The weekend of October 26th marked the second to last race of the year for Best In The Desert.  The Silver State 300 is a unique race because its based out of Alamo, NV and uses parts of Nevada that don’t typically see races.  Because of this I was excited to go and have the opportunity to shoot some new areas.

My weekend started Thursday night in which I started my drive after work.  My plan was to crash in Jean, NV overnight and wake up in the morning to continue on to Alamo, NV rather then make the 400 mile drive all at once.  The normal routine at a desert race is to hit up contingency the day before the race, but this time around since it was 90 miles away in Mesquite, I decided to use my time on friday to prerun and scout out potential photo spots.

Since I wasn’t able to make the Pre-Run Fun a few weeks back, I overlaid the race course on to Google Earth to try and see if I could find access roads to different spots on the course.  I mapped out a few potential spots on my GPS so that on Friday I could spend the day checking them all out to see if they would work.

The first spot I was going to shoot at, I wanted to be early in the course so that I could catch as many racers as I could before I headed out to the next spot to catch the leaders.  I ended up going to race mile 39, which was right before the first paved road crossing.  The reason I chose that spot was because it offered a few different angles rather then just having one shot of all the vehicles.  In the below photo from Google Earth you can see the different spots, all within walking distance of each other.

Rebilas Diagram

Rebilas Diagram

Before the road crossing they would come from behind a mountain range.

Shot from far away

Shot from far away

As they got closer there was a section of high speed rollers.

Shot as they come closer

Shot as they come closer

A little farther up course, and after the rollers, there was a nice right hand turn with some soft silt built up on the outside of the turn.

The last option at that spot was about 30 yards past the turn, the course made a slight left. On the outside of the turn was a gradual slope, so I laid down on the ground to shoot the vehicles coming head on before they made the turn.

Looking at the next spot I was going to go to, I figured out I could stay at the first spot for about 1 hour and 45 minutes. This left me enough time to shoot as many vehicles as I could, and still catch the leaders through Caliente, which was around race mile 180.

This is where the Pigeon story comes into play. While driving through the town of Caliente, a pigeon decided to play chicken with me. He was standing in the middle of my lane eyeballing me. 99% of all birds in the road fly off before you get the chance to turn them into chicken fingers, but for some reason this bird decided to stand his ground while my truck approached. Keep in mind the speed limit in Caliente is 25 mph so the bird had plenty of time to make his move. So I’m within about 10 feet of this apparently blind bird, and I’m not going to slam on my brakes or swerve, so I think if he doesn’t move he should clear the underbelly of my truck. Well low and behold after I drove over him (figuratively) I look in my rear view window and see him flopping around on the street. I win! Next time use those things called wings my friend. (side note to the side story, driving back through the town later in the day he looked like a pancake).

Anyways, so the spot I wanted to shoot at next was an old wooden railroad bridge. The unique thing about the shot is that the Trophy Trucks and Class 1 cars barely fit, with some of the cars having to put one tire on the outside edge.

I also decided to try and break my remote camera again and set it in the middle of the bridge for a different angle.

The first few cars I was shooting way too soon, but actually like the look of it.

Finally got the timing down.

I was able to catch the lead group go through the bridge, but because my next spot I wanted to go to was only 120 race miles away, and about an hour and a half drive I couldn’t stay there very long. The last spot was at race mile 308, as the course first approaches the dry lake bed. If you know me, you know that I love to shoot silt, and when I checked out the area the night before there was already some good silt areas from the prerun.

This section of the course has a long straight away along a graded road, then makes a 90 turn onto the lake bed. My idea was to shoot the cars as they pitch it onto the dry lake bed and through a large silt tail. When I got there I noticed a good sized silt pocket that formed around a wash crossing so I had a decision to make. Stay at the turn or shoot the silt pocket instead? I chose to shoot at the wash and glad I did. While some vehicles just flat footed it over the area, those that checked up or hit it wrong put on a great show.

Here you can see the left hand turn from far away.

Left hand turn before silt pocket

Left hand turn before silt pocket

And here is the silt pocket.

I love silt

I love silt

Earlier in the day another photographer that was there said a few bike guys went over the bars. That brings up an interesting dilemma for media dorks. If you are at a spot on course where there is a potential for a crash, what do you do? Do you hide in the bushes and hope the car doesn’t see you? Do you flag them down and have them slow down? Is it the driver/co-drivers responsibility or the spectators? Typically when race vehicles see bright orange vests its usually a sign of a danger ahead and they do slow down.

If a spot is bad enough where someone might get hurt I think its important for us to try and minimize the danger. That actually happened to me and my friend Dirk at BITD Vegas 2 Reno last year. We were at another silt pocket that wasn’t marked as a danger, and a few riders went over the bars pretty good. The dust was really bad and people weren’t slowing down so we ran to the road crossing up course and got some danger markers and marked it on our own. After we did that everyone slowed down. While it didn’t make for good photos its better then having a hurt rider.

This was my last spot for the day, so I shot here until the sun went down. Once it dropped below the mountains, the wind stopped which made for zero visibility, so I called it a race and headed home. After 1000 miles of driving, 1 pound of sunflower seeds, a case of water, 42 nutter butters, and a dead pigeon my journey was over.

Here is the last shot of the day for me, I liked it because not only is the silt being thrown, but the lighting adds a nice touch to it, and you can see a haze of dust just sitting on the ground from the last car that went through.

Here are a few more photos from the race that I liked, and you can see the full gallery up on my website.

Up next for me is the LOORRS race in Surprise, AZ Oct 17-18th, so stay tuned for more photos!