Sprint Car Racing!!! The 2104 Clay Cup Nationals in Deming, Wash.


The smell of gasoline and odor of burnt rubber permeated my nostrils. The roar of the engines deafened me as the midsummer heat bore down.

Sprint car racing. I had an idea what it was, but actually had to go online to look at a few races to get a feel for it.

On of my assignments this week for The Bellingham Herald was to cover the first night of the night of the annual Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Deming, Wash.

At the Wheel:

Spencer Constance, 16. of Snohomish, Wash., prepares for his time on the track during the 2014 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Everson, Wash.,  on Thursday evening July 17 , 2014. Constance races in the 600-Restricted divsion in the races.  The Clay Cup Nationals mini sprint  races continue through Saturday July 19th.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Spencer Constance, 16. of Snohomish, Wash., prepares for his time on the track during the 2014 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Everson, Wash., on Thursday evening July 17 , 2014. Constance races in the 600-Restricted division in the races. The Clay Cup Nationals mini sprint races continue through Saturday July 19th.

Sprint car racing is different from NASCAR or Formula 1 in that the track is much shorter, the races are held in heats of 6 to 8 cars, and the winner based on best lap times.

Losing Control:

Michael Faccinto (7J) leads the pack around turn 1 as Spud Allen (right) begins to lose control during the 600 division race of the 2014 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Everson, Wash.,  on Thursday evening July 17 , 2014.  The Clay Cup Nationals mini sprint  races continue through Saturday July 19th.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Michael Faccinto (7J) leads the pack around turn 1 as Spud Allen (right) begins to lose control during the 600 division race of the 2014 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Everson, Wash., on Thursday evening July 17 , 2014. The Clay Cup Nationals mini sprint races continue through Saturday July 19th.

So honoring the old photojournalist adage “Arrive Early, Stay Late,” I got there about 5:45 or so about an hour before the main races. I had no contact at the course and didn’t have a pass, but using honesty and charm, I was able to get a pit pass for access in the center of the track.

Tire Change:

Kurt Erickson of Port Orchard, Wash., struggles to change a tire during the 2014 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Everson, Wash., on Thursday evening July 17 , 2014. The Clay Cup Nationals mini sprint  races continue through Saturday July 19th.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Kurt Erickson of Port Orchard, Wash., struggles to change a tire during the 2014 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Everson, Wash., on Thursday evening July 17 , 2014. The Clay Cup Nationals mini sprint races continue through Saturday July 19th.

I wanted more than just “cars going around a track” photos. I wanted some personal, intimate images of people working in the pits fixing cars, drivers preparing for the race, and general activity.

The Stands:

The crowds watch the qualifying races during the 2014 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Everson, Wash.,  on Thursday evening July 17 , 2014. The Clay Cup Nationals mini sprint  races continue through Saturday July 19th.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – The crowds watch the qualifying races during the 2014 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Everson, Wash., on Thursday evening July 17 , 2014. The Clay Cup Nationals mini sprint races continue through Saturday July 19th.

A shot I tried to get was the cars as they pass in front of the stands, I wanted the stands sharp but the cars blurred to show how fast they were going.

I tried various shutter speeds, but the cars were so fast, that even at 1/500th, they were really blurred.

 

One word of advice: Pay Attention To Your Surroundings.

While shooting the portrait of the kid in the cockpit, when he started his car, it was still in gear and it jumped hitting my shin. Yep, I have a slight bruise. But it was a little wake-up call, so to speak, for me to pay attention.

Line-Up:

Scenes from the 2014 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Everson, Wash.,  on Thursday evening July 17 , 2014. The Clay Cup Nationals mini sprint  races continue through Saturday July 19th.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Scenes from the 2014 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Everson, Wash., on Thursday evening July 17 , 2014. The Clay Cup Nationals mini sprint races continue through Saturday July 19th.

While in the pits, I also worked the cars on the track. They were running time trials so only 2 cars at a time were racing.

Using panning to accentuate speed, I spent about 20 minutes shooting cars. It quickly got boring and in reality, how many shots of cars do you really need? As I had no specific subject, I paid attention to who the leaders were and made sure I had images of them as backup.

Rescue:

Carson Trigueiro is helped out of his wrecked racer by rescue personnel during the 2014 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Everson, Wash.,  on Thursday evening July 17 , 2014. The Clay Cup Nationals mini sprint  races continue through Saturday July 19th.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Carson Trigueiro is helped out of his wrecked racer by rescue personnel during the 2014 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Everson, Wash., on Thursday evening July 17 , 2014. The Clay Cup Nationals mini sprint races continue through Saturday July 19th.

My deadline also prevented me from staying the entire race. It’s a 45 minute drive from Deming to downtown Bellingham. I had to leave by 8:30 to leave me plenty of time to download, edit, caption, and input the photos.

I barely made deadline. But I made it.

Stacked Up:

Kris Labree (13), left, and Dahnelynn McKay (79M) lead the pack as they come down the track during the 2014 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Everson, Wash.,  on Thursday evening July 17 , 2014. The Clay Cup Nationals mini sprint  races continue through Saturday July 19th.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Kris Labree (13), left, and Dahnelynn McKay (79M) lead the pack as they come down the track during the 2014 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Everson, Wash., on Thursday evening July 17 , 2014. The Clay Cup Nationals mini sprint races continue through Saturday July 19th.

After spending most of the time in the pits, at about 8:00 I crossed over during a pause in the racing. I also wanted to get a few photos of racers sliding around the far corner, stacked up after restart, and any other action not visible from the pits.

The pit is surrounded by a 7 foot chain-link fence and according to safety rules, you can’t get on the blocks to get a clear view. There were a few spots you can stand on to get over, but the safety officials were adamant you didn’t lean on the fence.

Sun Beams:

The Sun filters through trees while a racer rounds the course during the 2014 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Everson, Wash.,  on Thursday evening July 17 , 2014. The Clay Cup Nationals mini sprint  races continue through Saturday July 19th.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – The Sun filters through trees while a racer rounds the course during the 2014 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Everson, Wash., on Thursday evening July 17 , 2014. The Clay Cup Nationals mini sprint races continue through Saturday July 19th.

At about the time I was leaving, the Sun began shining through the trees at the other end of the track. I worked a few frames and as I was shooting, the sun began to reflect off the track itself. It was rather cool looking.

To view more images of the race, visit the gallery 2014 Clay Cup Nationals on The Bellingham Herald’s website.

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

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2 comments

    1. Thank you for the kind remarks.

      And yes there was. Another driver went over him after he spun out. No one was injured and they all continued racing afterwards.

      Fun stuff to photograph.

      Like

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