Caught the Bug
We do get a front row seat! The places for spectators to view the race are limited. I only know the start/finish infield course and that section out in Jean. The majority of the 100 miles is closed to the public. There are a few utility access roads which cross the course, and those all have people in place to insure nobody gets on the course. The paved road from Jean is blocked by the airport.Such a fun event to spectate as you can see different areas of the course pretty easy. I always wondered how to get out onto the course. It just takes a $25,000 camera and the ability to use it........ Looks like I will continue to see it from the sidelines. Beautify Jeep by the way!!!!!!!!
Typically I arrive on the Sunday when the course is being set up, load the course info into my Lowrance on Monday, and drive the course for the next couple days. Usually there's a cameraman with me, sometimes I drive it by myself. While the overall area of the course stays the same, the actual course and direction change. We know the general areas, but we scout the actual course for specific shots, angles, background, etc.
I have Google Earth imagery on my Lowrance which I can turn on or off so I can "see" the course overlaid onto the terrain. This allows me to determine which, if any, of those utility roads or trails provide the best access on or off the course.
Usually I drive the course; my rig has race lights, and is capable of decent speed. I can actually outrun some of the classes on Friday, but if I see someone coming up behind me I pull over and they pass like they would any other slower vehicle.
The challenge is getting back off the course. The filming stops when it gets dark but the race continues on into the night, the data needs to get back to the media center for processing, and the best place to shoot have the least amount of access. Following a pre-planned exit route, I move on the course when clear and get to one of those utility roads. I have enough lights to reproduce daylight, but I don't want to distract the racers so I use low lighting and FLIR.
Yes, those cameras carry a big price tag. We used one in Dec that was about double your estimate. We had a much smaller one mounted to the jeep on a rotating base so it could shoot 360°. I got up to about 75 on that dry lake bed and the base on the camera broke - above the safety line. We did find the camera.
The Calif 300 will be held this Oct in Barstow, we will be there in the same capacity.