Every year Best In The Desert puts on the longest offroad race in the US called ‘Vegas 2 Reno’. Starting in the town of Beatty, the race travels through Nevada and ends in Dayton. (maybe call it Beatty 2 Dayton?)
For this race the usual team of Digm & Rev was joined by the crazy German Klaus and Brian “Dirty Feet” Bink. (No one knows Brians real last name, it has the letters b i n k in it by its unknown what it actually is.) Scott, Brian and I met Klaus in Barstow the morning of qualifying, where we would leave the Jetta there and hop in Klaus’s 4Runner. The goal was to let it get stolen before we got back but that never happened.
Qualifying was for the Trick Truck and Class 1500 class, and was being held in Primm, NV on the Wednesday before the race. We always like to shoot qualifying because its a good chance to get more quality photos of the teams before they get beat up and dirty during the race.
The first spot along the course I went to was a fast sweeping turn with two lines in it. Some racers didn’t quite know which line they wanted to take so they’d end up hitting the berm in the middle.
By moving to the other side of the course would offer you a different view.
At the same spot your could get a shot with the cars going over a jump. I think the factory in the background makes the photograph more interesting.
For the second qualifying lap I worked my way down to the actual jump and snapped off a couple photos.
After shooting the jump for a while I could see in the distance that a corner was getting some good roost action, so I hiked in the heat to go check it out. Whats so interesting about shooting desert racing is that the course changes so much throughout the day. A spot that is hard packed in the beginning of qualifying will be a soft silty area after a few cars go by.
There are drivers in offroad that you know will always put on a good show because of their driving style. Its like taking a photo of a baby, you can’t get a bad shot. (Well that not true, there are some ugly babies out there its just taboo to say it. Telling someone they have an ugly baby is like telling them they failed as parents, since most babies are cute. Its just not right and better to keep it to yourself.)
For race day our game plan was pretty simple. We planned on following the lead group of Trick Trucks and Class 1500 cars till about the halfway point before heading home. A lot of people ask me why I don’t shoot some of the other classes every race, and the simple answer is that our clients have to come first, and our priority is getting them as much coverage as possible. Unfortunately that means that if our clients are a Trick Truck or Class 1, we most likely won’t get shots of many other classes.
Its not that we don’t care about the other classes, or don’t have any interest in shooting them, its just that my baby needs diapers and gas isn’t free .
For Vegas 2 Reno, you for the most part just have to go to the pits and find a good spot because of the nature of the race. Its a point to point race with a fast average mile per hour, so going deep into the course isn’t reasonable if you want to get them multiple times. The majority of the pits are right along the highway, so it makes better sense to go there so you have a fast entrance and exit.
Our first spot was at Pit 1, to get them early in the race while they were still somewhat clean, and possibly not broken down yet. It turned out to be a good spot, not because there was a big jump or silt bed, but because you could catch them twice in the same spot. Still the photos weren’t anything special so we’ll skip to our next spot.
Next we hit up Pit 3. We timed it just right so that the lead car at the time (Sam Berri) came by us a few minutes after we got there. If you’ve read previous posts on my blog you’ll know that shooting a desert race can be tricky in that you need to time everything right or you’ll miss people.
Pit 3 had a nice high speed sweeping turn that started to get chewed up the more racers that ran on it.
We jumped back on to the road once everyone we needed to shoot went by and headed to another pit. This time we stopped at Pit 5, never being there before we weren’t sure what to expect. By this time the lead pack was starting to spread out with gaps between racers sometimes of a few minutes.
We figured we had some time before the leaders would come through, so we took the time to hike down course and see if we could find somewhere to shoot. We came across another spot that would create two shots in one. First shot a overview shot in the desert.
Then when they would come by closer you could get another angle. It was a small rise in the course with a slight left so some racers would hit the berm on the side of the course.
Our final spot on the course, and the farthest north would bring us to Pit 8, which was about race mile 330. We originally were going to head farther north up to Pit 9, but as we passed Pit 8 Scott wanted to give it a look and check it out. The detour proved to be a smart move.
The course came through a small valley to a short up hill before makings its way through the pits. Everything seemed to come together, the light was lower in the sky and in the right spot, the backgrounds were nice and clear, and a few racers did what we hoped and put on a good show.
It was a nice way to end the day after a long trip of dust, dirt, and sweat.
All our photos from the race can be seen here, till next time!
2010 BITD Vegas 2 Reno Photos
Here is a link to a video Scott did of Andy McMillins qualifying lap, as well as an overview of the whole race.