31st Dec2014

2014: The Highest of Highlights

by Michael Chandler

Utah Grand Prix Day 2 World Challenge GT Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (32 of 117)

It’s been quite a year! We had our usual SEMA trip, covered some interesting races, and even did a little bit of traveling for some grass roots drifting.  I braved a storm in Brandon Wicknick’s trailer, and got a ride in his pro level drift car.  I chatted with celebrities, and got to see a friend making a living doing arguably the coolest job in the world.  I think we had a fun filled year, but for me the highlight was covering the Pirelli World Challenge.

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Sports car racing is something I’ve always been a huge fan of, especially GT racing.  Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring are some of my bucket list events.  I missed out on the ALMS stops when they came through Miller, so I always thought I would have to travel to see some big league GT racing.  Then I saw Miller Motorsports Park’s event list.  At the Utah Grand Prix, along side the Porsches and Stock Cars, would be the Pirelli World Challenge.  I instantly applied for credentials, and then was told I needed to apply closer to the event, instead of four months early.  So I waited.  And waited.  And waited.

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I applied a month before the event, and was approved.  I was very excited, and nervous.  This wasn’t a NASA event, this was one of the biggest road racing series in America! With international manufacturers! And television coverage!  Years ago I got to shoot a Mountain West Conference men’s basketball game at the University of Utah.  That was big, because even mediocre college basketball is bigger than road racing is in this country.  The World Challenge was bigger to me, because I cared more about it than I did that basketball game.  I also had to attend mandatory media meetings for the race weekend.

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It was here that I finally met one Chance Hales, whose work I had been seeing for a little while, East Coast shooter Shawn Pierce and Gavin Pouquette.  It was awesome to meet up with new people who share the same passion.  The four of us had a good time.  At least I did.  We talked about racing, race tracks, and cars in general.  It was one of the best weekend I’ve ever had at Miller. It was also interesting in that I got to see how serious the regular shooters of the series were.

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One of the cars stalled at the start of the GT class race, causing a a multi-car incident that took a long time to clean up.  I took this opportunity to lighten the situation, which did not go over well.  Death glares from the regulars.  Apparently everyone wanted to keep it deathly serious, except for me.  I thought it was funny, and I was having the time of my life.

Utah Grand Prix Day 2 World Challenge GT Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (82 of 117) Utah Grand Prix Day 2 World Challenge GT Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (106 of 117)

And there you have it, that was my highlight from 2014.  I am truly blessed to say that this is my job, that I take pictures of cars and write some words about them.  I look forward to bringing you more pictures and words about racing cars, show cars, every day cars and whatever else kind of cars we come across in 2015.

Words and photos by Michael Chandler
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