Nikon D3, 600mm, 400iso, f7.1, 1/3200th

Ended up in the popular tourist destination over Dover, Delaware for the second race of the NASCAR Chase for the Cup. Normally Dover is pretty good for some action but some weekends can be duds. This weekend was one of them.

Friday began with Sprint Cup Series practice. Walked around the garage shooting various driver shots and car shots. I came across Jeff Gordon who was sitting outside of his car  with his crew chief and was able to get within two feet to work some angles.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm, 800iso, f6.3, 1/800th

Inside the garage area the track had put up a new photo tower so I climbed up there to work a feature image with the nice clouds in the sky. The bright yellow car of Paul Menard worked well against the blue sky.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm, 100iso, f9, 1/4000th

After practice I transmitted some images and then went onto the grid to shoot Camping World East Series qualifying. On the entry list I noticed Ricky Carmichael (a former Supercross rider who is widely considered as one of the best riders ever) was in the race. I spent some time hanging by his car firing off some shots and asked permission from him to stick my camera inside the cockpit to shoot a head shot. He happily replied, “Yea no worries.” I did the shot with my sb800 flash off camera to give the image some depth. It made a solid image so I was happy.

Nikon D3, 14-24mm, 100iso, f7.1, 1/250th

A little while later was Sprint Cup qualifying. When the Cup guys qualify access is very limited and theres a ton more people shooting so it becomes a big mess. I typically shoot qualifying where the drivers stop after their run and climb out of the car. Not near as many photographers and you can get much closer to the cars. For the below shot of Greg Biffle I shot with the off camera flash once again.

Nikon D3, 14-24mm, 100iso, f8, 1/250th

For the Camping World East Series race I decided to place a remote camera in Ricky Carmichaels pit area. I knew that it wasn’t gonna be anything amazing but with my short amount of time to find a place it was an easy set up.

I threw my Tokina 10.55-17mm on the D3 and then headed across the track up to the media center roof where I’d be shooting the race from.

On Carmichaels first pit stop I shot it with my handheld camera which would be triggering the remote camera.


Nikon D3, 600mm, 640iso, f4.5, 1/1600th


Nikon D3, 10.5-17mm, 640iso, f7.1, 1/1250th

While the remote shot clearly is nothing award winning it still accomplished my goal of illustrating two completely different views of a pit stop. Now if he goes on to become a successful NASCAR driver then these photos will make some stock sales since nobody really covers these lower level races with any aggressiveness.

The initial place I had wanted to place the remote was the outside of turn two with a wide lens on for a crash camera. But the spot I wanted was too far from my position and would make successful firing of the camera highly unlikely, especially when you factor in all the radio traffic that would certainly diminish range. The best crash of the race (and ultimately the weekend) would have looked amazing from the spot I was thinking of.

Tim Andrews lost control in turn one and did a slow spin after hitting the wall the car slowly slid down the banking with several cars heading his way. He almost made it through without anymore contact but then at the last second Alex Kennedy came in and clipped the back trunk area of the car ripping it off and sending fuel flying through the air. As if that wasn’t enough then Jeff Anton came in and hit Andrews head on. Luckily for him the fuel never ignited the big fire it should have.

Nikon D3, 600mm, 640iso, f4.5, 1/6400th

The handheld shots are decent but the trailers in the foreground kill it for me. Nothing I could do about that though so whatever.

The race ended up being won by Sprint Cup driver Aric Almirola who was a last minute addition to the race.

Nikon D3, 600mm, 640iso, f4, 1/500th

Day two consisted of Sprint Cup practice followed by the Nationwide Series race. For qualifying I spent more time in the garage area photo tower messing with some pan blurs such as the one below of driver Elliott Sadler.

Nikon D3, 80-200, 100iso, f18, 1/20th

Carl Edwards was a driver I needed to shoot since he was the points leader but right before he came out the sun had come back out and it was too bright to shoot very slow with a good exposure so for fun I shot him anyways with everything really bright and blown out. I still liked how it came out. A bit more abstract.

Nikon D3, 80-200, 100iso, f11, 1/20th

From the tower I looked behind me and noticed the pattern of tires leading away so I fired off a few shots as Greg Biffle drove by back to his garage stall.

Nikon D3, 24-70, 100iso, f2.8, 1/1600th

With the Nationwide Series race on tap next I set up a remote camera with an 80-200mm at the end of pit road on the inside aimed at the front straight away with a goal of it getting a different angle of potential crashes along wide a good burnout celebration shot.

I had it set to fire whenever I fired my handheld so I threw two 4 gig flashcards in the body to ensure I wouldn’t run out of memory.

It was a surprisingly boring race compared to the crashfest it usually is so I really didn’t get much action. The biggest crash of the race ended up being a two car crash down the front straight away. Landon Cassill and Steve Wallace tangled coming off of turn four and both pounded the inside retaining wall.


Nikon D3, 600mm, 640iso, f4, 1/1000th


Nikon D3, 80-200, 640iso, f8, 1/320th

Obviously the remote shot is totally worthless due to the cars being too low on the track and being obstructed by the inside wall along with the people in the foreground. Notice how slow the shutter speed was on the remote. With it getting darker in the late afternoon the aperture priority I had to use due to the changing light slowed the camera way too slow to stop the action. It is something I kept in mind for tomorrows remote.

The race was dominated by Kyle Busch and he led 75% of the race onto the win. For his burnout I was excited how the remote shot would look. Here is the result.

Nikon D3, 80-200, 640iso, f8, 1/640th

My buddy Sam Cranston, the photo editor for NASCAR Scene magazine inadvertently blocked me while trying to get the burnout shot. I was just happy that he stepped down a few moments later when Busch climbed out of the car to get the checkered flag.


Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.4 convertor, 800iso, f5.6, 1/1600th


Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 640iso, f8, 1/800th

The remote shot of him with the flag was a much better shot than the burnout would have been so Sam was off the hook and I would no longer need to cut his brake lines. haha

I hustled down from the roof and over to victory lane to get some images of the celebration. As Busch was attempting to pop the cork out of a bottle of champagne to spray his crew the cork broke and he was left standing there like an idiot. A quick thinking crew member tossed his rental car keys for Busch to use to remove the cork, after a minute of trying that with no success another crew member gave him a screw driver.

Finally he removed the cork and proceeded to celebrate.

Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 320iso, f5, 1/320th

Day 3 came and it was the day of the Sprint Cup race. The only that that really matters. I had my best bud Justin Kase Conder with me to help with the race coverage. A few hours before the race he walked with me outside the track to set up my third and final remote of the weekend. At most tracks photographers are allowed to shoot on the outside of the track against the wall but for some reason Dover doesn’t allow it. That is the main factor in my decision to place the camera against the catch fence head on down the track providing a shot nobody else would have. It was a pain in the ass clamping the camera to the top of an ESPN remote video camera cage but Conder was finally able to help me get it placed.

As with yesterdays race I had the camera loaded with 8 gigs of memory.

Early on in the race Patrick Carpentier (10) lost control of his car and spun up the track towards points leader Carl Edwards (99) who narrowly avoided a big disaster in his pursuit of his first championship.

Carpentier actually clipped the back of Edwards car but he was able to mantain control.

Nikon D3, 600mm, 400iso, f7.1, 1/2500th

Nikon D3, 600mm, 400iso, f7.1, 1/1250th

Kyle Busch who had dominated the entire season had his second problem in the two Chase races and finished dead last (43rd) with a blown engine and dropped to the bottom of the championship contenders. In an interview after dropping out he proclaimed his championship chances were completely gone. He left the track in street clothes and a short while later his crew loaded the car into the hauler.

Nikon D3, 600mm, 400iso, f7.1, 1/1250th

In the later stages of the race the sunlight got much better and my remote camera produced the only shot of the day that I liked. Hopefully Carl Edwards who is in the lead in the picture goes on to win the championship making this a nicer photo.

Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 1000iso, f7.1, 1/2500th

Late in the race I noticed Richard Petty sitting by himself watching the race from on top of his hauler. When I am shooting from an elevated position I am always looking for anything I can see that would make for a nice image.

Nikon D3, 600mm, 400iso, f6.3, 1/8000th

The race had a great final 20 laps as teammates Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle mixed it up for the win. Edwards fell back as his tires went away leaving the battle between Kenseth and Biffle.

Nikon D3, 600mm, 400iso, f6.3, 1/2000th

Biffle held on to win the race and did a nice burnout.

Nikon D3, 600mm, 400iso, f6.3, 1/2500th

I’d love to show you the amazing remote shot of the burnout but sadly I ran out of memory LESS THAN ONE MINUTE before the burnout. UGH!!

After transmitting some shots I headed over to victory lane to shoot a few shots of biffle with the trophy. Instead of getting head on with all the other photographers I stood off to the side and shot with a slow shutter speed to pick up other photographers flashes. As I have preached a million times pictures always look better and have more depth when shot with the flash off camera.

Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 640iso, f7.1, 1/40th

And with that the weekend was a wrap.

Below is an overall view from my shooting position.

Nikon D3, 10.5-17mm, 200iso, f5.6, 1/1250th

Next is a visual aid that show where the remote cameras were in relation to my position along with their estimated distance from me.

Next is a view of a few of the images in the blog and their relation from my position.

Next stop is NASCAR this weekend in Kansas!



Posted in Dover, NASCAR, Pocket Wizard, Portraits, Racing, Remote Camera, Sports   | 17 Comments

17 responses to “3 Dover races, 3 Dover remotes, 3 mediocre results”

  1. Marco Togni says:

    I really like this post, especially the last two images where you show us where you took all photos.
    Thank you, from Italy

  2. fred Harl says:

    as always great shots and really enjoy your blog. Keep it coming. Fred

  3. Great stuff. Just wondering if you have another magic arm on the foot of the 80-200 remote?

  4. Walter S says:

    Great images Mark as always. It is great to see how you set everything up and what your settings where. Thanks

  5. Nice blog post! I even liked it! 🙂

  6. Scott Bourke says:

    Thanks for the details on your remotes setup. Love the last 2 images showing where they were in relation to you. Very smart idea.

    I’m an Aussie so NASCAR isn’t my thing but I have enjoyed continuing to read your blog after the Olympics.

  7. Great photos Mark. Good job using remotes in unique places.

  8. trent says:

    those last two are very informative. thanks Mark

  9. Mark G says:


  10. Great post! Love reading your blog!

  11. cetan says:

    What’s going on with that first photo? The magic floating spoiler from the Mobil 1 Dodge? That’s great timing!

  12. ruswil says:

    Been enjoying your blog since this olympics. Found you from the FM site.
    Lot of cool shots and info. One question with the remotes. Are they in a secure area?
    What keeps some random track worker or fan from messing with them?

  13. Rob K says:

    Great stuff as usual Mark, I really love your NASCAR work. Question on the remotes. Did anyone give you a hard time or question you when you were setting them up? I would think that the track officials wouldn’t want your D3 flying into the crowd on the rare chance that someone bounced off the catch fence right where it was mounted. My other thought is how do you lock that sucker down to prevent some drunk fan deciding to add to his camera collection. 😉 Do you have some sort of locking safety wires?


  14. ruswil says:

    Okay that was two questions.

  15. Ok time to answer a few of the questions asked.

    David-No I just used the one super clamp for each remote.

    Cetan- Thats the rear bumper from the Mobil 1 car of Sam Hornish Jr. He hit the wall a few seconds before that picture and it ripped his bumper off and it flew through the air.

    Ruswil-The remotes are in areas only accessable by credentialed media/crew members/vips. While it is certainly possible for someone to steal the setup most people don’t mess with stuff when its clamped to things. I also keep an eagle eye on the stuff from my 600mm!

    Rob K-For these remotes I didn’t ask anyone to set them up. 2 were in areas that photographers can shoot from and they were out of the way so it wasn’t a problem. The third one was in a restricted area that I had to go to a few hours before the race. The camera was safely clamped behind a fence so there was no danger to drivers or fans.

    Thanks for all the feedback guys.


  16. Dean says:

    Well Mark I have never realy been interested in NASCAR as my interest is Drag Racing (though some would find it very dull in comparison to NASCAR )but I like it but after seeing your posts on FM and navigating to your blog I am finding that I am starting to like it more and more, though I will probably never get to photograph races like this I am enjoying loking at you photographs and reading the storys that go with them….makes me feel like I am there….I am now thinking of using a remote camera at the Drag Strip.
    Well done mate.


  17. Mark Barnard says:

    Hi Mark –

    Your photos are terrific!

    Last month, I had the opportunity to acquire the front end of Carl Edwards #99 car that he raced at Dover on September 21. He autographed the piece for me, and told me the damage on the left driver’s side came when Patrick Carpentier spun on lap 26 and hit him.

    I have been searching for images of the #99 car from that race, and what do you know – not only do you have photos of Carl in that particular race, but the actual incident Carl was referring to as well!!!

    Do you have these or any other photos of the #99 car from this race for purchase? The photos would be a great compliment to the actual front end that I have. (I’d be happy to forward photos if you’d like to see it. Obviously, I would not use your photos for commercial purposes – only to display with the front end.

    Again, I’ve enjoyed viewing all of your photos. Thanks for your time and consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon!

    Mark Barnard

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