Thursday, February 26, 2015

Green Light For First 2015 Racing Road Trip

Atlanta, here I come!
Less than 12 hours from now, I will leave Indianapolis and hit the road for the first time this racing season. I am extremely excited to get back to a racetrack and go to work. I am also a bit anxious. I am headed for Atlanta Motor Speedway to shoot the NASCAR races for Associated Press (AP) and this week's winter weather in the south has been atrocious. This weekend's forecast is marginally better and it promises to be quite chilly throughout. The only other time I got to shoot at Atlanta was Labor Day weekend in 2011 which was cut short due to weather. So as I mentioned to the AP photographer, I am cautiously optimistic about this weekend. I couldn't afford to go to Daytona this year so Atlanta is the next best thing given the fact that it is drivable in a day and there are three races to shoot this weekend which means more chances to "make some pictures", to paraphrase the late Dave Martin.

When we were at Atlanta in 2011, even though it was an abbreviated weekend, it was still rewarding shooting for AP. I did get to shoot both the Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series races that year and met some nice people inside Turn 1 who let me shoot from the top of their school bus in the infield. I am hoping I can find those same folks again if that's where I get assigned this weekend. Click here for a link to one of my shots that AP used that weekend. My Indy friends had good luck at Daytona last weekend, so I am hoping I can carry the Hoosier flag well at Atlanta!

All three of NASCAR's top series are back this weekend and I have to say the scheduling of Atlanta this early in the season is a bit mystifying. The only justification I can think of is that it cuts some travel expenses for the teams, most of which are based in North Carolina. So going from Daytona to their shops near Charlotte and then to Atlanta makes some logistical sense, but that's about it, since weather this early in the year in Georgia is about as volatile as it is in Indy. But I will be dressed for the occasion and am looking forward to seeing my friends from down south again. I am also excited about shooting with the new Canon 7D Mark II that I have on loan from Canon Professional Services (CPS) this weekend, and curious to see what has changed about the track since I was there over  three years ago.

Jeff Gordon will leave the 24 after this season
Of course the biggest change heading into this NASCAR weekend involves drivers. Both Busch brothers are on the sidelines and won't be racing. Kurt "Outlaw" Busch is out after his domestic violence court ruling and Kyle "Rowdy" Busch tried to knock down a concrete wall at the Daytona Xfinity race last weekend and is out with serious leg and foot injuries. With Joey Logano fresh off his Daytona 500 win and Jeff Gordon on a retirement tour, I expect them and the rest of the Sprint Cup gang will be wrestling with cold hard Goodyears on Atlanta's old, tired asphalt this weekend. That's a combination which should make for some interesting photo opportunities. As a photography stringer, that sounds good to me.

So my 2015 racing adventures begin at last and I couldn't be more excited. I love to drive, especially when there's a race to shoot at the end of the trip, so you better pedal hard if you want to keep up with me. See you at the racetrack!

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