When I called my last 2019 trip “My Road Ends Here,” little did I knew that title would ring different meanings because Phoenix has changed me in more ways than one.

On a week everyone are either still waiting for one certain outcome to be determined or ready for 2020 to be over with, I come to reflect on a week that changed my life as I know it.

It wasn’t this year, but the year prior as at this time in 2019, I was on my way to Phoenix covering the penultimate NASCAR race weekend.

Unfortunately, there won’t be a championship weekend trip in 2020. I’m not going to discuss about it because I’ve already said on social media that my trip to California two weeks ago was it until hopefully Daytona in 2021. I’m okay with that.

My personal best photos from Roseville and Kern County will be posted here soon. My sleeping habits have been horrible and finding motivation has been rough. Bear with me on this one because the travel did kicked my ass unlike any other trip I’ve done in my life.

For now, I decided to write a reflection piece of my trip to Phoenix last November because a lot has changed — for better or worse.

A Piece of My Dark Soul Left Me

If you recall, I went to many of Phoenix’s fine establishments before focusing on the big task of doing both writing and shooting photos at Phoenix Raceway. Going to the museum being one of those ventures.

Let’s get to the latter because I’m not going to dwell on the negatives. It’s 2020, we’ve seen and you’ve read enough negativity here.

As an adult, we go through phases where we question our actions and flat out make regrettable mistakes. I think more than any other trip, personal mistakes were common.

Fortunately, they were all off-track, but after that trip, I had to make several changes on how I go about my life.

Even the littlest things like accidentally dropping valuable stuff had to stop because it can be held against you.

At 25 years old (now 26 as of this blog), I felt like I needed to slow down and accept the fact a “college-like lifestyle” is over. It’s time to grow up and focus on the greater picture which is genuine happiness, my career and not letting distractions get in the way of pursuing those goals.

It’s like the Oliver Stone movie of The Doors (1991), a certain part of my soul left to remind me that I need to get my shit together. Otherwise, I’d be in an absolute downward spiral like Jim Morrison ultimately went through.

Main difference is my dilemma involved living in the past or trying to be that college life when realistically, I’m not that guy. It’s pretty dangerous if you ask me.

There’s a song called “save up” by VÉRITÉ that’s lyrically alarming.

Even in 2020, I still have songs where I say, ‘Man, if only I was still doing stuff at KUOI! I’d do a lyrical analysis!’

How I see it is the chorus being from my perspective while the verses is what I thought I needed to keep myself from getting bored.

Who knew I’d find a song that roughly sums up a demonic time period in my life that I’ve since left for good.

If there’s one benefit from this pandemic, it made me more matured when I’m not doing my works.

Finding My Confidence in Photography

A sneak peak of what could happen this Sunday as both Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin are fighting for the Bill France Cup. Last year, this was my favorite battle and photo that weekend. Hamlin went on to win the race while Elliott crashed out.

Phoenix also taught me how to step out of my comfort zone. Not just in racing, but in portrait photography because both are no easy tasks.

The pandemic may have denied me more opportunities to improve my photography skills, but last November is where I gained the confidence I needed to continue this passion.

I became more comfortable shooting in corners and how to manage my time because I still had to write stuff for Motorsports Tribune, you know.

The week before, I was still a tad hesitant of shooting corners at Texas, but I needed to grow a pair and end my 2019 tour with my best shots yet.

Did I accomplish that goal? I think so because my favorite victory lane photos came that weekend in Arizona.

When you see my photos from California two weeks ago, you’ll see how much I’ve improved over time and I hope you guys enjoy them when it’s up here. Now with NASCAR 2020 almost over, I’ll have plenty of time to upload them.

Appreciating What I Do

Brett Moffitt during qualifying for the Lucas Oil 150. Both Barry Powell and Tate William Spier were honored in Moffitt’s truck. The latter was the focus of one of my favorite stories I’ve written.

It’s awe inspiring to write amazing stories that provides a unique perspective in the world of racing, my main love and reason for living.

When I wrote about Brett Moffitt honoring Griffin’s brother Tate, that was when I come to accept the old saying:

Covering auto racing is a privilege that shouldn’t be taken for granted!

To this day, I can’t thank Griffin for taking the time to be a part of my feature on the PlanBSales.com paint scheme. It remains one of my favorite articles I’ve ever done in my young motorsports media career.

For greater context of my Motorsports Tribune article, here’s Griffin’s story on why Moffitt’s truck is important to him.

This is the kind of stories I’d love to continue providing and when Season 2 of Behind the Exploratory Lenses begins soon, I want to have guests that are comfortable to tell their journey and what they’ve learned from it.

I want my podcast to be more than just racing. I want it to be an open book show where anything on their mind is welcomed.

There’s plenty of people I find amazing, brave and inspiring. Got to meet several that weekend, which I’m forever blessed to his very day.

Musical Tastes Altered

South Mountain Park is such a sight to get my first exposure of the Arizona desert. Hell, it’s where I fully discovered Kacey Musgraves’ music because of the song “Golden Hour.”

Who would’ve guessed a photo shoot would lead to my music lineup being different than it already was?

That was the case and I’ll openly say I’m far from a country music guy (especially anything from the 21st century), but I can appreciate certain songs when the mood and timing is right.

I didn’t knew there was a song called “Golden Hour” until my first full day in Phoenix and for the rest of the weekend, even going to Phoenix Raceway, this catchy song was etched to my brain.

Fun fact: The album (also titled Golden Hour) was my go-to when I left Daytona tunnel in Turn 3 to get some dinner after ARCA activities were done.

Fast forward to now, I still don’t mind the song because it has its resonating qualities.

If you’re not convinced my musical taste is all over the place like Russell Wilson scrambling for a first down, I hope this blog did.

On the other side of the pond, two Mike Jones’ songs were also etched into my head to this day. Remember who Mike Jones was?

If not, let me put these two songs and maybe you’ll remember this time period when one phone number became bigger than Jenny’s.

MIKE JONES!
This clean version is comedically BAD!

The Greatest Takeaway

After one year of thoughtful and personal soul searching (no love still lol), I think I’ve come up with the main takeaway I was assigned to consider.

When the dust finally settled, Phoenix was the place where I gained professional confidence, faced a harsh reality and expanded my musical taste, but my greatest reflection I have is rather simple.

Enjoy what you have in the moment and continue growing as a human being.

I wished I would’ve learned last November, but it’s taken me a year of the highest of highs and lowest of lows my career has to offer.

It was a much needed turning point of change and embracing. It’s why I don’t shed light on why I’m grateful for what I do because there’s still more to accomplish.

In fact, I struggle to look back at the positives and this year made me realize that I should celebrate the little victories.

Yes, I needed to grow up, but it’s also the place I understood this business is why I want to keep going for many years to come.

Doing both writing and photography accordingly is a thrill like no other and hope that in 2021, I can go back doing both with ease because I’m eager to showcase why I’m enough.

Motorsports Tribune sees that, The Podium Finish sees that, and some of my dear friends and colleagues as well.

As I said on my last blog — I’ve fallen in love, fallen out of love, grown to hate and outgrew the hate.

I will do a few more blogs during the off-season and maybe then, I can share thanks to those who’ve helped me over the past year.

Until we meet again, doubt me if you insist, prove me wrong if I give consent.

For now, use your head and stay safe!

Published by Luis Torres

University of Idaho graduate that's currently pursuing the dream of becoming a motorsports media personnel.

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