All of my images from the 2012 Mid Ohio Sports Car Challenge can be seen HERE
It was a long haul from California to Connecticut; up through Oregon and Washington, then across the top of the States, ducking under Lake Michigan then through Ohio and PA…you get the idea. We had stayed on the Left coast long after Laguna and soaked up the local grape, now we needed to head to Lime Rock. For those of you who have never taken the time to visit Lime Rock Park, stop what you are doing and go. Now. No really, go now. You will regret your life forever if you miss out. The support series I normally cover were not present this weekend, so the pace was much more slow and relaxing. We had a moment or two to breathe. Hopefully, that bit of relaxation comes across in the playfulness of my photos.
Images from the unusually un-wet 2012 ALMS Weekend at Lime Rock Park can be viewed HERE
Green to Checkers victory. Last minute confusion on the flag stand caused the Sunoco Checkers to be used for Tristan. His lead was so large, they were able to find the correct flag for second place.
All of my images from the 2012 Modspace IMSA weekend at Laguna Seca can be found HERE
Test days can really work in your favor. You are pretty much alone and not too many bits of visual clutter (RVs, canopies, cars, fans) have arrived to mess up your shots. Those lovely blue and brown port-a-potties are more easily seen, but still, there is less to avoid. You can take your time to look at different angles, you can camp out in photo holes, you can find new places to be. Spots that were too distant or difficult to reach the last time, can be scouted and added to the shot list. The downside is that you have added an extra day to your week and by the time Race Day rolls around, you might find yourself too beat to care and its hard to push through that. When you are tired and sick of walking down the same dirt path to the same bit of corner, its easy to mail it in; to settle for the mundane. Don’t. That’s how you end up with work that looks like everyone else’s, how you end up with the same images as last year, the same work as the last race. Push. Shoot Test days and learn.
We were excited to go back to Miller Motorsports Park, its a great facility surrounded by towering Mountains. When the American Le Mans Series decided not to return to Utah a few years back, I had hoped that I would shoot there again. Jump to 2012, IMSA was there with the GT3 Challenge and Cooper Prototype Lites series so we were back. When I booked our RV spot, I told the guy exactly what spot we wanted, he replied by telling me that the NASCARs would be running on the East course and that we wouldn’t be able to see them very well. I told him that I found it to be the perfect spot then. Not sure he understood, but that’s OK. The staff at Miller’s are great, all of them, from security to the photo shuttle driver, to John Gardner who runs the Media Center. Great people at a great facility. I just wish it wasn’t so damn far from anything.
I had to shoot fairly early on Thursday morning, so we pulled in around 5PM on Wednesday, set up camp and relaxed. On Thursday morning I went to check in and walked around the paddock to see who was there. I shot for a while in tech inspection and then headed out onto the track in the grey day to shoot GT3 testing. When you shoot at Miller’s you want to have a lot of glass. I’m not sure you can bring too much glass with you.
The space is huge and the opportunity for shooting across the track to gain new vantage points begs for glass. The last time I shot at Miller’s a large amount of my shots were tight, I hadn’t included much of the scenery. Granted the track doesn’t have much in the way of iconic turns or elevation changes, you can always get a nice shot of a car bouncing on two wheels heading into the bottom Attitudes or shoot from the bottom so that the mountains are in the background of the ess. I decided to embrace the grey and see if I could get some color to pop out against it. Also, I vowed to put as musch of the scenery into the frame as possible. At this track, that is not terribly easy to do without making the car be very small in the frame.
Thursday night a huge storm hit the area with winds so strong we often thought we were on a boat rather than an RV. At one point, someone drove by and their pop-up camper blew open. I got to spend the next half hour or so out in the freezing rain trying to help the guy put his camper back together. Somehow he lost his keys during all this and ended up spending the night in the road right where he stopped. Did I forget to mention that the forecast for 6AM on Friday was snow? Luckily, the snow kept itself up in the mountains so I had a nice new background to shoot against all day Friday.
Friday was Quali for GT3 and as expected Madison Snow took the Platinum Class pole with Angel A. Benetiz picking up the Gold Class honors. On Saturday the Lites qualified and even though his car stopped on track halfway through the session, Tristan Nunez continued his dominance of the series by picking up his third pole of the year. GT3 had their first race of the weekend on Saturday afternoon and Madsion kept his car up front the entire race. The only real drama was when Gold polesitter Angel A. Benetiz ran out of fuel on the final lap after leading his class the entire race. Melanie Snow was able to pass him on the front straight to pick up the win. On Sunday, I was worn out. Something about the climate in Utah gets to me. Either that or trying to live in both Eastern and Mountain time zones was getting to me. The Lites had both of their races on Sunday with the final GT3 race in between. Since it was freezing in Friday, nice on Saturday, Sunday decided to bring the heat. It wasn’t that it was so hot ambient wise, but the heat haze was horrible. Anything I shot from more than 100 feet away ended up looking like I had applied a bad watercolor filter in photoshop. I had to bin most of my race start shots and even the ones I kept are a bit dodgy of you look hard at them. Not much I can do about that though. The first Cooper Lites race was going as planned until Tristan’s car stopped on track with about two laps to go. At that point he had about a fifteen second lead. His car was unable to be moved quickly enough, so Mikhail Goikhberg took the win behind the safety car. Madison Snow went flag to flag again for the weekend sweep. The track announcers kept saying, at the start of the race, that we were waiting for the checkered flag to start the race. This was mildly amusing. Angel A. Benetiz was able to keep his car running long enough this race to capture the Gold Class win. Oh, also, the guy was right, I couldn’t see the NASCARs very well from my RV, shucks.
We have a couple of days before we have to be in Monterrey for the race at Laguna Seca, so we are currently holed up along the shores of Lake Tahoe. My image galleries for both the Cooper Prototype Lites and the GT3 Challenge can be viewed at dPerceptions.com. Thanks for reading and looking! See you in California.
Sebring is upon us. Winter testing is long past. The season has begun. Its a doozy to start out. Testing starts on Monday as opposed to Wednesday or Thursday. All the drivers need new head shots. The spotters guide needs shot. Autograph Sessions. Practices, Qualifying, Support races. To top it off, they throw in a twelve hour race just for fun. Fun? Insane perhaps. Why not.
Sebring is one of those places that does not allow dogs so sometimes we stay just outside the track instead of using our trackside RV spot. I had so much to take care of this year that we decided to stay inside and to board the girls in Orlando. They had a widescreen TV and A/C but we had pit out. I had to shoot the Cooper and GT3 driver’s head shots on Tuesday Morning so I was over early setting up the lights and background. Head shots are easy, but the drivers tend to show up all at once at the end of the time slot so it does make for some hectic moments. After a quick lunch, GT3 and Lites had back to back test sessions. It was good to get out on the track after spending the day inside listening to the ALMS/WEC cars roar around the grounds.
Wednesday morning had the Lites out bright and early and I had to get the spotter’s guide shots buttoned up as much as possible in this one session. IMSA had decided to shoot all of the spotter’s guide images of the driver’s side of the car so I headed to the once section of the track I could shoot driver’s side with the morning sun at my back. I felt like and idiot standing in one place for the whole session shooting pan after pan of the same dozen cars. In retrospect, I didn’t really need to shoot so many, I was able to nail all of them fairly quickly. GT3 was out next and I had to do the same for them so I headed up to T6. I picked the perfect spot to shoot from as evidenced by the glare on the side window. There was a very narrow window of opportunity to get the shot without the glare. I love it when I make problems for myself. Again I felt stupid standing in one place shooting the same shot over and over, but I got them done. I did have a one hour head shot session between morning and afternoon, but since I was already set up in the hall, it was fairly routine. Wednesday afternoon was more practice, so I was able to get back out and shoot with a more creative bent than the morning sessions.
Thursday is a long day. Lites quali, GT3 quali, then in the afternoon they both have their first races. Lots of must have shots that have an immediate turn around time. The price of being paid I guess. I like shooting qualis because I shoot the false grid and then lurk about the pits shooting team members until the two polesitters are decided. then I shoot them jumping out of their cars being congratulated. The only difficult part is making sure you know who they are and where they are pitted.
The races themselves are a bit more demanding. You have to shoot the grid, the engine start, race to where you will be shooting the start (in this case turn one which is quite a ways from start/finish) and then you have about ten to fifteen minutes to shoot from one predetermined for the time of day light spot, make sure you get all the possible winning cars in both classes and then race back to the pits to shoot both class checkers shots and then the leap from cars. HECTIC TIMES to be sure. So hectic that we missed part of ALMS night practice because we went out to dinner with friends and spent too much time relaxing from the day’s efforts.
Friday is a fairly short day where I had only the two races to shoot and then ALMS quali. Shooting ALMS quali at Sebring is a bit of a drag because there are so many cars and they are spread out randomly along the pits. Its hard to guess who will get the pole in each class and be in their pits before the driver gets out of the car. With P1 however, the process is simple: Stand in the Audi Pits and wait.
Raceday Saturday is straightforward, photo meeting in the dark of the morning, morning warmup with beautiful light and then the Start at 11AM. I usually shoot the start and then try to get some rest. In the early afternoon I work the pits for a while. When the sun is lower in the sky I will go out and shoot on track to catch the good light. I usually shoot the pits again just before the sunset and then head out to turn one for the sunset shot itself.
After Sebring, we have the long drive out to Long Beach for the three West Coast races. See you there!
My entire image Gallery from the 2012 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance can be viewed HERE
It’s 43F this morning in Palm Beach! Brrr, man! I’m standing out in pit lane without coffee wondering what the heck is going on with the temperature today, yesterday the air was on, now its the heat, weird. Not too many Prototypes here at the fest, so I have been pushing myself to think past the cars. I think what I came back with from the first session today is some of the best from the weekend. Time for breakfast and then back out at 11:50.
In 2011, we didn’t arrive at Winter Testing until tuesday, so we missed out on the IMSA Lites testing. That wasn’t really an option this year, so we made sure to arrive early on Sunday. We landed outside the track, grilled some hot wings and watched the Super Bowl. For fun, our DirecTV receiver decided to die during Madonna’s halftime show. Thankfully, it took little time to fire up my MAC and pull in the show via our slingbox we have set up at her parent’s house. We only missed a song or two. Also there was more football afterward, but since the Steelers were not playing, we didn’t pay much attention other than to be happy the Patriots lost.
Winter Testing is a rather odd thing to attend. The track is in a testing setup, so many of the fences and barriers are absent. There are no wall to wall RVs to shoot against. Quite a few of the teams and drivers are not there. The track is nearly empty of fans. Most obvious is the lack of livery on the cars. Many are brand new, squeaky white and devoid of color. They are not really the cars that you want to see. You must look to the drivers themselves, the crews, the garages. Create.
The sun was being a PITA, by that I mean it hid behind a wall of clouds all week. Bitchy aren’t I?
Monday and Tuesday were dedicated to Cooper Prototype Lites and IMSA GT3 Challenge. I spent the morning of Monday shooting the cars on track and most of the rest of the two days working the pits and their garages. I think some strong shots came from spending time away from the track and the safety of shooting the cars.
Shooting the crews at work in the garages is an unusual experience in itself, they tend to be amused by the attention and often say things like “Why do you want a picture of me? I’m just a mechanic” I’ve never had any problems with access though, a simple request to come in and shoot was all it ever took. I suppose if I kicked a few things over they might send me on my way, but so far I have been able to avoid breaking things.
Looking back at my shots from last year, it seems like there were more GT3 teams in attendance in 2011, but since I didn’t count them, I cannot be sure. It was simply a feeling that the car count was lower across all of the classes. Hopefully that is not an indication of the state of the series for 2012, as indications at the end of the season were positive. I guess we will see at the 12 Hours.
The last two days of testing were dedicated to the ALMS cars. There were some interesting driver/car happenings such as the Downs brothers from Cooper Lites in in the CORE #06 LMPC but again, the car count seemed low. With the obvious absence of the RSR Jags, most of the GT2 regulars were there. The only P1 car on the entry list was the Muscle Milk HPD ARX-03a and unless I was asleep during part of the last day, its only appearance was sporadically though the last session of the week. Although disappointing, it did run some fairly good times with its fastest lap being 1:48.192 which is not far from the qualifying time of the Audi R15+ of McNish at the 2011 running of the Sebring 12 Hours. Winner of the the least interesting fact category: the 055 HPD ARX-03 of Tucker/Bouchut/Diaz bested the 95 HPD ARX-03 of Tucker/Bouchut/Diaz by nearly 2 10ths. I am happy to hear that AJR will be running a Lotus on GT2 this year, that should be fun to watch.
We are off to Palm Springs International Raceway to cover the Cooper Tires Winterfest. See you there!
All of my Galleries can be viewed at dPerceptions MotorSports Photography
Its odd the new places you find to shoot when the Rvs are not blocking the view. Who knew there was a track and photo holes on this side