The year 2019 is finally coming to an end and while a couple of promises weren’t accomplished such as getting a damn license, which will be the main priority outside of my profession in 2020.
That’s what happens when you have to pay the bills, put up with a mundane job that’s hard to schedule anything, and sort other stuff out, but I’m confident I’ll do just fine in the exams that I somehow still remember the key details.
So there, I have put in the work, just need a proper time to actually make this elusive dream of driving into reality sooner than later.
Rather than write about the 11 of 14 promises I’ve accomplished, I want to change things up a bit and show my personal favorite photos I’ve taken in this wacky “tour” I’ve been spouting about on social media.
Here’s 25 photos I’ve taken this year and the stories behind it that I’ll look back and say, ‘as frustrating 2019 was, at least I got to explore and find myself along the way.’
A Cup Full of Emotions
One of the biggest goals I had as a photographer was to capture the NTT IndyCar Series champion hoisting the coveted Astor Cup at Laguna Seca. While the angle isn’t great because the photo booth was restricted to season-long photographers. I literally had to on the outside premises for 30 minutes to assure I can get something like this. Yes, I still paid close attention to the action because I had articles to right. Anyways, the shot came out beautiful as Josef Newgarden won his second title in three years. This was after an emotional post-race celebration, showing what winning it again meant to the man from the state of Tennessee.
A Moment of Clarity
After bragging about going to Southern California during the KUOI days (2013-16), I finally went to the area for a much needed vacation for the first time since 2016. One of the places I wanted to see was the La Jolla Cove and I must say being there for an evening brought a different meaning of life. When things get frustrating or just want to explore, find views like this and let it sweep you away. This has been true throughout the year, I find places like this as a bit of an escape. Put some songs from The xx’s “Coexist” album and it’ll do that.
Texas Sized Family Moment
It’s more about the story behind the two drivers than anything else. After Matt Tifft was sidelined for the rest of the season due to health problems, John Hunter Nemechek was given the call to run the last three races beginning at Texas Motor Speedway. What made his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut special was the driver ahead. That driver was his father Joe Nemechek, who happened to get the call days before to run the race. It marked the first time since 2005 that a father-son combo ran the same Cup race. John Hunter finished 21st to Joe’s 29th place result.
Golden Hour in the Desert
Before the joyful madness I went through at ISM Raceway, I wanted to explore Phoenix and do a photoshoot with DeVonne a couple days before creating writing and photo content for Motorsports Tribune. What I really loved about this shot was the it captured three things – the glorious view of South Mountain, golden hour was beginning to unfold and a joyful personality. I’ve done two previous shoots over the past year and this one felt easiest to do because I actually had an idea on what I’m looking for in the shoot. More experience, the better, people say.
Non-Existing Weather Continuity
If there was one word that didn’t exist during my first visit at Texas Motor Speedway in June. That would be continuity because there’s no such thing. One minute it’s really humid and hot where sweat poured down to my cheeks. Then cloud covers come along and it felt like the temperature dropped 30 degrees. This shot I’ve ignored until now when I tried finding my personal favorite shots. You had nice sunshine, but you also had its clouds – some dark, some clear. About 30 minutes later, it started pouring so heavily that it cancelled INDYCAR practice. About 10 minutes later, clear skies beckoned the track. Gotta love Texas!
For Those About to Rock, I Salute You!
I paid the price for a few days because my left ear was deafening, that I wear protective ear plugs from now on, but the cover band shows at the Everett Theatre was a vibe. There were three acts – all delivered in their own right, but when it comes to Noise Pollution (an AC/DC cover band from San Diego), one man stood out. This is what it’s all about right here. Getting the crowd’s attention and just putting on a fantastic display of showmanship. I’d love to do more shows in 2020 and yes, I’ll make sure to be protective when my left ear can’t tolerate it.
I Got Your Back, Mate!
If you were to ask me what’s my favorite photo of 2019, this would be it! Talk about right place, right time with this shot of one-off teammates Conor Daly (front) and James Hinchcliffe (back). You’d think they’ve been teammates for awhile, but Daly was given the call to run for ARROW Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in the Grand Prix of Portland. It’s a shame neither had the results to show for, but this photo will forever be memorable. Even Hinch used it to tweet about Daly’s birthday which was flattering if you ask me.
Same Song and Dance, Just a Different Track
I have this saying about Jagger Jones and Hailie Deegan – “It’s Jones vs. Deegan! Deegan vs. Jones!” Following the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West this season, this rivalry had it all and judging by the photo, you’d think they’re at a bullring. Instead, it’s the Sonoma road course and yet they couldn’t get away from each other as both battled frantically to be the best of the West regulars. Deegan won the battle that day (finished 8th to Jones’ 12th – Jim Inglebright happened), but Jones ultimately won the war as he finished second in points, one spot better than Deegan. Also, salute to Dave Smith in the No. 35 machine, he ended up 9th in the race.
Did That Just Happened?
That very same race where Jones and Deegan’s car looked like a mess, Noah Gragson won the chaotic race. Two things happened after taking the checkered flag, he ended up puking (before victory lane) and his race trophy snapped in half. Gragson’s face was priceless indeed and still wonder if the track gave him a new trophy. Fortunately for him, the glass didn’t break like Sebastien Bourdais at Toronto in 2013.
Pro Wrestling’s Flight Man
It screams like an Usher album doesn’t it? Jett Knight is a tremendous talent each time he hits the Without A Cause (WAC) ring and I really loved how this came out. In the reflection is the WAC symbol of excellence accompanied by Knight sensing the vibe of the crowd. While I don’t watch mainstream wrestling (yet still keep track of what’s happening), stuff like this is fun witnessing.
A Dusty Last Stop
You know what’s lacking in NASCAR? Pit crews having nicknames and now I don’t think “The Candy Men” flows well. No matter how many times Kyle Busch has been referred as “The Candy Man.” Anyhow, a late-race caution at ISM Raceway resulted in strategy. Busch’s crew changed four tires while his teammate and eventual winner Denny Hamlin opted for two. NASCAR pit stops are quite a story, like this shot. Look at the amount of break dust underneath the tires which makes for a nice photo when capturing the guys who put in the effort of making sure Busch exits out quickly.
Work With What You Got
Back in February, when I didn’t knew much about the ins and outs of photography (ex. meetings), I didn’t have much real estate to capture shots during Speedweeks at Daytona. My only good photos were during practices like this one when Korbin Forrister (7) led the three-wide battle between Brett Moffitt (24) and Matt Crafton (88). If I do go back to Daytona, knowing what I know today, my photos will have variety indeed. Yet, this one still holds up strong.
Jordan Anderson encountering one of the guys wearing those “giant ass (shout out to Dale Jr.)” Lucas Oil cowboy hat was a joy. You can tell by this picture that Anderson got a wonderful laugh as he was Periscoping (if that’s still a thing) driver introductions from his perspective. Makes taking photos of driver intros, which is necessary for the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series races, worthwhile because you don’t really know what you’re going to expect.
Take Me to the Top
The title is from a Motley Crue record, which is what I would describe this photo I took back in January. I’ve seen two Lewd and Crued shows this year, and the group are accompanied by the Nasty Habits. There’s something about this shot of Lindsey and Chris I totally enjoy because it visually shows the tremendous chemistry both have to make the shows memorable.
Conor Daly rolls through the treacherous “Corkscrew” at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. The track is quite a sight that combines both of my interests – racing and scenic views. As seen in this photo, you can see both in one shot. What makes it even cooler is how shiny Daly’s car looks on a bright Thursday morning as the INDYCAR boys tested that day before the finale rolled along.
So Much Gold in the LBC
As soon as I got to the Long Beach circuit in April, I knew I was going to love it here. Why you may ask? Well, when you capture a Porsche 911 winding its way past Turns 9-11 on an early Friday morning, you feel it. I’m far from a sports car aficionado, but it resulted in my favorite race shots of the year. I can’t really explain it other than I want to take more IMSA photos in 2020.
I Interrupt Your Interview
Minutes after Kennewick’s Brittney Zamora captured the pole at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Davey Segal did his usual interview to get her thoughts of leading the field to the green flag at her home circuit. Then came Zamora’s teammate Derek Kraus to naturally interrupt the interview and congratulate her. I have several memorable photos involving Davey throughout the K&N West season, but this one is my favorite of the bunch.
“Wurth” the Trial
During my second trip to Texas, I wanted to try something different with my photos and figured practice sessions was perfect. If I want to expand my range of shots, something like Brad Keselowski (2) in focus as Kurt Busch (1) was behind him is a trial and error. My intention was to do this at Phoenix, but I knew I needed more time to get used to these dynamic shots. It’s far from easy, but hopefully I can continue improving my craft and get more shots like this.
“The World Center of Racing” is cruel as shown with the remains of Daniel Suarez’s damaged Ford Mustang after being collected in the 20-car pileup in the closing stages of the Daytona 500. As the sun was going down, this shot symbolizes how difficult is it to win “The Great American Race” and it won’t go away anytime soon because “The Big One” can bit anyone, no matter how close to the end the 200-lap madness is.
Oval Redemption for Taku
I’ve said it in one of my blogs that while the shot isn’t all focused, but it screams enthusiasm as Takuma Sato celebrated with his Rahal Letterman Lanigan team after just holding off Ed Carpenter to win at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway. This was a week after people criticized Sato for causing a multi-car crash at Pocono, which saw Felix Rosenqvist hit the fence. Everyone was okay from the carnage and safe to say this race was redemption.
Hunting for the Lead
Trevor Huddleston (9) chased down Brittney Zamora (99) for the race lead at Evergreen Speedway. That was fun seeing how Huddleston was determined to get the race win at a track Zamora knows real well. He would eventually get the job done and capture his second career K&N West win of the season.
Lone Star Burnout
Open wheel racers doing burnouts are quite rare and yet my favorite shot was in that discipline in racing. Josef Newgarden burned it down after winning the INDYCAR race at Texas. I do mean it because it’s not entirely easy when you have so much stuff to do like writing articles and interviewing drivers. That very night, I went from getting quotes from drivers who wrecked at the medical center, sprinted back to the media center and then went to the pits to get this photo. As if that wasn’t enough, get quick victory lane shots before going back to the media center to record podium interviews. The things I do for Motorsports Tribune is quite fascinating if you ask me.
Throwing It Back to His Grandfather
Third-generation racer Jagger Jones got the opportunity to run his Parnelli’s (Jagger’s grandfather) iconic No. 98 roadster at Gateway. This was part of the Vintage Indy event that lasted two days. I took this shot that Friday afternoon which erased any personal frustrations I had getting to the track in the first place. There’s something about classic open wheelers that are really cool and to see it in action, especially when family ties are involved.
Escaping the Festival Curve
Although Spencer Pigot is out of an INDYCAR ride in 2020 in favor of rising star Rinus VeeKay, I have this photo to remember him by as he made it out of the demanding “Festival Curves” with ease at Portland International Raceway. As gloomy that weekend was in motorsports due to the death of F2 driver Anthoine Hubert, Portland was another race weekend I left satisfied with my photos and this one of Pigot was no different.
An elated Felipe Albuquerque after bringing the Action Express team the overall victory in the BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach. My favorite post-race photos was from that very IMSA race and could’ve gone with five, but I had to chose one that stands out and represents why I love capturing photos and racing so much. This tells you everything.
This year was a blast getting my photography skills tested and constantly learn some new techniques that I can use for my next shoot, race weekend or show I plan to attend and/or cover.
Here’s to the Double 20s providing more mesmerizing stories from my lens. Until we meet again, doubt me if you insist, prove me wrong if I give consent.
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Published by Luis Torres
University of Idaho graduate that's currently pursuing the dream of becoming a motorsports media personnel.
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