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The Copper State Welcomes the Silver State 300

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Saturday, September 26, 2009 4:02 PM; I am squatting in a shallow stream that more closely resembles a bog.  I have been waiting for a racecar for about 30 minutes and I can hear the sweet sounds of a race engine approaching in the distance but the swamp scene from Stand By Me is on my mind.  While I have not seen the movie in well over 15 years my paranoia keeps returning me to when Gordie finds a leach on his wiener.  This day could take a major turn for the worse at any moment.

The Best In The Desert Racing Association (BITD) hosted the Bilek Silver State 300 in various locations outside of Las Vegas September 24-26.   I say various locations since the host hotel and technical inspection was in Mesquite, the starting line was 100+ miles away in Alamo and the time trials would actually take place on a private ranch across the border in Arizona.

Jesse Jones crosses the Arizona boarder on the way to Time Trials

Jesse Jones crosses the Arizona border on the way to Time Trials

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, f2.8, 1/3200th.

My trip started at 6:30 AM on Thursday the 24th as I left the Valley of the Sun and drove through Vegas to Mesquite 380 miles away.  On the way I was stopped by law enforcement again, I am batting .1000 getting pulled over at my last three races and me being me, of course I took photos.

The long arm of the law reaches out and grabs me.....again

The long arm of the law reaches out and grabs me.....again

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, f14, 1/200th.

While approaching Hoover Dam crews are busy building the late stages of the dam bypass.  This includes lots of heavy machinery moving rock.  I spotted this loader and could not help but think the operator is crazy to work on a slope like that.

Construction guys with balls much bigger than mine.

Construction guys with balls much bigger than mine.

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, f2.8, 1/5000th.

I made it to the Time Trials with about 15 minutes to spare before the scheduled start time.  The ranch where the course was laid out is next to the Palms Golf Course.  Near the start you can actually see the golf course in the background.

An official drives the time trial course next to the Palms Golf Course.

An official drives the time trial course next to the Palms Golf Course.

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, f8, 1/1000th.

Seeing manicured grass anywhere near a desert race is unheard of so I set up for a few shots with the course in the background.

Greg Nunley qualifies

Greg Nunley qualifies next to the clubhouse.

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, f9, 1/640th.

Scott McMillin races past the golf course.

Scott McMillin races past the golf course.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO200, f8, 1/640th.

Throughout qualifying I kept my eyes out for golfers on the course and that would have really made a cool shot but luck was not with me that day, there were no golfers to be found.

The theme of the qualifying course was sand, lots of very deep sand, so much so that many racers buried their vehicles and had to be pulled out.  This obviously delayed qualifying over and over and with it being a very hot day I started to get loopy.  By the end of the session I had become heat stroked, not my best day by any means but there was a job to do so I had to just push through it.

Despite the problems the course provided lots of good action with great scenery.  I moved around to several locations to get a variety of shots.

Chuck Hovey takes the pole in qualifying.

Chuck Hovey takes the pole in qualifying.

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, f6.3, 1/800th.

Todd Jergen

Todd Jergen

Nikon D300 17-55mm, ISO200, f6.3, 1/800th.

Fans watch qualifying

Fans watch qualifying

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISo200, f11, 1/400th.

One of my shoot locations was deep in the bush.

One of my shoot locations was deep in the bush.

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, f6.3, 1/800th.

Steve Raskett

Steve Raskett

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO200, f2.8, 1/800th, ND filter.

Voss Motorsports were debuting their new Jimco Trophy Truck at this race.  Sadly the truck suffered a tranny leak that caught fire and burned to the ground during the race on Saturday.

Jason Voss

Jason Voss

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO200, f2.8, 1/1250th, ND filter.

Scott McMillin got stuck and was soon the last truck on course, as I hiked back to the parking lot he approached the last corner.  On the inside of the corner on a small hill were spectators so I stopped to get a unique shot.

Scott McMillin

Scott McMillin

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO200, f3.5, 1/1600th, ND Filter.

Once finished, I drove back to Las Vegas to catch a flight to San Francisco to attend to some family business in the morning.  I flew back to Vegas just 14 hours after landing in SF to cover raceday.  While checking my bags at McCarran Airport I saw this guy puking.

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Nikon D700, 17-55mm, ISO5000, f28, 1/100th.

RACEDAY!

Click here to see the Race Map

I had a 110 mile drive from Vegas to Alamo for the start of the race so I was on the road early, at 6:30 AM.  I made it to the start line early and spent some time walking around getting feature and headshots.

Macrae Glass's truck was up on the jack prior to the race.

Macrae Glass's truck warms up on a jack prior to the race.

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, f11, 1/125th.

BITD Announce George Anhill

BITD Announce George Anhill

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO200, f7.1, 1/500th.

Bryce Menzies get into his Trophy Truck.

Bryce Menzies get into his Trophy Truck.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO200, f6.3, 1/500th.

Cars stage prior to the start.

Cars stage prior to the start.

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISo200, f6.3, 1/800th.

I then drove out to race mile 1, I had gotten a tip from Video Dude John Tuba that there was a cool silt turn.

John Tuba and his wife

John Tuba and his wife

I like shooting very close to start as the racecars are clean and nobody has broken yet (usually).

Jason Voss

Jason Voss

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO200, f8, 1/500th.

On my walk back to the truck I found these cool sun bleeched bones, the desert can by an unforgiving place.

Death can be cool.

Death can be cool.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO200, f5.6, 1/1000th.

While driving along Highway 93  I saw the course paralleled the road with some nice mountains in the background so I stopped for a few shots.

An unknown drivers racers across the desert.

An unknown driver races across the desert.

Scott McMillin

Scott McMillin

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO200, f10, 1/500th.

Back on the road I passed Pit 1.

Pit 1

Pit 1

Nikon D30, 17-55mm, ISo200, f2.8, 1/6400th.

I stopped at another silty turn in the middle of nowhere for more roost shots.

Nowhere

Nowhere

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISo200, f8, 1/800th.

Mark Weyhrich

Mark Weyhrich

Nikon D700, 400mm, ISO200, f9, 1/1000th.

Jake Jones

Jake Jones

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO200, f3.5, 1/800th, ND filter.

Silt looks cool on camera but it sucks to shoot in.  This was my view for several minutes after each racer passed by.

the air gets crunchy

The air gets crunchy

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO200, f3.5, 1/800th, ND Filter.

One of the great things about shooting this race is the scenery, it’s gorgeous, unique and generally awesome.  In Caliente, NV the course goes over an old rickety train bridge.  When I got to the bridge I had to laugh as I saw Jason “HiRev” Zindroski. He was the only other regular desert photo dork shooting the race and we ended up in the same place at the same time.

The Rev

The Rev

Nikon D200, 17-55mm, ISO200, f13, 1/200th.

I setup on a small wood extension of the bridge to get a very close wide shot showing the car and bridge. About 15 fifteen feet below me was a nice collection of sharp pointy rocks to break my fall if I went off the bridge.

OMG Vertigo!

OMG Vertigo!

Nikon D300, 17-5mm, ISO200, f6.3, 1/500th.

I got set for the first car and received a huge shot of adrenaline as it passed.  The bridge is very old and the cars shook the shit out of it when they were on it.  On top of that the bridge is skinny and the cars wide, in many shots you can see marks on the tire sidewall where they rubbed the edges of the bridge.  As they passed me there was probably no more than six inches between my shoulder and the tires.

Me shooting Mark Weyhrich

Me shooting Mark Weyhrich - Photo by Jason Zindroski

Canon 1d Mk II, 17-40mm, ISO100, f4.5, 1/640th.

My shot from the same time shot at 17mm

My shot from the same time. Shot at 17mm

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, f13, 1/200th.

Close enough to shave.  Shot at 10mm

Close enough to shave. Shot at 10mm

Nikon D300, 10-20mm, ISO200, f7.1, 1/400th.

One of the things I love about shooting off road is you get access like no other form of motorsports.  You can get as close to the action as you dare.  By the way, I know that when (not if) I get hit by a racecar it will be my own fault.  I just hope another photographer is in the area to get photos of the impact.

Mike Bilek and chis codriver give the thumbs up

Mike Bilek and his codriver give the thumbs up. The remote belongs to High Rev.

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, SO200, f8, 1/500th.

After shooting a bunch of cars I setup a remote on the bridge.  I wanted to capture the car and specifically the texture of the wood in the foreground as they passed over the camera.  Originally I was going to attach the camera with a magic arm but I noticed I could just stick it between the wood boards and it would stay put, probably.

Me setting up my remote.

Me setting up my remote.

Nikon D700, 16mmFe, ISO200, f9, 1/400th.

The remote wedged in a crack.

The remote wedged in a crack.

Nikon D300, 10-20mm, ISO200, f10, 1/400th.

View of the remote from under the bridge.

View of the remote from under the bridge.

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, f2.8, 1/500th.

John Koltura

John Koltura

Nikon D700, 16mmFE, ISO200, f4.5, 1/400th.

James Price (truck) and Larry Job (buggy).

James Price (truck) and Larry Job (buggy).

Nikon D700, 16mmFE, ISO200, f9, 1/400th.

Macae Glass

Macae Glass

Nikon D700, 16mmFE, ISO200, f2.8, 1/400th.

I then went under the bridge to shoot up between the boards as the cars passed overhead.

Underneath the bridge.

Underneath the bridge.

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, f2.8, 1/800th.

Harley Letner

Harley Letner

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO1250, f2.8, 1/1600th.

Harley Letner

Harley Letner

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO1250, f2.8, 1/1600th.

Back in the truck I made a pitstop in Caliente for more gas, I have never even heard of 85 octane gas, let alone seen it but leave it to BFE Nevada to show it to me.

85 Unleaded.  WTF?

85 Unleaded. WTF?

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, f4.5, 1/400th.

While gassing I saw a race support vehicle getting a ticket.

NOT ME getting pulled over!

1..2..3..NOT IT!

For my last spot I wanted to shoot the water crossing at Carp.  The road there from Caliente is very unique.  Its starts out normal enough but soon changes; pavement to dirt to pavement to one lane due to huge washouts and back.

Note the position of the center line on the road.

Note the position of the center line on the road.

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, f2.8, 1/4000th.

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Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, f2.8, 1/320th.

While the road is trashed the scenery is fantastic and the road is also littered with various abandoned objects.

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Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, f2.8, 1/4000th.

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Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, f2.8, 1/6400th.

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Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, f2.8, 1/3200th.

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Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, f2.8, 1/3200th.

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Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, f2.8, 1/3200th.

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Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, f2.8, 1/2500th.

On my way to Carp I had heard about a racecar on fire on the radio, when I arrived I found some of the Voss chase crew looking for their truck.  The new Jimco Trophy Truck had burned up after the tranny fluid caught fire.  Its always sucks when a racecar burns, they are true works of art for those that are fans of fine fabrication.  As I walked down to the water crossing I ran into driver Jason Voss hiking back to his crew so they could recover the chassis later.

Jason Voss

Jason Voss

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, f14, 1/200th.

Not thinking ahead, as is common for me, I arrived at the water crossing with no way to cross it with out getting wet.  Crap!  Oh well, in for a penny in for a pound.  I got in the water and looked around for some cool shots.  The first thing I noticed was from the East side the sun would backlight the water so I setup in the bog, squatted to get a lower angle and waited for the first car with Gordie and the leach on my mind.

I was in the water at the arrow.

I was in the water at the arrow.

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO800, f4, 1/800th, SB900 off camera.

I was rewarded in spades when the first car passed.  I would love to say I found and caught a dragonfly, trained to fly where I told it to and released it just as the car passed, but no.  I just got lucky that it happened to come into the frame as the car passed.  I am happy it did as it adds to the shot and it is one of my favorites of the year.  Top Tip – Being lucky is good.

Willie Cummings

Willie Cummings

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO400, f9, 1/800th.

At this point it was late in the day and the cars were few and far between so with a cool shot in the bag I moved to the other side of the bog.

I was standing in the water in the bush back bhind the arrow.

I was standing in the water in the bush back bhind the arrow.

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO400, f4.5, 1/800th.

I had to do some major landscaping to get branches out of the center of my view but my trusty Emerson Horseman knife was up to the task.

Jake Jones

Jake Jones

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO640, f3.2, 1/800th, SB900 off camera.

As the Deacon says “Dry land is not just our destination, it is our destiny!” so after a few cars I moved out of the bog to get the cars head-on.

Bog water on hot brakes makes cool steam.

Greg Foutz

Greg Foutz

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO1600, f5.6, 1/800th.

Greg Parker

Greg Parker

Nikon D700, 70-200, ISO1600, f5.6, 1/800th.

I really liked the lights backlighting the water in this shot.

Paul Kurz

Paul Kurz

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO1600, f5.6, 1/800th.

Having no hood put a lot more water in the cab.

Bryce Yarbrough

Bryce Yarbrough

Nikon D700 70-200mm, ISO1600, f5.6, 1/800th.

On the way back to my truck I was able to get this shot with a great mountain background.

Vince Viola

Vince Viola

Niko D700, 70-200mm, ISO200, f4.5, 1/800th.

Back in the truck I drove through Pit 6 and back out to Highway 93 towards the finish line.  There was a lot of chase trucks leaving Pit 6 and the dirt road made form some very dusty and high tension driving for the 30 mile ride to the pavement.

The road to the highway

The road to the highway

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, f2.8, 1/1600th.

Driving a graded road at moderate speeds in this dust is brutal, I honestly don’t know how the racers do it in the rough and 2 to 3 times the speed.

You can't see them but there are two trucks only 15 feet in front of me here.

You can't see them but there are two trucks only 15 feet in front of me here.

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, f2.8,1/320th.

Back on the highway there was a nice sunset to the West.

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Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO1600, f2.8, 1/500th.

I wandered the finish for awhile for post race and podium shots.

A tired and dirty Chuck Dempsey.

A tired and dirty Chuck Dempsey.

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO2000, f9, 1/250th, SB900 off camera.

Lastly I hiked up the hill behind the finish to get a shot of the area.

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Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO3200, f2.8, 1/125th.

At 7:30 PM it was back to Vegas 100 miles away for some much needed sleep.

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Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO2000, f2.8, 1/15th.

Silver State 300 – By The Numbers

Miles driven – 1191

Fueled burned – 109 gallons

Miles driven on raceday – 400

Miles flown – 850

Photos taken – 2452

Time spent in the truck – 21 hours 29 minutes

State Lines crossed – 6

Injuries – 0

Broken gear – 0

Moving Violations – 0

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Many thanks to Ion Earth for the race tracker

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See my story and photos of the race at Off-Road.com

See more Silver State 300 photos at DurkaDurkaPhoto

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There are 1 Comments to "The Copper State Welcomes the Silver State 300"

  • SteveG says:

    Gotta love the Emerson… I’ve carried a Commander every day for about 8 years now.

    Cool blog. Great shots as always and the tips and info are great!

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