Since the Daytona 500 is just around the corner—February 23rd—I wanted to re-run this guest post by Ken Jancef
While you’re sitting at home on a Sunday morning, waiting for the race to start, there is much more happening at the track than you think. And a visit to the garage area of your favorite NASCAR track will prove it. Behind the revving engines and smell of alcohol fuel-induced smoke, mechanics and crew are working feverishly on getting their cars ready for the day’s race.
In reality, the garage area is a very exciting place to be before the race. You can get very close to the cars and crew, and all of them were very nice to interact with. It could be because they deal with this every week, so they get used to it. If someone would get in the way, they were always asked politely to move. There are a lot of behind-the-scenes activities that can be seen, such as NASCAR inspections, car tuning, and even watch cooks prepare meals for the crews and drivers of their respective teams. And I can say that they eat VERY well.
As mentioned before, you can get VERY close to the crew and cars, watching them do what they can to get the cars ready. One thing they do is back up the car just enough for it to be out of the garage, raise the rear-end and put it on jack stands, then put the car in gear and rev the engine. If you think the cars are loud when sitting in the stands, try being 2 feet away! WOW!
Walking through the garage area also brings you by the drivers’ trailers, where they will wait before the race, and either hide or celebrate after the race. At the recent race at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where I made these photographs, I only got to see three drivers, but I did see a few crew chiefs and team owners walk by. Fans wait in front of their favorite drivers’ trailer, hoping to see them, and maybe get an autograph. I was lucky enough to have the hat I was wearing, commemorating Jeff Gordon’s 2005 Daytona 500 win, autographed by him, which was pretty exciting.
It’s not easy to get access to the garage area, so I would like to thank New Hampshire Motor Speedway for giving this aspiring motorsports photographer the opportunity.— Ken Jancef