Who’s On First…?

2012 Rolex 24 

Last weekend was the 50th running of the Rolex 24 hour GrandAm race

 at Daytona Motor Speedway.

It happens to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the founding of Curb Records.

“How”, you might ask, “do those have anything to do with each other?”

And, you would not be pigeon-holed as obtuse  for also asking,

 “What does this information have to do with our illustrious, ever salient blogger?”



I might be constrained to call into question the reader’s lack of patience in not allowing said blogger to luxuriously meander over to his point, unimpeded…but, instead I shall sally forth, as beckoned!

Having been ‘in the thick of’,  (for a couple of years),  the photography for a commemorative ‘coffee table’  book about  Mike (Curb),

I have,

as mentioned elsewhere in this blog, attended more auto races in the past couple of years than I ever anticipated, covering them for Mike, who is not only a BIG enthusiast, but also a virtual auto racing encyclopedia.

Nay…not virtual…

a living, breathing fount of knowledge.

(I have witnessed his citing of stats that dispelled a driver’s own recollection of his- story.)

 AND Mike is an owner.

I didn’t, heretofore understand much  anything about the racing of automobiles, other than the racing to the grocery store at one a.m. at the request of a pregnant wife.

I still am a little foggy on the concept of who OWNS the car…who sponsors the car…who runs the team…etc, etc.

Last year he, Mike, was an owner of the Indy 500 winner and this year…so far…his car has now won the Rolex 24…

the first big race of 2012.

Fact is… he had two cars in the ‘24’ and they placed 1st and 3rd .


When I travel on these ‘shooting trips’ I always pack an assortment of  apprehensions.

Not usually about the act of taking the pictures…well…sometimes, maybe…

but about all of the other stuff before and between.


I constantly seem to be running late to the airport…

Albeit, I rarely actually am…

Then there’s getting the rental car, and directions

(though I’m starting to know my way around Daytona and Indianapolis)

…and will the credentials office still be open?..

Did someone remember to put my name on ‘the list’?

It’s not that I really ‘stress’ over these things…

They always work out… It’s just a slight nagging trepidation concerning the details…keeps me on my toes, I s’pose!

A glimpse of  ‘the author’ in action…or inaction, might be had at the Grand-Am site

First photo on the left…me on the left


The act of photography is a welcome challenge… Or at least I try to make it so.

After the cars; the cars and drivers; cars, drivers with owners; crews; Green flag; etc., I am pretty much on my own…

Until, as this year…I find myself rushing…racing, if you will…towards Victory Lane.

Subsequent to looking over last year’s images, I had a pretty good idea of the places I wanted to be and the experiments I would like to try, photographically.

(As it turns out, the crowd this year was tremendously larger than last year, so some of the more secluded vantage points that I had found and was interested in were teeming with people…)


I often talk to myself while shooting...

mental checklists…

To help me keep in touch with ISO’s, f-stops, speed (car AND ‘film’), car numbers, etc., so that I (sometimes) don’t make silly technical mistakes.


And with the noise of the engines, no one notices… 😉


One of the distinct contrasts between photography and …say…painting…

Is that the photographer, for the most part, can only put what is in front of him on the canvas. Certainly, things may be changed in post-production, but rarely is that the goal that is sought.

 The ‘prize’ is in capturing that unique moment within a tiny frame.

The goal is to expose what is in front of the camera in a way that resonates…

First, with the photographer and then, hopefully, with the viewers…

The readers…

…But, first and foremost, with the photographer.

If it’s not true to his/her vision and intent, then it’s not true for anyone.

I have pictures that I have taken that I LOVE, yet have had my excitement tempered by a viewer’s apathetic virtual ‘shoulder shrug’.

But that’s okay!

It says what I wanted to say, and that is the ‘bottom line’ of ANY creative endeavor…

As a matter of fact…

ANY endeavor!!


I am posting some behind the scenes images, along with a few car shots…

The car shots you can find anywhere….or many places….



Check this out!

Apparently they have equipped this year’s cars with laser cannons or something. …slow car in the way?!?? Blast ‘em! FIRE!

I didn’t see anybody use these but I hope they don’t put them on NASCAR autos…

Those guys WILL use them…!!! 🙂

Of course, employing that same twisted imaginary logic, I suppose the ‘rain’ toggles below the firing switches could be for creating a rainstorm behind you as your opponent is approaching a curve…

(Sounds like too much “James Bond” for yours truly…)

Okay…here’s the real thing.



 On Friday, the #60 car, one of the two Michael Shanks Racing Team’s entries…

(And one of two in which Curb was part owner),

was somehow running ‘wrong’ in practice.

The crew completely dismantled the car, looking for the malfunction, and found a small piece of dirt in the gear-box. I suppose it solved the problem. #60 won!!!

I think that shows just how in tune the drivers are with their machines.

Remember the story of “The Princess and the Pea”?



 Saturday and Sunday were both warm dry days so ‘racing slicks’ were the only style tires that were used.

Here’s a before and after look.



And, after an hour and a half.




Now obviously this is not entirely typical wear.

The team would ideally catch this approximately one or two laps sooner.

 Although the driver, Gustavo Yacaman, in the #6 car, had to limp about a half lap to pit road on two flat tires, the #6  managed to finish in 3rd place.

(A pretty good day for the Michael Shanks/Curb-Agajanian team)

Had it not been for this one set of tires, who knows, Shanks and Curb may have had a one-two finish.

This is more typical wear…and blisters… for an hour and a half of use.




 Each of these crews had 3-5 drivers who would generally take 2-3 hour ‘shifts’, to get through the 2709 mile trek.

The driver switch is a split-second operation.


First, the steering wheel must be removed to get the driver out.

Ideally, by the time the tires are changed and the car is fueled, the next driver is in place, settled in…got the radio tuned to his favorite station… 🙂

While the replaced driver is catching his breath and discussing any peccadilloes with the pit crew…..mechanical issues…strategy…an interview here and there…before slumping, exhausted into a chair to watch his team-mate for a few laps and then heading to the trailer for a shower, a massage, and a nap. Then he does it all again!














I think one of the hardest things for a driver to do is to relinquish the wheel and give control to someone else. You have to trust your team-mates, but when you are out of the car…it’s out of your hands…!




I couldn’t help but notice the brake pads.

On this type of race track, the brakes are used considerably more than on the typical “Left turn, left turn, straight….” course.

Please pardon these brake photos.

If you’re here for the photography, then move on…there’s nothing to see here.

I’ve included these more for the auto enthusiast. (Poor lighting and an unsteady hand after 20 hours at the track are my lame excuses. I include these only at the request of a friend who expressed an interest in this kind of inside view that most people don’t get to see.)


This is a new pad, about an inch thick. They can be seen in place in one of the ‘tear-down’ photos above.


And this is one after 7 hours of racing… About a 1/4 of an inch left.

That means there are approximately 3 brake pad changes in the course of the race.

3 sets of brake pads, 10-12 sets of tires.


Now, don’t go to your neighborhood dealer, or Firestone, or Jiffy Lube, etc., and expect to have brake pads and 4 tires changed in 20 seconds or so…

But you do expect it here.

Congratulations to the Michael Shanks/Curb-Agajanian team for two ‘podium’


1st place to the #60 driven by Justin Wilson, John Pew, Ozz Negri, Jr., and A. J. Allmendinger.

 And, 3rd place to the #6, driven by Michael McDowell, Gustavo Yacaman, Jorge Goncalvez and Felipe Nasr


These guys pick up a considerable amount of road ‘goo’ in 24 hours. 



That looks like a bit of a Nestle Crunch wrapper caught in the grill….Wasn’t mine! I eat Zero’s!!! 







And finally, Victory Lane. 

 Here, it’s called the “Gatorade Victory Lane” and when a large barrel of Gatorade is not available, one ‘makes do’ with what one has!!!!


~ by rkpowers on February 5, 2012.

72 Responses to “Who’s On First…?”

  1. These are gorgeous photos — I may not be a fan of the sport, but I’m definitely a fan of how you photograph it!


    • Thank you so much. I’ll have to admit…and ask for race enthusiasts forgiveness….but, 3 years ago, I would have been one who would have agreed with the notion that drivers were not ‘athletes’. I will say now…and very adamantly…they are indeed athletes, not only in the physical aspects of the sport, but also in the fact that they ‘leave it all on the field’, mentally and emotionally!


    • Wow! Never knew the tires could wear that much in such a short amount of time. Those are some pretty nice engines, too….


      • That IS pretty incredible isn’t it? As I mentioned in the post, that is not totally typical, but I’m sure it happens a lot more than any driver or crew would like. The driver kept a cool head and managed to get to pit road without really damaging the wheels or car.


  2. Great photographs. Photographs of Auto Races on blog, is something new for sure.And you did a great job with this post.


    • Thanks, Arindam. Yes, there are, of course, racing blogs that can go into the technical aspects more deeply than I do, but I am a lowly photographer 🙂 who is simply sharing some photos and trying to write about them in a way that will, hopefully, be appealing to even non-race fans. There will only be one or two race blogs from me per year, I imagine, and the rest of the time I will try to deal with the many other items that find there way into my camera, and more so into my heart and soul.


  3. Looks like a blast!


    • It IS a blast. I have gotten to know some really good people and have learned a lot about a subject that I was, until now, fairly ignorant about. I mean…I have enough trouble keeping up with changing the oil and keeping gas in my own car…! I am always fascinated by the people who make things work…the people who build the world, if you will. IDK if you read the first few of my posts from this year, but it is the same sort of thing…just on a construction site. Thanks!


  4. Great entry


  5. Very nice photography and an interesting behind the scenes narrative shared, for those who have not had the opportunity to experience a race from a teams perspective. Good job…


    • Thanks, dig… I see from your blog that you are a much more accomplished ‘sheet-metal’ shooter than I am. I appreciate the comment. If you are from Southern CA, you may be familiar with the names Curb /Agajanian. The Agajanian family has been a ‘force’ in racing in CA , and beyond, for many years. I do enjoy the human side of the sport…the team.


  6. Gorgeous photos!
    I am a WordPress photoblogger as well, these are truly stunning!


    • Thanks much, Aaron. I took a brief glance at your blog and intend to go back for more. I particularly enjoy the “Inspiration” post and the header picture with the chain close-up in the foreground.


  7. Racing enthusiasts should be in Heaven after viewing thee gorgeous shots!


  8. Those are some great photos from the Rolex. Sebring 12 hours is in a little over a month and will provide more opportunity for great racing pictures. If you enjoyed the 24, you should definitely check it out


    • I see that you are ‘neck-deep’ in racing. Congratulations on TJR’s successes. I probably will not make the Sebring, but perhaps our tracks will cross in the future. Thanks for coming by!


  9. Nice blog, i have just started and was wondering if you could help me get mine started, leave comments, view, i would appreciate everything. My blog is rateandrank.wordpress.com


  10. Great photos and interesting story. I have never been intrigued by racing, except for the excitement of personally driving a fast car, but your story made me want to watch a little. The photos really opened up a world of understanding to me. The wear and tear on the tires was amazing. I also enjoyed the finding of a spec of dirt.


    • Thanks…uh…may I be so bold as to call you Bold? Often the underpinnings of all walks of life hold the greatest mystery and intrigue. At the first race that I photographed, I was most impressed by the pit crews. Those guys are athletes in their own right and very precise in what they do. Actually, they can make or break a race. As I watch the races on the screens at the track, I am always somewhat disappointed by how it comes across on a screen. The cars that are traveling close to 200 mph seem to be piddling along on TV. Believe me…they are not!
      Thanks for your comment!


  11. Beautiful pictures, they capture a lot of the intangible details of racing. Having been on a track only a few times, this brings back some good memories among which is the smell of burning rubber. Especially interesting to see the intricate components of a car’s cockpit. Few appreciate how many tiny moving parts go into these high performance vehicles.


    • Thanks. Yeah, that was one of the many things that have fascinated me in my short time of covering races for Mike Curb. It’s not just ” Turn the key, press the gas”….by ANY stretch of the imagination. The driver interactions and sometimes, friendships, are also something that I don’t think many get to see first hand.


  12. Very interesting story..

    More like, “COOOOOL”

    and well shot pictures


  13. I have raced my whole life motocross, anything with wheels and an engine. I argue almost everyday that racing motocross/bikes is the absolutely most physically demanding sport in the world. Anyone who doubts that can get on a 450 and do 25 laps.


    • No Doubt!!! As I stated above, a few years ago, I had no idea what it was all about. I, like many, thought it was just about the cars, but I have seen it first hand and agree with you completely. I guess that means I won’t HAVE to take that 450 for 25… 😉 Though I would love to try…but only after a couple of years of hard training and working out!


  14. some engine must have regularly maintenance to keep their performance…..


    • “…regular engine maintenance..” is nowhere near what we think of in our family cars. More like build it again for each race. The ‘in-race’ maintenence is monitored by the crew and the drivers constantly.


  15. very interesting pictures and the story behind racing is good


  16. interesting



  17. A very informative post; inpiring!


  18. I love the picture of the chefs! It’s really cool.


    • I appreciate that. If you are on Facebook, there is a folder of Chef images at the rkpowersphoto page. It’s called ‘Da Chefs’ . You might enjoy some of those also.


  19. Who said American Race Cars don’t have brakes? (Top Gear last night) Never seen pads like those!


    • Yeah…I was out of the pit area at the time but caught a glimpse on the Speed TV big screen of Michael Shanks holding up, by a wire or something, an apparently VERY burned pad. They go through them!


  20. Thanks for sharing these beautiful glimpses of the 24. Being from Daytona, it’s sacrilege to avoid NASCAR races — but you’ve given me second thoughts about poo-pooing the 500 🙂

    Congrats on FP!


  21. Wow those are some awfully nice pictures. How do you get so close to all of the action? I gotta say I’m a little jealous.


    • As I mentioned in the post, I was working for Mike Curb so the team gets me the credentials. Although, I had no different creds than thousands of others who were there. I make myself known to the team…the ones I haven’t already met, and prove that I am not a liability by being in the pit with them. For instance…never, never, never, place your foot inside the coil of the air hose. These guys place them in their own certain way so that it is ready for the next pit stop. If a foot is there, it can do one, or all, of three things. Slow up the pit crew while you become untangled, break a leg..(These guys are rightfully serious)..OR pull the unwitting photog into the pit which could cause a disqualification for having “too many men on the field”….!!!
      Thanks for commenting


  22. Similar to a few others, don’t really care for the sport, but the photography was very well done! My favorite is of the man (driver?) kneeling with his glove off. Also, wouldn’t mind gettin’ a hold of some of those used tires, might look nice on my car hehe.


  23. comment from a less-than-amateur: the third photo down…i’m guessing you went portrait to get a slice of both the track and spectators. however, with such a sparse crowd, it seems like it brings the picture down. do you have a simliar shot of a car in that position but in landscape instead?

    also, same shot, does it take away that most of the car is in the shade instead of having the sun shining more on the front of the car? i imagine it might have improved the shot to have more sun on the car. could you have turned more to your right and get a more sunlit car, or was that not possible?


    • Thanks for joining in, rmv. Points well taken. I have had a ‘mentor’ who always said, “If you have to explain a photo, then the photo is not doing its job.” Having said that, I will at least try to explain my reasoning and circumstances. The shot you mention WAS shot landscape and then cropped, but not for the crowd. The crowd (which by the way, most of the thousands were in the infield) was secondary…no…third-dary (I know, there’s a real word for that…tertiary, I think) My reasoning is that this is the winner. This is one of the two cars that I was there to cover, crossing the finish line. So the elements I wanted were merely car and checkered flag. Ideally I would have used my 70-200 and shown just that. My reasoning for using the 18-70 was that I knew that immediately upon crossing the line, the pit that I was in would erupt with joy. I didn’t want to take the time to change lenses because from here to victory lane was going to be a short, quick trip. This is also why the car is shot from this angle. So, two solutions would have helped this particular shot be what you mentioned. First, two cameras. Second, I could have been at the other end of the track to see it crossing towards me, but then I would have missed my assignment, which was, at that point, to capture the team and owners at victory lane. I have hundreds more shots that do all that you mentioned, but for this post, I went with a few that I hoped would join with the text to tell a story. But….you are exactly right!


  24. Reblogged this on gayu23784 and commented:


  25. very nice photographs,



  26. wow… superb


  27. Reblogged this on Upgrade zum Geschäftsmann 2.0 and commented:
    Das nenne ich ein leidenschaftliches Blog! Rennsport par Exellence! Schaut rein!


  28. I’m by no means a racing fan, but I loved these photos. There’s a picture of the 6 car in which the speed is really captured beautifully. For some reason I’m delighted by the pictures of the worn tires.


    • I don’t know what it is about those tires, but I find myself really looking at them every time they go through a tire change. I didn’t show this but the bits of melted rubber that stick to the inside of the wheels have to be scraped off each time


  29. Great pics, we were there for Scouting Days with the cub scouts a couple weeks ago. Camped in teh infield and got to walk all around the pits. Daytona and the league, all the teams took excellent care of us. We had a great time.


    • I’ll bet that was a great outing. The operation there seems to be run very well. Thanks for commenting. Even though I am NOT a ‘race blogger’ per se, I will probably come up with something after the 500 in a couple of weeks.


  30. This looks fantastic. I love noise and dust and fast cars. Add beer as well and I’m there!


  31. allow it follow me


  32. The pictures and captions are detailed. I like your photography style.


  33. An excellent post! Fully enjoyed reading it as i love cars myself. The pictures were stunning aswell. i will most certainly be reading more of your posts 😀


  34. I enjoyed that! Thanks!


  35. So, where’s third?


    • The #6 was third. I didn’t get it crossing the finish line as pandemonium had already broken loose in the Shanks pits and I was being whisked off to Victory Lane with the crew.
      Actually, “Where’s third?” was the big question in the Scott Pruett car. It seems they lost a couple of gears in the last stages of the race.


  36. “When I travel on these ‘shooting trips’ I always pack an assortment of apprehensions.” Very good line. Exactly!! Some very cool images there. Liked the worn tyre esp.


    • Thanks, Deborah…I mean Lotus… 😉
      I had to face a couple of those apprehensions this past weekend. And yeah, those tires are interesting…as long as they’re not on YOUR car…!!


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