Yep, this will be a long one! More images than I should post on one Blog and talking about the old days more than I should but the hell with it.
A couple weeks ago while in La Crosse, Wisconsin for a family vacation I was lucky enough to shoot a little at the famous “La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway” in West Salem, Wisconsin. This race track is hallowed ground for me and many others. For me it was a place I went to with my Dad as a young kid watching famous racers such as Dick Trickle, Jim Sauter, Marv Marzofka, Joe Shear, Jim Back, Tom Reffner, Larry Detjens and loads of local legends. I began racing back in the early 90’s in the “Thunder Stock” division, back then was called the “Beer Stocks” until I relocated to Arizona and started a family.
A few months ago, when Maria and I set the plans in stone I called up the track promoter, Chuck Deery and asked if I could come out and shoot the event; luckily he was more than happy to have me and I was THRILLED to be back home and shoot what I consider my home track.
Car counts might have been down a tick by La Crosse Speedway standards but when you compare against other tracks throughout the country, the fans still have one heck of a show week in and week out. After all these years, the price for fans at the gate has gone unchanged and the efficiency of how the show is run is unbelievable.
After being away from Wisconsin for 19 years it was tough to shoot, I wanted to shoot the breeze and catch up with friends I have only seen on email or Facebook but wanted to treat this as an assignment as well. Working overseas and not touching my camera gear for 3-4 months at a time, I always seem to pick action sports to warm up to my Canon gear but I wouldn’t have it any other way. So as the drivers and crews practiced and qualified; I practiced too. The sun was still high in the sky, so I started over in turns 1 and 2 with the hot light behind me.
As qualifying started and the sun started to go down, I went over to turns 3 and 4 because I saw some cool shadows laying down from the trees that line the outside of the track. This allowed me to practice some settings and taking full advantage of the light falling through in spots, something Mark Rebilas takes full advantage of when he can; I only wish I could have gotten a bit higher.
Here is a blown attempt at trying to catch Jimmy Summerfield in the light peeking through the sahdows….. but still not a bad shot. BTW, Jimmy Summerfield has this deal figured out; he has supported the show for years racing with less than other big budgeted teams. Probably one of the few if not the only
Late Model driver racer who turns a profit every week. Keep doing what you’re doing dude……
OK, back to some safe shots with strong light just entering turn 3.
After Late Model and Sportsmen qualifying, I milled around the pits a bit to catch some “pit stuff” going on. Below is Drew Kreibich, his Dad was the flagman back when I raced at La Crosse, a man I truly respected. One night, I got aggressive (imagine that) when I guy wanted to beat his way passed me, well, I let him past and then took him out. Coincidentally, his brother now flags but I digress. Had it been anyone else, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it but when the Ol’ Man shook the black flag as a warning I felt like I let him down. And no, I did not apologize to the other driver.
Then there is Ray. Before my dumb ass and hunk of a racecar ever took the track, I took Ray up on his offer from the drivers meeting to invite him over to the shop to inspect the car to make any corrections I needed to before I took to the track. Thank God he didn’t find the neat little 3/4″ lead cake I laid under the fuel tank.
COOL HELMET ALERT!!!!
Local race legend Jay Sauter. Jay raced his way up through the ranks back when talent mattered instead of being a poster boy for shampoo, razors and energy drinks. I met Jay at a body shop owned by Rick Johnson, Jay had a bad week at Winchster in the ASA Late Model Series and knocked a hole in the wall. His radiator was up on his carb and was hell of a mess….. not even Rick could pull that one straight! Now days, Jay concentrates on his son Michael’s racing career.
And then there is my Brother Paul. It’s not often I get to give him a shout out but let me say this; to watch him work two late models raced by #8 Brent Kirchner and #81 Troy Rave was something to see. Sure, he is my Brother but I stood and watched him from a far through my long lens as he worked on two cars at the same time. I have always been proud of my Bro…… but to watch him work on these cars back and forth was fun to watch. I didn’t want to get in anyone’s way so I chose to burn a set of batteries watching him do his “thang”. Every crew at almost every track across the United States has a guy like Paul, gives up his personal time away from things at home to give something back to a sport they love but this guy is my Brother and I sure am Proud of you dude…..
No matter of you are running Late Models or Thunderstocks…… they all need TLC.
A couple cool shots of Troy Rave as he gets set to hit the track, getting a little help from his Dad getting him buckled in.
Opening ceremonies like this 4th of July weekend is always cool, as I am a sucker for American Flag pics especially when they are being flown on racecars.
Thunderstocks are always known for tight racing action on the 1/4 mile in La Crosse and tonight was no exception.
Earlier I mentioned “slippery”. With the weather being unseasonably warm with record temps this weekend, right when the sun went down and the track cooled off things got a bit hairy for everyone…….
Sportsmen action heated up in both heat race and feature action with #23 Dan Gilster winning the feature.
Heat Race and Late Model action finished up the night with #18 Jerimy Wagner taking home the win.
Now that your eyes are bleeding……… this wraps up a great weekend at La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway. HUGE thanks to Chuck Deery and Staff for giving me the shot to shoot the weekends events. Next time will be soon enough (hint) and I hope to get more shots and spend more time with my peeps!
Great seeing Greg and Kathy Scheck, Kim and Curt Eckelberg, Denny and Laurie Kline, Darrin “Gundy” Gunderson and everyone while I was home…… believe me when I say it won’t be so long between goodbyes this time!!!!!
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