After taking two months off for the birth of our second child, our daughter Quinn, it was back to business as usual with the BITD Parker 425 race. I always enjoy shooting this race because it marks the beginning of another season, and the race itself is always fun to shoot. The different terrain, the long laps, and large entries always make for some interesting photos. The best place for photos though is always during qualifying at the race. With so many unlimited entries teams are going all out to try and qualify towards the top.

Qualifying is always held the Thursday before the race, and this year BITD decided to bring back the bunny jumps in the qualifying loop. While they’ve been used the past two years in the October race, this section hasn’t been used for qualifying for quite some time. Before one of the jumps got filled in with gravel (thanks BITD) it was an awesome spot for photos.

That’s not to say you can’t get some good photos there anymore, the great thing about the desert is that the terrain is always changing, and even if you try and fill in a silt hole with gravel, mother nature and 700 horsepower always brings it back. I never like to stay in one spot for very long so I spent the two lap qualifying session moving around to a few different areas. If you stay stationary you just become complacent. Moving around, even when you know you’re at a good spot challenges yourself and makes you look for different angles.

Here are a few of my favorite photos from Thursdays qualifying session.

These are off the second bunny jump, for the first lap most racers were checking up on the first jump but hitting the second.

This is a spot I shot last year, which is a small g-out right after a slight right hand turn.

One shot that to me never gets old is the photo from outside a sandy/silty turn (at safe distance of course, that’s why we have zooms) with the car shooting a big roost in the sky. Its always very dynamic and does a good job showing what separates this sport from pavement racing.

This photo is from that same sandy corner but shot from the inside.

The week before the race we bought a 2004 Toyota 4runner, so this race was its maiden voyage. I’ve been looking for one for a while now and finally came across one we liked. Having 4wd now definitely makes scouting much better as you don’t have to worry about getting stuck and can go in places were 2wd would be too risky. Paradigm and I spent most of Friday looking for some new spots to shoot at. Parker is a great course but because the laps are so long and the course is spread out it can be a challenge to cover the whole course.

For the first lap I went right off the start to where they first get on the dirt from the start line in town. Parker is notorious for dust in the morning so this would let me get shots of all my clients and not have to worry about dust being an issue.
Robby Gordon

The next spot I went to was towards the end of the course to catch everyone one more time on their first lap. It’s a good spot because there is a small flyer at the end of a large straight away, so pretty much everyone catches air off it. Its also a good spot because you can shoot it from a few different angles.

Jimmy Knuckles
Terrible Herbst
Adam Householder

A few miles down the course would be the next spot that I would shoot. While prerunning the day before we came across a little silt pocket. We figured come race day, and after 200+ cars go over it on the first lap, that by the second lap rolled around it would be more chewed up. Looks like we were right! Its always nice to find new spots on the course so that you aren’t shooting the same thing year in and year out.

The spot wasn’t a high speed section so it let you move around to get a bunch of different angles. That’s what is so nice about shooting in silt, even slower speeds look dramatic because the silt is so light.

Silt Bed
BJ Baldwin

The result of these shots was not only cool looking photos, but also pockets full of silt and rocks.

A few more at the same spot, but from the other side of the course. These different photos show that you don’t need to stay stationary, get up and move around and you can make one spot look completely different. All these shots were all taken within a 20 foot diameter from the silt pocket.

For lap 3 I caught the leaders one last time about 10 miles before the finish at a turn that I typically shoot at each year. I usually shoot it tight, so this time I decided to try and change it up and shoot it a bit wider.

We were planning on leaving the race from there, but on the way out we decided to stop at a part on the course that in years past was always a nasty spot, but this year it was bladed and filled in with dirt. Like usual the desert always returns to its old ways and by now a pretty good sized hole had developed. The light was starting to creep behind the mountains so it gave for some interesting lighting. This first photo is one of my favorites from the race, so I’m definitely glad we stopped on the way out.

So that does it for the first blog entry of 2012, keep an eye out for more entries as the year goes on! You can see my full gallery from this race by clicking the link below, also check out more of my favorite photos from this race by clicking the thumbnails below. Thanks for looking!

2012 BITD Parker 425 Gallery