Sunday at TMS: Photographer's point of view

How do I describe Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway? Colerful! Crowded! Hectic! Boring at times. Fun! Challenging! I don't think I can go into all the detail needed to explain all of the above but here are a few highlights of the day. Started by...

How do I describe Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway? Colerful! Crowded! Hectic! Boring at times. Fun! Challenging!

I don't think I can go into all the detail needed to explain all of the above but here are a few highlights of the day.

Started by getting up at 5 this morning. That's four in the morning for my body since the time changed overnight. Drive to the Speeday and get here at 6:15 am. Find a place to park that is reasonible but many people beat me here. The traffic was already starting to back up but just mildly. Usually when I get here, I lay the seat back, cover my eyes with my hat, and get some more sleep. I was pretty concerned about that when I could hear Nextel Cup engines being reved up at 6:20 am. I did manage about another hour of sleep.

I could have slept more but not here. I am very tired but ready ready to go. Sunday morning is pretty slow. You can walk around the garage (if you have a hot pass) and walk around the pit area as teams get setup.

Truth is, Sunday morning before the pre-race activities is just relaxing and trying to enjoy the calm before the storm. I don't do much but take in the sites and make sure my equipment is ready to go.

Speaking of equipment, I had a terrible time this weekend. My PC gave up its wireless capability on Saturday. My best camera would not work at all Thursday and still had weird problems both Saturday and Sunday. Cost me checkered flag photos on both days. I was positioned well and missed them due to equipment! Very frustrating when that happens. Can not get the moment back.

The crowds in the infield, pit area, and around the garage are BIG. Lot's of people walking around and taking tours. As much as they crowd the workspace, I like them there. You get to see the wide eyed wonderment of it all in them. Refreshing. For some of them, they have always wanted to do this and will never get the chance again. I try to keep in mind that each time I do this it could be the last. Let's hope not!

Working the race is a real challenge. Things you were allowed to do last year you can not do this year. Things you have never been allowed to do you can do this year. Keeps it interesting and on your toes. You just never know what to expect when you are trying to shoot the race.

One of the really cool things I get to do working as a photographer is going to the photo ops. This year, that included Duane Johnson "The Rock". Ex wrestler and current action movie star. He hammed it up with Eddie Gossage (TMS General Manager). They both gave there rendition of the Rock's famous raised eyebrow.

I also got to get pics of the Govoner of Texas Rick Perry. Typical politician. Said to much was as a nice person with a genuine smile.

A quick bite of lunch, I can not even remember what it was at this point. Had to slap on a good coat of sun screen. Get on my photo vest (10 lbs), camera one with the big lense (another 5 or 10 lbs), my second camera (3 to 5 lbs), my hat, sun glasses, lip balm, more batteries, and we are ready to go.

Out the driver introductions. I don't really shoot these pics. The world has enough photos of the drivers walking across stage waving to the crowd. I go to see if there is anyone special here today. I also go since it is usually the only time you get to see the drivers families.

Off to pit road to try and get some pics of the drivers getting ready to get in the car. Also looking for any interesting "get ready" pictures. The crews do some interesting things to get themselves ready to compete.

Off to turn one to try and get some pics of the start. TMS has made that very hard these days. Over the off season, they put up a fence inside the turns. They cut photo holes in the fence but they are mostly worthless. I think of the several hundred I tried to to take this weekend through the fence, only a handful turned out. I think the pros figured that out before I did. There was one tenth the number of photog's in the corners than usuall.

Off to pit road after that. This is hard work that takes patience. You spend time trying to find a place where you can shoot pictures of the pits stops. This is really hard to do. There are very few places where you can look down pit road with your camera. Some photogs grab a spot and never move from it. I tend to go to several different places during the race.

Since there are so few places to shoot, The other photogs are looking also. Normally, there are several if not many photogs in the same spot your are. Remember how fast a pit stop is? That's how long I have to get my pics also. When there are pit stops, I can usually shoot two lead lap cars and one or two cars a lap down. When you look at how many pit stops there are a race at Texas, you don't get many chances to get it.

After the race I get to the garage and try to get a few pics about them closing down and putting it all back in the truck. Usually there are too many people in there to get a good pic but I give it a shot.

Then off to media center for a free drink. Off the truck to change cloths. Off to the concession stand for a bite before I start processing my pics. Spend about 15 minutes trying to call the wife with no success. The local network is swamped with people calling there friends saying "Guess where I am?".

Start processing my pictures. That's download 300 pictures to my PC. Sort through them to throw away the junk. Out of focus, out of frame, and the occaisional "What is that?" picture. Decide which ones I want to post to the web site. Move them to the photoshop processing folders. Process them with photoshop. Write a text file with a description of each picture and a number to match the picture to the text. Then back to the media center to load them up to the web site.

As I sit here finishing this and trying to explain to my lovely bride why I am leaving an hour later than expected, I am content. Happy, tired, sore, and content. I will do this again. Sometimes I ask myself why but I will do it again.

Till next time everyone.

Editor's Note: James Spires is one of's contributing photographers. Mr. Spires thought it would be fun to give our readers an inside look of what it is like to be a member of the press at an event.

Saturday at TMS

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