The BITD Vegas To Reno race is one of my favorite races of the year to cover. Between qualifying, scouting the course, and following the race from point to point, this event is always a good time. The race covers some great terrain over old landmark towns such as Goldfield, and being that is over 500 miles you get a chance to see lots of different aspects of the course. In past years I’ve covered from the start to about the halfway point and this year was no different.
Once again qualifying was held off Apex Road in Las Vegas at a familiar location, though this loop would change it up a bit and offer a few new sections. I was able to prerun the course and see the new section but decided to shoot a spot I’ve shot before, which was the uphill silt hill that they used for the Mint qualifying. Nothing too exciting happened but here are a few favorites from the day.
[ Side note, that night Bink and I stayed at the Plaza hotel off Freemont Street and had the all you can eat sushi there. Highly recommended if you want to eat over $100 of sushi for $34.95 ]
The next day I took a quick stroll around contingency before heading up to Beatty to scout out a few spots on the course. A few days before hand I mapped out a couple areas on my GPS by looking at the race course on Google Earth. Its a great way to virtual prerun because you can zoom in and look for access roads. My media credential gets me into the course as long as we stay on burned in trails so by looking on Google Earth it lets me find ways into different spots on the course.
I’d show you some photos and video of us having some fun in Binks rental Jeep Wrangler but I wouldn’t want to get him in trouble with Hertz.
The night before race day is always the same. Sitting down in front of the course map on a hotel bed, pondering your game plan for tomorrow. Calculating drive times for both you and the leaders, going over the spots you scouted out that day, doubting yourself on the spots you do chose, and ultimately leaving it up to the offroad gods if a spot will turn out good. With a game plan set, Bink and I crashed for the night waiting for the alarm clock to signal race day.
My first spot was around race mile 58, a mile before Pit 2. It was a spot with a few shooting options which can be important so that if one section doesn’t work out, you can adjust and move quickly to another. The section came off the dry lake bed, into a turn, with two small jumps and another turn. I started off at the first small bump and stayed for a few cars, but like always I got PADD, Photo Attention Deficit Disorder. I can’t stay still for too long otherwise I get bored or feel like I’m missing something somewhere else. So I spent about an hour walking up and down the course before I had to head off to the next spot and catch the leaders again. Here are a few selects from that spot.
An hour later I packed up and headed back to the highway via an old section of race course. The main part of scouting the day before is finding good spots, but its equally important to find access to them. Since we are credentialed media we are allowed anywhere on the course, but we must stay on already burned in trails. Because some of the good photo spots are in remote areas, this can be tricky, and homework is what helps separate the hard worker and lazy photographer.
I was able to catch the leaders with about 10 minutes to spare at my next spot. It was a decent silt turn that I was hoping would get some good action. Here are some photos from that spot.
The final spot I planned on going to was a spot the course hit last year before Pit 8. It was a pretty decent jump and a couple guys hit it good (you can see those photos here).
This year only a couple hit it good so my PADD kicked in again so my gut told me to move. Always trust your gut. A little earlier I’d been texting Vince from Mad Media, and he told me they found a decent g-out farther down the course. I initially didn’t plan on going there, I planned on going even farther to where it looked like there was a big silt cloud, however when I was driving down the highway I saw them pulling out of the spot and decided to stop and talk to them. Since I stopped I said I’d give the spot a try.
A few drivers rolled through the g-out, a couple jumped out of it after checking up, but unfortunately two weren’t so lucky and hit the g-out too hard causing them to rollover. One, Gavin Skilton, was one of the more violent rolls I’ve seen in a long time. While he did hurt is back he was able to walk away under his own power. A rollover is something I never really want to see, even as a photographer. I’d much rather get a bitchin shot of a truck plowing through a silt bed then someone wrecking their truck or getting hurt. Of course it makes for good photos but whats more of a challenge as a photographer, snapping away as someone rolls their truck or making a spot look more interesting then it is?
Here you can see he full sequence of Skilton’s crash, from right before the hit the lip, to right before he hits the ground. He was close to 15 feet in the air and flew about 60-70 feet before he touched ground.
Right after the crash I had the other photographer that was there see if he was ok while I radioed it in to BITD. The pit captain was there within about 5 minutes and we helped slow down traffic and divert them around while he got Skilton off course. While we were helping clear fiberglass and parts away from the course another truck, the Class 8000 Sober Suicide came in too hot and they ended up on their roof. I felt bad because if I wasn’t help clearing up the course I would of been able to slow them down.
Like I said I don’t enjoy seeing people roll their cars, we continued to slow people down before the g-out, and if the danger markers got knocked down I’d put them back up, even putting one of them a little farther down course to let the drivers see the marker earlier. While I was there luckily no one else rolled over, but one more car did at night but thankfully no one was injured. Once I left I hightailed it to Ridgecrest where I slept for the night and stayed up getting photos and story up on RDC.
Enjoy these last few photos from my last photo spot, and be sure to check out all our images from the race at the link after the photos. I’ve also started a Facebook Page for HighRev, so head over there and “like” us to keep up to date on everything HighRev.
Until next time.
Words and Photos by Jason Zindroski aka HighRev Photography: http://www.highrevphoto.com
Editor’s Note: Having been a fellow off-road racing photographer along side Jason for a number of years, I can honestly say he is the best at his craft. Jason always seems to find the best spots and capture the perfect shot. Head on over to his website and grab a couple prints for your house, you won’t regret it!