I often get questions about photographing racecars and while almost all of those questions revolve around capturing action on the track, that’s only part of the deal with motorsports photography. The part we often don’t talk about has to do with some head-up safety advice when being around 200mph cars. Some of these suggestions may seem obvious to you but if you take my advice I’ll guarantee that it will result in your capturing better images because there won’t be any non-photographic distractions.
Park your vehicle in a designated parking spot in a designated parking lot. The last thing you need to hear when you’re getting ready to photograph a championship drag racing event is the race announcer calling “will the owner of the orange Gremlin, please move your car or it will be towed.”
When making photographs, remain behind safety barriers and while these barriers may not be set up everywhere, especially on a sprawling road course, use your judgment when choosing a place to shoot the race. If you’re not sure about it, chances are a safety worker will shortly arrive asking you to move. If they do, be nice to them; they have a tough enough job without coping with whiny photographers.
It may or may not be hot at the track but it surely will be loud. Be sure to bring earplugs. Most tracks’ concession stands sell earplugs but why not bring your own. Make sure to keep several pair in your camera bag because they are easy to loose but inexpensive to replace. Offer any extras to a photog who may have forgotten theirs; make a friend.
While in the pit area be alert because there will be many scooters, 4-wheelers, motorcycles, or golf carts transporting people around. Be sure to pay attention to any cars that are getting ready to enter the staging area. Racecars don’t always have horns like the family jalopy but you should hear them coming even when wearing earplugs.
As with most professional sport facilities, you are only allowed to make video or still images of the vehicles for personal use and they may not be sold or marketed without having an arrangement from the speedway and/or the sanctioning body. Save yourself legal hassles but taking care of this when obtaining your track credentials. That doesn’t mean you can’t sell photographs to the teams or the racers at the track, which can help make you a few bucks.