the Camping World series had a 150 lap race. There wasn't much action, a few spin outs and some good racing. It was cool to see motocross star Ricky Carmichael race, I think he ended up 8th.

That night I stayed at my aunt's house in northern Delaware. It was about a 45 minute ride to the track, but much better than driving all the way back to Phila and I got to hang out with my little cousins .

Monday, September 15, 2008

Belmar Pro

This years Belmar Pro suffered near flat conditions for the final day. There were a few clean little waves for the shortboard quarter finals in the morning, but the wind turned around onshore around 11. They also had a masters and stand up paddle board division which was touch to watch in such small conditions.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Thanks Hanna

holyoke 6:30 A.M.

Sarah Dodds

Pat Emery

Real waves!! woohoo... Finally on Sunday we had good surf here in NJ. Sets in the morning were a foot or two overhead and clean. The sun was out and I surfed all day instead of shooting. Well, I did shoot a few shots of Pat and Sarah from the comfort of Pat's aunt's house on the beach, but hardly a work day.

Soap Box Derby

We made it to the Red Bull Soap Box Derby on Saturday despite the tropical storm warnings (and wind and rain that goes along with that.) There were so many people in Manayunk that you couldn't move up or down the wall. We picked a good spot at the bottom for the first few races - close enough that we could see and smell the burnt rubber from the screeching tires as the racers were trying to stop before slamming into the haybails. Mayor Nutter even went down in the pouring rain in the Red Bull car. I did manage to squeeze off one shot of Big Bertha before we left.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Lock Haven, PA 2008

Bethany and I made the trip up to Lock Haven for the boat races this year. It was the first time she has gone to a race and the first time I've raced in about four years (even though I only made it out for one heat of racing). We did manage to squeeze off a few photos in between racing, helping my brother race and working.