True Success Story

True Success Story

Larry O'Donohue

In 2001, Susan DeVault became In The Pits Media's very first photographer covering NASCAR events across the country.  She began shooting with a Canon AE-1 35mm film camera her father had given her to get started.  Her focus and goal for In The Pits Media was to capture "personality shots" of the drivers, crew chiefs, and other icons of the NASCAR community.  With a manual focus zoom lens and rolls and rolls of film, she hit the ground running.  Not knowing what the photos would look like until after leaving the track and developing film, she needed to be selective and learned  very quickly... this was not easy.  Race after race, roll after roll, she continued to 'develop' her skills and to learn what worked and what didn't.

Then came digital photography.... Yes!  Susan went out and purchased an entry-level Canon Rebel T1i with an auto focus zoom lens. WOW!  She was now equipped with the abiltiy to go hog wild at the track, shooting as many shots as she wanted without worrying about running out of film and without incurring the cost to develop and print all the photos she took in a given weekend.  Like a kid in a candy store with all the candy you can eat for free, she loaded up her camera with as many photos as her memory card would hold.  But wait.... now she could review and delete them while at the track and take more!  Watch out, now she was armed and dangerous!

With this new weapon in hand, she expanded her shooting from just personality shots to on track action as well.  After many races, many blurry photos, and much practice, she nailed the art of panning.  But soon realized her equipment was hindering her performance.  Now needing better, faster, equipment, she saved money and invested in the next level Canon body and lens.  Susan again stepped up her game.  Her albums from the weekend NASCAR events began to take on a whole new life.  Not only did the type and quality of photos improve, but they began to come together to tell the story.  The story.  A picture tells a thousand words, but her gallery of pictures tells the story. 

Fast forward through 13 years of hard work and galleries that continued to get better and better as her skills and equipment also got better and better, it finally happened.  While shooting a practice session in Daytona in 2014, Susan captured a wreck down the front stretch that even she herself was impressed by.  Not believing the shot she just captured, she went off to the photo media center to check it out on her computer.  Wow!  Within minutes, it was noticed by another photographer who happened to be the Photo Editor of NASCAR Illustrated.  He expressed interest in the photo and asked for the file.  Next day, there was a thumb drive and an agreement on her computer.  The photo ran as a double truck on page 2 of the April 2014 issue of NASCAR Illustrated!!  From then, Susan became one of NASCAR Illustrated's regular photographers while still covering races for In The Pits Media as well.   She has had photos published in almost every monthly issue of the magazine since.  What an unbelievable journey she has had.

What began as a passion for motorsports and photography has developed into a true success story for this Accountant from New Jersey.  The ultimate success, however, is her most recent accomplishment.  Susan landed the cover photo for the January 2016 issue of NASCAR Illustrated, highlighting Kyle Busch as the "Comeback Kid"!!  Just awesome!

Moral of this story.... Dreams do come true.  Hard work and perserverence pays off.  Never give up on your passion.  And as we say here at In The Pits Media... "keep the green flag flying" (and the camera shutter clicking)!