After shooting NASCAR and NHRA the previous month I was very excited to shoot the season opening race for the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series (LOORRS). Even more exciting though was the fact the race was taking place just 10 miles from my place. One of my favorite sports + a weekend in town = WINNING!

Before we get started I need to plug my new Facebook Fan Page. On this page I will post some of my favorite images from each photo shoot as well as posting my favorite images from my 20 year archive of cool images. Click the below banner to “Like” it.

After being the LOORRS official series photographer last year I wasn’t sure if it would happen again due to my already slammed 2011 schedule but thankfully an 11th hour deal was able to be worked out to have me as the official photographer for all the races I could make this year. With that all done it was time to prepare for the new season.

One of the big things I wanted to set up was mandatory portraits of all the drivers.

The series was all for it because it would give them quality images for TV as well as their media guides/website and I was all about it because it would give me the chance to get  decent portraits of every driver which will certainly pay off between teams purchasing the images as well as magazines who need imagery.

Now its all fine and dandy to tell all the drivers they must show up for portraits but anyone who has dealt with athletes know they will find any excuse to miss a photo shoot. The officials knew that and notified the drivers that I would have to sign their tech sheets after they got their portraits shot and if I didn’t sign their tech sheets they would not race! Nice…

I was hoping to have a big trailer to set up in but as I figured it would happen I was relegated to shooting inside a small trailer barely tall enough to stand up in. I had hoped to do some cool five light setup but the trailer was not wide enough to have multiple lights so all I had was a three light setup, below.

A 1600watt Alien Bee strobe with a softbox (right), a 1600watt Alien Bee strobe with a simple reflector (left) and finally a Nikon SB-800 Flash aimed at the white backdrop to blow it out. (The third Alien Bee strobe you see is actually a backup I had on hand in case I had issues with the other lights. It was a good call since one of the lights popped with sparks and smoke…. sorry Matt…)

Below is a photo showing me shooting while my awesome assistant Jennifer keeps track of the drivers names as we run them through my “studio” like cattle heading to the butchers!

All the Series needed was plane and simple headshots of each driver. I wanted more than that so I came up with a plan to help me get more of a variety (for them  as well as for my other clients and myself)

First shot would be the standard waist up shot followed by driver with helmet on their knee and finally with their helmet on.

I had to be careful not to shoot too wide otherwise you would see the crappy background that would require a ton of photoshopping to clean up.

The below shot of driver Cameron Steele is an example of why I didn’t want to shoot too wide. Too cluttery.

Nikon D3s, 24-70mm, 100iso, f7.1, 1/250th, Manual

We ended up moving the drivers back closer to the backdrop and the shots, while not amazing, were good enough.

Below, Metal Mulisha founder and LOORRS driver Brian Deegan poses with daughter Hailie Deegan.

Nikon D3s, 24-70mm, 100iso, f7.1, 1/250th, Manual

Here is a small assortment of some of the drivers photos in their helmets. I shot nearly 180 drivers!

Star of the VH-1 reality show hit “The X Life” is Jeremy “Twitch” Stenberg posing with his helmet. I won’t lie. I’m a fan of the reality show!

Nikon D3s, 24-70mm, 100iso, f7.1, 1/250th, Manual

New to LOORRS this year is bad boy Jesse James. I was most nervous about photographing him because I assumed he would be a jerk simply because he is such a big name. False! James ended up being the coolest guy to shoot. Right from the beginning he was being goofy and having fun with Jennifer and I as we attempted to get serious photos of him.

Jennifer got in on the fun when she asked for a photo with Jesse. He quickly said yes and next thing you knew she was sitting on his lap telling Santa what she wanted for Christmas…

Here are a few more photos of Jesse James during the shoot. (The middle pic was his “executioner look” as he told us)

Nikon D3s, 24-70mm, 100iso, f7.1, 1/250th, Manual

Ok enough with the boring portraits, lets head out on track!

Below, Pro 2 unlimited driver Nick Tyree races through a cloud of dirt and mud during qualifying for round one at Firebird International Raceway.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 200iso, f5, 1/1600th, Aperture Priority

Below, 4 unlimited driver Aaron Daugherty (24) comes up over the horizon as he leads John Harrah (13) and Ricky Johnson (48) during qualifying.

Nikon D700, 400mm, 400iso, f5, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

During the UTV main event I walked around the track to check out some spots that I had never shot from before.

Here is the view from outside of turn one as Corry Weller (810) leads the field up the hill towards turn two, below.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 200iso, f4, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

Following the race Weller (below) celebrates on the podium.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 320iso, f4, 1/1000th, Aperture Priority

Of all the classes in LOORRS it is my opinion that the least likely category to see major carnage in is the limited buggy class.

Apparently somebody forgot to give that message to driver Bruce Fraley (312) who would get tangled up with Quentin Tucker (377)…..

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 200iso, f4, 1/6400th, Aperture Priority

…..Fraley would get the raw end of the deal as his right front wheel would be sheared off and he would barrel roll his buggy…..

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 200iso, f4, 1/6400th, Aperture Priority

As he continued to flip the field of drivers started jumping through my foreground and the camera would end up autofocusing on that…

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 200iso, f4, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

…. just when I thought the crash was over several other drivers would pile in on the accident.  For a moment I thought I was in Talladega shooting the “big one.”

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 200iso, f4, 1/5000th, Aperture Priority

For the Pro 4 unlimited race I would once again continue to move all around the course to get multiple angles.

Below, Jerry Daugherty flies over a jump down the frontstretch.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 100iso, f7.1, 1/200th, Aperture Priority

Johnny Greaves in his Monster Energy Toyota (below) leads a pack of drivers as he slides through turn two early in the race.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 200iso, f4, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

Pro 4 unlimited driver Josh Merrell flips over the wall and outta the ballpark to continue his tradition of crashing in every LOORRS race I have ever shot. Seriously!

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 320iso, f4, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

In perhaps the biggest crash of the weekend, Pro 4 Unlimited driver Kyle LeDuc (below) would barrel roll wildly in front of brother Todd LeDuc. I’d say this crash will get Kyle a nomination for crash of the year!

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 200iso, f4, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

Below, 2010 pro 4 champion Rick Huseman would show everyone why he was recently named the 2010 Dirtsport Magazine driver of the year as he would dominate the race and take the win.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f5, 1/640th, Aperture Priority

Huseman would climb from his truck and celebrate the victory, below.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Below, first place winner Rick Huseman (center), second place driver Carl Renezeder (left) and third place finisher Travis Coyne celebrate on the podium following the pro 4 race.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 200iso, f4.5, 1/1000th, Manual

To see more photos of Rick Huseman as well as his Toyota teammates Johnny Greaves and Marty Hart be sure to check out my photo blog that I am doing for Toyota Racing.

LOORRS pro buggy unlimited driver Bobby Pecoy (below) slides over an embankment as he crashes during round one at Firebird International Raceway.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 200iso, f4, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

Pro lite driver Jimmy Stephensen (below) rides at a 45 degree angle as he makes his own racing line. The line must have worked as he would finish on the podium.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 200iso, f4, 1/1000th, Manual

At the top of the podium in the Super Lite race would be “The General” Brian Deegan (below) who celebrates in a blizzard on confetti.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/640th, Manual

Below, pro 2 unlimited driver Jeremy “Twitch” Stenberg takes a jump ahead of several competitors.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 400iso, f4, 1/1000th, Manual

Dirt flies as pro 2 driver Robby Woods (below) races in heavy traffic down the front stretch.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 400iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Below, LOORRS pro two driver Marty Hart gets crossed up in the air as he leads Rodrigo Ampudia during round one at Firebird International Raceway.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 400iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Following the checkered flag of the pro 2 race pyrotechnics explode in the air as Nick Tyree soars across the finish line, below.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 200iso, f4, 1/1600th, Aperture Priority

Following the conclusion of racing for the day I shot a quick portrait back in the Rockstar Energy Drink pit area.

Pro 4 driver Todd LeDuc poses for a portrait with wife Leah LeDuc, below. Remember that face, she will be a future star in an NHRA nitro funny car.

Nikon D3s, 24-70mm, 640iso, f5.6, 1/250th, Manual with Alien Bee Strobe

Ok here are some photos from Sunday.

Below, the LOORRS flagman waves the checkered flag as UTV driver Corry Weller jumps across the finish line, securing her second podium finish of the weekend.

Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f3.5, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

One of the benefits of being the official photographer for the series is the ability to get better access from the rest of the media. I never really take advantage of it but I got bored and wanted to try something new so a few minutes later I found myself riding in the pace truck. While it didn’t give me anything amazing it was still an interesting angle to shoot the field of limited buggies as they formed up prior to the start of the race.

Nikon D3s, 24-70mm, 400iso, f7.1, 1/800th, Aperture Priority

Here is a shot of me in action from my buddy Ryan Torres.

Photo by Ryan Torres

By sticking the lens right up to the window net I was able to get the below shot of Chad George as he sat strapped into his vehicle prior to the race, below.

Nikon D3s, 24-70mm, 640iso, f3.2, 1/640th, Manual

Below, pro 4 unlimited driver Adrian Cenni shows the crowd exactly why he has the nickname “Wild Man” as he takes his truck on two wheels. How he didn’t flip over is beyond me. Wow!

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 400iso, f4, 1/2000th, Manual

Below, LOORRS super buggy driver Justin “Bean” Smith leads the pack down the jump to turn 3 during round two at Firebird International Raceway.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 400iso, f5, 1/2500th, Manual

Dirt flies as the field of buggies pass me in turn one. After each day shooting off road a long shower is needed to get all the dirt and mud out of the spikes of my hair.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 250iso, f5, 1/1600th, Manual

Mike Porter (below) takes the checkered flag ahead of Doug Fortin to win round two at Firebird.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 320iso, f5, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

Jason Ellis, the star of the Jason Ellis Show on Sirius satellite radio takes a tumble in turn one during the Super Lite race, below.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 400iso, f5, 1/1000th, Aperture Priority

Apparently everyone was jealous of Ellis going upside down so a few more drivers got in on the fun…

R.J. Anderson rolls his super lite in turn three, below.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 400iso, f5, 1/1250th, Aperture Priority

Pro Lite driver Matt Loiodice (below) flips his Impact sponsored truck in turn one.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

The final race of the weekend would be the pro 2 unlimited trucks. Prior to the start of the race I headed back into staging to get some close up head shots of the drivers sitting in their trucks.

Robby Woods

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 500iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Aperture Priority

Brian Deegan

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Aperture Priority

Jesse James

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 500iso, f2.8, 1/640th, Manual

Shooting from the top of the grandstands in race control it gave me a great view of the field of drivers as they took the green flag in front of a packed crowd, below.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 320iso, f3.5, 1/640th, Aperture Priority

LOORRS pro two driver Robby Woods (99) gets super crossed up as he leads Marty Hart (15) and Greg Adler during round two at Firebird International Raceway.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 400iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Pro 2 unlimited driver Jesse James (58) races through turn two in the middle of traffic, below.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 400iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

Pro 2 driver Rob MacCachren, below, stands alongside his truck next to a Rockstar inflatable sign after breaking during the race.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 400iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

In what ended up being a very good race the winner would be Rob Naughton who took the checkered flag, below.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 500iso, f4.5, 1/1000th, Manual

To say Naughton was excited for his first career pro 2 win would be a big understatement. He would stop his truck in the middle of the track and climb up to celebrate for the cheering crowd.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 400iso, f5, 1/800th, Manual

Below, Brian Deegan is congratulated by the fans after finishing third in the race.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 400iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

That wraps up the first weekend of the LOORRS season.

To see all my images from the weekend as well as to purchase prints click here.

Next up on my blog schedule is more NHRA.

Posted in Firebird International Raceway, LOORRS, Me, Off Road Racing, Portraits, Racing, Sports   | 4 Comments

4 responses to “2011 LOORRS Season kicks off with a Bang”

  1. aradilon says:

    Awesome photo’s once again Mark, from a sport i don’t really know, it makes me want to watch it sometime (though can’t see it here in Belgium 🙁 ). I also like the posing shots, let’s your blogviewers see that u can also do that (although most probably knew already).

  2. Leah says:

    You are one bad dude Mark. A-mazing photog. See u soon 🙂

  3. Mark, Great shot of Robert Naughton. It’s “Super”.

  4. Corry Weller says:

    I love your blogs, Mark!! Especially this one!! 🙂 Thanks so much for the seemingly tireless work that you put into the series for the fans and for us racers!!! See you in Utah!!

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