Daytona International Speedway is like a second home to me when it comes to making pictures. It's where I learned how to shoot big events, isolate and find a story in a sea of visual elements and work with a team of photographers to tell a story.
This time it was a little different. I was given free reign.
Rarely do I get a chance to shoot for myself at a sporting event like the Coke Zero 400, so this was a treat in itself.
In the media frenzy that surrounded the Fourth of July weekend, the Casey Anthony trial, shuttle launch and Eric Plancher trial, a NASCAR race was not on the top of the priorities in the newspaper world.
Normally, I would be assigned to one spot on the track and shoot with a team of photographers to cover a race, but with declining budgets and interest in race coverage, the need for a dozen photographers from one news organization to cover one event has passed.
So I ran, literally.
I started the race on the roof of the Sprint Tower, just above the start/finish line, then ran over to the grandstands to shoot pit row, then back up to Robert's Tower to get a different angle of the track, then jumped on a four wheeler to the infield, shot in pit row until about 20 laps left in the race and, finally, made my way to Gatorade Victory Lane to shoot the finish and celebration. After a few miles of walking with all of my gear, I was ready for a beer and a hotdog with the rest of the photographers on the track after the race - a tradition kept up by John Raox of the Associate Press.
NASCAR will always be near and dear to my heart, it is where I spent many weeks developing my shooting style and met many good friends in the business.