Life can throw a bunch of curveballs and this year was a prime example. Especially, in my journey of trying to make this motorsports thing work.
Instead of doing the usual Top 25 favorite photos as an open category, I’ve decided to split it into two parts.
Why two? I don’t just cover racing when my budget and time allows, I also have a
photography business I’m trying to turn into a financial living.
The other side of me will show different events I’ve done ranging from action sports to festivals.
Any help to keep my business going is appreciated which I’ll share at the end of my ranked shots. If you haven’t followed
my Instagram account, I’d recommend you to do so. It’ll come such a long way!
Before getting this started, here are five photos that didn’t make my cut, but worth telling.
13-year-old Max Gordon (son of Robby Gordon) won the opening Stadium SUPER Trucks race at Long Beach. After the victory, Gordon was lifted up by Bill Hynes. As sweet as this shot it was, I found out recently about Hynes’ legal troubles which docked a lot of points in my eye. Otherwise, it was a great moment to have captured.
A multi-bike incident happened during one of the heats in Seattle. On the other hand, Fredrik Noren escapes the melee unscathed, leaving the riders, who weren’t as fortunate, behind. Cool visual but there are others that stood out much more.
I like this shot! It was a tough choice to put this driver intro photo in the honorable mention category. When it comes to clever intros, I do put Trackhouse Racing’s No. 1 team carrying Ross Chastain on top of my list. Little did people knew that it wouldn’t be the only lift off Chastain had at Texas Motor Speedway that bizarre Sunday.
Rodd Kneeland had a weekend to forget at Sonoma Raceway. It began during Friday’s practice/qualifying session when his No. 68 Chevrolet got sideways. I’m happy this one was mostly sharp, and the type of velocity he was carrying in the upper hill. Found out days later that Kneeland lost a loved one which explained why that weekend was bleak.
Normally, I don’t concentrate on capturing race fans unless they ask for it. More often than not, those shots never make it past my hard drive. But this one I captured as I was entering the infield during the Xfinity Series race at Phoenix. A neat father-son bond if you ask me.
Without further ado, here’s my 25 favorite motorsports photos and the stories behind each of them.
Real Recognizes Real
This photo is self-explanatory. Two of the greats in different motorsports disciplines congratulating each other is always a story. Scott Dixon and Jimmie Johnson had a fun, hard fought battle for fifth at Texas Motor Speedway. Johnson, who was competing in his second season in INDYCAR, finished sixth which marked his first top-10 effort in the series.
A Texas-Sized Improvement
Big Machine Racing decided to put other drivers in the No. 48 Chevrolet in hopes it’ll improve their Xfinity Series program. Fast forward to Texas, Cup Series driver Tyler Reddick brought the organization its first win. By that point, I’ve never captured a great shot of the driver waving the checkered flag. This didn’t turn out that bad, which is why is lower on this list but I was happy with the shot. About the only positives I had that weekend.
During Friday’s Xfinity Series practice at Daytona, Joe Graf, Jr. decided to make some installation pit stops. With the session being in the afternoon, the sun was slowing setting on an eventful day. Graf stormed out of the pit lane and tried capturing pan shot as his No. 07 Bucked Up Energy Drink Ford was in front of me. Safe to say, I got what I wanted at a reasonable level.
Eyes on the Prize
The AMA Monster Energy Supercross Series made its annual stop at Lumen Field (ugh, the dark ages of Seahawks football began since that name arrived) in Seattle. Jason “El Hombre” Anderson was awaiting his turn to make his introduction in front of the Pacific Northwest fans. The lighting and tone was striking and one of my better shots of an individual racer.
The Champ Leading the Way
If you were to tell me which race weekend I felt I was on top of things, it’s no question that Daytona tops my list. I had a massive chip on my shoulder considering I simply wanted to deliver big as a photographer. This shot of Kyle Larson leading the pack in the Duels set the tone for me. Also, a rare shot of trying a pan shot were the goal was on getting the leader as the sharpest car for a neat visual. Hope I didn’t fully try it at Texas and miss the ultimate shot (spoiler: that happened). You Looking at Me?
What I’m not too happy about this photo is all the distracting stuff splitting up Alexander Rossi’s presence. It’s the expression of Rossi that made this photo boss. At least to me, so it was worth sharing. Not often I capture shots out of their cars and be somewhat happy.
Golden Hour Prep
After shooting a soccer tournament in Lynnwood, WA, I arrived at Portland International Raceway (Oregon) past 6am because why the hell not? Team Penske so happened to unload their cars first not that long after. This took place on race day as Will Power was leading the INDYCAR championship while Scott McLaughlin (underneath Power’s car) was the pole sitter for the race. It’s shots like this that I thrive for when the setting is right and time is on my side.
Before the Madness
More than anything, I love pyrotechnics! At long last, I was happy to get something beast like the Championship 4 Truck Series drivers (Chandler Smith, Zane Smith, Ty Majeski and Ben Rhodes) standing next to the trophy they’re fighting for. The fireworks and fireballs in the background was a total chef kiss. Zane Smith ended up hoisting the trophy after winning the Lucas Oil 150.
Being a guy from the Pacific Northwest, I’m not big on rain nor snow. I still think my shoes are still drying from a very wet race weekend in Portland. That said, there’s one major exception to my vitriol for such conditions, if it’s a road course and there’s race cars. Josh Berry leaving some mist during Xfinity Series practice. This shot was featured on Tire Pros’ social media for a period of time with proper credit. Also, if you look close, there’s a tiny branch shaped like a tree!
Call it inspiration, but during INDYCAR weekend at Portland, I was channeling my inner Paul Thomas Anderson. For context, I had recently watched Punch-Drunk Love and still remembered scenes from Licorice Pizza, and one striking visual was how PTA used his natural lighting. It may be at times off putting but when I get the right light, it’s amazing. During driver intros, Felix Rosenqvist was talking with Scott McLaughlin and captured a low angle of the sun beaming through the lens with Rosenqvist’s shirt visible. While it wasn’t my strongest weekends, shots like this was worth it.
When not competing in ARCA, Andy Janikowak was known as a pizza delivery man. Henceforth, the pizza reference. While under caution in the Lucas Oil 200 at Daytona, Janikowak endured some problems as cars were bunching up together. Several cars tried avoiding the mayhem, but Janikowak wasn’t one of them as he slid in Turn 3, kicking grass and dirt. Thus, a promising run came to an unfortunate end. Just the visual alone and how sharp it came out turned out to be one of my better accident shots of all-time.
It seemed like every Truck Series race I covered, something happens to poor Dean Thompson. It began with a flat tire at Daytona, causing a shower of sparks to this shot of practice at Phoenix. Arriving late to Thursday’s session because Championship 4 Media Day happened that day, Thompson’s No. 40 truck blew up and caught fire in Turn 4. Fortunately, Thompson got out of his truck unarmed but just another rough week for the former ARCA West driver.
The Beautiful Art of Rain
As mentioned with by shot of Josh Berry, racing in the rain brings the best out of my creative mind. Such as this shot of Bridget Burgess during practice/qualifying at Portland. I’m not too big of off-centered shots but I couldn’t resist trying o get this shot of the mist flowing off her No. 88 Chevrolet.
Intensity Up to 22
A year ago, I didn’t really captured crew members in the final laps of a championship race. I wasn’t going to make that mistake because the pit crew are as important as the drivers when there’s a lot at stake. As seen here with one of Joey Logano’s crew members. Staring at the monitor, hoping nothing happens to Logano’s championship hopes. All I really shot in the final 15-20 laps were the crew and when the dust settled, Logano won is second NASCAR Cup Series title.
I loved using a Sony camera as a rental at Long Beach. Something about it makes me dream bigger if and when I finally financially break through in this business. Marcus Ericsson storming around the fountain was perfect all the way down to the palm tree shades underneath. Ericsson would win the Indianapolis 500 a month later.
The Shot I’m Still Mad About
The ever perfectionist in me can’t be satisfied with this shot. Yes, Dale Jr. saw this one and Brett Griffin liked it, but Ross Chastain’s car is so out of focus. It’s why I didn’t enter it for the NMPA awards (a fully sharp photo of the wreck someone else took really killed my morale) because it should’ve been the shot of all shots. Summed up my weekend in Texas. Yes, I’m too hard on myself. Before the accident happened, I was trying to get a cool pan shot of Kyle Busch (whose car was sharp), who was dominating the All-Star Race. I noticed he was well off he pace and BOOM! Chastain ran into Busch and his No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro lifted off. I had to edit it to death to make it somewhat appealing. It was the shot peopled talked about, but it’s no higher than No. 10 in my book. I still appreciate people enjoying this one though, that’ll always flatter me. The Dale Jr. Effect is a good feeling if you ask me.
Another Year, Another Red Flag at Daytona
Now this crash looks sharp and ideal. Not for guys like Noah Gragson (62), Kyle Larson (5), Todd Gilliland (38) and Erik Jones (43), who were all involved in this crash during the 64th Daytona 500. This brought out the third overall red flag of 2022 (there were 14 in total) and marked the fourth straight year “The Great American Race” was halted. I wasn’t surprised at the slightest, but at least I’m happy with this shot compared to the one at Texas.
Cloudy with a Chance of Racing
For the first time since 2013, clouds surrounded Sonoma Raceway during a NASCAR Cup Series race. This race also marked the return of Turn 4 after being away in 2019 and 2021. Naturally, I had to capture shots of the area. More so when the race got back underway. Daniel Suarez and Chris Buescher were battling hard for the race lead. Buescher in particular is what made this shot spectacular because he was giving it his all to take the lead away from Suarez. Those two ended up as they were when this was taken, 1-2 respectively.
The Challenge That Is Focusing on the Helmet
My favorite spot to shoot at Long Beach is the entrance of Turn 3. Something I tried out in 2021 that I kept doing in 2022 was getting a tight shot of the drivers storming into the corner. Greater emphasis on getting a sharp shot of the driver’s helmet and forget about the rest. As seen here with Josef Newgarden, who ended up winning the race, you can tell the sharp levels and relatively centered. If I have a chance to go back, you know I’ll try to replicate it.
Wild Side: Daytona Edition
Turn 3 was a wild spot during this year’s National ARCA race at Daytona. Eric Caudell lost control of his No. 7 Ford all by himself, bringing out a caution. It’s a wild shot as again, my setup was more for a fancy pan shot. Unlike the Chastain one, this one was close to perfection. Roof flaps were deployed, the General Tire letterings were visible and of course, losing control. Talk about luck and timing here. It’s not an easy task!
Wild Side: Long Beach Edition
Street courses can be fun sometimes. Unless you’re Kyle Kirkwood, who spun during warm-up at Long Beach. Two days prior to his shot, I had another boss shot of an IMSA Corvette storming past the streets. I wanted to do the same with an Indy car. This wasn’t what I thought the shot would look like. I simply began shooting non-stop once overhearing a car screeching. Lo and behold, I got this without thinking much in the spur of the moment. Let’s hope Kirkwood finds better success in 2023 at Andretti Autosport.
“When Sunday Comes They Expect Me To Shine”
One of my mantras this year was “when Sunday comes they expect me to shine.” This was off of HAIM’s “I Know Alone” (makes for a great Rolex 24 instrumental) from the 2020 album Women in Music, Pt. III. Joey Logano certainly shined when Sunday arrived as he won the Cup title. But what’s mesmerizing about this photo of him hitting the track was this took place during golden hour. I’m a sucker for those shots and will make the absolute most out of capturing stunning visuals. To me, it’s my safe space — race cars during golden hour. Personally, this may be my personal favorite shot of 2022, but three others stood out more.
A Simpler Time Period
Before opening practice of the Busch Light Clash in Los Angeles, Kurt Busch was waiting to exit the garage area. As you see, Busch’s game face was in full effect. This is my favorite shot I ever captured of the 2004 Cup Series champion and an all-time favorite of mine since doing this thing back in 2018. Little did people knew that this would be his final full year as a qualifying crash at Pocono ended his 2022 season.
Golden Hour Bind
When you’re trying to balance a journey in racing with earning money shooting photos, it’s tough making certain decisions. I knew that I had to go from Portland to Lynnwood for a soccer tournament before going back to Portland. Therefore, I had to sacrifice a day out of a race weekend which meant no ARCA West race shots. But before leaving, I felt like stickling around for ARCA West practice on a sunny Friday evening. A decision well worth arriving home past midnight. This one of Landen Lewis was a dream shot because I’ve always wanted to shoot something like this. A pan shot of a race car during golden hour on a road course. No question, my favorite action shot of the year and personally, the last true great shot involving ARCA West.
Por La Raza
Bar none, my favorite photo of the year. I thought I wouldn’t have a shot rivaling the one of Colton Herta at Nashville in 2021, but this one of Daniel Suarez makes a real strong case. Yes, it was at the expense of my camera and lens getting drenched but it was worthwhile. Suarez had just won his first Cup race at Sonoma and was a site to behold. At that moment, everything seemed right with the world. It’s what I needed because it was during my darkest period. Something I’m still dealing with as I’ve lost a lot of things in my life (friends, money, jobs, the girl I loved and my pride). Like, a lot! But for one June afternoon, nothing else mattered. The fact people loved this shot puts a huge smile on my face, you won’t see it but know that’s the case.
There you have it! My favorite motorsports images from 2022. It was a super challenging year but I felt that my shots got improved compared to 2021, a year that I won two National Motorsports Press Association awards.
Time will tell how 2023 will unfold, but I sure hope I can continue honing my craft and see my works get even better.
As the year is coming to a close, I sure hope you follow my journey. I’m planning to fully utilize
my Patreon page throughout 2023. Another way to support my business is via donation. My business started this June, so I’m trying to make this work as best as possible.
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Any amount comes a long way! For now, I have two more blogs before we ring the new year. Those being my favorite photos outside of racing and the 100 songs I felt the vibe in 2022.
Hope you stick around and give those a look when published. Those who’ve supported me during difficult times, I can’t thank you enough!
Until we meet again, doubt me if you insist, prove me wrong if I give consent.