Archive | Behind The Lens

Behind The Lens: Face Of A Winner

Behind The Lens: Face Of A Winner

By Dale Calnan / OntarioOval.com Photographer – In 2011, I stood in over 120 victory lanes across the province and got to see many different expressions of winning. For some reason motorsport victory celebrations are fairly subdued. Consider for a moment how a touchdown in football, a slam dunk in basketball or even great goal in hockey are celebrated. There are various dances, leaps into the crowd, high fives along the bench – I am personally sick of that one – and self-chest-stuck-out posturing.

Racing doesn’t have that over the top flamboyance of celebration, but for a few exceptions. There is fence climbing, back flips off the roof of the car and of course Darrell Waltrip’s attempt at the ‘Ickey Shuffle’,… but that was a borrowed celebration anyway.

I think drivers for the most part know that there is much more to take into account for them being in victory lane. Most important is trying to recall all the people and businesses who helped foot the bill to race and then being able to recite the list by heart. There is also the pit crew, shop hands and family who lend moral support. Can’t miss a name there. Then of course there is the mention for the guy who raced you clean, even if he didn’t and a plug to say how great the track was even if it wasn’t.

For many of the drivers in the gallery below this is not their first, nor will it be their last visit ‘down front’ holding the checkers and the gleaming hardware. However, on some occasions it is a first time occurance and with such tough competition at all the race venues across Ontario, it could be a long while before an encore. 

In this edition of Behind The Lens, I gathered up the mugs shots of several drivers that I had taken after all the other cameras in victory lane had been put away. These guys and gals are where they feel and seem most comfortable,… in the driver seat.
 

Dale Calnan is the lead photographer for OntarioOval.com as well as ImageFactor.ca Motorsport Designs. Questions, comments or concerns can be sent to Dale via our Contact page.

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Behind The Lens: Give Me A Brake

Behind The Lens: Give Me A Brake

By Dale Calnan / OntarioOval.com Photographer – After taking thousands of pictures from the infield of tracks all across the province, I seem to have a tendancy once in awhile to drift away from the competition at hand. Sometimes that is a good thing, sometimes not. When  something different catches my eye  I seem to lock in for a few laps just to see what I can capture.

One thing I am always amazed about is how hot brakes can get get. Night shots really seem to prove this point the best, but even during daylight the glow is very evident. I am willing to bet local repair shops wish we abused our street vehicle brakes as much as these race teams do.

I remember taking these photos and thinking ‘what to heck will I ever do with them’. I thought they were kind of neat so I figured I would take some of the ones I have taken over the last couple of  years travelling with OntarioOval.com and put them in a gallery.

So here are some samples of “Rotors All A Glow”,… sorta seasonal don’t you think!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all. Thanks for making the first two seasons of  OntarioOval.com so much fun! Dale Calnan

 

Dale Calnan is the lead photographer for OntarioOval.com as well as ImageFactor.ca Motorsport Designs. Questions, comments or concerns can be sent to Dale via our Contact page.

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Behind The Lens: The Future’s So Bright

Behind The Lens: The Future’s So Bright

By Dale Calnan / OntarioOval.com Photographer – As we travelled across the province this past race season, one thing became very evident. There is a lot of good racing talent coming up through the ranks in every region.

One of the greatest times we had this year was in the pits and in the infield at Grand Bend Speedway. Eventhough some of the drivers we met looked like they were young enough to have just learned how to ride a bicycle, man could they wheel a race car. Every class featured side by side and nose to tail racing with very little if any daylight between cars. Family and friends made up the majority of those helping and spectating in the pits. A common theme amongst the parents and their kids was the decision to invest in racing and not join in with the multitude who do the “hockey thing”.  The comment that I heard more than once, was that in their opinion,  racing was safer for their kids to be involved with than our national pasttime. A funny moment during our evening at Grand Bend came when a couple of 5-6 year old competitors spun down off the track onto the grassy infield. The one kid waving his arms as if to say “What did you that for?”

There were a couple of 4 cylinder drivers we met in 2011 that also look very promising. On the dirt at Brighton there is 14 year old Chris Gregory.  Chris is carrying on the family tradition and is the next in line of racing Gregory’s at Brighton.

At Flamboro, I passed a young kid in the pits wearing a Leafs T-shirt. I snapped a quick photo not realizing that just a few minutes later we’d be interviewing this 12 year old driver named Brandon McFerran. Another driver that made an early impression is 16 year old Conor Mahoney who began racing in a Tillsonburg Micro Sprint and has now made the jump to a 360 Sprint Car at Ohsweken.

The Lapcevich family has also seen another generation of racers come along as both Cayden and Treyten are making names for themselves south of the border in quarter midget competition. Both are National champions and have raced all across Canada and the United States. We had the privilege of interview both of them at Delaware in June.

I am sure I am missing many, many others that we met along the way, and that just proves the point that there are plenty of youngsters getting ready to entertain us for years to come. In my mind, this is a good thing. Many tracks like Cornwall, Brockville, Merrittville and Delaware have junior racing nights to get kids involved and grow the future talent pool. We plan on making visits to as many of these venues in 2012 as we can schedule as it is important to have these younger folks in racing, to be able to promote them and tell some of their stories. Besides, they always make it a lot of fun… and that is why we do it!

Stay tuned for a new feature on OntarioOval.com called Fast Futures. Young karting and micro drivers from around the province will be featured in a Q&A style format.

Dale Calnan is the lead photographer for OntarioOval.com as well as ImageFactor.ca Motorsport Designs. Questions, comments or concerns can be sent to Dale via our Contact page.

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Behind The Lens: Could Have Been Much Worse

Behind The Lens: Could Have Been Much Worse

By Dale Calnan / OntarioOval.com Photographer – On a day when racing lost a tremdous driver and talent in Dan Weldon at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, those of us closer to home were much more fortunate. A violet wreck occurred at the Brockville Ontario Speedway on Sunday, October 16th during the DIRTcar Northeast Fall Nationals. The positive from the accident was that drivers Brian McDonald and Jason Riddell were able to walk away. 

During time trials for the DIRTcar 358 Modified tour event the #M96 of McDonald headed into turn one. The track conditions in that corner were very heavy and rolling up from all the rain the previous few days. The car just seemed to catch on the surface, then bounce and then proceed into a nasty roll. As the car rolled in the air the car of Jason Riddell came onto the scene and wasn’t able to get slowed down in time. Contact was made while the McDonald was upside down and in mid air. The collision was so hard it actually forced the #M96 machine further down the track. The main impact of the hit was clearly to the roll cage resulting in a broken cage.

After an emotional day for motorsports fans across the world, I will wrap up this edition of ‘Behind The Lens’ by saying it was a relief that the safety equipment the drivers were wearing and the cars they were driving did they job they were intended to do allowing both to walk away uninjured. 

Dale Calnan is the lead photographer for OntarioOval.com as well as ImageFactor.ca Motorsport Designs. Questions, comments or concerns can be sent to Dale via our Contact page.

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Behind The Lens: How Not To Take The Checkered Flag

Behind The Lens: How Not To Take The Checkered Flag

By Dale Calnan / OntarioOval.com Photographer – Friday night – June 3rd – I made a visit to Kawartha Speedway for their season opener and the action did not disappoint. On the card this night were the OSCAAR Outlaw Super Late Models, Late Models, Thunder Cars and Mini Stocks.

As is usual at all the tracks we visit throughout the year, the action in the 4 cylinder class was as good as any division on hand. The usual drivers you expect to be near the front were battling for the win. On this night the win would go to Daryl Fice of Oshawa who looked strong from the moment he unloaded. Now just after the Fice 44 took the checkers I started to turn and head to victory lane, but out of the corner of my eye witnessed a big puff of smoke coming from the back of one of the cars.

Watching the car head to turn one I soon realized this car’s Honda power plant had probably given it’s all and last breath. Now I’ve been to many races where a car will smoke, the engine will just shut off or make some kind of ‘ungood’ sounds. It normally takes some investigation in the pits or even until the team gets back to the shop to find out what went wrong. On this night however, it was quite apparent before the car ever came to a stop on the track.

The #28 of Brooklin Ontario driver Kyle McCabe looked like it was auditioning for a sponsorship deal with Broil King. Luckily, the fire was extinguished by the Kawartha Speedway safety crew and the driver was okay,… well, except for the fact of losing an engine on opening night. For Kyle the disappointment was probably just as huge as some guy who just blew up $30,000 engine from a big name engine builder.

Hopefully Kyle is able to bounce back, and doesn’t have any lasting physical affects from the incident, but man he did put on a show for a few seconds!

Until next time from ‘Behind The Lens’.

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Behind The Lens: Quick Pic Move Of The Year

Behind The Lens: Quick Pic Move Of The Year

By Dale Calnan / OntarioOval.com – In all the miles and races we covered last year it is scary when I see how many pictures I was actually able to take. If this was a few years back, what with rolls of film and developing it just wouldn’t be happening as it is now digitally. With the off season giving us all some time to refresh and catch up, I too decided to rehash some of my stuff. I thought I would take a glance back to see if I actually accomplished something useable. And over the past number of weeks I have found a few that we have presented as “Behind the Lens”. 

There was one event back on June 18th at Ohsweken Speedway that with out a doubt in my mind gave us the “Quick Pic Move of the Year.” Now when you think of quick moves most of us think of a driver making a great move in completing a pass or a great job in steering or braking to avoid a wreck. Maybe some crew guy who does a great job with a quick move in the pits to replace something on an ailing car or maybe to go super fast during a pit stop and not let his driver go down a lap. Maybe you think of a rescue crew member doing great work when a driver needs them after a wreck where they are in peril or injured.

Now I am sure beyond any doubt that many of these things happened at least once if not more than that at every track in Ontario this past season. However, my choice came in a 4 cylinder race. As a side note, is it just me or are there just as many great races in the entry level classes as the “headline” classes at most tracks?… but that topic is for another day.

Anyways, in this instance Mike”Pinball” Giberson – how did he get that nickname I wonder – went for a very nasty roll down the frontstretch at speed. When his car got sideways my trusty Canon kicked into action. The move of the year happens at about 1/2 way mark of the first roll. It is clearly evident at the 3/4 point of the roll that track flagman Dale Shunamon already has the red flag flying.

The reflex that Dale showed, to me is truly amazing. It let other drivers know to stop before the accident had even ended. For the majority of us, if we were on the flagstand, we would still be watching the wreck come to a conclusion before snapping into action and doing the job that we were there to do. I believe it is just human nature to watch what’s going on. Dale missed most of the wreck in an effort to act upon the situation. That was amazing professionalism on his part. Anyone that has ever been to a race at Ohsweken or seen the Can-Am Midgets in competition, knows what a first class job Dale does from his perch above the track.

The sad part for Dale is that I have no cash reward or trophy to go with this accolade and honour. haha  However, I can say job well done to Dale, and pass this moment of my 2010 Ontario race season on to the rest of our readers.

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Behind The Lens: Out Of The Park

Behind The Lens: Out Of The Park

By Dale Calnan / OntarioOval.com – Without a doubt one of my favourite places to visit is the track farthest east in Ontario. The city of Cornwall has had Major Junior hockey teams, Tier II hockey teams and even an AHL team (the Aces), but only one venue has been packed week after week… and on Sunday nights at that. I, of course, am talking about the Cornwall Motor Speedway. It is located on the south side of the 401 and is actually visible from the highway. If you are travelling east take the Power Dam Drive exit then the first road on the left, and you can’t miss it. 

This past summer I visited there twice, once for a regular show plus Sprints and the next time with the Ontario Dirt Late Models series. I met up with friend and Cornwall track photographer Rick Young on both occasions. There is something special about each time I meet up with Rick. There are always plenty of jokes and funny stories all around. Laughter is never in short supply when we converse on all our adventures – or should I say misadvenutres – since we last met.

Anyway, Rick pointed out that Cornwall can be a tough track to shoot pictures at because in the turns the track is actually dug down a few feet and you need to be up fairly close to catch the action. The one night the action almost caught Rick, but his “fleetfootedness” (is that a word?)  saved the day when a Pro Stock came a tad close. Again, Rick provided comic relief, although I must say that no matter how effective his scramble was, it was not graceful.

The race incident that provided our next interesting “Behind the Lens” moment occurred during the Mini Stock event. As the cars raced down into turn one either some of the cars got together or a car got a bit out of shape, in any event there was an incident and the aftermath had to be cleared off the track. The emergency/rescue crew at Cornwall seem to be a very professional group, a group that I would want around if I were racing. They do have an enjoyment for ribbing and joking with each other throughout the evening when there are breaks in the action. They were really good folks who made me feel welcome while I snapped shots in their vicinity. Anyways, when they came back to their positions in the infield after clearing away the cars that had tangled and I overheard the one emergency guy say, “we couldn’t find the wheel and tire that came off that one car”. That’s where I came in and said that I knew where it went.

[SEE PHOTOS BELOW, OR CLICK HERE]

While I was snapping the incident, I caught the tire as it left the track in turn one. Yes, it actually cleared the scoreboard which is fair distance from the track and is quite high. Unfortunately, the tire ended up out into the parking lot. Luckily, the only thing it made contact with was someone’s minivan. Eventually the tire and rim were retrieved and everything straightened out “so to speak” with the van owner.
 
Until next time when we’ll see how fast a track official reacts during an incident can help avoid something worse from occuring.

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Behind The Lens: Another Place, Another Time

Behind The Lens: Another Place, Another Time

By Dale Calnan / OntarioOval.com – This past October when we were covering the Autumn Colours Classic at Peterbourough Speedway I came across something that seemed so far removed from the racing at hand that I had to ask the question. It was a small and almost insignificant item, but I was drawn to it like a magnet. On the vest that Peterborough Speedway track photographer Bob Lawless was wearing was a small sewn on crest. It was a crest that I hadn’t seen in over 30 years.

The question I had to put to Bob was… ‘what is a Kingston Speedway crest doing proudly displayed on your equipment?’

Kingston Speedway was a 1/4 mile dirt track located 3 hours to the southeast of Peterbourough’s 1/3 mile paved track. The thing about Kingston’s track is that it was the Friday night date location for my girlfriend (and wife of 35 years) and I  throughout the summer of 1974. The neat thing about Kingston was the Mustang Drive-In was behind the turn 4 bleachers, so you could actually watch a movie in between heats. Sadly, the track closed for good in 1976.

So Bob… where did you get that crest and why? Bob went on to tell me that as a young lad he lived in the Kingston area. Every Friday night he would be at the speedway selling copies of Wheelspin News. He always loved the track and the racing and just kept the crest as a momento of a great place and time for racing in Ontario.

That’s it til next time from ‘Behind The Lens’.

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Behind The Lens: Evidence Of A Problem

Behind The Lens: Evidence Of A Problem

By Dale Calnan / OntarioOval.com – On Saturday, June 19th I made the drive to Mosport Speedway to introduce ourselves to as many folks as we could at the 1/2 mile oval. I met plenty of new teams and drivers and got to see the Legends Cars for the second time in 2010.

During my visit I was able to spend a fair bit of time chatting with Johnny Whelan and his parents. Johnny drives the black and white #36 Legend Coupe style car. They are a great family who truly enjoys racing as a group. I had met them originally back in May at Peterbourough and was quite impressed with the abilities Johnny showed behind the wheel. While running near the front on that date, the #36 was bumped by another car sending him heavily into the front stretch wall. The crash took some major repairs to get it back and ready to continue racing in the weeks ahead.

On this night in June, the young pilot was impressive again as he ran near the front all evening. During the feature however, Johnny seemed to drop back a fair distance and as I took my final shot of him, the #36 made the left hand turn into the pits. The evidence of the problem was in my photo, but at the time I did not realize it. The eventual problem turned out to be the trailing arm (which can clearly be seen hanging in the picture). It was probably damaged when the car ran across the rumble strips in turn 3. It is always interesting after a night of shooting photos to go back and look at the small details a 3 inch screen won’t show you.

The Late Model portion of the show, which I was really looking forward to, was cancelled due to rain. As could be expected the Whalen’s insisted we take refuge from the downpour in their hauler. The latest we have heard is that Johnny is taking the 2011 season off to persue his education. This is a great move for him and I wish him all the best. However, for those of us who liked to watch his great driving abilities, we’ll have to wait and see what the future holds.

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Behind The Lens: Attention To Detail

Behind The Lens: Attention To Detail

By Dale Calnan / OntarioOval.com – In this installment of “Behind The Lens” I am going back to Friday, June 11th at Ohsweken Speedway. I arrived at the track in good time so I decided to do some prowling around (as usual) in the pits. It was still fairly early in the season so it was a good chance to get some pictures of the new cars and drivers up close.

One driver who I hadn’t met before was Mike Ling (pictured). I ended up over by the #7x hauler so I decided to get a few head shots for my files. Well, I found Mike sitting in his 360 sprint without his helmet on and the engine not runnning. I figured I should be able to get some great shots… but Mike seemed preoccupied and was constantly looking down inside the cockpit and moving around. Going around to the other side of the car I noticed a pit crew member with a hook drawing up on Mike’s safety harness. At this point in the evening little did anyone know how big this adjustment to safety equipment might play out.

The results of that nights race would actually play a big role in how Mike performed the rest of the year. A vicious flip in corner one sent the #7x up over the fence and out of the park. Mike was quite sore for a number of weeks, but survived this nasty wreck. Without proper attention to detail this could have been a lot worse.
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKIdV1vVklk&feature=related
 
Never make light of your safety equipment. If it’s not quite right, make it right. 

See you next time, “Behind The Lens”.

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Behind The Lens: First Season In The Rear View

Behind The Lens: First Season In The Rear View

By Dale Calnan /OntarioOval.com – Well I am finally catching my breath after our first season of OntarioOval.com. Keeping a log of all our trips certainly has resulted in some interesting bits of information. I usually find stats and numbers used in pro sports on the tube to be, well at times annoying. However when you start tracking some of your own stuff… wow, now it’s important. Haha

In 2010, I was able to plan a total of 41 races. The weatherman was actually quite friendly this year and we were only rained out 5 times. This allowed me to see 36 of those planned events. The only race I attended outside of Ontario was at Lincoln Speedway in Pennsylvania as my wife Betty and I traveled to Myrtle Beach for our 35th anniversary.

My regular “home track” – at which I was able to see 10 events – is Ohsweken Speedway. The only trouble being this facility is over 350kms from my front door. So a round trip is 700kms.

Three of the tracks we attended in 2010 – Peterborough, Sunset and Barrie – were my first ever visits, and none were disappointing either. All three tracks put on great shows. I had plans to go to both Capital City and Flamboro, but weather kept me home. A big thanks to the Ottawa venue for phoning early to say there was a 90% chance of rain and that I should postpone the trip.

The longest trip of the year took me from one end of the province to the other. In late July it was a regular Friday night trip to Ohsweken, however it was cancelled so it was a quick change of plans and a drive up the highway to Delaware Speedway for a regular show. After a short nights sleep it was back on the road for a pair of Ontario Dirt Late Model shows at Brockville and Cornwall. By the time I landed back home in Picton on Monday afternoon the odometer had piled up 1620kms more.

Next year the plan is to make another attempt to get to Flamboro and Capital City if the weather will cooperate. Another pair of tracks on my 2011 wish list are Sauble and Varney, both I have heard great things about. I tried to get to both this past year, but just could not find a spot in the schedule. I also plan to take in a Can Am Midgets and Canadian Vintage Modifieds as they were a couple of the touring series I didn’t get to see in action. The folks up in Emo have crossed my mind as well. If I drove up through Michigan and Minnesota the trip would only take around 18 hours one way, so who knows.

Something I learned is that there is an awful lot of great racing throughout the province. Whether you are traveling, on vacation or just want to see something different you can see great racing almost anywhere in the province. The opportunity is there to see new and different tracks. The people that I met across the province whether it be in the pits, in the stands or working as officials are so similar it is amazing. They all love racing whether it is spectating, working on or driving a race car or being a track worker putting on the show.

One of the most common things I hear is “oh, it is paved”, or “oh it’s dirt”. Well, I saw excellent racing on all types of surfaces. There are dirt tracks that are as smooth as asphalt and then sometimes they rut up or are dusty from the weather of that particular week. Some paved tracks are so smooth and on some the asphalt looks like a cheese grater. Some are perfectly level, while others have what looks like an uphill section or a hump. That’s what makes them unique though, they all have their own character. The key is to go with a good attitude, because I think racing in this province is one of the best buys for your entertainment dollar anywhere.

To help document my travels you can find over 9,500 pictures from 2010 on the ImageFactor.ca Photography website. As I looked back at some of the pictures I realized that some of them had a bit more of a story to them. So, over the next few weeks we will revisit some of them and fill in some blanks. Hope you enjoy the trip back! Oh yes, and before I forget… in helping cover and promote the great racing we have here in Ontario and to do the best to get exposure for OntarioOval.com, the total mileage for 2010 added up to a conservative total of 13,634kms. This is more than travelling from Halifax to Vancouver and back!

Now for our first Behind the Lens picture. How did this little tangle on the backstretch at the Autumn Colours race at Peterborough end up being the longest wreck of the 2010?

Well, driver Rob Warnes got collected on the backstretch and mounted the wall entering turn three. His car made some awful grinding and scraping sounds until it finally came back down off the wall as it started to do the transition from turn three to turn four.
 
[VIEW GALLERY TO SEE THE CRASH FRAME BY FRAME]

Visit us again soon for our next instalment , showing a driver who appeared to be camera shy! But…

Footnote: I talk in the singular throughout this article, but I rarely travelled alone. My wife of 35 years Betty came with me to Brockville and Cornwall on mid-July. She ended getting pictures from places I wasn’t allowed access. Imagine that. haha And the other 95% of the trips were with my son Greg, who owns and operates OntarioOval.com. Many laps were seen, but the majority for me were through a small camera viewfinder.

Finally, two trips come to mind. First was coming home from our ODLM weekend at Brockville and Cornwall. I drove and Greg typed on his laptop, not a word was said for over 3 hours. The other was coming home in a rainstorm from the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race in Barrie. We were tired! Amazingly, no one wanted to come with me for the January ice races at Brighton. That’s my next event!

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