Tuesday, October 30, 2018

My 2018 Racing Season By The Numbers

My trusty 70-200 2.8 and I have seen a lot
If you have read my blog before, then you know that I am a Math Teacher in an adult high school by trade so it shouldn't come as a big surprise that my year  in review  blog post for  2018 would feature numbers. I am not scheduled to shoot any more races this year  but I still have  one event booked that is  racing related  and that is the ARCA Awards Banquet  in Indianapolis  in December. This black  tie event is  held in conjunction  with the  Performance Racing Industry (PRI) trade show and is one I have shot since 2013 for the ARCA series.  It's also traditionally the last time I get to see my ARCA friends each year before the holiday break. Once Christmas and New Year's has passed, then everyone at ARCA will start focusing on the first race of 2019 at Daytona in February - myself included.

Shooting from the back of the pace truck at Berlin was a huge thrill
My main racing photography commitment in 2018 was the ARCA series. This year's numbers are down somewhat from the last three years as I had held time for a return trip to Le Mans that didn't pan out so I wasn't scheduled to work any of ARCA's June races this year. Evenso, I still worked 10 race events in seven different states. If you count the two weather postponements we had, I actually did 12 race weekends for the series since we had to make return trips to Berlin Raceway in Michigan and Lucas Oil Raceway outside of Indianapolis. In chronological order, the races I worked for ARCA were: Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, Tennesee; Salem Speedway in Salem, Indiana; Talladega SuperSpeedway in Alabama; Iowa Speedway; Berlin Raceway, Marne, Michigan; Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield, Illinois; Berlin Raceway (again); DuQuoin State Fair, DuQuoin, Illinois, Lucas Oil Raceway, Clermont, Indiana; Salem Speedway; Lucas Oil Raceway (again!) and finally Kansas Speedway, Kansas City, Kansas. These spanned from March to the end of October. We froze in Nashville, baked in Springfield and cooled off at Kansas so it was a fun year.

Night racing and gorgeous sunrises are Daytona Rolex bonuses
My racing season actually started in January again this year as it did in 2017 with the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, so add Florida to the list of states I visited in 2018. The Rolex was blessed with perfect weather this year, in stark contrast to the conditions in 2017. Another contrast was I drove to all of the ARCA races from my home in Indianapolis and racked up a ton of highway miles in my Civic Si whereas I flew Southwest to Orlando for the Rolex race. I  already have a similar flight booked for the ARCA race at Daytona next February but I doubt I will be able to shoot the Rolex race again next year, which is a shame as I've worked in 2014, 2017 and 2018 and loved every minute of it despite the grind it requires as a photographer. Maybe I like it because of that actually, as it does fell like multiple races rolled into one event. The rhythm of the Rolex is one thing I absolutely love: walk, shoot, edit, rinse and repeat about eight times. We had a gorgeous sunrise this year which would be hard to top so if it turns out that 2018 was my last Rolex 24 for awhile, I've got some fantastic images to remember it by. I appreciate the opportunity to work with my friends at the Associated Press in Florida and look forward to doing it again someday soon. Working a race in Florida upped my tally of states to eight on the year.

There's nothing quite like the Indy 500
The middle of my 2018 season was all about Indianapolis and the Month of May, with two races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) beginning with the Indycar Grand Prix on the IMS road course and capped off with the 102nd Indianapolis 500 Memorial Day weekend. As in 2017, I shot Indy for a French media company, although the name of the firm was different this year: MPS Agency. Working track time in May around my full time job is always a challenge and this year was no different. I am grateful that the people I work with at The Excel Center understand my passion for motorsports photography. Next year it looks like I will get to lead a student outing to the Speedway so I will get to directly share that passion in more than just photos. With Indianapolis added to the mix, that gave me a total of 14 race events for the year, counting the two ARCA rainouts. Not a bad total for 2018 but I anticipate that 2019 will be even bigger! You can best believe I am working hard to top this year and it looks like my main client will be the ARCA racing Series once again.

Fan favorite Salem Speedway had a spectacular sunset for ARCA this fall
One consequence of shooting fewer races this year was that my driving mileage dropped somewhat from years past, although I still logged about 6500 miles behind the wheel in 2018 just going to race events. I also had two road trips of more than 1000 miles each (Talladega and Kansas); next year I expect I will have those two plus several more that exceed that number. My pedometer also got a bit of a break this year with fewer races but not by much as it was not uncommon to log 15,000 to 20,000 steps per day at the racetrack as most days I spent 15 hours or more shooting and editing. Lest anyone think it's an easy job to do, you should come out and follow me around on a raceday and see what it's really like. I don't usually have the luxury of just showing up to shoot the race so I get quite a workout at most events I shoot. I'm glad for that. My fiance didn't nickname me the Energizer Bunny for nothing! I'm sure I easily shot over 50,000 images this year and it will be interesting to see what the shutter counts are on my two main camera bodies when next May rolls around! The crazy thing about me is that I can always identify pictures I shot when they are posted on the ARCA website or when the teams or sponsors use them, and I can always find the originals - the images are that clear in my mind's eye. I shot them; I should know!

ARCA Champion Sheldon Creed will be moving up in 2019
With the season over except for the ARCA banquet, I have a couple of other photo projects I am working on as well as trying to plan out my travel for next year. There are some big things in the works and I don't want to jinx myself so I will leave them unsaid for the time being. If you want to know more, then stay tuned and be sure to check back with me!

Until next time, keep the shiny side up everyone and go take some frikkin' pictures. Come see me at a race next year!

Shooting sports car racing offers many unique challenges but I try to go where the light is good.
It was damn cold at Nashville this year

Salem has hosted more ARCA races than any other track and is on the 2019 schedule twice again
We found out at Talladega that ARCA would be joining the NASCAR family in 2020
Will Power kicked off May with a dominant win on the IMS road course
Then he raced to his first Indy 500 win to make a clean sweep of the month of May
Everyone seems to love Iowa Speedway and this year the weather was reasonable rather than blast furnace hot
It took two tries to get the Berlin race run thanks to Mother Nature, but fans saw a slam-bang finish that started a social media firestorm
The dirt races at Springfield are always entertaining
DuQuoin is one of the few places where I can get this close to the action
It took two tries to get the Lucas Oil Raceway event run, but at least that one is close to home!
The Kansas Speedway ARCA finale ended up being a crashfest so it was a wild way to wrap up the 2018 season

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