Last week I headed out to Sonoma, California and once again meet up with Mark Rebilas and capture the NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Infineon Raceway. Once again had a BLAST hanging out with Mark but more importantly learning more about Sports Shooting from one of the industry’s best, without Mark and U.S. Presswire I wouldn’t be able to obtain access to the events and venues to improve, each time out I learn more and more and I hope you (the visitor) can see the improvement….. If not… blame Mark. (LOL, kidding) I had a great time and got a lot of good shots, choosing the shots I wanted to post on the Blog was tough; over 30 images might be a bit much for some so I apologize ahead of time for the slow load and long post.
Day 1: Today consisted of picking up credentials and getting a layout of the track as the Cup 1st practice and Qualifying was on tap for the day. WOW…. What a facility, it’s big but not as big as you would think and it has hills, lots of them. At first look it doesn’t look that bad but you soon realize how small you compare to the landscape as you walk around. Lugging weighty gear up and down hills make you think about a few things:
(1) Why did I bring so much stuff and how can I trim it down?
(2) Man, I am out of shape.
(3) I really need to quit smoking.
As I eased myself around the track, finding the places I wanted to shoot for Sunday’s race is just as much practice for me as the teams in the race. Here are some “Stock Photos” I shot on day one once I caught my breath.
Day 2: Moving around is key at any venue, being stuck in the same spot is not only boring but at a place like Infineon there are so many too choose from but also factor in lighting so I went to the inside and shot some coming off of turn 3a, here I caught Travis Kvapil getting off track just a tick kicking up some dirt and right behind him, Carl Edwards getting a little loose in the crap Travis kicked up on the track.
These were taken on the outside of the track and by taking Mark’s advice by staying on the move, sometimes it could be just a few more feet or simply turning around and get them going away, whatever the case… it works.
Day 3: I started the day high up in turn 2. To give you an idea of how this track is layed out, T2 is some 10 stories higher than the start finish line and where the media center is; with that being said, I took the shuttle bus this time. With the exception of the National Anthem which was sang by CNN’s very own Robin Meade and a decked out tractor flying 2 Old Glories’, I didn’t enjoy the pre-race at all, for one thing the fly by totally SUCKED… only (2) F-16s which I see every day at work but I really didn’t enjoy the pyrotechnics, it caught me off guard and I almost assumed the fetal position. An uneventful first corner, first lap (of course I wanted massive carnage, as Mark says, “Wrecks Sell”) it did give me a clean capture of the whole field snaking uphill.
Shots from the outside, just down from the crest of T3a. Mark had mentioned to me how this track will give you some car shots with clean sky backdrops, clouds would have been cool but I really like the clean blue sky too. I found out real quick after many blown shots, you better be ready because there is no warning they are coming as the hill shields the cars noise, so you BETTER be ready. Here is my rendition of NASCAR “whack a mole.”
#47 Marcos Ambrose who had the race won until he suffered from brain fade with a handful of laps to go, conserving fuel by shutting off the engine and coasting… then the damn car wouldn’t refire. I blame Toyota.
Sitting outside of T4, I shot from a photographers hole that really gets you close to the action, I mean really close but man what a RUSH. I’m not sure if you’ll be able to see the black specks just above the rear of eventual race winner #48 Jimmie Johnson, but those are “marbles” that fly at you as they whiz by. One of these little buggers came through the hole and popped me in the forehead, it stung like a SOB but I love it.
Heart break of the day for me happened as I made my way to the roof to get the finish and burnout, which sucked too but more on that later. While I was in the elevator heading to the roof, “the big one” happened right at the start finish line that involved several drivers ending Mark Truex’s day. Maybe I shouldn’t have stopped and taken this shot of #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. and a couple other drivers, otherwise I would have gotten the crash shot of the day.
I was able to get some pretty good shots from the roof once I got there though, so all wasn’t totally lost.
But it was Jimmie Johnson with the winning hand in the end after he had the race handed to him when Ambrose screwed the pooch as I mentioned earlier. Jimmie did his victory burnouts at multiple spots around the track for fans around the track and exploded his left rear tire in the process leaving all of us photographer on the roof with this….
Heading back down the elevator I wasn’t able to get Jimmie coming out of the car and making it rain Gatorade, I did get the confetti and champagne shot.
During practice and the race, I was going after the cars getting up on two wheels and the flames coming out of the pipes. As a side note I was surprised and disappointed at how many drivers didn’t hit the curbs as in years past, so I wish there could have been more. It used to be, everyone would hit the curbs and get the car up on two wheels trimming the corner to make the track smaller resulting in faster lap times but road course racing has changed, with how the suspension on the cars are built now days, transmissions are built now where they don’t use the clutch to shift so no more heel toe as it used to be; even the so called “road course ringers” are working anymore. Here are a few of my favorite wheel hops from the whole weekend.
That’s it from last weekend, I have some pictures from the NASCAR West Series race and also some city shots from San Francisco but I’ll post those later. Once again, HUGE thanks to Mark Rebilas and U.S. Presswire for the chance to live a dream.
© 2015 Butterfield Photography All Rights Reserved