Kalkaska County Fairgrounds Bump-n-Run
Bump-n-Run, demolition derby, automobiles attacking automobiles…whatever you want to call these events, they’re fun. Sine this one was dubbed Bump-n-Run on the festival agenda, we’ll go with that. Although ‘run’ seems like a stretch considering it indicates some sort of consistent speed. After witnessing many a vehicular clash royale, I know that if a car even makes it off the track with both axles, that’s more than a small success.
Keep in mind, I photographed this event pre-COVID, so I’m posting this as both a respite to that time, and as hope that when COVID-19 is under control, we can look forward to coming together again for events like this.
If ever at any race you have the option to access the pit area versus the audience stands, take the pit area, every time. It’s where you’ll have the best access to people and machinery, and it’s all about access with photography. This is what makes small-town events so fantastic: there’s little to no competition for space at events and there are numerous opportunities for quality, intimate access.
Orange pit band on wrist and responsibility of my own life signed for, I began my steps into the heart of the action. The drivers’ cars were as unique and individual as the drivers themselves; each was a canvas for mostly-intimidating expressions of imminent rival destruction. Each car had its own trinket, totem or charm—Superman cape, hood-ornament skull, etc.—to aid in the quest for victory.
Start Your Engines
As cars lined up at the starting line for the evening’s first heat, the energy was palpable. The almost-deafening rumble of muffler-less exhaust “systems” ensured that the spectators would have to cheer their loudest to be heard over the crinkled automobiles.
Suddenly, the green flag was waived in a figure-eight formation and it was game on. Fans looked on as cars—cars that only their drivers could love—growled and ripped around the corners trying to disable other cars, while track officials made sure most of the rules were followed.
Once a heat was finished, battle-wounded vehicular victims limped back to their places of pit origin to be assessed and repaired before heading back out onto the field. The ingenuity of the pit crew would’ve made engineers at NASA impressed, if engineers at NASA were competing in an intergalactic demo derby and wouldn’t need the aircraft again, ever.
There were drivers of all ages. It was encouraging to see veteran drivers offering tips and tricks to amateur drivers. There was no doubt about the knit closeness of the community and surrounding area; everyone knew everyone and it was obvious that if the Bump-n-Run wasn’t taking place, most of the attendees would probably be doing something else together anyway. That’s the type of community involvement that we need more of. The enjoyment of the evening was infectious as I was photographing as many action-packed—and subtle scenes—as possible.
At first glance—and possibly reading of this—it may seem like the event was one of constant damage and disarray. Safety protocol and guidelines were indeed followed though. Rules were explained and enforced.
The rays from the sun delivered a bright but very pleasing light, illuminating and backlighting an impressive amount of mud being slung from mismatched tires as it flew into the air and rained back down, dirt shrapnel making it’s presence felt by every person, dog and cotton candy cone within slinging distance, which seemed like two miles, as the dirt flies.
Tech notes: My camera of choice for this was my trusty Canon 1D Mark II. One of the reasons I chose this tool was because it’s an old beast, like many of the cars I was photographing at the event. It wasn’t the only reason though; the Canon 1D Mark II is ancient, especially by digital camera standards, but it produces stunning files when the light is sufficient and, almost more importantly, your exposure is spot on. Also, the focus speed is lightning fast, accurate too. I’ve used so many cameras it’s embarrassing, believe me when I say that the Canon 1D Mark II—and all of its 8.2 megapixel glory—produces a file as fine, if not better, than anything out there. It pops, is sharp and is phenomenal.