06
Oct

Only in the world of NASCAR can the driver who finished second be called the winner while the driver who finished first be called the 18th place finisher. Sound a bit confusing? Continue reading to see how that happens.

But lets start from the beginning. 

After arriving to the track and having to deal with basically zero traffic (thanks failing economy!) I headed out with David Griffin and Guy Rhodes to scout a remote camera location. I found a pretty good spot to set up a crash camera based on researching where a good portion of crashes occur on the 2.66 mile track. The distance was 734 feet (according to google earth map and some algebra performed by Guy Rhodes) from my elevated shooting location so going by the advertised distance of Pocketwizards that claim over 1000 foot range * it should be no problem. 

*(advertised distance is under optimal conditions)

Below is a photo of the set up and me smiling with all the optimism in the world that the camera will perform flawlessly.

Photo by Guy Rhodes

After setting up and gearing up it was time to head to my shooting position from the roof overlooking the track.

Nikon D3, 10.5-17mm, 500iso, f5.6, 1/4000th

As the field came to take the green flag I shot them coming towards me.

Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/2500th

And then heading into turn one.

Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/2500th

From the start it was an exciting race as the cars races three wide and at times four wide constantly switching leaders. The loudest cheers were when Dale Earnhardt Jr (88) would take the lead.

Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 100iso, f10, 1/80th

The first incident of the race occured after David Reutimann blew a tire and collected the car of Jeff Gordon (24) who hit the wall and spun down the backstretch. Note the over crowded photo tower on the left.

Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 500iso, f7.1, 1/5000th

Gordon limped his car back to pit road to see if they could repair it. It only took a few minutes before the crew decided to push the car back to the garage.

Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 500iso, f7.1, 1/3200th

Earlier in this post I mentioned the smaller sized crowds. Here is a photo that shows you the empty seats. While there were much more fans higher up in the stands it was still crazy to see a place that usually sells out to have so many available seats.

Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 500iso, f7.1, 1/2000th

As the race went on the craziness continued as the drivers raced precariously close. Something was bound to happen and as the field was coming through the tri-oval it finally did.

Championship contender Carl Edwards (99) took a little time at the lead.

Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 500iso, f7.1, 1/4000th

Brian Vickers (83) in the Red Bull Toyota was racing in the middle of three rows of cars for the lead. 

Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 500iso, f7.1, 1/1250th

Then out of nowhere his right front tire exploded. I have never actually seen a tire explode through the lens before and it was a pretty wild sight.

 

Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 500iso, f7.1, 1/1000th

Vickers car would no longer turn after the blowout and he plowed into the car of Martin Truex Jr (1) and things went downhill from there.

Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 500iso, f7.1, 1/1000th

Where the crash occured was the closest possible part of the track for me so having 850mm of lens was not a good thing.

Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 500iso, f7.1, 1/1000th

After that shot I lowered the long body and switched to the wide body to get more of the 10 cars crashing in front of me. I quickly realized the pocketwizard was on the body I just set down so I had to reach down with one hand to push the button on the wizard while shooting with the handheld wide body. Obviously pushing the wizard with one hand and trying to shoot with a handheld in the other didn’t work well but at that point all I cared about was making that remote fire. Below is a handheld shot showing the remotes location and where the coverage zone was for the accident.

After the luck of having the crash right in the remote camera zone I was incredibly excited to get to that remote after the race to see the awesome shot I would have.

HAHA yea right.

For some reason the camera didn’t fire a single shot when I was pushing the button. After analyzing the situation I concluded it didn’t fire because when I was pushing the trigger button the wizard was down and facing away from the remote cam so combine that with the long distance away and the heavy interference from all the electronics at the track it never had a shot. Literally!

I got one decent frame immediately after the crash (after I picked up the long glass and shot a photo) that looked somewhat cool.

Nikon D300, 70-200mm, 1600iso, f9, 1/4000th

After a big crash the first thing I always do is scan back and forth to all the different crashed cars to make sure all the drivers are ok. Also it sometimes makes for cool photos of the drivers climbing from their destroyed cars as the below picture of Martin Truex Jr shows as he reacts as he walks from his destroyed machine.

Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 500iso, f7.1, 1/1250th

A few minutes later while leading the field Denny Hamlin (11) suffered a tire failure and smashed the outside wall hard.

Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 500iso, f5.6, 1/1600th

The race got going again and settled down for awhile with Kevin Harvick (29) leading the field for several laps.

Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 500iso, f5.6, 1/3200th

My remote camera fired for a decent shot of Dale Earnhardt Jr (88) leading the field.

Nikon D300, 70-200mm, 1600iso, f9, 1/1250th

Then the Big One part 2 occured when Carl Edwards (99) spun out teammate Greg Biffle (16) who then got into third teammate Matt Kenseth (17) along with Dale Earnhardt Jr (88) in a multi-car accident in turn four. Note eventual race winner Tony Stewart (20) barely missing being involved in the crash.

Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 800iso, f5.6, 1/6400th

Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 800iso, f5.6, 1/5000th

Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 800iso, f5.6, 1/5000th

Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 800iso, f5.6, 1/5000th

Note in the next few images as championship contender Jimmie Johnson (48) narrowly avoids being involved in the accident.

Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 800iso, f5.6, 1/4000th

Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 800iso, f5.6, 1/3200th

Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 800iso, f5.6, 1/2500th

Third place in points Greg Biffle had his car destroyed in the accident.

Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 800iso, f5.6, 1/2500th

The race had about a 15 minute red flag which gave me some time to transmit the crash from my position on the roof via my Macbook Pro and Verizon Wireless Card. Below is a photo of me working with my mobile set up

Photo by Tyler Barrick

After the cleanup the race resumed and after a one car spin the race was set up with a green white checkered overtime finish. With the two big crashes taking out most of the top drivers it was set up to be a battle between Tony Stewart and a bunch of rookies and average racers.

Coming off of the final turn on the last lap Tony Stewart (20) held a slim lead over rookie driver Regan Smith (01). entering the tri-oval Smith ducked below Stewart who blocked him and forced Smith below the yellow line. Not how Stewart (yellow car) forces Smith down the track.

Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 1000iso, f5.6, 1/1250th

The rule in NASCAR has always been if you are forced below the yellow line you wont be penalized. Smith stayed below the yellow line and across the finish line first in an apparent upset victory over experienced driver Stewart.

Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 1000iso, f5.6, 1/1250th

Regan Smiths crew began celebrating on pit road as Tony Stewarts crew (yellow uniforms) stood on the wall awaiting word from NASCAR on the legality of the pass.

Nikon D3, 600mm, 1000iso, f5.6, 1/1250th

Then word came over the radio scanner I was on “20 car to Victory Lane.” NASCAR had reversed the finish and declared Stewart the victor and penalizing Regan SMith a lap which placed him 18th in the race.

Obviously it was pretty big news that they had reversed the finish so Regan Smith was mobbed with media as Stewart drove by on his way to victory lane.

Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 1000iso, f5.6, 1/1250th

Stewart celebrated his first win of the season.

Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 1000iso, f5.6, 1/1600th

After transmitting some more images from the roof I took the long walk back to the inside and caught the tail end of the victory lane.

Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 1000iso, f4.5, 1/500th

After he race it was time to spend about an hour editing and transmitting images. Then we packed the car up and headed out of the track. Talladega is the only track I am aware of that offers a media exit to pass the traffic out of the track. Making it even better is you have to drive on the bottom of the race track to exit the route. With Guy Rhodes in the passenger seat I decided to show him a good time by taking the rental car near the top of the banking to show him how insane the 33 degree banking of the track was. Guy was loving it as he video taped the ride while screaming “Woooooo Talladega baby…….woo!”  Hopefully he will be posting the video over at his blog at www.guyrhodes.com/blog3

I am off from NASCAR for the next four weeks but will be at the final two races of the season in Phoenix and Miami. 

Next up is NFL this weekend.




 
Posted in Me, NASCAR, Pocket Wizard, Racing, Remote Camera, Sports, Talladega   | 4 Comments

4 responses to “Talladega Day 4 (controversy wins exciting race!)”

  1. fred Harl says:

    Again some great images and always look forward to your blog. What type of camera bag do you use when traveling? I’m looking for something suitable to take on the airlines. Take care.

  2. Impressive! You have managed to be in the perfect shooting line for the action!

  3. Marco Togni says:

    Wow, very cool.
    But it’s a shame that PW didn’t fire!! ARGGGGGG. 🙁

  4. Hi Mark,

    Good work as usual and I really like the first few shots. Thanks for posting your insight on remotes too, it’s always appreciated.

    Daniel

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