Steve Sheppard Photography Blog

I Love The Smell Of Race Track In The Morning

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Race weekend at Martinsville Speedway is special.

Racing at the paperclip shaped track is the greatest show in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. No other racetrack provides a better combination of the need for horsepower, brakes and driver skill. I may be a little bias considering I was the PR guy at the track for seven years, but I really believe it is the best place to watch a NASCAR race.

Race weekend now, for me, means shooting for the Associated Press and having my friends, AP writer Hank Kurz, Jr. and AP photographer Steve Helber, in town to work the race. Hank spent the night with Mattie and I last night. I think he was fortunate enough that our Golden Retriever Leo did not sleep with him. Last spring, Leo kept him company all night.

AP didn’t need me at the track today. But because Hank left his laptop charger at the house, I went to the track to drop it off before his battery died. After all, the world is waiting for him to share the happenings of the day.

I got to the media center as quick as I could. It was full of writers listening intently to a press conference and asking questions. I placed Hank’s charger next to his laptop, patted him on the back, exchanged a smile and left to come back to my studio.

Having accomplished my mission and upon stepping out of the building, all of a sudden it hit me. The smells of racing. I love the smell of race track in the morning.

There’s the aroma of exhaust, various fluids needed in the engine, transmission and brakes. But there was also the smells of sausage, hamburgers, and everything else all the various crew cooks are making for their teammates to eat. There’s also the smell of those Martinsville Speedway hot dogs when walking by the concession stand.

I walked slowly through the infield taking in the sights, sounds and smells. There were crew members rushing around and others preparing the cars for practice. There were a lot of people standing around chatting. Engines were screaming. Goodyear employees were mounting tires. Everyone there on Friday morning has a job to do.

There are two things I love about race weekend. The first is getting to see friends like writers Dustin Long, Monte Dutton and many others. Hank will come to our house tonight for dinner for round two of our semi annual opportunity to catch up with each other’s lives.

The other thing I love is when the green flag drops at Sunday’s race. The late Dick Thompson, longtime PR man at Martinsville, always said that if he ever did not get excited when the green flag drops it was time to get out of the business. I was much the same way. When you worked for six months for that one moment, it was emotional.

It’s been nine years since I left my position, with the speedway, which included writing news releases and shooting photos of the happenings there and sending them to publications nationwide. I, however, still love the roar of the engines as they nail the accelerator heading for the first turn. I will be there all day tomorrow shooting the truck race and on Sunday for the Cup race.

But this morning, I took a few moments to slow down enough to relish in the sights, sounds and smells of the track.

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Written by stevesheppardphotography

October 22, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Posted in My personal stuff

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