Monday, April 2, 2018

On the Road Again: Back to ARCA Racing

My third Rolex 24 was a great experience
I haven't felt like I've had much racing related news to write about lately but that's all coming to an end since I am going back on the road this weekend. While I haven't been to a race since the Rolex 24 at the end of January, I've been busy with my full time job as a teacher and planning out the rest of this season. I've also been looking for new photography opportunities to fill some gaps this summer. In the meantime, I've continued to update and expand my redesigned website, I shot some games in a girls travel volleyball tourney in Indy a couple of weekends ago, and I I had planned to shoot the open Indy 500 test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last week while we were on spring break. But alas, spring weather here in Indiana is notoriously volatile and we've had snow this week followed by predictions of a week of rain for next week so the test was postponed.

The ARCA short track racing at Nashville's Fairgrounds Speedway is intense
This weekend, however, I will be back in the saddle at the ARCA race in Nashville, and I recently got confirmation from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that I will be shooting for French media company MPS Agency at Indianapolis in May, so those developments make me excited to get back to work at my racing photography. This off season has seemed especially long for some reason, and the schedule for my ARCA racing work currently only includes 10 races right now but more could be added. The MPS Agency has been recently created by principals of the former Vision Sport Agency (who I shot for last year and who helped me get access at  Le Mans last summer) so I hope I will be able to build on that relationship. Part of the reason I only have 10 ARCA  races for now is I had held June open in case we were able to go back to Le Mans this year and by the time I learned my grant request had not been funded, ARCA officials had filled those races as part of their planning which I understand. So as I said, I have some gaps in my racing schedule for June and we will probably use at least one week for a bona fide vacation once my school year is over.

Natalie Decker leads the 2018 crop of  ARCA newcomers 
One of the coolest things about shooting for the ARCA Racing Series is seeing all the officials again after several months away. I haven't seen most of the ARCA gang since the annual awards banquet last December. For others, you'd have to go back to Kansas Speedway in October and the final race last season. I know it will take me awhile to remember everyone's names and since I couldn't be at Daytona in February, I'm sure there will be some new war stories that will be going around that will be fun to catch up on. Another cool aspect of the series is all the newcomers behind the steering wheel that come to ARCA every season. Since this will be my first race of 2018 with the series, it will take me some time to put the new names, numbers and faces together but once I start taking their pictures and downloading them into the proper team folders, that gets really easy. And then there's the racing...

Grant Enfinger won in 2015 en route to the ARCA championship
My first visit to ARCA's Nashville race was in 2015 so this will be my fourth trip to Fairgrounds Speedway. I've seen the racing improve each year as teams gather more data for the aging half mile track. The ARCA series has a much longer history at the Fairgrounds track however, as the series tends to try different venues out from time to time. I hope this event draws its biggest crowd ever so we can keep coming back here each year. The support racing this year should be spectacular as three different Super Late Model series are joining together for a 100 lap feature that is always action packed. There will be plenty to photograph all day Saturday with practice and qualifying for ARCA and the Super Late Models, in addition to the main event, the Music City 200. Once the Nashville event is over, then my racing photography schedule starts to shift into high gear with ARCA races at Salem Speedway and Talladega later in April, and the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, practice and qualifying for the Indy 500 and then the 500 itself consuming most of the month of May. Needless to say, I am starting to get excited!

This year Toyota will probably win Le Mans but I can't be there to get shots like this
My one disappointment so far this year is not being able to return to Le Mans in June. If that is my only setback for 2018 then I will fine as we are doing everything we can think of to be able to go back in 2019. When I say "we", I am referring to my fiance and I since our 2017 trip was monumental and we want to see more of France and maybe some other parts of Europe while we are there. It would be hard to top our 2017 trip but we will certainly try! Part of the fun is in the planning anyway and you know I will be writing about it here as our plans progress. If I am fortunate enough to be a contributor to the Automobile Club de l'Ouest again with the help of my French colleagues, then it will all be worthwhile. Even if that opportunity doesn't materialize for some reason, going back to Europe will be a blast regardless, especially if I can learn some more French!

For now, I will leave you with a few more photos from my 2017 racing work and from the Rolex 24 this past January to prime the pump just a little more for this weekend. Enjoy, and be sure to check my website for more. Most importantly, don't forget to call me if you need a photographer!

ARCA races are wheel to wheel battles at Nashville
Lighting is everything in photography and sports cars during the Rolex 24 provide great photo opportunities
I feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz during May: "there's no place like home"
Going to Le Mans last year was a dream come true and I can't wait to go back

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