26
Apr

ea04d_0232

Last year I was fortunate enough to cover a couple of off road races and I loved it. Prior to this season I was lucky enough to be offered the position as the official photographer for the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series (LOORRS). After some brief negotiating it was a done deal. Here are some of my favorite images from my first weekend working for the series.

The race course for the weekend was located in the small city of Surprise, AZ, about an hour from my home in Mesa.

First up on Friday was a mandatory photo meeting where we were warned about avoiding some of the poisonous snakes they had been finding over the course of the last few days as well as warning us to avoid being hit by the racing vehicles……ya think?!?

Being that it was my first time covering a race at this track I spent a large portion of the first day roaming around the course and checking out all the different angles to see what would work best for me for the races on Saturday and Sunday.

Below, LOORRS pro 4 unlimited driver Kyle Leduc powers through turn one during practice for round 3 at Speedworld Off Road Park.

ea04z_8701

Nikon D700, 400mm, 320iso, f4, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

Below, I shot with an 85mm f1.8 lens to get a razor thin depth of field (area in focus) in this shot of LOORRS pro lite unlimited driver Brian Deegan as he sat in his truck prior to practice for round 3 at Speedworld Off Road Park.

ea04d_8179

Nikon D700, 85mm, 640iso, f1.8, 1/250th, Aperture Priority

While shooting on the inside of turn two a full course caution came out, that allowed me to slap a wide angle lens on the camera to shoot the below frame as a corner worker displayed the yellow flag.

ea04z_9637

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f2.8, 1/8000th, Aperture Priority

One of the cooler aspects of shooting off road racing is the track seems to wind all over the place enabling you to shoot many different angles on the track from the same shooting location.

Below, dirt flies as unlimited two driver Jeff Geiser drives at the edge of a turn shooting a roostertail of dirt over the side during practice.

ea04z_9813

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 100iso, f2.8, 1/640th, Aperture Priority

Pro two unlimited driver Cary Hart (better known as husband of music singer Pink) rolls his truck over in turn two during qualifying, below.

ea04z_9864

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 100iso, f2.8, 1/400th, Aperture Priority

Below, using the 85mm f1.8 lens I shot pro 4 unlimited driver Kyle Leduc as he sat strapped into his truck before practice.

ea04d_8307

Nikon D700, 85mm, 100iso, f1.8, 1/1000th, Aperture Priority

One of the perks of being the series photographer is that they have a helicopter at every event. A quick request to the media director to go up for some aerial photos was quickly granted and over to the helicopter I went.

Below is an exterior view of the R-44 helicopter. Looks small eh? Its giant compared to the chopper I flew in the last time.

ea04d_8396

Nikon D700, 85mm, 250iso, f1.8, 1/6400th, Aperture Priority

Below is an aerial view of Speedworld Off Road Park during LOORRS qualifying for round three.

ea04z_9954

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 320iso, f3.5, 1/8000th, Aperture Priority

Below is a wider view from the other end of the track.

ea04z_9966

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f4.5, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

While the best time to go up for aerial shooting would be during an actual race (when numerous vehicles are on track), unfortunately the helicopter is used by network TV on race days so I would have to do what I could with qualifying day.

Below, trucks take a hairpin turn during qualifying.

ea04d_8453

Nikon D700, 400mm with 1.4 convertor (550mm), 320iso, f7.1, 1/1250th, Aperture Priority

One shot that I have envisioned from the air was a cool truck flip. It actually happened when I was up there but I totally didn’t even see it happening. The below frame was the only thing I was able to get.

ea04d_8500

Nikon D700, 400mm with 1.4 convertor (550mm), 320iso, f7.1, 1/1250th, Aperture Priority

I intended to staying up in the air longer but out of nowhere I quickly felt like puking and realized looking through such a long lens while bouncing around the sky in a little helicopter had given me motion sickness.  Since it was my first time in this helicopter I figured it would be best not to puke inside so I told the pilot via headset to take me down.

Back on the ground I ventured to the outside of turn two and shot directly into the sun to get silhouette shots of trucks taking a jump, below.

ea04d_8790

Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f5.6, 1/4000th, Manual

That wrapped up day one, on to Saturday!

Upon my arrival I quickly got to work shooting a childrens truck class.

Below, yellow flags fly as a track worker leaps a wall to check out the young driver of a truck that flipped through the moguls section of the course.

ea04d_8918

Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f5.6, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

Truck bounce all different directions as they race down the track, below.

ea04d_8921

Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f5.6, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

I don’t know why but the below photo makes me laugh….

ea04d_9507

Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f4, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

After the previous day spent exploring the course I decided the best place to shoot the races would be from an elevated location. On the ground the backgrounds were just far too cluttered (which only can take the viewers focus away from the intended subject).

I was lucky enough to gain access to a scissor lift used by LOORRS officials to monitor the race from.

zzimg_5389

Photo by Kevin Sutton

Here is the view looking straight down on the main grandstands from the scissor lift as the field of trucks drive by on a pace lap, below.

ea04d_9622

Nikon D700, 14-24mm, 100iso, f6.3, 1/640th, Aperture Priority

Once the races began the action quickly heated up.

Below, pro four unlimited driver Josh Merrell barrel rolls his truck in turn two.

ea04d_9798

Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f6.3, 1/800th, Aperture Priority

ea04d_9799

Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f6.3, 1/1000th, Aperture Priority

ea04d_9805

Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f6.3, 1/1000th, Aperture Priority

One of the bad things about shooting vehicles flying through the air is that when you are shooting elevated (like I was) it made the airborne vehicles seem like they were barely off the ground. At least I got clean backgrounds for the shots, plus the shadows helped add to the frame.

Below, unlimited pro buggy driver Randy Minnier (995) takes a jump alongside Rich Ronco (999) during their race.

ea04d_9936

Nikon D700, 400mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

Below, I once again shot wide to show off the large crowd along with rows of trucks heading down the main straight.

ea04d_0074

Nikon D700, 14-24mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

An interesting part about shooting off road races is that the trucks very rarely ever look the same at the end of a race than they did at the beginning. All the beating and banging they take over the course of a race leads to body parts flying off the trucks.

Below is a good example as pro lite unlimited driver Sean Geiser takes a jump as bodywork flies off his truck.

ea04d_0225

Nikon D700, 400mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

On the first lap of the pro lite unlimited race went four wide into turn four, below. Just like nearly every other form of motorsports, four wide wasn’t gonna work…..

ea04d_0115

Nikon D700, 400mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

While three of the four made it safely through the turn there had to be one loser and that loser would be Matt Loiodice as his truck turned over…..

ea04d_0122

Nikon D700, 400mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

……and barrel rolled through the turn.

ea04d_0124

Nikon D700, 400mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

Not to be outdone, pro light unlimited driver Jerry Daugherty (23) and Jacob Person (92) collided in the air while going over a jump. The collision turned both sideways and caused them to land sideways……

ea04d_0232

Nikon D700, 400mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

Person would get lucky and simply spin out while Daugherty would be the big loser and roll his truck over six times!

ea04d_0239

Nikon D700, 400mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

ea04d_0249

Nikon D700, 400mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

ea04d_0253

Nikon D700, 400mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

ea04d_0255

Nikon D700, 400mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

While it was a very spectacular crash, Daugherty was fine and actually tried to start the truck back up to finish the race. Sadly the damage sustained in the flip prevented him from finishing the race.

Here is a little layout of the sequence.

eadaughertyflipsequence

While Jacob Person survived the near crash he would still end up having big problems as flames engulfed his truck a few minutes later, below.

ea04d_0355

Nikon D700, 400mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

As the sun dipped lower in the sky the light got very nice for some cool photos.

Below, dirt and dust provide an awesome backdrop as pro two unlimited driver Jeremy McGrath powers through turn five.

ea04d_0736

Nikon D700, 400mm, 500iso, f5.6, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

On the last lap of the super lite race driver Colton Greaves (33)  flips over alongside Chad George (42) while leading on the last lap during round 3 at Speedworld Off Road Park.

ea04d_0883

Nikon D700, 400mm, 1000iso, f4, 1/1600th, Aperture Priority

ea04d_0898

Nikon D700, 400mm, 1000iso, f4, 1/1600th, Aperture Priority

After the race with fireworks and smoke exploding in front of the finish line I was able to use it as an interesting foreground with super lite driver Brent Fouch racing in the background.

ea04z_0707

Nikon D700, 400mm, 640iso, f4, 1/1250th, Aperture Priority

That wraps up Saturday.

Below, pro buggy unlimited driver Mike Dondel skips across the tops of the moguls during morning qualifying.

ea04d_1069

Nikon D700, 400mm, 400iso, f4, 1/5000th, Aperture Priority

For the limited buggy race I tried out another new spot and shot from the inside of turn one to see if it was worth shooting from during the main races.

Below is the view as the limited buggy drivers race as a big pack into turn one.

ea04z_1194

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 200iso, f5.6, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

While turn one on the inside was a cool spot it just couldn’t compare to the elevated view from the scissor lift so for the rest of the races I decided to shoot up there.

Below, pyrotechnics shoot large flames into the air as the field of pro two unlimited drivers take the green flag for their race.

ea04z_1334

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 200iso, f5.6, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

In the few off road races I have shot I noticed that the buggies weren’t near as spectacular as the trucks.

Perhaps I need to rethink that after the below sequence in which pro buggy unlimited driver Mike Halliday (904) took a wild ride after contact with Larry Job led to a wild series of rolls.

ea04d_1431

Nikon D700, 400mm, 250iso, f4, 1/6400th, Aperture Priority

ea04d_1439

Nikon D700, 400mm, 250iso, f4, 1/6400th, Aperture Priority

ea04d_1446

Nikon D700, 400mm, 250iso, f4, 1/6400th, Aperture Priority

Here is more shots from the crash sequence.

eabuggysequence

A CBS cameraman shoots down on the action from a lift just past my shooting location, below.

ea04d_1628

Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f5, 1/1600th, Aperture Priority

When shooting off road racing there really are no safe areas on course. With these high speed trucks on the edge of control you need to be prepared for everything.  The below photo is a good example as an out of control racer plows into a concrete wall protecting corner workers and media. You can see the flagman (in yellow shirt) on left narrowly missing being hit by a fence that was hit by the truck.

ea04d_1711

Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f5, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

In a similar incident to the yellow truck barrel roll the previous day I would once again get a wild crash sequence caused by two trucks making contact while flying through the air.

Below, pro two unlimited driver Robby Woods (99) loses control of his truck after contact with Kevin Probst (9)….

ea04d_1727

Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f5, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

Probst would harmlessly drive away while Woods would go for a wild ride…..

ea04d_1732

Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f5, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

…..in which he would flip his truck multiple time.

ea04d_1736

Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f5, 1/1250th, Aperture Priority

ea04d_1740

Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f5, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

ea04d_1744

Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f5, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

ea04d_1755

Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f5, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

And with that sequence I will bring this blog to an end. Very fun shoot and I am excited for the next race in Las Vegas in May.

Next up is NASCAR in Talladega. Stand by!

Click below to browse through all my images from the weekend.

markbanner


 
Posted in Aerial Photography, LOORRS, Me, Off Road Racing, Racing, Sports   | 8 Comments

8 responses to “High Impact Off Road Racing from Surprise”

  1. Great images! You truly rocked this event from every angle! Lots of action!

  2. […] Continue reading and see more photos on Mark’s blog. […]

  3. Micah says:

    Great job covering the event. It is nice to a true pro working the event.

  4. Kermit says:

    Great job, good to meet you..

  5. Man I can not wait for your blog each week. Again, I repeat myself. Reading your blog is almost as good as being one of your assistants. Thanks Mark for letting us go with you on your journey.

    Shannon

  6. Shannon Frost says:

    Great shots… wrecks galore.

  7. Micah says:

    That is what short course off road racing is all about!!!!

  8. […] Continue reading and see more photos on Mark’s blog. […]

Leave a Reply

Check out my Facebook page devoted my photography where I routinely share my favorite photos from each shoot as well as favorite photos from the past. Click the below banner to check it out. Be sure to "like" the page so you can be kept up to date on all the events I am doing!