Ultimate Vintage

1913 Case

Some years ago while on my way to attend my first vintage race, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I thought it might a bunch of guys with vintage cars driving slower than race speeds just showing off their cars. I figured at best I would come away with some nice shots of unique old cars. The reality however was completely different, and very surprising. Not only did they race at full speed, they did so as if the cars had just been made. Sliding, spinning, and bumping and beating on each other as if that model years class championship was on the line. I was hooked at once.

However (for me anyway) the best was yet to come. About halfway through the morning a class of of cars I did not know existed came on track. The per war class consist of cars made from the beginning of auto racing, up to about 1955.

1912 EMF Racer

It’s at this point I have to tell you a little something about myself. I have been a huge history buff since 5th grade. I spend my Sundays when I’m not on the road watching history documentaries on one of six different streaming channels I subscribe to.

So seeing these beautiful old cars, many of which I have only seen in pictures, on track in front of me was truly amazing to me. Most of the photographers I shoot vintage events with like the later model faster cars. But for me (in my head) I try to imagine what it had to be like back then to see something go that fast for the first time. You have to remember in the early part of the 20th century a fast horse could keep up with a locomotive. So if you lived in a rural area, had had not seen a train before this would have amazed you to see.

Buick (unknown year)
1911 Lozier
1916 Hudson

Now we fast forward to 2023. I was attending the SVRA Speed Tour event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I saw on the schedule that there would be a pre war class, and assumed it would mostly consist of cars I had seen in the mid west before. But you always hope you will catch a few new ones. To my surprise, it did not have any cars I had previously seen. The cars were from a group called Ragtime Racers, the majority of which consisted of cars from 1909 to 1938. For me this is the ultimate in vintage racing. Cars from the very inception of auto racing. One offs, limited editions, and modified early production cars. Most hand made, with the limited number of tools available for automobile production. Many of which were modified or repurposed tools from other disciplines.

1912 Packard
1909 EMF 30
1911 EMF X

I hope I get another opportunity to see these marvelous machines again in the near future.

Joel

Speed and Sport Shorts: Honda Indy 200 Qualifying

Yet another exciting qualifying session, with a few surprising results. Pato O’Ward and Alex Palou had been the fastest in practice, but only Palou made the fast six with a fourth place grid position. The front row will consist of pole winner Colton Herta with Graham Rahal next to him. While pole position doesn’t guarantee victory, it gives you the opportunity control race strategy at least at the beginning of the race.

Joel

Honda Indy 200 (Preview)

Another Independence weekend and once again the NTT INDYCAR SERIES rolls into the Mid Ohio Sports Car Course for the Honda Indy 200. Also competing are the Road to Indy ladder series, Indy NXT, USFPRO 2000, and USF 2000. As last year Pato O’Ward tops the first practice with Alex Palou close behind. If you look at the past winners of this race, it is anybody’s to win. While there there have been several multiple winners, there has not been a back to back winner since Scott Dixon in 2011 & 2012. However it turns out, it is sure to be exciting and eventful. The same holds for the other series.

Joel

Speed and Sport Shorts: Tough Shots (Eye of the Driver)

This is something I try to do every chance I get. So what makes this a tough shot? First you have to have the right conditions. Most preferred are early morning, or late afternoon. During these times the low sun shines directly in to the car. At these times most drivers tend to have their visor either partially or fully up. Another condition that will offer this kind of shot, is cloudy and heavy overcast. In these conditions many drivers will wear a clear visor for better visibility. Second, you have to be able to get close enough to track side to see directly into the front windshield of the car. It doesn’t matter if it is on a strait or curve. Both offer unique views, and expressions on the drivers face. Third you must have a long enough lens to zoom in tight on the driver.

What is it I like about this shot? In the drivers eyes you can see focus, determination, and intensity. You will see them looking at the apex of an upcoming turn. Glancing in the mirror to see who is around them. Also a calmness of a person at work going about their job. What ever the expression is, it fascinates me, and I often find myself looking at these shots for long periods of time trying to determine just what they might have been thinking at that moment in time. After all isn’t that what still photography all about, capturing moments in time?

Joel

 

Motorsports in Black and White lll

While not the ultimate, I consider this image a good subject for black and white because it has only one distracting element in the background.

Once again we revisit one of my favorite subjects, Motorsports in black and white. His time we will look at subject matter. Which of the photos you have taken will look compelling in black and white. When you look at black and white photos of the past, shot by some of the greatest photographers such as Ansel Adams, Gordon Parks, and Walker Evans, you can’t help but think that the subject matter seems to have been made for the medium in which it was shot. After all color film had been around for some time, and these photographers could well have afforded to use it if they were so inclined.

Landscape, portrait, and street photography are some mediums that benefit most from black and white. Motorsports is quite a different matter. Just any old shot shot from anywhere trackside will not translate well into black and white.

As much as I like this image, the fence in the background is just a bit too much for my taste.

When I go through shots from an event, I look for certain criteria to determine if I can produce a compelling black and white image with it. The first, and most important is how many, or few distracting elements are in the foreground, but mostly in the background. Second, is it a dynamic shot that will draw peoples attention. Or will it just look like a car on a track. Third is the color, and livery on the car or bike. Wild multicolor liveries will just turn into a mess leaving the viewers eye wandering looking for a focal point which they will likely not find. So I tend to avoid these. Every so often I will look at a shot on the the cameras screen and know right away that I will convert it to black and white.

Here we have an image that I would never consider for black and white because there is just too much going on both on the track and in the background.

As with most things about photography, it’s all up to the eye, and taste of the person who presses the shutter. I can only offer my own personal views and options.

Joel

2022 Favorites (The year that was)

With it now being 2023, this seems like a good time to take a look back at 2022. The year was its usual mixture of both excitement and disappointment. But as I look at the overall, there was far more good than bad. I also got to make some new friends, and see some old ones I haven’t seen in awhile. What I present here are some of my favorite shots from last year, in no particular order. For photographers, what constitutes a favorite is not necessarily the most technically excellent shot, but the one that speaks to us and gives us the feeling that we accomplished something a bit little special. In most cases the average viewer may not agree, but this is why I call it favorites not best shots. As usual starting a new year I have no idea what is to come. For 2023 I will do as I always have and try to improve on what I have done in the past, and become better at my trade.

So I hope you enjoy what is presented here, and here’s to new opportunities in the future.

FANATEC GT World Challenge – Racers Edge Acura – Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Ferrari Challenge North America – Aaron Weiss – Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Moto America – Mathew Cunha / Hunter Dunham – Road America
Road to Indy, Indy Lights – Stingray Robb – Road America
OPC Michigan City Grand Prix – Husky Chocolate / Australian Navy – Michigan City Indiana
SCCA Blakhawk Regionals – GT2 TA Mustang – Blackhawk Farms Raceway
FANATEC GT World Challenge – Triarsi Ferrari 488 – Road America
Honda Indy Grand Prix – Josef Newgarden – Mid Ohio Race Course
FANATEC GT World Challenge – Turner Motorsports BMW – Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Trans-AM by Pirelli – Matthew Brabham – Mid Ohio Race Course
Moto America – Richie Escalante / Suzuki – Road America
IMSA Lexus Grand Prix- Acura DPi – Mid Ohio Race Course
FANATEC GT World Challenge – Crowdstrike AMG – Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Lamborghini Super Trofeo – Shehan Chandrasoma – Road America
Sonsio Indy Grand Prix – Josef Newgarden – Road America
Weathertech Sportscar Weekend – Pfaff Porsche – Road America

Speed and Sport Shorts: Tough Shots 1 (Rain)

When shooting motorsports much of what you shoot can be considered tough shots, but there are those situations that require a great deal more work and patience. Those who normally shoot slower moving, or stationary objects don’t appreciate the challenge of shooting really fast moving targets. You have track, lock onto, compose, and capture a subject that will only be there for a few seconds or less. Even with all of that there are other variables that make things more challenging. In this first post we will discuss one of them, rain.

Unlike NASCAR or IndyCar on the oval tracks, sports car racing doesn’t stop for rain unless it is so hard that it forms large puddles on the racing surface. Otherwise they switch to rain tires and continue. For the photographer this means putting on rain gear, covering your camera with a protective covering, and most likely standing in mud or a puddle to get the shot. While it can be very tough conditions to shoot in, the results are very rewarding.

So while the fans put up umbrellas, or run for cover, you will see these intrepid individuals covered in plastic carrying large cameras headed in the other direction, into the rain to try to capture what may be some of their best shots of the year.

 

Joel

Speed and Sport Shorts: Memories

I’ve known about the Vintage Indy Registry for some time now, but had never seen it in person. Members of the registry painstakingly preserve vintage Indy cars between the years of 1930 and today. Like most who witness this spectacle, you wish the the cars would go a bit faster than parade speed. However you have to remember many of these cars are one of a kind, or the only one left in existence. To spin or wreck one would be an immeasurable loss. So like me you overlook this, and feel privileged just to see them at all.

This brings me to my point. I was 12 in 1968 when the STP Lotus Turbine made its debut at Indianapolis. I was so enamored with this car that I had pictures from magazines, built models of it, and even had the Hot Wheels version. At the SONSIO Indy Grand Prix, I got to live a dream. I not only was able to see and photograph it, I also got to hear the turbine in person for the time. A lot of fond memories of my childhood came flooding back, and I am still savoring them today.

Joel

Motorsports in Black and White ll

Black and White motorsports photography while once the norm is now a speciality form of photography. Many try it, few do it well. In this day and age fo high megapixel color photography, black and white gets relegated to a seldom used, or just lost art form.

When considering wether too process a photo for black and white, the first thing you have to understand is that not every shot will look good in this medium. Shots with busy and distracting backgrounds will not work. Next you have to consider the subject matter. Dark blue, green, and black cars or bikes are likely to lose a lot of detail in conversion, and just look like a badly underexposed image. Packs of multiple vehicles close together will leave the viewers eye wandering trying to find the main subject of the shot.

When going through your work, look for shots with one or two subjects isolated on a relatively clear background. This will take the viewers eye directly to the main subject. From there they can explore the rest of the image. If the background is slightly blurred, that makes it even better. Overcast and rainy days also lend themselves well to black and white. All in all you should choose your subject matter carefully.

As for tools, any image editor will give you good results as long as you take the time to learn what you can do with the tools at hand. Spend some time experimenting with sliders and filters to squeeze the most you can out of your software. Just selecting convert to black and white from a preset menu will give you mediocre results at best. I’m partial to NIK Filters Silver Effects for black and white conversion. There are several other stand alone, or plug in programs out there, but this is my personal favorite. So all that is left to do is jump into the deep end, and see what you can create.

Article inspired by Kurt Roussell @ Fast Car Photos.

Joel

My Choice, GT

It’s the kind of subject that can spark endless arguments and debates, but I just have to get it out there. For me the only type of racing I can see myself never getting tired of is GT racing.

In my youth the first kind of racing I ever paid any real attention to was Formula 1 and IndyCar. Not from being able to attend any races, It was from reading about these series. I read anything I could get my hands on about racing in general. There was a newsstand in front of the “L” station near my house, and the guy who ran it knew I was interested in auto racing, and would get magazines from his distributor and hold them until I came by. It was in reading the varied magazines I bought from him that I discovered sports car racing such as, Can-AM, and Trans-AM racing.

Before this it was IndyCar, NASCAR, and Drag Racing. Being from the inner city midwest, that was pretty much all we heard about. Upon reading about the different road racing series I began to lose interest in IndyCar, and later NASCAR. However these were still the only televised series, so I continued to follow them for the most part. On the rare occasion they would show sports car racing on TV, it would be edited to fit within a 60 to 90 minute time slot with commercials. Lots of commercials.

My interest in IndyCar faded after some time, but returned when they began to run majority road courses. The cars and level of competition has improved immensely in the past decade also. As for NASCAR, my interest level dropped significantly when they decided the words “Stock Car” in their name was no longer relevant. Then there is also the matter of 40 plus car fields (at least 10-15 of whom should not be out there) riding around in a circle waiting for someone to cause several of them to crash into one another.

So with all that said just what brought on this whole line of thought? Watching the TOTAL 24 hours of Spa, and one of the most exciting endings I have seen in some time. Seeing Dries Vanthoor’s Team WRT make the perfect call to switch to rain tires just before a downpour to get the race lead from Ferrari. Then watching Alessandro Pier Guidi recover from a huge deficit to catch, then pass Vanthoor on the outside in the rain and drive the Iron Lynx Ferrari 488 to victory. It started me to thinking just how many times I have seen close, exciting racing like this in GT racing. Then there are the intangibles for the fans that go along with this type of racing.

For all the technological brilliance that goes into Formula 1 and Prototype race cars, they are never something you can (or will) ever see yourself owning or driving. While cars in GTE, GTLM, GT3, and especially GT4 are you cars you can aspire to someday owning. You see many of these same cars on the streets of your town, you know the names, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, Corvette, Aston Martin. All the way down to the GT4 ranks where you see Mustang, Camaro, Elantra, and Supra. Picturing yourself behind the wheel of any of these cars is not hard given the right circumstances.

 

So the rest of you enjoy your Formula 1, NASCAR or any other racing you are into. I have nothing against any other form of racing, and I shoot many of them, but if I were forced to choose just one, it goes without saying that it would be GT racing.

Joel

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