Thursday, July 30, 2009


Well, it's been a while since I last posted here, and I apologize. I have a few events that I have covered recently and I will catch up with them in the next couple of days. But first up from earlier this month is the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway, the 400.

As far as photo coverage for a NASCAR race weekend goes, they are all the same. In the days leading up to the actual race day, there are qualifying and practice rounds. While you can get shots of the cars going round and round in circles during these sessions, the time is better spent getting shots of the drivers either in or around their cars.

Nothing amazing, but we all have to do this, because come race day, the drivers aren't as accessible. All right, the boring qualification/practice days out of the way, we arrive at race day. The annoying thing about doing a NASCAR race is how ridiculously early you have to get there for it. Not because there's anything that really goes on, but just to beat the traffic. As you can imagine, traffic becomes a real pain in the ass when you try to jam 200,000 people into a venue in which there is only one highway exit. Better sit at the track than at traffic, and while you're there, you might as well look for some sort of pre-race feature to send off. Here I have a shot of the crew of Mark Martin pushing his car out to the track:

Eventually, I killed off all the time and it was time for the race. I started off by wandering around the grid looking for a nice shot of drivers with their families. Here's a shot of three-time champion Jimmie Johnson with wife Chandra during the national anthem. I got down and shot from a low angle so that instead of having the stands as a background, all I get is blue sky.

Now, I'm not really much of a NASCAR shooter, and I don't pretend to know a lot about the sport. But what I have always been told is that the Chicago race is a "boring" race. In other words, there are usually no big crashes, let alone any crashes. So knowing this, I knew I would be able to wander around and go look for some more artsy stuff instead. Around 8:30pm, the sun was starting to get really low in the sky, and was creating a cool effect as it set behind the main grandstand. I knew I had to take advantage of it so I shot some of it from a photo position near the track for a few minutes and got the leaders going around.

Then hurried and ran up the stairs of the grandstand for an overall view.

After transmitting, I positioned myself for the finish line and shot the winner crossing the finish line. I will admit, I kind of screwed it up and chopped the flag stand out of it, so you can't really tell that it is the last lap, but you'll have to trust me on this.

Again from my racing buddies, I knew Martin is not one to show much emotion when he wins, so I quickly ran over to victory lane to get in position to shoot the presentation. I was surprised that he even gave a fist pump when he climbed out of the car (albeit a pretty weak one), and showed a decent amount of excitement when popping the champagne.

So that's it for NASCAR in Chicagoland. Strange as it is, I did the very next NASCAR race two weeks later in Indianapolis. I'll have a post soon!