Monday, October 30, 2017

Through the Looking Glass: 2018 Racing Plans

Dawn over a racetrack as team members arrive is a beautiful thing
Sometimes once my racing photography season is over, I can go into a funk and it might take me awhile to break out of it. My fiance is the first person to call me on it when it happens as she knows me better than anyone. God bless her. Anyone else who knows me shouldn't be surprised that I have that kind of emotional reaction when a passionate pursuit of mine comes to an end, even when it's just temporary. If you know me, then you know that I am a black and white kind of guy - I'm either all-in or all-out and there's really not much gray area in between. I throw myself whole-heartedly into any pursuit I am passionate about, sometimes to the point of exhaustion, and when one pursuit runs its course then I am on to the next thing with equal commitment. My family would tell you that I've been that way since I was a little kid. I would run until I dropped and they'd be looking for me only to find me collapsed in a ball on the floor somewhere too tired to move another inch! My fiance sometimes calls me the "Energizer Bunny" as I have continued much the same pattern as an adult, especially where racing is concerned and 18 hour days are normal at the racetrack.

ARCA Champion Austin Theriault
I do have one more photo assignment to wrap up 2017 when I shoot the ARCA Racing Series annual awards banquet in December. It will be good to see everyone again after bidding one another adieu at Kansas. But the "next thing" for me right now is looking ahead to the 2018 season. That's what really helps keep my funk to a minimum as I have to have something to look forward to. I already have plans made to shoot the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona at the end of January for Associated Press; flights are booked and I just need to arrange a rental car. I also have the tentative schedule for ARCA and I am trying to sort out which races I will be able to work for the series so I can continue as its Chief Photographer. I am so happy to be able to do that work for the series as I know we provide a valuable service for ARCA and its teams at every race event. It's been fun to work with Doc Hunter, Rich Corbett and most recently, with Doug Patterson at the races so we can provide more thorough coverage. We got some excellent and supportive feedback from the ARCA brass at Kansas which I was thrilled to receive, so it's important that we continue to do a good job as the series enters its 66th season in 2018.

Dawn at Indianapolis is a special experience
I also anticipate that I will work the Indycar races at Indianapolis next May for the French media company Vision Sport Agency again. I felt like I was pretty successful this year elevating awareness of their brand with key media people at IMS and it will be interesting to see how much we can build on that for 2018 at the Grand Prix and then the 102nd Indy 500. I don't know if I will be able to match the 19 race event weekends I was fortunate enough to experience this year as a photographer but I know it will be close. I still have to compile my "best of" photos for this year and I haven't decided whether to create a video from stills or just do a new gallery of the best individual images from all the series I've covered this year, but I know the decision will come in due time. Meanwhile I have an application in the works which I hope will take me back to Europe for Le Mans in 2018. I am sure getting the year started off the right way with sports cars racing at Daytona in January, which will  include Fernando Alonso as he prepares to take on Le Mans next June, and the debut of the Penske Acura program, so I know it is going to be an exciting year.

I still have to decide which ARCA races I can work next season as well, so in the meantime, if you know anyone who needs photography services and is willing to pay market rate, then please send them my way. Until next time I will leave you with some of my photos from the 2017 ARCA season finale at Kansas where Michael Self got his first series win. I'll have more soon so come on back!

Michael Self celebrates after winning at Kansas
Austin Theriault finally had a bad race in his championship season after something broke and put him into the wall
Michael Self has had one of the best looking cars at each race he's run this year
The race was decided on a late restart as a gaggle of cars fought for position going into Turn 1

Monday, October 16, 2017

One More Race to Go: Planning for 2018 Already Underway

Prototype racing at Daytona is incredible in person
What a year in racing this has been for me! My 2017 racing season as a photographer began in January and now I am only four days away from its conclusion. It all started at Daytona International Speedway where I was fortunate to get to shoot the Rolex 24 Hours race in the IMSA WeatherTech endurance series for This coming Friday, I will complete my 13th ARCA race of the season for the series at Kansas Speedway and it is hard to believe that this season has gone by so quickly. It seems like it just began. I guess being busy at 19 race weekends since the end of January will do that to your time sense! Now I have just one race left to photograph and my season will be over. This weekend  the ARCA season finale will see the 2017 champion crowned, and various other awards such as Rookie of the Year will be decided.

Steve McQueen said "Racing is life."
This year was the second time I had shot the Rolex 24 race and I am planning to go back in 2018 to work it again, this time for Associated Press.  The 2017 edition turned into a sprint at the finish with an epic pass for the lead with only a few minutes left in a frantic 24 Hour event. It was a fitting way to start the year and I have seen a lot of great races throughout this season. The highlight of my season was getting the chance to shoot the 85th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. My fiance and I were able to turn it into an extended visit to France and Italy this past June. Neither of us had ever been to Europe before this trip so saying that it was an epic adventure would be the understatement of a lifetime. I am working on going back and I sure hope I get that chance.

Road racing at Indianapolis is still a bit hard to get used to
From the beginning of the year, my racing stops this season were as follows: Daytona Rolex 24 Hours, Nashville (ARCA), Salem (ARCA), Talladega (ARCA, NASCAR Xfinity and Monster Energy Cup), Grand Prix of Indianapolis (Indycar), Indianapolis 500 (Indycar), 24 Hours of Le Mans (World Endurance Championship), Iowa (ARCA), Lucas Oil Raceway (ARCA), Winchester (ARCA), Springfield (ARCA), Road America (ARCA), DuQuoin (ARCA), Salem (ARCA), Chicagoland (ARCA), Kentucky (ARCA) and soon Kansas (ARCA). From January to October, I logged plenty of miles behind the wheel of my Civic Si and logged some major miles flying to Daytona and Europe. In the process I shot races on paved ovals and dirt ovals, on road courses and at  historic venues. Next year is shaping up to include more of the same and I am excited to see what the new year will include.

It was great to get back to Road America again this summer
I have said for years that I would love to make a living as a motorsports photographer as very few people can say they do. I have been blessed with some great opportunities the last few years and there are times I wish I'd gotten more serious about it at a younger age. That may sound strange considering as how I've been shooting racing for media outlets since 1984, but the driving force in my life back then was making money to support a family and I didn't think photography would do the trick. What I have come to understand though, is that I have to do the things that I am passionate about no matter what, and there's no questions that I am passionate about photography in general and about motorsports in particular. The "joke" I like to tell on myself is that after my marriage broke up in 2005, I bought camera equipment and went racing again instead of buying furniture. Those of you who know me understand how true that is. So these last few years have brought a new determination and focus on what I love to do and I have had to figure out a way to go do it. I'm one of the fortunate ones who's figured that out and I am able to do what I love, even though it remains an avocation and not my full time gig.

Dirt miles at fairgrounds tracks are part of the lure of racing
There's so much more I have planned: creating multiple photo books, publishing an e-book or two, shooting more international races, finishing a novel I started many years ago, etc. Even this blog is a part of that desire to produce and publish creative works, as I decided long ago that if I was going to be a writer, then I needed to write. So you get this blog. If I'm going to be a racing photographer, then I need to shoot races, so I do that too and share the results with the world through traditional media outlets and through social media. Somehow I feel compelled to do these things and leave a legacy of my vision for others to hopefully enjoy. I see things differently and I know that. I hope you see that too when you read my posts or see my photos.

If you want to see more, then please hire me. You will not be disappointed. See you at a race somewhere soon.

From Formula One in 1984... flying Indycars at Indy in 2010... sports cars racing through city streets... fire...
...and rain, I have shot them all.