Two Wisconsin Weekends Two Wisconsin Weekends

12 days on the road in Wisconsin to cover back-to-back racing weekends, first the IMSA Tudor Series Sports cars at Road America and then the Verizon Indy Car Series at the Milwaukee Mile yielded a ton of photo opps for any ambitious motorsports photography willing to spend a couple of weekends in cheese country.

Here are a few of my favorites from my Wisconsin take

A Porsche takes to the dirt at Canada Corner

Under the Indy Banner

Yucatan Eyes the IMSA Competition

Scott Dixon looking for 2 in a row

Quick Pit Work at Road America

Josef Newgarden makes an Indy Pit Stop

Teammates Battle for Milwaukee Win

Road America winners atop their car

Click here for more Road America IMSA photos from

Click here for more Milwaukee Indy Car photos from


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Back to Sebring

It’s been many , many years since I’ve covered the 12 Hours of Sebring, and seems like very little has changed in the years I’ve been away. The facility dates back to the early 1950’s and offers little in the way of modern conveniences and technology. But Sebring is not a venue that relies on these things. The ruggedness of the old airport road course and the toughness of the race itself are the foundation upon which the event was built and has endured. The fans of the 12 Hours of Sebring are among the most devoted in all of motorsports! The starkness of the race track and the surrounding area belie the richness of the photographic opportunities that lie within. Sebring is a race that rewards a hard working photographer with many great images but at the same time leaves him or her with the feeling that he’s left a lot on the table and forces him to immediately begin to look forward to next year. Here are a few of my favorites from the my coverage of the 2014 event:

A Porsche goes off-road during practice
Lots to see in pre-race

The pole-sitting Corvette DP on the grid

The green flag starts the race
An early caution as a Viper expires on track

Red Dust Racing

Pole-sitter pits at sunset
DeltaWing under Setting Sun
Classic Sebring Sunset

The winners celebrate with champagne

For more images of my 2014 Sebring experience visit my 2014 Sebring gallery on and, of course, be sure to check back next year!

Results of the 2014 12 Hours of Sebring

Pos Cl Drivers Team/Car Time/Gap
1. P Pruett/Rojas/Franchitti Ganassi Riley-Ford 12h00m09.985s
2. P Sharp/Dalziel/Brabham Extreme Speed HPD +4.682s
3. P Barbosa/Fittipaldi/Bourdais Action Express Corvette DP +8.965s
4. P Pla/Brundle/Yacaman OAK Morgan-Nissan +11.994s
5. P Brown/van Overbeek/Pagenaud Extreme Speed HPD +17.027s
6. P Dixon/Kanaan/Karam Ganassi Riley-Ford +17.837s
7. P Angelelli/Taylor/Taylor Taylor Corvette DP +34.229s
8. P Frisselle/Frisselle/Fogarty Action Express Corvette DP +39.559s
9. P Pew/Negri/Wilson Shank Riley-Ford +40.568s
10. PC Bennett/Braun/Gue CORE FLM +3 laps
11. PC Ende/Junqueira/Heinemeier Hansson RSR FLM +3 laps
12. GTLM Long/Christensen/Bergmeister CORE Porsche +5 laps
13. GTLM Bell/Bomarito/Wittmer SRT Viper +5 laps
14. GTLM Auberlen/Priaulx/Hand RLL BMW +5 laps
15. GTLM Krohn/Jonsson/Bertolini Krohn Ferrari +5 laps
16. GTLM Henzler/Sellers/Holzer Falken Porsche +6 laps
17. GTLM Gavin/Milner/Liddell Corvette +6 laps
18. GTLM Farnbacher/Goossens/Hunter-Reay SRT Viper +7 laps
19. GTLM Magnussen/Garcia/Briscoe Corvette +8 laps
20. GTLM Tandy/Lietz/Pilet CORE Porsche +9 laps
21. PC van der Zande/Bird/Fuentes/Cheng Starworks FLM +10 laps
22. PC Miller/Kraut/Simpson JDC/Miller FLM +11 laps
23. GTD Potter/Lally/Seefried Magnus Porsche +13 laps
24. GTD Sweedler/Bell/Mediani/Segal AIM Ferrari +13 laps
25. GTD James/Farnbacher/Riberas Alex Job Porsche +13 laps
26. GTD MacNeil/Keen/Frommenwiler Alex Job Porsche +13 laps
27. GTD Neiman/von Moltke/Albuquerque Flying Lizard Audi +13 laps
28. GTD Mies/Putman/Espenlaub Fall-Line Audi +13 laps
29. P Westbrook/Valiante/Rockenfeller Spirit Corvette DP +13 laps
30. P Tremblay/Long/Devlin SpeedSource Mazda +13 laps
31. GTLM Muller/Edwards/Werner RLL BMW +14 laps
32. GTD Cameron/Dalla Lana/Palttala/Lewis Turner BMW +14 laps
33. GTD Canache/Pumpelly/Latif/Winkelhock Flying Lizard Audi +15 laps
34. GTD Plumb/Snow/Heylen/Plumb Rum Bum Porsche +18 laps
35. GTD Faulkner/Faieta/Avenatti GB Porsche +19 laps
36. GTD Sofronas/Welch/Basseng GMG Audi +20 laps
37. PC Kimber-Smith/Marsal/Lux/Rayhall 8Star FLM +20 laps
38. GTD Miller/Haase/Bell Miller Audi +21 laps
39. GTD Griffin/Cioci/Rugolo/Gerber Spirit of Race Ferrari +21 laps
40. GTD Roda/Ruberti/Venturi Spirit of Race Ferrari +28 laps
41. P Curran/Said/Cosmo Marsh Corvette DP +42 laps*
42. GTD Dempsey/Davis/Foster/Siedler Dempsey Porsche +47 laps
43. GTD Davis/Riddle/Wilson TRG Aston Martin +49 laps
44. GTD Lindsey/Vess/Estre/Norman Park Place Porsche +56 laps
45. GTD Case/Marcelli/Balzan/Westphal Corsa Ferrari +57 laps*
46. PC Bielefield/Ducote/Plowman/Drissi BAR1 FLM +63 laps
47. GTD Block/Carter/Davison TRG Aston Martin +76 laps

* Not running at finish

P Graf/Luhr/Mardenborough Pickett ORECA-Nissan 204 laps
P Pace/DeFoor/Hinton Highway Riley-Dinan 200 laps
P Meyrick/Legge/Chaves DeltaWing 185 laps
GTD Bamber/Gimple/Melgrati Muhlner Porsche 154 laps*
PC Cumming/Tagliani/Mitchell RSR FLM 125 laps
GTD Engelhart/Ineichen/Konrad Dempsey Porsche 113 laps
PC Kearby/Hamilton/Kasemets BAR1 FLM 112 laps
P Miller/Nunez/Vautier SpeedSource Mazda 104 laps
PC Guasch/Montecalvo/Jeannette PR1/Mathiasen FLM 89 laps
PC Shears/Matos/Ostella Performance Tech FLM 88 laps
GTLM Bruni/Malucelli/Fisichella Risi Ferrari 62 laps
GTD Cisneros/Nielsen/Giermaziak NGT Porsche 61 laps
GTD Lindsey/Vess/Estre/Norman Park Place Porsche 34 laps
P Mayer/Kaffer/Saavedra/Popow Starworks Riley-Honda 26 laps
GTD Bleekemolen/Bleekemolen/Keating Riley SRT Viper 13 laps
GTD Bamber/Verdonck Muhlner Porsche 0 laps

* Running again at finish

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Scenes from the Daily Dog Walk

We moved into our current house back in April of 1997. About 2 blocks from the Halifax River near Daytona Beach, Florida, it wasn’t long before I began daily dog walks down to the river and discovered that you never know what you might see.

Over the years I’ve been accompanied by 2 different dogs, for a few years they overlapped and there were two dogs along for the stroll. Me and my canine friends have seen: rabbits, snakes, herons, egrets, manatees, porpoise, a gator, hurricanes, 100 degree heat, freezing, icy weather, space shuttle blast-offs, local people, tourists, dog-lovers, dog-haters, wind , rain, lightning, dark clouds, baking sun, cats, dogs, lizards, trees and flowers, majestic sailboats and grounded houseboats. Like I said, you never know what you’re going to come across on these daily outings.

So, over the years as digital photography was introduced and quality cameras became smaller and more portable, it finally dawned on me a year or two ago to carry a camera along on these walks. After all, I am a photographer by occupation! And, after 15 years, I’ve decided to start a little ongoing photo project: Scenes from the Daily Dog Walk. This gallery can be viewed by clicking here.

I’ve never bee one for organized ongoing projects, given my short attention span and lack of organizational skills, but my intent will be to add regularly to this collection, whenever I come across something that catches my eye. These pictures will be taken with everything from my iPhone, myCanon Elph 300 HS, my Panasonic Lumix GF1 and, on more ambitious days, one of my Canon EOS DSLR ’s.

So, with the assistance of my walking partner Willow and in memory of my late and sorely missed companion Layla, I present: Scenes from the Daily Dog Walk!


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Calamity Corner, Daytona 1984

It was February 1984 and I was covering NASCAR “Speedweeks” at Daytona International Speedway for United Press International. I ended up being assigned to cover pit road for all the races that week. I was OK with that, reasoning that if there were no crashes in the races, pit stop and checkered flag shots would be the photos that would be moved on the wire. SInce I was on pit road, I figured I was in good shape to get a few photos transmitted, which was good since I was being paid per picture on the wire.

The week started out crazily, with Ricky Rudd tumbling violently out of turn 4 during the Busch Clash, a race for the previous year’s pole position winners. From my spot on pit road, I could not see turn 4. I did, however, hear a huge collective gasp go up from the grandstands and as I turned to see what was happening, the whirling, twirling, flipping T-Bird of Rudd came crashing into my field of view. I managed to raise my camera and fire a few frames, I couple of which were moved on the UPI wire. The week wore on and the problems in Daytona’s turn 4 continued, with a Goody’s Dash Series car spinning off turn 4 and onto pit road, striking a fireman who was working in the pits (his injuries were not life-threatening), a spectacularly violent and fiery crash involving Jim Hurlbert and Natz Peters during Friday’s Consolation Race for drivers who had failed to make the Daytona 500 and Randy Lajoie’s end over end turn 4 crash during the Busch Series. I seemed to be a magnet for the action all week and managed to get several action shots moved on the UPI wire.

By Sunday, TV commentator Ken Squire was calling Dayton’a Turn 4 “Calamity Corner” and all eyes (and cameras) were focused on the corner. The green flag fell and I was at my pit road post. After a week of carnage, Sunday’s 500 miles passed without incident. For the week, I had produced $200 worth of photos for UPI, and I was ecstatic that my photography career seemed to by taking off. Calamity Corner has not been tamed, however, as over the years the final turn at Daytona’s famous speedway has seen more than its share of action, even claiming the great Dale Earnhardt in 2001.


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1984 Daytona 500 results

1 1 Cale Yarborough Chevrolet 200 running 185
2 29 Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet 200 running 175
3 26 Darrell Waltrip Chevrolet 200 running 170
4 7 Neil Bonnett Chevrolet 200 running 165
5 3 Bill Elliott Ford 200 running 160
6 6 Harry Gant Chevrolet 200 running 155
7 14 Ricky Rudd Ford 199 running 146
8 9 Geoffrey Bodine Chevrolet 199 running 142
9 11 David Pearson Chevrolet 198 running 0
10 33 Jody Ridley Chevrolet 198 running 134
11 13 Phil Parsons Chevrolet 198 running 130
12 2 Terry Labonte Chevrolet 198 running 132
13 24 Lennie Pond Chevrolet 197 running 124
14 17 Ken Ragan Chevrolet 197 running 121
15 40 Sterling Marlin Chevrolet 197 running 118
16 19 Dean Roper Pontiac 196 running 115
17 41 Jimmy Means Chevrolet 196 running 112
18 20 Greg Sacks Chevrolet 195 running 109
19 25 Dean Combs Oldsmobile 194 running 106
20 37 Clark Dwyer Chevrolet 191 running 103
21 42 Mike Alexander Oldsmobile 187 engine 100
22 36 Connie Saylor Chevrolet 186 overheating 0
23 23 Doug Heveron Chevrolet 173 ignition 94
24 38 Ronnie Thomas Chevrolet 173 rear end 91
25 28 Buddy Arrington Chrysler 170 connecting rod 88
26 12 Dick Brooks Ford 158 accident 85
27 18 Ron Bouchard Buick 158 accident 82
28 31 Joe Ruttman Chevrolet 146 accident 79
29 8 Benny Parsons Chevrolet 108 cylinder head 76
30 27 Rusty Wallace Pontiac 95 accident 73
31 34 Richard Petty Pontiac 92 camshaft 75
32 30 Tommy Gale Ford 69 engine 67
33 10 Tim Richmond Pontiac 66 cracked head 64
34 4 Bobby Allison Buick 61 camshaft 66
35 22 Bobby Hillin Jr. Chevrolet 60 engine 58
36 21 Dick Trickle Chevrolet 53 ignition 55
37 16 Lake Speed Chevrolet 46 push rod 52
38 5 Buddy Baker Ford 30 vibration 49
39 32 A.J. Foyt Oldsmobile 24 suspension 46
40 15 Kyle Petty Ford 21 engine 43
41 35 Trevor Boys Chevrolet 17 engine 40
42 39 Dave Marcis Pontiac 3 engine 37 launches new slideshow website

BC Pix Photo of the Day - Images by Brian Cleary, the home of the online photo archive of Florida-based freelance photographer Brian Cleary, has launched a new slideshow website aimed at casual online photo browsers.

The site, which can be found at: Slideshow Homepage, takes advantage of the excellent embedded slideshow creation tool found on Photoshelter, which houses Brian Cleary’s ever-growing online photo archive.

The idea behind the site is based on the thought that there are many internet browsers out there who don’t want to invest the time and effort it takes to search and scroll through an online photo library and who might prefer to take more of a “couch potato” approach that would involve clicking on a link then sitting back and enjoying a self activated slideshow on their computer screen.

Thanks to the incredible Photoshelter interface, the slideshow watcher can hover his or her mouse over an image for caption info and click on any image to go to that particular photo in the archive to check print and download availability and pricing.

“I’m essentially putting my entire career online in a slideshow format”, says owner Brian Cleary, “I like the idea that this site will expose more internet users to my photography, not to mention the fact that this will ultimately provide more traffic to my online archive.”


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1st quarter of 2011 a busy one at

With the traditional Florida opening of many of the nation’s top motorsports series, the first quarter of 2011 has kept me pretty busy.

The new track surface at Daytona brought Gtand-Am and NASCAR teams to town in January to try out the new pavement.
The Daytona tets sessions were quickly followed by the 2011 Rolex 24 at Daytona for the cars of the Grand-Am Rolex Series.
A few weeks later the NASCAR boys arrived and their media day afforded me the chance to update my files with fresh portraits of the top stars.
This was followed closely by one of the best Daytona 500’s in recent memory.
Soon after it was off to Homestead for round 2 of the Grand-Am Rolex Series.
Back to Daytona for the AMA’s season opening Daytona 200, featuring on the most thrilling finishes ever!
It was soon time for the annual classic in the center of the state: Sebrings 12 Hour sports car race.
Finally, as a diversion from al the motor racing, I started fooling around with digital infrared photography in my spare time.
This second quarter doesn’t look like it will be any slower, with motorsports assignments coming up at Barber Motorsports Park, Talladega, VIR, and Lime Rock Park, not to mention any interesting self-assignments or projects that might come my way.

Whether you’re an editor, publisher, or webmaster, please keep in mind as a viable option when it comes to quick online search, purchase and downloads for your editorial stock photo needs.


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39 Times around the Clock

As I was preparing for this year's Rolex 24 at Daytona Grand-Am Sports Car race, I started thinking about the past classics I've witnessed in Daytona. By my calculation, this year's race was 39th time I've braved the deceptively chilly Florida weather to watch the sports cars wind through Daytona's "roval" road racing course.

Beginning in 1965, when my family had just relocated to Daytona Beach, my father took me to my first Daytona Continental, a 12 hour event which saw Ken Miles and Lloyd Rudy prevail in a Ford GT-40. Not only did this race mark the first time I took a camera to a race track, but it also inspired a ton of artwork that I produced in my 2nd grade classrom, just down Volusia Avenue from the speedway. I must have been impressed by Shelby Daytona Coupes, as most of my drawings seems to have featured them.

I remember sitting in the grandstands at the entrance to the infield with my father on a cool evening during the 1967 race when the Porsche 906 of Walter Habegger crashed, flipped and exploded into flames right in front of us. As the car burned with the driver inside, I remember my father reaching over and covering my eyes when it looked like the worse could be happening, and I recall the feeling of elation when the driver was able to extricate himself and run from the wreckage, relatively unharmed.

After we moved to south Florida in the early 1970's, there were a few dark years where we were able to travel north for the Daytona 500, but could not swing the trip to the sports car classic, then in 1977, having obtained my driver's license and the confidence to make such a long road trip, me and my friend ken Breslauer, now of Sebring fame, made our triumphant return to the event to watch Hurley Haywood, John Graves and Dave Helmick triumph in a race that saw Paul Newman co-drive a Ferarri to a 5th place finish.

Attending Daytona Beach Community College as a photography student in the early 1980's I attended the race for the first time as a credentialed member of the media. Working as a stinger for UPI, and the Associated Press, I got to witness (and document the beginings of the IMSA GTP era.

The open cockpit World Sports Cars replaced the GTP's in 1994 and continued snapping away.

Not only did the 2001 race mark my first event as the official photographer for Grand American Road Racing (one of the best things that's ever happened to my photo career), but it also marked the great Dale Earnhardt's first and only appearance in the race, co-driving a Corvette with his son.

So with Joao Barbosa, Terry Borcheller, Ryan Dalziel, and Mike Rockenfeller going to victory in this years' event, another chunk of sports car history has been added to my ever-growing sports car racing photo archive, not to mention a 39th installment in my round-the-clock memories of Daytona!


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Triumph to Tragedy

As NASA's Space Shuttle program continues to wind down, I'm reminded of a launch I covered for AFP back in January 2003. It was kind of a routine launch, with Space Shuttle Columbia scheduled to carry seven astronauts into orbit. The crew included Rick Husband, Willie McCool, Michael Anderson, Kalpana Chawla. David Brown, Laurel Clark and , notably, the first-ever Israeli astronaut, Ilan Ramon.

I decided to drive down to Jetty Park in Cocoa Beach, just south of Kennedy Space Center and see what was going on down there. Looking around, I saw the usual mix of beachgoers, fishermen, spce geeks and sightseers on the beach and jetty. Then, just moments before the launch, a group of 3 men caught my eye: Orthodox Jews Nachman Segal, Dov Kok, and Neftaly Hertzel were standing on the boardwalk waiting to view the launch. I introduced myself and the three men told me that they had travelled from South Florida to watch the first Israeli astronaut begin his historic journey in to outer space. The re was nothing profound in their presence at the launch, just there simple pride and there desire to be there as their countryman entered his name on the roll of space travelers form the planet Earth.

I asked if they would mind if I photographed them watching the launch and they said that would be fine. The launch was no more spectacular than any other launch and the photos were not particularly outstanding. As the space shuttle disappeared from view, we said our goodbyes and went of on our separate ways.

A couple of weeks later I was sitting in an office at Daytona International Speedway preparing to photograph the start of the Rolex 24 at Daytona auto race when I heard the tragic news that the Space Shuttle Columbia had disintegrated on it's return to Earth, with the entire crew perishing in the accident. My thoughts went to the three men whose paths I had crossed on the beach in Cocoa a few weeks earlier and tried to imagine what their thoughts might be following the pride they had felt a few weeks earlier.

I also realized again that life carries no guarantees. Today's triumphs are for today. Enjoy them for what they are and always be prepared for what life might have in store around the next corner.


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Twice Around the Clock to Start the New Year

Cras make pits stops in the early morninghours of the 2008 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Photo by Brian Cleary
The new year is almost a month old and this past weekend many motorsports photographers got there first taste of action in 2008 in the form of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona Grand American Rolex Series Sports car race. As annual ice-breakers go, this one is particularly grueling.

As the series photographer for Grand American Road Racing, this assignment comes about as close to being overwhelming as I'd ever like to get!

When the race teams converge on Daytona to unload for the race, bringing with them 68 race cars and more than 250 drivers to pilot them, a series on non-stop events begins that runs all the way through the checkered flag on Sunday. Any photographer hoping to capture the action and atmosphere of the event better take a dee p breath, dive in headfirst and hang on! Here's how my weekend went:

The car sand teams arrive on Wednesday, I get my cameras and begin to document the new cars and drivers in their new uniforms for the coming season. It's also a good time to roam the paddock and shoot the crews working on the race cars. I also grab a copy of the press conference schedule for the weekend, so that I can fit any important series or team announcements into my shooting schedule.

I arrived at the track at 7am on Thursday to shoot the annual Daytona Prototype group shot which must be set up and shot before the opening practice session

The cars are on the track at for the openning practice session at 10am following a brief Speedweeks Kickoff Ceremony, and I'm out there shooting every single car so that we have a record of each car in action. I should also mention at this point that Grand Am also sanctions the Koni Challenge Series for street stock race cars, and as the Grand Am photographer, I'm responsible for covering that series as well. So Thursday morning consists of alternating practice sessions for the Rolex Series and the Koni Series, with just a few minutes in between. Fortunately I have a Honda Helix scotter at my dispoal for this event and I've gotten pretty good at shooting as many cars as possible at one corner, jumping on the scooter and racing to another corner to shoot all the cars again. In a 45 minute session I can usually get to 3 of 4 shooting positions on the track

Once I feel that I've gotten the cars from enough differnerent angles, it's off to the pits and paddock to try and photograph as many drivers as possible. It's quite a juggling act, and if you spend your time shooting race cars, someone invariably needs a photograph of a driver and vice-versa.

After the Thursday morning practice sessions, ther are four separate qualifying sessions: Rolex GT cars, Rolex Daytona Prototypes, Koni ST cars and Koni GS cars. Since these sessions are only 15 minutes each and since I've already got shots of all the cars from the practice sessions, I usually hang out in the pits to get a few more driver portraits and capture any celebratory shots of the pole winners. Also have to shoot the pole award presentations for the series. There is short dinner break at this time that I use to upload some photo galleries to the Grand Am site from the day's action. After dinner there is a evening practice session that runs til 9pm, after which I catch up on any photos that I might have to upload or e-mail to media outlets.

I "sleep in" on Friday , not arriving at the track until about 8:30 for the day's activities. Friday morning begins to get a little insane, as I'm shooting a Koni team photo early, then shadowing a group of foreign journalists as they cover the event. At 10:45 there is a "Champion's Photo Shoot" and media availability in Victory Lane for many of the higher profile drivers competing in the Rolex 24. Immediately after that comes the Koni Series drivers' autograph session, followed by a lunch break filled with press conferences and media anouncements. At 2:15 the green flag waves to start the 3 hour Koni Challenge race. I make my way by scooter to the various trackside shooting locations, photograph some pit stops and wind up in Victory Lane to shoot the podium activities. I dash from Victory Lane, burn a quick CD of photos for on media member, post a Koni Race Gallery on the Grand Am site, as well as a Rolex Media day gallery and some hi-res media photos. Then it's on with dress pants and a jacket and off to the Grand Marshall's dinner where the legendary Dan Gurney, who is this year's Grand Marshall, is honored and interviewed in front of a group of VIP's. I'm home by 10:30.

Saturday dawns and I'm at the track early for race day. In the morning I go to the driver's meeting to photograph Race Director Mark Raffauf as he lays down the law to a bleacher full of anxious drivers. Dan Gurney gives a brief talk and Rolex President Allen Brill addresses the gathering. The meeting breaks up and the drivers report to their autograph session where a huge throng of fnas descends upon them making for some spectacular crowd shots that the series loves!

Next on the agenda is that annual exercise in futility know as the team grid shots, where we photographers try and shoot each team and car before they are rolled down the grid to line up for the start. Five minutes before the procession was to begin track officals, Rolex series officials and a group of photographers were still trying to figure out how we would accomplish the task. To furhter complicate matters, threatening weather delayed some of the teams from coming out to the top of the grid. We put up a gallant effort and did manage to get all the prototype teams photographed before the series officials aborted the operation and told the teams to just go directly to there grid spots and forego the team photo. It was a good call, as I don't think we could have finished the task before the scheduled starting time.

I ran to my scooter and headed out to shoot the first of many "signature" shots that I like to capture each year in the course of the event. There is a spot in the grandstands where you can look straight down pit road and the crowd of fans engulfs the race cars. It's great Chamber of Commerce type shot that I try to get every year. After that its off to the flagstand for the start then to a succession of photo spots til sunset. I also did my annual ferris wheel ride to get some overhead shots of the infield. This was about the 4th year in a row where there actually was no sunset due to heavy overcast.

As darkness fell on the race, I had to drive to Gene's Steakhouse, just west of the speedway to take a few photos at a sponsor's dinner. After that I met a few fellow photographers at the Daytona Ale House for dinner and a beer, than back to the track to shoot some night action.

After I'd had my fill of shooting, and before I got too tired to do it, I had to post some race photos on the web site, and then I unrolled my sleeping bag in my photo room ini the media center and, for the first time in years, spent the night at the track.

After a few hours of sleep I awoke and headed out into the drizzling rain to shoot the sunrise. Again the weather prevented there from being anything resembling a true sunrise, so I decided to head up into the grandstands to shoot some predawn time exposures (see photo above) and slow shutter speed pans.

I posted another photo gallery of early morning shots and then set about my annual routine of shooting the a variety of pictures of the class leaders in action as the race began to wind down. A trip to the pits for a few more pit stop shots and then back to my computer where I sent photos of the race leaders to the web sites I was servicing so they could have them queued up for posting as soon as the raced ended.

After that it was just a matter of getting to Victory Lane to shoot the celebrations followed by several more hours of computer work.

Once again, at the conclusion of the 24Hour race I was amazed at how quickly it seemed to fly by and how, as usual, there hadn't seemed to be enough time to get everything done. Still I sat there staring at more than 8,000 pictures that had to now be edited and organized.

As I write this on Thursday evening I'm just burning the last of the DVD's and about ready to wrap up another year of Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona coverage and I wonder if heading into next year' srace I'll be any better prepared. I somehow doubt it.


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Testing . . .testing . . .

A pack of primer painted NASCAR racers at Winter testing, Daytona, January 2008. Photo by Brian Cleary
For the working freelancer who covers big-time motorsports for a living, the off-season is not much of a vacation. You'd think that the time between the final checkered flag of the fall and the first green flag of the new season would be a time a sitting around the house watching TV with the kids and catching up on domestic chores. More and more, this is not the case.

First of all there's annual tour of the awards banquets. In 2007 I covered the following banquets: Grand American Road Racing Rolex Series (Las Vegas, September), Grand American Koni Challenge Series (Las Vegas, November) NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (Hollywood, FL, November), NASCAR Busch Series (Orlando, December) and NASCAR Nextel Cup Series (New York City, December). So, after all of that, after my tuxedo was hung up for the winter and I gave up my standing spot in the long term parking lot at the airport in anticipation of a leisurely off-season, here came the annual parade of primer painted race cars into town for the ritual of winter testing.

Fortunately, this testing all takes place in Daytona Beach, where I live, so the assignments aren't as grueling as the year-long grind of chasing the racers from track to track. Still, as many race fans know, the drivers don't really look forward to these test session, which involve endless laps around the track punctuated by periods of standing around as crewmen work on the race cars, with very little excitement involved. It's not much better for the media and photographers, as the cars aren't painted, the driver's uniforms aren't updated for the new year, and the photos are of little use to anyone, other than just documentation of the test sessions for the track and teams.

First, in December, the prototype and GT sports cars of the Grand American Road Racing Series rolled into town for the first of their 2 test sessions. I work as the series photographer for Grand Am, so I'm required to be there. It's a fun assignment and a chance to see my friends in the series in a less stressful setting than the usual race weekend. It's also a chance to see the new teams and cars in their first warmup for the season opening Rolex 24 at Daytona, which runs in late January.

The ARCA cars roll into Daytona for their annual pre-Christmas test, followed by a few actual days off for Christmas and New Years.

On January 4 of this year, the Grand Am cars returned to Daytona for their final test before the Rolex, now just 3 weeks away.

After that there is a string of NASCAR tests, each 3 days long: The first group of NASCAR Sprint Cup cars goes first, then comes the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series followed by the second group of Sprint Cup cars(the above photo shows the cars of Scott Riggs, 66, Michael Waltrip, 55, and Sam Hornish, 77 in action at this test session) and finally the NASCAR Nationwide Series. As that session ends, I'll finally settle to the couch to really get into the off-season and then I'll realize that the Grand Am cars are just 3 days away from rolling into town for the following weekend's Rolex 24 Hour race. Oh well, here we go again. Maybe I'll have time to catch my breath next December!


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Christmas in Outer Space

Space Shuttle lifts off behind a Christmas tree in Cocoa , Florida Photo by Brian Cleary
With the holidays upon us my thoughts today drift back to December 19, 1999. At that time in my life I had a 4-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son and my wife and I were living in Daytona Beach, Florida and I was scrambling as fast as I could to make ends meet as a freelance photographer.

That is how I found myself leaving my house at 6am on a Sunday morning to drive more than 200 miles to photograph a 1 o'clock Miami Dolphins/San Diego Charger NFL game at Joe Robbie Stadium. By leaving at 6 in the morning , I could make the drive to Miami and still arrive in time for the free, team-provided media lunch. At that time I was also covering some of the Space Shuttle launches at Kennedy Space Center in Titusville for Agence France Presse (AFP), the French wire service. I was going to miss this particular launch because of the conflicting football game that I was going to photograph.
During the long drive south to Miami on that Sunday morning I had plenty of time to think and I , as was my habit, I began to calculate what time I would be home that evening. I wasn't long before I realized that, if the game ended at about 4 pm, as usual, and if I got to my car and on the road quickly, I would be near Kennedy Space Center by about 8 pm. I also knew that the Space Shuttle was scheduled to blast off at 9 pm. I picked up my cell phone and called my AFP contact at Kennedy Space Center and told him that, if he wanted, I could try to photograph the launch from somewhere nearby and then bring the film to him at the Space Center. He told me that would be fine and even better if I could somehow tie it in with the holidays, since Christmas was only a few days off.

With my task defined, I continued south to Joe Robbie Stadium, where I shot the game, which the Dolphins won 12-9 (YAY!), dashed to my car and headed north on I-95. As usual, between traffic, stopping for gas, grabbing some food, etc, by the time I was nearing the space center, I was running a little late.
I was monitoring the launch on my radio , and knowing that I would have to drive 10 or 15 minutes east after leaving the interstate and still find a suitable site from which to photograph the launch, I made the decision to exit I-95 and drive east near Melbourne, FL at about 8:30.
Arriving on state road A1A, which parallels the Atlantic Ocean with just a few minutes to spare I drove north, hoping to find some sort of Holiday scene. Sure enough, I found a decorated christmas tree at an oceanside park, parked my car, grabbed my camera and tripod and waited for the launch, which was now less than 10 minutes away.
Although this before the days of readily available portable GPS, and while I didn't know exactly where on the horizon the shuttle would appear, I knew from experience that in a night launch a bright glow precedes the appearance of the firing column of the space shuttle rising into the night sky.
With moments to spare, I mounted my camera on my tripod, set the shutter speed to "bulb", guessed at a f-stop, about f22 (these things are bright!), and waited. The horizon began to glow, I placed my tripod appropriately and opened the shutter. The Shuttle streaked through the sky and was gone in less than a minute. I packed up and headed to the space center. This being before the days of digital photography, I processed my film and handed the frame to the AFP photo editor, who scanned in and transmitted in around the world.
For my efforts on the day, between the football game and shuttle launch, a 500 mile drive and and a 16 hour day I earned about $500, including expenses.
A successful day for a struggling freelancer in 1999!

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An Old Race Car Photographer Photographs Old Race Cars

I guess it's only fitting that the first entry into my new blog features old race cars. After all I basically got involved in photography 30 years ago to be able to take decent pictures of one of the sports I love: auto racing. Obviously, that wasn't the only reason I first picked up a camera, it certainly figured heavily into it.

For one thing, auto racing lends itself quite nicely to photography, with its bright colors, spectacular action and high emotions. I've photographed hundreds of motor races since 1977 including the Indy 500, Daytona 500 and Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, so when "Rennsport Reunion III" rolled into Daytona International Speedway this past weekend and I was offered a n assignment to work the event, which featured hundreds of historic Porsche race cars and drivers, I jumped at it.
I'd actually photographed many of these machines in the past when they were "racing in anger" as the saying goes, so it brought back many memories.

The photo I've included in this post features the yellow #48 Porsche 917 driven by Jim Torres doing battle with the tiny #4 Porsche 908 of Phil Daigrepont in the Group 4 race on Sunday afternoon. I was struck by the tremendous difference in the size of the two cars as they raced side-by-side around Daytona's famous race course.
The color and history of an event like this recommends it highly to any photographer looking to fill his portfolio with images of these rolling works of art.

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