Blog Entry - NASCAR

Welcome to my blog. This will be collection of stories, experiences, and embellishments from my portfolio of photographs for friends and family to keep up with my work. Please feel free to comment, question, or even criticize.


Drivers go through the superstretch at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Steve Johnson/Orlando Sentinel)

It was a bitter cold night high above the asphalt, grease, oil and the sounds of cars passing by at almost 200 miles-per-hour.

Roberts tower was at the very top of the grandstands about 50 yards past the start/finish line, the wind howled past the row of photographers following each turn as if it was the last lap.

Sure enough, the last lap made all of that focusing worth it. A multiple car pile-up sent parts flying on turn three at the Daytona International Speedway late Saturday night.

The Budweiser Shootout was the second and last race of the day. Previously, the ARCA 200-mile was filled with three and four car wrecks, probably because the inexperience ARCA drivers were not used to driving at the notorious Daytona International Speedway.

I spent my weekend with fellow Orlando Sentinel photographer Gary Green covering all of the action leading up to the Daytona 500 which will kick off this Sunday, Feb. 15.

As I say high atop Roberts Tower covering the races I got a feel for how massive this speedway is. A 2.5-mile track surrounded by bright lights and screaming fans, encompassing hundreds of RVs and motor-homes.

Pit row, which usually seems endless when on the track, was a well oiled, syncopated machine during the races as dozens of cars race in for repairs and tune-ups in a matter of seconds.

We worked in the same office at the track with John Raoux from the Associated Press (AP) most of the weekend. John is a photographer who used to work with Gary at The Sentinel and has since moved up the ranks at AP.

All the races went fairly well without any major glitches. We ended the night at the Daytona Ale house with the team from AP and Gary and I. Stories were told, lessons learned and I took a step back a realized how great all of these photographers have been to me; taking me under their wing to help me become a better journalist.

Though I am still a student, there is no class that can replace or teach real-life experiences like the ones from this weekend at the races.

I will be back in Daytona this Thursday through Sunday to cover a wide variety of races and will be sure to blog about those as they happen.

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- Steve