|Ken Schrader (#52) leads the field at Salem on April 27, 2014|
|Schrader's damaged car after the race|
|Schrader congratulated winner Grant Enfinger with style|
Tomorrow I head south on I-65 again, but this time just a bit further south: Talladega! It will be my first event with the Birmingham/Montgomery AP gang since local AP chief photographer Dave Martin died this past New Year's Eve while shooting a college football bowl game. I expect another reunion of sorts is likely with many people I met through working with Dave. I learned a lot from him and he always took care of me at Dega, so I am anxious to see everyone again and make some f-ing pictures, as "Mullet" would say. I'm sure there will be some sort of tribute to him this weekend, and I am glad to have the chance to be a part of whatever happens. My biggest regret in working for Dave is that I don't have a single picture of he and I together, so I hope we make sure and take a group picture with everyone shooting for AP this weekend. Life is short and we never know when our last time together will be.
I've had some amazing weekends at Dega, going back to my first spring race in 2011 when tornadoes and severe weather wracked the area on the Friday night preceding the weekend. I was camping in an area outside the track that year and was getting calls from friends and family back home in Indy to see if I was OK as they heard reports of the Alabama weather. Similar weather strafed the Birmingham area this past week and I know several of my AP friends were out in harm's way getting pictures of the storms and their aftermath. Last year's race weekend was also effected by bad weather with lengthy rain delays both Saturday and Sunday, when I spent successive 10+ hour days hiking up and down the main grandstands either shooting or taking cover from the elements. The forecast is much better for this weekend so I am excited to see how the ARCA, Nationwide and Sprint Cup races will play out. I'm thinking the over-under on how many minutes it will take before I hear a fan holler "Junior!" once I'm at the track is two. That may be conservative.
After Dega comes Indy the next weekend and the "Month of Jay" will be in full swing. Come on out to the track if you're around. I'll be out there somewhere. Your best bet to find me is on Twitter @alleygroup. Until then, here's a few race action pix from Salem. If you want to see more pix, then go to ARCA's website. Why not buy a few while you're there? It will help out a future star in stock car racing.