08
Mar

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After a wild and crazy weekend of NHRA in Phoenix it was on to Vegas for NASCAR. Driving up to the shoot I thought to myself it was going to be very tough for Vegas to top Phoenix. Boy was I right. Try not to fall asleep during this blog!

As soon as I arrived to the track Friday morning it was straight to the Nationwide Series garage to get my quota of Danica Patrick photos for the day.

Below, Danica is framed by crew chief Tony Eury Jr (left) as he talks with father Tony Eury Sr following Nationwide practice.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 1250iso, f4, 1/320th, Aperture Priority

A crowd of adoring fans anxious for autographs to sell on ebay surround Danica as she makes her way from the garage to her hauler following the practice.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 500iso, f5.6, 1/1250th, Manual

Following the Nationwide practice we jumped into Sprint Cup Series practice where I saw something as rare as a unicorn…..

….a pink car actually driven by a man! I guess Mike Bliss, below, has an excuse (kinda) as the car was sponsored by everyones favorite socialite Kim Kardashian, more on her later!

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 100iso, f8, 1/640th, Aperture Priority

Above the garage on the teams hauler, crew chief Chad Knaus peers over a computer monitor as he follows his driver Jimmie Johnson around the track, below.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

Every once in awhile and I mean once every few years, I am lucky enough to get a giant fireball coming from the exhaust pipe of a car as excess fuel ignites when a driver cranks the engine. For some reason I would get three of these events in one day. The first big flamer of the day was Greg Biffle, below.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 800iso, f4, 1/8000th, Aperture Priority

Evidently Tony Stewart (below) has a headache as he walks through the garage.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/500th, Aperture Priority

Midway through the practice I spotted a small congregation of photographers at the entrance to Jeff Burtons garage. Figuring that it was odd anyone would wanna shoot Burton I headed over to investigate. What I found was a fan had a Burton die cast car and a sharpie hanging from a fishing pole as he attempted to get an autograph, below.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/640th, Aperture Priority

It secretly made me laugh (ok it wasn’t a secret I really did laugh) when Burton went out a side exit completely missing the chance to sign the car. Below, the frustrated fan reacts as burton heads the other way.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

After practice was Sprint Cup qualifying.

Below, Juan Yawn Pablo Montoya hangs out on the grid waiting his turn to run.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2000iso, f4, 1/5000th, Aperture Priority

Dale Earnhardt Jr (below) smiles as he stands alongside his car prior to having a pretty good qualifying lap.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 1250iso, f4, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

While shooting Mark Martin (below) I was lucky enough to catch another photographers flash which gave some great light on his face.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 1600iso, f4, 1/5000th, Aperture Priority

Big flamer number two would be Matt Kenseth (below) as flames poured from his exhaust pipe as he pulled into the garage following his qualifying lap.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 1600iso, f4, 1/5000th, Aperture Priority

A few minutes later flamer number three would be Kyle Busch as his car trickled flames when he pulled into the garage following his qualifying lap.

Below, NASCAR officials attempt to kick out the flames to no avail.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 1250iso, f2.8, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

The only way to put the flames out is by restarting the engine which quickly burns the excess fuel.

When Busch turned the engine on it shot a huge flame from the side which made for my favorite image of the weekend.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 250iso, f2.8, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

Kyles big brother Kurt Busch (below) would end the day on top of the qualifying order.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 1250iso, f3.2, 1/8000th, Aperture Priority

On to Saturday.

Saturday began with Sprint Cup practice. Since I didn’t get any cool pics lets just skip to the Nationwide Series race.

Prior to the race some of my good buddies and I posed for a wacky group photo prior to heading to our shooting spots.

Below, (from left) Steven Barry, Dustin Snipes, Justin Kase Conder and Me.

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Photo by Robert Butterfield

The Sams Town 300 Nationwide race had the significance of being Danica Patricks last NASCAR race for four months while she will be focusing on her real job as an Indy Car driver.

With that in mind she would once again be my focus for the weekend.

Below, NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Danica Patrick (7) passes high as Michael McDowell (81) crashes during the Sams Town 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

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Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 800iso, f5.6, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

The weather forecast on the day was not too promising as rain was all over the radar around Vegas. Below you can see the dark and stormy clouds in the sky over the speedway.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 500iso, f2.8, 1/5000th, Aperture Priority

SHooting on the roof I had my good friend Dustin Snipes standing alongside me. Below we BS with each other during a boring part of the race (note the pop up flashes up on both our cameras).

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Photo by Steven Barry

Of course while we were joking around a crash occurred. And that crash involved Danica Patrick. Luckily I have a fast reaction time so I was able to turn and throw the camera and get a few frames and she slides alongside Michael McDowell (the same car she barely missed crashing with earlier).

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Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 1000iso, f5.6, 1/1000th, Aperture Priority

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Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 1000iso, f5.6, 1/1600th, Aperture Priority

While the crash wasn’t all too bad it was still enough to knock Patrick out of the race. Below, she makes the left turn into the garage area.

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Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 1000iso, f5.6, 1/1000th, Aperture Priority

Shortly after the crash the rains came. Surprisingly they only lasted for 10-15 minutes. Not wanting to be stuck on the roof in the event of more rain I headed to the inside of the track….

…..where I found everyones favorite prop comedian. Carrot Top!

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 1250iso, f3.5, 1/250th, Aperture Priority

He was working on pit road for the Mike Wallace team. Since Danica was out of the race he was the only thing left worth shooting.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 1600iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

Before heading to a different shooting location I had the honor of getting my photo shot with him. Guy is so scary looking that my stupid G10 didn’t wanna focus on us, below. Hmmm, oh well.

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Out of Focus photo by Mark J. Rebilas

Below, NASCAR Nationwide Series driver James Buescher sparks as he grinds to a stop in his pit box after hitting the wall during the Sams Town 300.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 1250iso, f4, 1/500th, Manual

The race should have ended well before dark but due to a few rain delays and several cautions the race would eventually head into darkness, below.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 1600iso, f2.8, 1/640th, Manual

All through the day it was Kevin Harvick who led the race, night was no different as he would hold on and win the Sams Town 300 by a large margin, below.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f4, 1/500th, Manual

In victory lane he would let the coke fly. (not the overabundance of coke many of you may envision in Vegas)

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 1600iso, f2.8, 1/250th, Manual

On to Sunday.

Prior to the race I caught word that Kim Kardashian would be in attendance so by some quick sleuth work I found out that she had a brief sponsor apperrance at one of the team haulers prior to the race. With that in mind I spent about 45 minutes of my life waiting there to shoot her. And as with most women, she showed up rather late! She did not disappoint though once she did show up, below.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 1600iso, f2.8, 1/1250th, Aperture Priority

I happened to know the photographer who was documenting her day at the track so after she finished up here appearance I got my photo with the socialite, below. Thanks Juan!

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Photo by Juan Campo

For the race I would once again start off on the roof of the track.

Following the National Anthem (actually off timing and right in the middle of it) the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds did a fly-by above the speedway, below.

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Nikon D700, 14-24mm, 100iso, f2.8, 1/5000th, Aperture Priority

As the field got on track and made their pace laps you can barely see the Thunderbirds flying in formation in the below photo in the top left corner.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 200iso, f6.3, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

Pole sitter Kurt Busch and second place qualifier Jeff Gordon lead the field to the green flag past a packed house, below.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 200iso, f6.3, 1/1600th, Aperture Priority

It didn’t take long as the caution flag quickly came out as Kevin Conway in the Extenze sponsored car lost control and spun out in turn two. If that product is supposed to make you last longer, spinning out on lap one of a 400 mile race probably isn’t the best sales pitch.

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Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 500iso, f5.6, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

The roof of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway is one of the few roofs in NASCAR where they allow the fans up there. While it makes things a huge pain on the photogs as we try to squeeze in and do our jobs it also opens up a cool shot if you get elevated behind them and use them as a foreground to frame the cars on track like in the below photo of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Brian Vickers (83), A.J. Allmendinger (43) and David Gilliland as they race during the Shelby American at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

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Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 640iso, f6.3, 1/8000th, Manual

Early in the race Mike Bliss driving the pink Kim Kardashian car would crash into the turn two wall putting an early end to the day, below.

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Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 640iso, f6.3, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

The race, for the most part, was pretty boring so I left my perch on the roof to head down trackside and shoot some different angles of cars in the turns.

I stopped on my way down to shoot the below wide view of the tri-oval from the main spectator grandstands.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/6400th, Aperture Priority

Below, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Matt Kenseth (17) and Carl Edwards (99) lead the field into turn one on a restart.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 200iso, f6.3, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

After the field passed me I shot them going away through turn two, below.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 200iso, f6.3, 1/500th, Aperture Priority

I made the walk to the outside of turn two to shoot some of my favorite light pocket shots as cars would pass through pockets of light between the large billboards around the track.

The only problem was it was mostly cloudy so there was not much sun to be had.

It still was a good location to shoot car shots regardless.

Below, Kyle Busch leads Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr through turn two.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/1600th, Aperture Priority

After about 10 minutes in the spot the sun finally broke through giving me the light pockets I wanted.

Below, Sam Hornish Jr races through the turn.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

While you can see the light pockets and the car is technically exposed properly the photo just didn’t do it for me. So to make it better I changed the exposure to make the photo much darker and here was the result..

Below, Jeff Gordon races through turn two.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/4000th, Manual

Just by a simple shutter speed adjustment the photo took on a much more dynamic and artsy look.

I honestly only had about five laps of sunlight before clouds took over again. Once that happened I packed up for the long walk to the inside of the track.

While walking through the pedestrian tunnel to the inside I shot the below frame.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 400iso, f4, 1/1000th, Aperture Priority

Once on the inside of the track I did a quick transmit before heading out on pit road to get positioned to shoot the finish of the race.

With the nice skies overhead I went wide (below) to incorporate the sky into the shot as cars race down the front stretch towards turn one.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 400iso, f4, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

Jeff Gordon led nearly the entire race until just before the finish when teammate Jimmie Johnson (below) would pass him for the lead and win.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 100iso, f6.3, 1/250th, Aperture Priority

As I have grown accustomed to the last four years I got another Johnson burnout to add to my already gigantic pile of #48 burnout photos. Joy!

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 400iso, f5, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

For victory lane I went with my two camera setup. (And by setup I mean simply holding one camera in each hand)

Wide shot:

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 400iso, f4, 1/3200th, Manual

Tight shot:

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/2000th, Manual

Horray for Jimmie!

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/2000th, Manual

After a quick sprint to the media room I was able to move the burnout and initial celebration shots before hustling back out there for the champagne shot, below.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 320iso, f4.5, 1/2500th, Manual

What he didn’t spray all over the place he ended up drinking.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 320iso, f4.5, 1/1600th, Manual


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Posted in Las Vegas, Me, NASCAR, Racing, Sports   | 9 Comments

9 responses to “Hot Wheels in Vegas”

  1. Jase says:

    that first image with the huge flame shot – just AWESOME!! nice shot man!

  2. Pille says:

    I agree, that flame shot gorgeous!

  3. Pille says:

    Sry, meant to say “That flame shot is gorgeous”. Too tired to type properly…

  4. April Woodard says:

    FANTASTIC pics, Mark. Every one.

  5. Looks like a nice paycheck for having to be so bored. Where else can you hang out with Kim Kardashian and Carrot Top all in the same day?

  6. Cory Marr says:

    Never ceases to amaze me. Good job man!

  7. zroc says:

    awesome photography…

    I really appreciate it… My grand father had a talent for good shots… and I appreciate certain aspects on the craft… love to see the capture of the action moment and or scene…

    hope to explore it a bit more myself…

    thank you for sharing

  8. Mule says:

    Great shots! The Flames are smokin!

  9. Vicki Maheu says:

    Such awesome photos, I love the NASCAR ones most of all, keep ’em coming!

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