blog by

rob kircher

Friday, May 8, 2009

Lets Go Race’n Boyyyssss

The first weekend of May always marks the spring NASCAR race down in Richmond.  This year was no different.   Terry and I left on our annual pilgrimage Friday morning after dropping Caroline off for school and were at the racetrack about 2 hours later.       

20090502 Richmond 282 Most of the track just prior to Cup race.  Clearly, I need a fisheye lens and a gradient ND filter.

After arriving at the track and setting up for the tailgating, a little more on this later, and then it was off to pit road for a few hours of photography.  A sign of the economy I guess, pit road was not as busy with fans as it has been in the past few years.  Ironically, however, the people with expensive DSLR camera’s is still on the rise. 

20090501 Richmond 170 Dale Jr’s Car going through final inspection.

20090501 Richmond 157Marcos Ambrose and Kyle Bush’s car, pre qualifying inspection

20090501 Richmond 065 A full brake job and service in under 5 minutes!!!

20090501 Richmond 119Jaun Montoya’s car, pre qualifying inspection.

Every time I’m on pit road I try out something different.  This time a little voice in my head said, “Slow Shutter Speed”.  I wonder where I’ve heard that before… Mike.   Anyway, I set the camera to very low shutter speeds and got a couple that I really liked

20090501 Richmond 103 Casey Kane coming done pit lane.

20090501 Richmond 098 Michael Waltrip leaving the Garage for a practice run.

20090501 Richmond 102 Kevin Harvick on pit lane, Tony Stewart on the track.

Of course, another way to capture the speed and motion is the typical panning shot as the cars scream by at over 150mph.

20090501 Richmond 004Matt Kenseth

20090501 Richmond 031 Michael Waltrip

The race cars are not the only cool cars on pit road.  This weekend’s Pace car was a 2009-10 Chevy Camero which I happened to find in a somewhat tucked away location near the Goodyear trailer.  Here’s my lame attempt at shooting an auto magazine like shot of this very cool looking car.  

20090501 Richmond 064Chevy Camero Pace Car 

I managed a few other shots at more interesting angles but the sky was so gray that I really wasn’t too happy with them.  I’ll put them in the fill gallery linked below.

Then of course there are the driver and crew chief shots.  These can be hard to come by anymore.  Seems that due to the volume of fans on pit road and what I suspect may have been requests from the press NASCAR has restricted more areas when the drivers are on pit road especially during qualifying.  Never the less I was able to get a few shots in while dodging other fans and the pro photographer. 

20090501 Richmond 181Bootie Barker, Crew Chief for Mikey’s 55 Napa Chevy

20090501 Richmond 193Tony Stewart with a pretty goofy look on his face.

20090501 Richmond 202 Kasey Kahne… Does he remind you of the Wicked Witch of the East here? 

20090501 Richmond 213 AJ Allmendinger

20090501 Richmond 189And here’s one of Terry I caught when she wasn’t looking.  ;-)

After practice and qualifying it was back to the car for some rest and food. Because of the threat of rain I didn’t bring the cameras into the track for the Nationwide race so photography for Friday was pretty much done after qualifying. 

As most of you who have been to races know, NASCAR fans elevate the art of tailgating to an entire different level than other sports fans.   The parking lot is a sea of tents, canopies, and campers, all sorts of elaborate grills and cooking apparatus, and of course thousands of the most friendliest people you’ll ever meet.   Next race I’ll plan to cover the parking lot scene with more photos. 


Saturday we left our hotel in Williamsburg around 11 and headed for the track.  I decided to try something different this time and instead of parking in lot J and taking the tram to the track I headed back to gate 6 near turn one where we parked Friday.  All seemed just fine until we turned onto Carolina Ave and it became apparent that instead of being in the parking lot close to the track we would have to park in the warehouse parking lot across the street from the track.  CRAP!!!  I was not a happy camper.  HOWEVER, as it turns out this was not a bad place to be after all.  We managed to have enough space to setup the canopy, table and grill and settled in for a few hours of relaxing before the race.  The best part about this location was the fact that when it rained, which it did several times very hard, the asphalt parking lot didn’t turn to MUD!!! 

While we were relaxing and eating burgers and brauts I did manage to fire off a few frames of the tailgaters.  They’re not the best but what the hell.

20090502 Richmond 263 Check out the glasses on the blond.

20090502 Richmond 232 These guys and gal were playing some sort of game that involved beer.  The games people bring are quite amusing.  Many different variations of what we’d traditionally call horse shoes.  I’m sure they all have different names but they are played much like horse shoes. 

20090502 Richmond 272 Fans headed to the track.

 20090502 Richmond 238 More fans headed to the track. This chopper along with two other shuttle people to the track all afternoon.

Eventually it was our turn to get ready and head off to the track.  We packed the cooler, Terry packed a bag with snacks and other food, I gathered up the camera equipment and scanner and we were off to the track.

20090502 Richmond 312

I have new seats up in the new Commonwealth Tower that turned out to be awesome.  They’re up high but you can see the entire track and you have a great view of pit road and the finish line.  Just under the upper deck is concession stands and bathrooms. How convenient.   It all really remind me of being about halfway up the stands at Bristol.  I was curious about what kind of images I’d get from these seats and I was actually pleasingly surprised with the results.

20090502 Richmond 310 Harvick and Biffle getting ready before the race.

20090502 Richmond 306 Tony and Jimmy ready to go.

20090502 Richmond 294Cloud obstructed fly over.

20090502 Richmond 315 Pace Lap.

20090502 Richmond 324 Green Green Green!!!

20090502 Richmond 438 Harvick and Gordon in turn 2.

20090502 Richmond 409 Reutimann’s crew in action.

20090502 Richmond 425 The short track sparks begin to fly.

20090502 Richmond 509 Marcos Ambrose spins out right in front of the pack.

20090502 Richmond 540 Truex’s crew pounds out the damage from a late race incident. Note the crew member with the big orange sledge hammer.  Not the kind of thing you want to see a mechanic with while working on your car. 

20090502 Richmond 553 Bobby Labonte going for one of his several slides of the night; tires inflated

20090502 Richmond 555Moments later sliding with tires deflated.

20090502 Richmond 562 The Checked Flag!!!  Kyle wins again. 

20090502 Richmond 576 Take a bow there Kyle.  One of these days the weight of that helmet and his head are going to pull him over.

20090502 Richmond 596 Victory Lane.

After the race we headed out of the track fully expecting to pull out the chairs when we got to the car and hang out for a while as the parking lot cleared out.  Well once again the fortunes of what I thought was going to be a problematic parking location paid off.  It seems as if these lots clear out first so by the time I dropped off the scanner and made the walk back to the car the lot was already well cleared out.  We hopped in the car and headed out.  We were on 295 in record time and on our way back to Williamsburg.  Sunday we made a stop at the Williamsburg Pottery Factory and then headed home.

All in all a great race weekend.  I was pleased with the images I captured but really need to figure out a way to get full access press passes.  It’s become more and more challenging to capture new and interesting photos in the fan access areas. 

Full gallery


  1. Great photos. I need to make it to RIR one day!


  2. It's actually a fun place and I haven't been to a dull race yet. Sometimes, one driver dominates but there's always great racing going on back in the pack.

    Shooting access is limited and somewhat frustrating at times depending on the numbers of people and how free you are to roam around. As I noted there were fewer people this race compared to last year so it wasn't too bad.

    Dr G seems to be the goto man for tickets although it looked to me like there were plenty of seats available. Let me know if you ever decide to come up and maybe we can hit pit road together.


  3. Great pix. I really like the ones of the actual race. Very cool and great angles.