I've finally got around to doing a Top Five list and I'm going to start with some tracks. I've been to a lot of tracks around the country but these are ones that I love(d) to photograph at. So let's go and I'll explain why I chose each track.
#5- Shady Oaks Speedway in Goliad, TX. The first time I went to shoot at SOS was shortly after it's reopening in 2009 and it is a night I will never forget. Jim Scribellito sold everything in California, moved to Texas to purchase the track and reopened it, and was severely injured the night I was there in Beat The Boss competition he would hold for legend cars. The place is a hidden gem, IMO, and doesn't get enough credit for what it is. Tucked away in historic Goliad, it is aptly named for all of the trees that litter the property. The track is big and fast and one of the best shows I watched there was 2015 when they picked up the canceled USMTS race that South Texas Speedway was supposed to hold but couldn't due to some storm damage. I was only able to make for the Friday and Saturday shows but in typical USMTS fashion, it was well run and very exciting to photograph. I've spent a few weekends at that track and just love the setting.
#4- Southern New Mexico Speedway in Las Cruces, NM. This is a diamond in the desert southwest and is probably the best managed tracks that I have been to. While the racing is stout, the track has a lot more sentimental value than anything else. That is were I met my friend Ed Fraizer who, unwittingly, set me on the path of becoming the photographer I am today. He doesn't feel he had much to do with it but in my head he is the one that taught me the absolute basics with sharing his knowledge or pointing me in the right direction. Not only that, he is the one who got me out on the track and I was hooked after my second night! SNMS has some great weekly action but their Winter Melt Down and Fall Nationals are some of the best races in the country. I haven't been to a race there since 2010 Fall Nationals but I plan to make it back that way in the future, albeit not at the grounds it is currently on.
#3- Houston Raceway Park in Baytown, TX. The now demolished track was one of the nicest facilities I have been to. It was renamed Royal Purple Raceway a few years ago and the dragstrip still dons the name. Great lighting (important to a photographer), paved pits, and the nicest grandstands I've ever seen at a track. While I never made it to a regular weekly show when they ran, I did make it to a few USMTS shows in the spring and winter. I've seen some crazy things there that really sucked for me traveling about 3 hours. Rainouts to foggy features; one year they even called the races for snow. More importantly that is where I have met some pretty cool photographers that share the same passions as me. Carey Akin and Mike Roth have been great folks to talk to over the years providing me with invaluable information and encouragement to pursue my passion. I chat with Carey very regularly and he has played almost as an important role in me starting my business as Ed did getting me started period. Mike is a phenomenal photographer that does amazing work and just a cool dude to talk to. He also afforded me the opportunity to photograph some off road racing trucks when they went to the San Antonio area a few years ago. I learned a lot from him that weekend and had an absolute blast.
#2- I-37 Speedway in Pleasanton, TX. I think this is the third name the facility has had but back to the original one. I found it by chance in 2007 when it was Tri City Speedway and then in 2008 it was I-37 Raceway. It closed in 2013 but is reopening this year under new management. I made my Texas name as a racing photographer there and that opened the doors to other tracks in the area. And with those doors opening, I got my chance with USMTS. Nevertheless, this is where I called my second home for a lot of nights from 2007-2012. Great action; great people; great location; and the best burgers I've had at a track. LOL I know the people in the area have been dying for a track in their backyards to open and they got it this year. I believe they will have record nights and the fans will be treated with some great improvements to the facilities. Best thing about the place, are the friends I made. Greg and Candace Dinsmore, Randy Yount, Aaron Leddy and his family, Stephan Danielsen; the list could go on. These people are some of the best people I have ever met and afforded me some wonderful opportunities. Without I-37, I wouldn't be in the situation I am in. I make it number two only because I'm not there now. It sounds dumb but I look at this as being about growth.
#1 County Line Raceway in Elm City, NC. So this is about growth and now that I'm located in NC this place tops my list. I know it all sounds weird but I promise it makes perfect sense in my head. LOL I've only been there once, back in November of last year, but the impression in left is unforgettable. I made it there for the 8th Annual Race for the Kids's Benefiting Victory Junction. The place has an awesome little setup and I met some really nice folks there. Buy a pit pass and you can drive your car to the infield and basically have an infield party. It was cold the night I went so everyone had burn barrels or portable heaters set up; it was a sight to see. The racing was amazing with Ultimate Super Late Models racing along with modifieds. I was only able to catch the Saturday show but was not disappointed in the least. Fast, pretty well lit, and lots of access; all of which make for great pictures! I plan on making several shows there this year with late models and modifieds racing there. It's not too bad of a drive and I have friends that live in the area that will make the trip even easier.
So there ya go. Agree or disagree, we all have to agree on this; support your local track!!! The most important thing you can do is take a friend or five with you and expose them to the sport we love.