Saturday, September 11, 2010

Thunder Road videos a real treat for race fans

When I first got involved in this wonderful sport of stock car racing back in 1992, I met a man from southern New Hampshire named Bill Channel. As owner of Channel 1 Video, Bill was on a quest to record New England’s rich short track stock car racing history for all to enjoy.
Channel’s work not only produced several award-winning pieces, but got me hooked on videos of my favorite sport. I quickly realized how important this was to preserve memories of special moments in our region’s racing history.
Since those days, I’ve met several others who’ve carried camera equipment to the track each week. Mr. Channel has more or less retired from weekly recording, but there are several others who carry on his legacy. Thanks to one of them, I’ve even had the chance to design a track history DVD and played a big role in its production (Northeastern Speedway 50th Anniversary Celebration). My involvement in that project and the way it turned out is a source of great pride for me.
One skilled individual very active in the field of racing videography today is Carl Parton, of Montpelier, Vermont. Carl owns Central Sports Net (www.cvtsport.net), and is the man who records racing every week at the famed Thunder Road International Speedbowl.  
I recently had a chance (finally) to sit down and watch some of his work. Since I’m a native Vermonter, I love the “down-home” feel of his videos. Having a picture of his adorable children in the intro with audio of them saying  “my Daddy made this,” is absolutely precious.
Once the racing begins, Parton’s skills become evident. A high-quality camera on a solid tripod keeps everything steady and crisp, while Parton’s pan and zoom skills are excellent. As I’ve learned from professionals, a cameraman who has mastered the art of pan and zoom as he follows the action makes a huge difference in what we see on our screens.
Like other professionals in his field, Parton taps directly into the track’s PA system to ensure a quality audio signal is obtained. While you do hear the cars roar some (it wouldn’t seem right without it) it never overwhelms the announcer in any way. Clear audio and sharp video is what makes Parton’s work such a treat.
The two nights of racing at the “Nation’s Site of Excitement” I’ve had the pleasure of watching were from June 19 and June 25 of 2009. Both DVDs are well-produced, and despite Thunder Road’s notoriously dim lighting — you can still see the cars clearly during the evening’s features. Parton has been recording races at the Barre, Vermont oval since 2008.
If you are a fan of that historic (opened in 1960) high-banked track atop Quarry Hill, or even if you just love to watch side-by-side short track stock car racing on your own TV, visit Parton’s Web site today and order a DVD from Thunder Road. It will be something to treasure and watch with friends for years to come.
As a longtime fan of Thunder Road (first race there: Firecracker 100 in 1976), I simply love to own video of races there. The two pieces from Mr. Parton join a DVD with footage of the pre-war Coupes (early 1960s) in my collection. Perhaps a joint venture between Vermont racing archivist Cho Lee, Carl Parton and myself to produce a two-hour, multi-chapter DVD of Thunder Road’s rich history is in order.
Of course we would need permission from and the blessing of Ken Squier, but I believe he would see the value of such a project. In 2009, he kindly participated in our Northeastern DVD project since he announced there early in his illustrious career. I am extremely grateful for his contribution.
Anybody in support of the Thunder Road history DVD idea can reach me via e-mail at philw61@yahoo.com.