Thursday, April 16, 2015

ARCA History Made at Nashville

Grant Enfinger and  his GMS team have started 2015 on a roll
I got back on the road this past weekend to shoot racing for ARCA and Grant Enfinger wrote his name in the ARCA record books with his win at historic Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, Tennessee. It was the first time in more than two decades that ARCA had raced at Nashville and Enfinger's win made him the first driver in ARCA's 63 year history to win the first three races in a row to start two consecutive seasons. It was a hectic one day show and a very long day at the racetrack, but I was ecstatic to get back to work for this highly competitive and always entertaining stock car series. I have said it before but it bears repeating:  many of these drivers represent the future stars in fenders so you need to get out and see them race. Salem Speedway in southern Indiana is next April 25 & 26 where ARCA always puts on a good show, so come on down!

Me and my RSX-s shadow on the road
The last few weeks leading up to Nashville were super busy for me and involved lots of driving. If you know me, you know I love to drive but the stretch of late March through early April was near record setting for personal mileage. March 22nd I blitzed to Chicago and back as my fiance's older daughter had just given birth to a baby girl. The next weekend I drove to Akron as my Mom was back in the hospital, then I brought her back to Indy to stay with us over the end of my my spring break week. The Monday before I went to Nashville, I took Mom back to Akron after my teaching day was over then returned to Indy the next morning so I wouldn't miss any school. Finally last Friday, I headed south to Nashville to shoot the race and got back home Sunday afternoon. Probably about 2400 miles all told and being at the racetrack was a relief in many ways. I love shooting for ARCA and the feedback I got from officials and team reps was very gratifying. Now I'm looking forward to Salem and only having to commute 110 miles each way.

Kyle Weatherman took pole and finished 5th at Nashville for Cunningham Motorsports
My day at Nashville started at 7:30 in the morning with an ARCA officials meeting and wasn't over until midnight after I had finished my preliminary editing. I have a step counter on my phone which registered 21,733 steps for the day so if you think shooting a race is going to be easy, then you better think twice and bring your walking shoes! There were quite a few brand new drivers to the series on the entry list so I had to get green screen head shots of each of them in and around my other shooting responsibilities. I also walked the whole track in the morning to see what kind of access I was going to have for the day and scout out potential shooting locations. I was a little concerned about lighting since it was a night race but I had my flash battery pack, two extra sets of lithium batteries for my flash, and was determined to shoot as much available light as I could get away with. It turned out to be quite a challenge once the green flag dropped after 8:00 pm local time, but I left the track that night feeling like I had done some of my best night race work so I was tired but satisfied.

Matt Tifft on the grid ready to race - shot with available light; he finished second
One of the things I try to concentrate on during a race is to show the actual racing through my photos. I don't find single car shots very useful once a race has started, but anytime I can get two or more cars in the frame, then I am happy. I know my job is to help tell the story of a race for the series, and provide photos that the teams will want to use in their own promotional efforts. It's fun to see those photos end up on Twitter or Facebook when the teams use them and I think it is a valuable service provided by ARCA. I know I am fortunate to be filling this role. I also know I learn something new about photography every race I shoot and this race was no different. There's a certain peace that comes over me during a race once I put on the ARCA radio headset and start working my coverage strategy. It's a feeling which is hard to describe but one that comes naturally after so many races. Ironically, my horoscope for race day said something about "being in my element" and that sure turned out to be true.

So now Salem is next and that weekend's timeline won't be quite as rushed as Nashville, since track activities occur over a Saturday and Sunday. Until next time, I leave you with the following sampling of my Nashville photos. If you want to see more, then go to and check out their photo site.

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