Watching a car race on television can never be compared to being there in person. Sure, the HD cameras and incredible TV technology can bring us closer than ever to the excitement, but it just doesn’t compare to the real thing. The sights, sounds, smells and even feel of real racing is unlike anything else. Even still, years of being trackside does not prepare one for shooting the start of a NASCAR race.
A couple of years ago, I shot the start of the ALMS race from the wall at the bottom of Mosport’s infamous Corner 2. Even that did not prepare me.
There are basically 2 spots that photographers stand coming down the hill into 2. There is one that is further down the hill, with some run off space in front of you and the protection of the first wall. Then, there is the first wall. It begins at the end of the debris fence and extends about 40 feet along the edge of the track. If something is going to happen, this is where they hit first. I was standing there at the start.
As Andrew Ranger led the pack over the hill, I really wasn’t prepared for the violence of 25 NASCAR cars thundering towards me. First off, compared to some of the other cars we see, the taxi cabs are huge. Secondly, they are very loud. Thirdly, they move air. Oh yeah, the ground shakes. Finally, most of these guys come from a strictly oval racing background. They don’t know that you aren’t supposed to be on the very edge of the right side of the track entering 2. That typically puts you…well, right where I’m standing!
Ranger led for a while, before JR Fitzpatrick got by and then went on to win the race. Father and son team Peter and Gary Klutt finished 11th and 12th. Pretty good day for a kid in his first NASCAR race, not only finishing just outside the top ten, but beating his Dad too. Also in her first NASCAR race, Caitlin Johnston finished 19th and kept the car shiny. Local Whitby driver Joey McColm suffered mechanical issues within the first couple of laps and rolled to a stop in front of me. After a quick tow and some hustling from the crew, the #50 Dodge was back on track and was running at the end, albeit 13 laps down.
The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series resumes on July 3 at St. Eustache in Quebec.