Today was my travel day from Phoenix to Talladega for this weekends big race. While normally I don’t go to the track on a Thursday I decided to swing by the track to show first time visitor Guy Rhodes around the facility. I wasn’t expecting to take any photos. Of course that went out the window once we got there!

Normally I wait to blog till after the weekend and throw it all into one big blog. But lately those wrap up blogs have been gigantic with tons of text and photos which ended up taking me several hours to produce. So my goal this weekend is to TRY and blog from each day here…..unless I get zero decent pics in which case I will say I was too busy to blog so I don’t post a bunch of garbage photos.

So after picking up our credentials we entered the track through the tunnel in turn four and proceeded to the media room. I noticed ARCA qualifying was still going on and since there are some potential future stars in the series I busted out a few cameras and went to work.

First person I came across was Joey Logano, aka “Sliced Bread” He has never run a restrictor plate race before so he was slumming it in the ARCA series in preparation for his Sprint Cup debut next season. 

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

As I like to do when possible I was shooting with an sb800 flash off camera via a sync cord. With the flash on the camera it is just an average shot that everyone who is lazy shoots. With the flash off camera it adds a bit of depth to the shot. 

Below is a photo taken by Guy Rhodes which shows how idiotic I look when shooting this way.

Photo by Guy Rhodes

It was late afternoon and the sun was dipping down behind the main grandstands and was looking pretty cool so I decided to try and bring the cool sky into some of my pictures. I saw future star (potentially) Ricky Stenhouse Jr about to climb into his car so I exposed for the bright sky and set the off camera flash to a stronger level to light him. Of course my batteries were close to dead so the flash didn’t fire but it still looked semi decent without.

Nikon D3, 14-24mm, 100iso, f11, 1/250th

I walked down pit road a bit to check out some spots for a potential remote camera tomorrow and decided to attempt a semi blurred car shot. Its dime a dozen but it sure beats a boring high shutter speed shot where the car looks like its sitting still.

Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 100iso, f14, 1/20th

I looked to my right to see Guy Rhodes kneeling down shooting through some barracades like so…

Normally when I see someone else doing something odd I let them do it and don’t try stealing their idea but I was very curious what the hell he was going for. After a few minutes I walked over and tried the shot myself, albeit with a longer lens.

Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 2000iso, f7.1, 1/1250th

I sure hope his images came out cooler than this piece of crap shot did. I guess if the driver in the shot ever gets arrested and thrown behind bars that this shot will become useful.

As qualifying was wrapping up I noticed from a spot I was standing that the sun was shining through a walkway and had a pretty cool look to it. So of course I had to stop and try and produce an image as ARCA driver Tim Mitchell sped by.

Nikon D3, 14-24mm, 100iso, f10, 1/250th

When I look at that photo all I can think about is how amazing that shot could be with a full crowd and 43 cars racing through the shot. Instant double truck in Sports Illustrated I’d bet.

While leaving pit road following qualifying I was walking by victory lane where the top qualifier had just shown up for some photos. I have never heard of James Buescher but I would hate myself 10 years from now if he became the next Jeff Gordon and I hadn’t taken the five minutes to stop and shoot.

Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 500iso, f7.1, 1/400th

Nikon D3, 814-24mm, 200iso, f7.1, 1/125th

We got back to the car threw our gear in the trunk and I took him around the infield to show him some of the shooting areas. But first I had to stop to make him take a photo of me I wanted. Its me with a photo of Ricky Bobby from the movie Talladega Nights! Notice the resemblance? Me either.

Photo By Guy Rhodes

Over at the end of the backstretch all the Sprint Cup Series race team haulers were entering the track. With a solid sunset brewing we stopped there for about 15 minutes to fire some shots.

Nikon D3, 14-24mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/250th

Then Guy pointed me in the direction I really should be facing (actually he didn’t but it looks cooler in the blog this way)

And this is how it looked the other direction.

Nikon D3, 14-24mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/320th

Stand by for shameless self portrait.

After about 15 minutes of shooting we got bored and decided to head out for the 45 minute drive to the hotel in Birmingham. Of course I had my camera on my lap in case any cool images came along to shoot….such as the tunnel!

Nikon D3, 14-24mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/100th

Nikon D3, 14-24mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/13th

Finally back at the hotel an excited Guy Rhodes at the start of the vice presidential debate.

Nikon D3, 14-24mm, 6400iso, f2.8, 1/25th

If I hear Sarah Palin say the word Maverick one more time I just may kill myself!

Posted in Me, NASCAR, Racing, Sports, Talladega, Travel   | 6 Comments

6 responses to “Talladega Day One”

  1. Tim says:

    Got linked to your blog from another website and im glad i did. As an amature who has just started photography (about one month ago now), it sure is good to know professional photogs take snapshots as well. Having said that, some of your shot are amazing, like the one with the sun coming through the walkway. I understand it would’ve sold better if there was a full crowd there, but the photo looks much better without all of those distractions. For me that picture ephasizes the link between driver and track. Simply beautiful!

    Sorry for any broken English. It isn’t my native language.

  2. The J-Mo says:

    Thanks for sharing! It should be a beautiful weekend in ‘bama for the race. Be sure to gas up your car(s) though as gas availability could get a little tight in Talladega with only a few gas stations in town and 250,000+ fans with cars and RV’s. I’m up north of you guys just outside Huntsville.

  3. Enjoyed the shot of Logano. Do they get annoyed when using a flash?

    Have a great T weekend.


  4. Mark, I clicked on Guy’s Blog link and it went to a site for Peter Zuzga?

  5. topher says:

    Those photos shot through the fencing are total crap.

  6. Brent Rust says:

    In reference to James Buescher…..I watched Greg Biffle in the early 90’s dominate our home track at Tri-City Raceway (in West Richland WA). He wasn’t a local, so he didn’t get much support in our neck of the woods….er..desert (not many trees there). Anyway, he won a track championship one year, or maybe it was just that nights race (which happened OFTEN)….and the crowd was all headed to the infield to check on our local boys. Greg was all by himself leaning on his car as the crowd walked on by.

    I though I should go say hi and congratulate him. But as I approached, I decided to not get an autograph because (my words to myself) “he won’t get anywhere”…..those words haunt me to this day. It also guides my actions when I meet anyone with a little bit of talent. No one knows who will get where at any time. Photographically speaking, I try to treat everyone with the expectation that they will be a superstar and I take pictures accordingly.

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