I have been fortunate over the past 5 years to help out and photograph for a grassroots rally team based out of Pennsylvania. The team V8 Rally Ranger started life off as a 1986 Ford Ranger and has been heavily modified to conquer the rough back roads of North American Rally. The Danger Ranger as I lovingly refer to it as, is piloted by a hardcore racer named Gary DeMasi.
What I Do. Is quite simple and extremely complicated. I am team captain and make sure everything runs smoothly with the drive and co-driver. I facilitate instructions and make sure the driver and co-drivers are on time, fed, and have minimal stress. I am also team photographer and videographer. So while they are on stage I am able to spectate and hide in the woods waiting for that perfect shot. I have helped for years to get this team in a decent spot both behind the scenes and in the national standings. We are a tough team.
From 6am to 2am: The rally starts the moment you wake. This rally I went down on Wednesday and was put to work immediately. We had to finish some minor details like, painting the hood, securing electrical connections, and applying the rally livery. Unlike most teams we do not have large sponsors and are dependent on donations from individuals. We raise money to race by helping out in our communities and raising money for charitable organizations that support efforts in helping people who have suffered traumatic head injuries. A great cause I am happy to be part of.
Rally Day. Wake up early make sure the truck passes tech. Secure a spot in service for our truck and support vehicle. Practice, Recce, Eat, Sleep, Build and Build. This event it was cold, snowy and rainy. The ideal conditions for running at full speed in the woods. Not ideal for a crew. With minimal communication coming from the driver and co driver due to lack of cell coverage. It is a true waiting game while in service. The crew has to entertain themselves for what could be hours or minutes. If everything goes well when the stage ends the truck pulls in and we make minor adjustments to the tires and add fuel. Worse case scenario we are bending fenders out. Mounting new tires, rebuilding transmissions, etc. In a hope to get back out on stage in time to remain competitive.
Photo Breaks. Being the team photographer I am not tied to being at service. I am able to take the Recce vehicle and head out with the spectators to grab some in action footage. This is what I love. I love photographing the action. Talking with other fans and team members, and just hanging out in nature for hours. The atmosphere and people are amazing.
I love this. I volunteer, I spend my own time and own money to get around and to help out this team. I would love to someday get paid for this but in the mean time I am content with lending a helping hand whenever I can. Be it out photographing or getting my hands dirty with the crew. There is nothing like a rally and being part of a competitive team.