Sunday, February 23, 2014

Daytona 500 Race Day!

Sunrise at Daytona over the backstretch
Day 3 of this trip to Daytona was the shortest so far and it gave me the opportunity to have dinner and check out some of the night life on Main Street in Daytona Beach with a couple of fellow photogs from Indy. In my previous visits here I had never had the chance to check out much of the local scenery (other than the beach) so hitting a couple of nightspots after dinner to listen to music and check out the people was a lot of fun. And I saw a motorcycle unlike anything I had ever seen before:  a Boss Hoss with a Chevy V8 engine in it! It was insane looking, had a nitrous injection system and boasted 740 horsepower. I was really glad to get the chance to take more of a look around and I almost didn't go out since I was feeling the effects of little sleep and miles of walking after we had finished dinner. But then I decided I needed to get out and not be so consumed with just the track activity and see more of the local sights. I'm glad I did!

Boss Hoss motorcycle seen at Boot Hill Saloon
Now today is race day and it has dawned bright and sunny. We really haven't seen much sunshine since my first day here last Thursday so I am hopeful that the day continues that way. The cars and pomp and circumstance on any race day are always so much more colorful and vivid when it's a 1000 f11 day. We love that! It's Day 4 of the trip and I'm back in the media center early, but not near as early as the first three days. The guys I hung out with last night were kind enough to let me crash in their hotel room and after sleeping in my car at the track for the two previous nights, it was very welcome. The sofa bed wasn't like my king bed at home in Indy, but it was still far better than the Dodge Avenger's driver's seat! It was fun talking about racing photography with them. Often my road trips are solo journeys and it's easy to spend too much time in my own head so the outside input was most welcome! On top of that, when you walked out the door of the hotel room, the ocean was right there and you could hear the waves crashing on the shore.

Ocean view shortly after dawn on race day
With the 500 today, this will be my fifth race to shoot in four days at Daytona and will conclude over 1350 miles of racing that I've covered since I got here. I haven't had any wire service worthy action where I've been stationed but I think I've done some good work, even though the shooting spot makes the pictures all kind of look the same. It has really challenged my creativity but that's another one of the reasons I do this:  to exercise the right half of my brain and learn something new. So maybe today I'll have the "hot corner" and get the chance to do what I am suppose to do, which is to capture the spectacular action that can happen at any time. Today's only track activity is the 200 laps of the 56th Daytona 500 (assuming it doesn't go to a green-white-checker finish) and then I am headed to Orlando to fly back to Indy tomorrow morning. Then it's back into the classroom tomorrow afternoon to teach and like everything else I do, I am "all in". Today that just happens to mean racing. Monday it will be algebra and geometry. Whatever happens today, I have no regrets as I know I will have given my all.

For now, here's a gallery from yesterday's Nationwide Series race won by Regan Smith.

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