Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Back to the Racetrack This Weekend

The ARCA Series races on all kinds of tracks, including Talladega
Spring break for my teaching job is over which means it's time to get serious about my racing photography again. Since I went to Atlanta at the end of February, lots has happened in my personal life but I haven't had much news to write about relative to racing. This weekend that all changes as I head to Nashville, Tennessee to work as the photographer for the ARCA Racing Series, a job I truly love. It should take my mind off of other issues and will provide another chance to get creative at a track I've never been to before. The race is Saturday at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway and ARCA hasn't raced there in over 20 years so it should be interesting as a whole new crop of young drivers is on the entry list to challenge a handful of ARCA veterans who continue to support the series.
Brandon Jones returns in 2015 - this time in the prime Venturini ride
I've always enjoyed shooting ARCA for the chance to see the up and coming drivers like Brandon Jones who will eventually graduate to the NASCAR ranks. Jones won in his first two ARCA starts last year and is in one of the plum seats for 2015, sharing a Venturini ride with series legend Frank Kimmel. It is also a chance to really be plugged into the racing action since I get to wear a radio headset and listen to ARCA race control so I know exactly what's going on all the time. At most races, I don't use a radio or any kind of communication device other than my cell phone but I've worked enough races over the years that I can usually keep track of the top five positions without any problem. At those races I keep my earplugs in and tune into the sounds of the action and listen for the silence which is usually when something bad is about to happen. Then it's time to shoot, so I have to be ready.

Ageless Kenny Schrader knows Grant Enfinger is a winner
This season the favorite for the ARCA championship has to be Grant Enfinger as he won the most races last year and finished second in points to Mason Mitchell even after switching teams in mid-season. He returns with Gallagher Motorsports this year and has already won the first two races of 2015.  He could make it three in a row this weekend at Nashville which would be the second straight year he has started the season with three consecutive wins. No one has ever done that in ARCA before so it should be fun to see how everyone handles a new track with lots of new drivers on the entry list.

Grant Enfinger
One of the best things about shooting for ARCA is I get to cover an event from all angles and pictures are used on their website for viewing or purchase by fans and teams. I typically don't have that kind of freedom when I shoot for Associated Press (AP) but that's alright since I usually am assigned a position where I can make some pictures they will use on the wire. It's always a bonus when my pictures get transmitted by AP as I get to see NASCAR at the big track of 'Dega where anything can happen on any lap with their pack racing format. I started off as a turn shooter at Indy waiting for crashes so the Dega weekend is kind of a throwback for me. Once I get to Indy in May, I will be shooting for, and then I have the freedom to roam again as that site expects photos from track action, personalities and behind the scenes to help support their writers. Regardless of whether I am shooting for ARCA or another entity, I will be posting on Twitter and doing numerous blog posts like this one about my experiences which I hope gives a little insight into what it's like chasing race cars with a camera.
Last year's fall race at Salem Speedway was one for the ages

After this weekend, I have a weekend off from racing which will be filled with soccer officiating, and then the real fun begins. The last weekend in April I will shoot for ARCA again at Salem Speedway. Then I go to Talladega for NASCAR with Associated Press. Then it will be May at Indianapolis for for three straight weekends of Indycar racing starting with the Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and ending with the 99th Indy 500. The end of May coincides with the end of my school's spring semester and my birthday when I will turn 58.  I will be putting a lot of miles on my RSX-S this year and this stretch of spring weekends promises to be the busiest racing period I think I've ever had. I will be doing almost all the ARCA races this season so I may have to revise that assessment later on! So stay tuned for the next installment in my racing road show. You just never know where you might see me! C'mon down to Nashville and join the fun this weekend.

Grant Enfinger's Gallagher Motorsports entry will be one to watch in ARCA this season.

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