The NASCAR weekend at Road America is finally over and it is time to talk about it from the perspective of a photographer. The JOCKEY 250 was pretty awesome! However, I will say one thing. If the weather would have had its normal “Wisconsin Summer” way, the entire weekend would have been a completely different story.
Last year, NASCAR Xfinity was marred with all sorts of waiting around for the lightening from 32 miles away. Not to mention a couple of drops from 1 rain cloud in Turn 12 just about threw everything into the gutter. I am sure it was just bad timing between the cautions and stage breaks, none of that applied this year.
NOT A NASCAR FAN
Before you @ me on Twitter to yell at me, I am going to say that I am NOT a fan of NASCAR. I have never been a fan and it would take all of the voltage in the world to electro-shock me into becoming one. With that being said, just enjoy my recap and realize that I enjoy taking photos. Birds, beer, food, dogs, racecars and the sunrise, it does not matter.
Now that we got that out of the way, let us get into the good stuff. Leading up to the weekend, there was concern about how Road America would deal with ALL THOSE FANS. Were you there? Do you have a comment about the parking, the food, the beer, the seating, the lack of rain? Let me know!
Road America Learned A Lot This Weekend
Road America dominated the conversation throughout the track, from my perspective, as a photographer only. The track handled the parking the best way that it could. Other photographers have been talking about NASCAR weekend for a month and for the most part we were trying to decide whether or not we would have to camp in our vehicles due to traffic flow.
I am happy to say that even though my ’97 Blazer would make a great camper, I did not have to spend much time waiting for the traffic drain plug to get pulled. In about 45 minutes, the stand still traffic throughout “Ring Road” was finally moving and I would be off the property by 5:45pm.
I arrived at the track at 7:20am and the GATES WERE OPEN!! Just from that, the day was going to be great. I wanted to take photos of the crowd knowing it was going to be the biggest crowd I’ve seen. Don’t freak out and tell me about crowds from 1971. Not the same.
Sponsors are not giving away tickets to the races like they once did. Of course, the freebies floating around in the breakroom of various companies exist, but not like it was 50+ years ago. 99% of these people paid to be at Road America. In the sun. In the traffic. In the crowded paddock.
NASCAR Fans are GREAT at Road America
As I made my way around the track for my morning routine to check things out, I was a little surprised to see many fans were set up in favorite viewing spots. The race would not be for another 6 hours. Race fans are some of the most dedicated that I have experienced.
Golf carts were gussied up with American flags, radios, inflatables and the most popular cooler of the weekend turning heads of curious fans. The traffic throughout the paddock and around the track was INSANE. I am happy that we did not have to hear about anyone getting run over by a golf cart driven by a 12 year old, or a photographer on a moped.
Road America has become a Summer haven and I am not sure what would take its place for me at this point. I watch the Pro photographers come in to work their asses off all weekend and I always think it would be cool. Being able to travel around and take motorsports photography seriously as a job sounds awesome.
Then, by the end of Sunday, I realize how many hours I spent at the track. Away from my favorite person in the world, my pets, my relaxing home, while nursing a sunburn and culling through images. I should just be happy that Road America allows me to be a photographer on the property to begin with. Meeting new people is a fun and that I appreciate.
How Many Images Did You Take?
The most fun I have is meeting new people. Usually my vest, abundance of camera gear and stupid hat garner the attention of a few fans each weekend. The questions are always the same, but I never have any issue talking about photography that is for sure.
I take way too many photos and have fallen asleep at the computer while culling through them in more instance that I care to admit to. Because I like to challenge myself at the track, I delete about 60-70% of what I take. From there, I only share a small percentage of that. The rest are archived or shared with Road America.
How far does that lens reach? I always get a kick out of that question, too. Anywho, I am rambling and I must get back to some photo edits before bed. I hope you enjoyed your time at Road America. See you next time!