Saturday, December 22, 2018

2018 Motorsports: My Grateful Year in Review

Click Here To View My Best Of Racing Photo Gallery
From Daytona Beach in January to Kansas City in October, my year in racing crisscrossed the country from my home in Indianapolis, and all but the trip to Daytona was done by driving. By the time of the ARCA Racing Series annual awards banquet in Indianapolis earlier this month, I had racked up some serious miles on my Honda Civic Si coupe and catalogued more than 50,000 images in the process. Indycar, ARCA, CRA, USAC Silver Crown, IMSA WeatherTech sports cars - these were series I was lucky enough to cover this year. Next year promises to be even better with more travel and some surprises I hope to be announcing by the end January.

Danica Patrick raced into retirement this season
During the course of this racing season, as always the Good, the Bad and the Ugly sometimes reared its head. The Good was in evidence at each of the 10 ARCA races I covered as we endured 2 rainouts yet everyone came back each time ready to put on a show. The Bad was losing one of racing's seniors when ARCA team owner James Harvey Hilton lost his life in a tragic highway accident going home from the Talladega race in May. The Ugly occurred at Salem in September when two of the ARCA youngsters got caught up in some retaliation, but thankfully only race cars were torn up. Along the way, I got to see Scott Pruett race his final sports car race and Fernando Alonso get experience in the same event at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. I photographed Danica Patrick running in her last race during May at the Indianapolis 500. Will Power got the 200th win for Team Penske in Indycar at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and then followed that up with his first Indy 500 win at the end of May. So many memories and yet the time seems to have just sailed by since I boarded that Southwest Airlines flight to Daytona last January.

Indianapolis from the roof
Dirt track racing, small ovals, superspeedways, a road course and medium ovals were all on my schedule this year and I got to do and see some amazing sights that I tried to memorialize with my cameras. Shooting the start of the Indy 500 from the roof of the penthouse seats overlooking Turn 1 is always a thrill, and if I do have to fight off a little vertigo. Standing in the flagstand at places like Talladega Superspeedway and Kansas Speedway shooting the start of ARCA events is equally thrilling and offers unique perspectives that very few people ever get to experience. At the dirt tracks of Springfield and DuQuoin, there's no way to get any closer to the action than I do there while hugging the guardrail as the USAC Silver Crown or ARCA machines roar by literally inches away from me. Then there's Indianapolis, where everything takes on more epic proportions due to the history at the famed oval. I live for that rush of adrenaline standing at the drop gate in Turn 1 as Indycars exit the turn and head right for me at 225 miles per hour. There's nothing else quite like that, and the common thread of all these experiences is that racing photography is a totally visceral and all encompassing experience with sound, motion, vibration and potential mayhem unfolding in front of me on every lap.

Daytona in January is always a blast
Then there's the weather: there might be "moisture", there will definitely be heat and humidity, and there might even be snow and frigid temperatures. Regardless of the conditions, I might walk 20,000 steps during an 18 hour day at the racetrack and then get up early and drive home the next day, totally satisfied yet hungry for more. I have to pinch myself sometimes to be sure I'm not dreaming as I often can't believe my good fortune in being able to do some of the things I get the opportunity to do. I have worked hard and been blessed with some fantastic opportunities over the last decade. My life has totally changed since I decided to change careers and allow more time to pursue my passion for photography and I have a lot of people to thank for the chances I have had. I've said it before but I must give credit to people like Keith Pritchard, Larry Coles, Steve Snoddy and Dave Martin who are no longer with us but gave me great inspiration, support and taught me so much about photography. As a self taught photographer, I needed their help and I continue to try to learn from everyone I can.

Love the view from the flagstand
I also have to thank my friends at ARCA like Mark Gundrum, Tom Legeman, Doc Hunter and others for their faith in what I try to do to support the series. I can't forget my French friends Pascal Saivet and others at MPS Agency who allowed me to represent them internationally at Indianapolis last May. I am also grateful for the continuing opportunities to work for AP staffers like John Raoux at Daytona and Brynn Anderson or John Bazemore at Talladega. As this year comes to a close, I know I will have left someone off of this gratitude list and I apologize for that. I will try to make it up to you in the new year. Until I see you all again, be safe and enjoy the holidays. See you at a racetrack somewhere soon. Let's make some freaking pictures.

Turn 1 at Indy
Stock cars on dirt: a ground shaking thrill every lap when you are up against the rail
Kids like this one are the future of racing
USAC Silver Crown cars dance on dirt like skaters on ice
I chase the best light at every race and follow a "10 laps and move" strategy to cover it all

No comments: