Photographic Retrospective

With it being a new year I took some time to examine the various collections of images and projects that had accumulated in my portfolio.  Flipping through pages of articles and scanning gigabytes of photos, there appears to be a path that carefully led me to some amazing people in the motorsports industry, which in turn, brought forward some great opportunities. While my portfolio may only scratch the surface comparing to some veteran photographers and motorsports experts, I think its safe to say that my journey in the industry has been an interesting one thus far. I get the sense that things are working out as they should, when they should.

People often ask who or what inspired me to go racing. Honestly, the answer is a very complex one. Instead of writing the story, I thought it would be far more entertaining if I explained in pictures. There were many influences which led me to racing, but a ride-along in this dark-blue Porsche, owned and driven by an accomplished and talented racer, was all it took to hook me into this (very expensive) sport. This was also the first Porsche I photographed back in 2007.

Later the same owner upgraded his car, and I was enthused to stage it. So we picked a spot in the desert and started shooting. At the time I really had no idea what the settings on the camera meant. I just adjusted “things” on the camera to make the picture look good. BAM!

I later got my first “new car” and staged it in the same place because I liked it so much.

These images were taken when I first got a camera… a REAL camera I might add… a Canon 40D. It was also a period in my life where I spent much time canyoneering and hiking, all while learning the in’s and out’s of motorsports… and the art of photographing cars.

This BMW E46 M3 was owned by a driver named Gabor Budahazi, whom became one of my first contacts as I developed an interest in racing.  Because of his investments and time spent with German cars I was eventually introduced to the guys behind the Phoenix-based exotics tuner known as Evolution MotorSports (EVOMS).

My business relationship developed with EVOMS rather quickly as I provided them a lot of creative work: from print ads to web sites, and shooting some of their coolest projects.

Working with EVOMS was the launch pad that sent my automotive/creative career forward. The leadership within this company truly believed in my abilities and gave me plenty of opportunity to prove myself. While I’ve been a professional designer since 1996, my efforts in automotive didn’t take shape until my work with EVOMS. I dedicated much time with their marketing and sales team, and eventually became an integral resource for their online and print promotions.

When important events came up, I was usually there to document it… photographically speaking.

The Texas Mile… Where EVOMS set land speed records!

Running in parallel effort, I also was the official photographer for the Texas Mile and NASA Texas for a couple of years. It was during this time I learned to drive a RWD car–known as a Spec Miata.

I also shot my first Bugatti… the EB110.

EVOMS wasn’t the only tuner involved… Sharkwerks based out of Northern California worked with EVOMS on some very special projects, including "Kermit" the GT3 RS.

EVOMS developed a relationship with the makers of the infamous supercar known as the Gumpert Apollo. This was quite the opportunity for everyone involved. It was definitely an honor to meet Roland Gumpert himself. Anyone familiar with the history of Audi in motorsports knows that his name is a significant one.

Thanks to the Gumpert shoot, I landed my first magazine cover.

... and my photos became part of a feature story. I can’t read Spanish too well, but I still think its great.

Did I mention the Gumpert Apollo went to Texas Mile with EVOMS?

The Gumpert was eventually taken to the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving. Through several instances at the school I met driving talent such as Mike Speck, Darren Law, Mike McGovern, and of course Bob Bondurant.

Mike Speck takes the Gumpert out for a few test laps.

Bob Bondurant takes it for a spin as well.

To my surprise after shooting the test, I had a right seat opportunity with Darren Law...fun stuff!

Connections with the Bondurant School go back several years, but all started with this photo. This particular corvette was captured during a NASA Night Race at Firebird Main, Chandler Arizona.

Which soon led to shooting an entire series of images the school used and continues to use for ads printed in major magazines and publications.

 

 

In between finishing the racing school program at Bondurant, and other projects around the Southwest, I was called to shoot Bob and Pat’s wedding, which was also held at the school.
 

 

Because EVOMS develops some pretty wild machines, it made sense for the media to get involved. We’re not just talking about the news. Supercars Exposed featured the EVOMS 997 and 996, where filming began at the Bondurant facility. The day concluded in the beautiful desert with some awesome photos of the cars, the host, and Todd Zuccone of EVOMS. It was on this shoot I met Tanner Foust, who later proved to be a great inspiration and resource as I continued to work on my own driving career.
 

 

 

 

Somehow I kept running into this guy… this time at Texas Mile.
 

Between all these projects I was busy playing with cars, going to track events, and learning how to drive the best I could. Can you believe this was my first "track car"? It was a 1994 Toyota Paseo. Completely stock (not even tires), I flogged this car around race tracks and off-road whenever I could.
 

Some people thought I had my priorities wrong tracking the Paseo vs my S2000. My argument was always, "Wanna pay my crash bill if someone hits me?" So I decided to get a Miata similar to those I drove in Texas. This little red car became known as "Clifford" the Miata, which was ultimately the first car I tore into and made into a race car.

Despite the clean appearance,  it was a very sorry Miata mechanically when I purchased it. The list of things wrong was quite extensive, too much detail for this article. Lets just say it needed work.
 

EVOMS had a few more cars that were noticed by the director of Supercars... by this time the show became Supercars Exposed. For the new series Tanner was accompanied by co-host Paul Tracy. This particular episode featured the EVOMS Tuned 997 and Audi R8 at Inde Motorsports Ranch (who happens to be one of my web/print design clients).
 

 

  Paul Tracy shares a smile with the camera…

I usually never ask for photos of folks I work with… but... he was kind enough to humor me.
 

Those in the know of Grand-Am, MX-5 Cup, and Spec Miata, you may recognize this face. Todd Lamb was actually my first Grand-Am client. Randomly connecting with him because of our like-interest in Spec Miata, he helped me meet some really great folks in the industry. He also coached me while I ran NASA Nationals at Miller Motorsports Park. Thanks to Todd, I shaved off a ton of time from my laps, ultimately taking 4th in class.
 

"Hey Geri, are you driving or shooting this weekend?" is one of my least favorite questions people ask me. But I hear it constantly. Shooting cars and races is an all-round blast, but people who know me well also know I live to drive. I’ve had a lot of opportunities to hop in other peoples cars, including this one–a track-prepared 1993 964 Porsche RS America. Thanks to the generosity of it’s owner I quickly discovered the many joys of power, torque, and rear-engine handling dynamics–something a Spec Miata simply doesn’t have!

 

Between my sessions I shot all the cars that drove that weekend. Oregon Raceway Park is truly a beautiful place, and equally amazing place to drive! During this event I met Grand-Am driver BJ Zacharias , and learned a thing or two about driving in the rain.
 

The guys at EVOMS knows how much I love driving cars.. so when the Tesla Roadster was in town I had some fun moments with it! It’s the most crazy quiet car I’ve ever driven. Instant torque more than made up for the lack of engine noises.

Do you like NASCAR? Until this particular weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, I had never even set foot into a NASCAR event, let alone photograph one. How strange it was to shoot a professional motorsports event at a track where I learned to race.
 

I got my Danica shot as well. She didn’t like me there and certainly let me know.

I can’t say anything bad about NASCAR, mainly because it governs the series I love most… Grand-Am. My lucky break was during the 49th Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona shooting for world class driver, Darren Law. It was because of Darren that I was able to attend my first Grand-Am race. With no pun intended here, but it was a crash-course in Grand-AM 101 for Geri Amani.
 

 

 

 

 

  24 Hours… time to celebrate!
 

With a lot of hard work behind the camera, I would soon land several opportunities with other Grand-Am teams such as Bimmerworld, Doran Racing, among others. It goes without saying, covering every single race is made far simpler with a quality travel agent.
   

   

  David Donohue, #5 Action Express DP
   

I had a season filled with Bimmers… In this photo: Seth Thomas, #79 GS BMW
 

 

  Pit stop!
   

 

 

 

Thanks to Bimmerworld team owner James Clay, I learned what it takes to provide photographic coverage for a large team all season long.
 

 

Two of my favourite dudes in red… Tim Bell and familiar face BJ Zacharias. In 2011 they drove the Doran Racing #14 ST BMW 128i. Both drivers have been fantastic support for me over the course of the 2011 season, becoming some of my most trusted colleagues.
 

 

 

There are notably some folks in racing that know how to smile. Al Carter of Fall-Line Motorsports is definitely one of them!
 

 

  Eric Curran #31 Whelen Corvette
 
Everyone knows Boris Said!
 

Not quite a smile, but a perfect expression. Ian James at the drivers meeting for the 49th Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.
   

"Hey woman!!" Timea says whenever she greets me. Most of you behind the scenes in Grand-AM and ALMS will likely know of Timea Flak. I was lucky to have run into her at the PRI Show before the 24 Hour race in 2011, and since then we’ve become somewhat infamous running around the paddock with our cameras, making ourselves look goofy in front of reflective hauler doors, and meeting everyone and anyone. Time spent with my pal Timea has been some of the most fun I’ve ever had at a race track (outside of a car)!
 
 
Vickie Miller
is quite possibly Grand-Am’s best fan… most definitely Ozz’s most loyal fan, nobody can argue that!. She is simply one of those awesome people you have to know–sweet as can be, a really good heart, AND she loves racing!! 
 

Yes, when we get together we’re kind’a dorky.  I think it’s safe to say we have the most fun in the paddock!
 

Simply put… one of the nicest drivers in Rolex! Oswaldo Negri (aka Ozz).
 
 
Gotcha Regis!  I usually count about 3-5 cameras hanging off of him at any given event. Seriously talented, and a great inspiration for any new photographer. Regis is one of those veteran-photogs that is armed with some serious glass.
 

There’s Bob! Here’s one of the pro’s who shoots with a Nikon.. vs Canon! I wont start any camera jokes here, they never go well. All joking aside, Bob Chapman of Autosport Image is one of those people who would stick around for my camera jokes. I’ve learned much from this guy…when he can be found that is. Bob is probably the fastest moving photographer in the industry!
 

Lucky catch that I found David Wilks rescuing a baby chipmunk! He also helped me meet quite a few people in the racing industry, and also came to the rescue when I needed a replacement camera–once when my 40D died at the track (the dreaded power supply error), then another time when I was accidentally doused by at least a gallon of rain water at VIR, and my camera ceased to work altogether. 
 

Of course, everyone loved the Segway... Including Burt Frisselle.
 

If you’re into racing and don’t know Ken Dobson, you should make an introduction next time you go to an ALMS race. In 2011 he won Petit Le Mans (in-class), and has a great portfolio of wins and driving experience in the years prior. Thanks to Ken, he’s helped me develop as a race car driver and driving instructor.
 

Everyone adored the boys in green! Jon Potter and Craig Stanton with Magnus Racing in 2011.
 

Craig Stanton is certainly a fantastic role model and true professional in the world of racing. He always takes time to chat with fans and photographers/aspiring drivers such as myself. Not to mention our many lengthy discussions about fitness. Definitely an inspiration!
 

Fitness does come in handy when you have to shoot on the run. Champaign and cameras do not mix as I found out early on. Bill Auberlen spared me this time!
 

However, he did not spare Timea.. sorry girl. You guys are still friends though obviously!
 

Just about everyone knows Jill Swanson in the paddock, the woman behind F.A.S.T.  Here is Jill with Brian Frisselle (Doran Racing, #77 Rolex DP).
 

As I got to know the Doran team, it so happened that I met the rest of the Bell family including Tim’s brother, Matt Bell. Or as many folks call him "Mabell"... remember, that’s all one word! 
   

Matt made his debut with a DP car in 2011 driving this car below, and the #77 Doran Racing DP at the 6-Hours at the Glen.
 

This wasn’t intentional, but certainly awesome. Car control at it’s best after loosing a rear tire.
 

With so much focus on the drivers, there is simply not enough photos taken of the crew that support them. I try never to miss great candid’s like this photo of Rob May of Fall-Line Motorsports.. really great spirit and endless positive attitude… everyone loves Rob!
 

An introduction made by Timea was to Mitchum Camaro driver, Jeff Bucknum. Since then I’ve supplied a few "Facebook-worthy" profile pics for him. 
 

CHEESE!!! No really, that’s what we call Chris–one of my favourite Grand-AM officials and not just because he supports my 5hr Energy shots habit. Cheese is super professional, wonderfully helpful, with a great sense of humour!
 

Jordan Taylor of Autohaus Motorsports #88 GT Camaro. 
 

Jordan Taylor with Bill Lester
 

Nick Galante ... all class! 
 

Driving with Brian Frisselle was Henri Richard in the #77 Doran Racing DP. I worked with Henri and his team throughout the 2011 season.
 

Arizona girl! I met Sarah Cattaneo back when I first started driving at Phoenix International Raceway. She definitely has done well since her club racing days… go Sarah!
 

Is that another Arizona driver? Indeed, the man on the right is Mike Browning. He was one of my first driving instructors, who also had the pleasure of being in the car with me during my first spin on track. Good times! With Mike on the left is Karl Thompson of Compass 360.

This driver has become a good friend of mine over the course of the 2011 season, and was there to support me and my mother after my terrible crash at Infineon Raceway—which was arguably the most crazy Spec Miata crash all year in the NASA NorCal region. Andrew Novich of Compass 360 has been great track-side support while I manage my regional race weekends in Northern California.
 

One of the most energetic drivers I’ve ever met… Ryan Eversley. He’s always game to chat about racing!
   

  Sahlen’s has the coolest hats in the entire paddock! 
 

  ... and their cars shoot fire too… double-cool.
 

Because women in racing is just, awesome… Go Lara Tallman
 

I got my "McDreamy" shot… Here’s Patrick Dempsey
 

Again ...because fire-throwing is cool when a race car does it!

Within Simraceway (formerly Jim Russell) / Audi Sportscar Experience, there have been quite a few familiar faces crossing over from the world of driver coaching to the world of pro-racing. Nico Rondet is very talented driver who works hard behind the wheel, but also in Ironman races, triathlons, and other endurance sports. Needless to say, being a runner myself he has offered much quality advice that has benefited my over all cardiovascular fitness, something every driver needs if they want to do well.

Another familiar face from Simraceway, and those of you into Formula Drift will also recognise Tyler McQuarrie, who co-drove with Nico and Jeff Westphal for selected races in the Insight Racing 3-Series BMW. 

Jeff Westphal is certainly a name you should know if you are not familiar already. Also a fellow colleague from Jim Russell / Audi, Jeff is a highly talented professional who no doubt is going places in his racing career.

   

Between Grand-Am events, I managed to shoot a few other venues, including Ferrari Challenge.
   
  ...  Indy Car...
   
 
   
  ...World Challenge...
   
 
   
 

  ... and a little bit of Drift... 
 

   
 

  ... Along with some specialized shoots.
 

Not to throw too many puns in this article… but ...I’ve literally been on both sides of the fence working as an instructor for the Audi Sportscar Experience and as a photographer. 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Jeff Sakowicz, one of Audi’s talented instructors.
 

 

 

 

 

Coming back to grassroots racing, I didn’t run the 2011 NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill because of my crash at Infineon in November… but I did find the opportunity to photograph the race.

 

Some familiar faces… Craig Stanton and Ryan Eversley.




This is where 2011 came to a close. No doubt last year was a very challenging one, so many things went wrong, but on the same note so many things went right. Just because something is difficult doesn’t mean I wont attack the challenge. This is especially true when there are people passionate about the same things you, invest time in you, and show they believe in your abilities.

It goes without saying that the past few years have tossed me around in all sorts of directions, but it’s been a great journey thus far. While I might not have the ultimate destination completely defined in regards to my creative work and my driving, I do have loads of drive substantiated by quality goals. Those goals will ultimately constitute the journey, which is arguably one of the most important aspects of our lives.

Capture the good stuff.


Posted on 01/12

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News & Blog Archives
When Push Comes to Shove - Creating a Better Place to Race

2014 Season Recap

Geri Amani as Precision Driver and Actor/Actress Double in “The Rush - Mustang Moments” Commerical

World without Doors - Piloting the Honda Powered F1600 at Road Atlanta

Touring Car Adventure [ Mazdaspeed Motorsports ]

Geri Amani Finishes 4th in Debut US Touring Car Race in No.3 TNI Racing / SanDisk Mazdaspeed3

2014 Mid-Season Report

Draft Punk - How the Black Flag Fiasco Ultimately Ended

Highway Survival Coaching: Fear vs Car

Precision Drive for Audi Sportscar Experience Promo

The 25 Hours at Thunderhill - Racing in the E3 Class

Tire Pressures and Swaybars D@mm!t

Lagunitas Brewing Co Donates Raffle Items for the 25 Hours for Taylor Lynn Fundraiser

25 Hours for the Taylor Lynn Foundation - Take a Moment to Give Back!

Racing Recap - Progress Through the 2013 Season

Spec Miata Festival at Sonoma 2012

Ready to Race—Again

Photographic Retrospective

Not IF but WHEN - Miata Crash at Infineon Raceway

Jim Russell (SimRaceway Performance Driving Center) – Highway Survival Course

Racing on the High Banks

Student vs Teacher

Working, Testing and Travel - Summer 2011

Exhaust Fumes, Loud Noises, and Amazing cars

Returning to the PRI Show in Orlando



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