Murillo Racing BMW Turn 3

076a3251The curb at the top of Turn 3 at Road Atlanta is significant.  This is certainly not the best photo from the corner.  Others were able to get this shot with far more clarity.  It is included here for three reasons.

First, this is the #65 Murillo BWM in the Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge series driven by Brett Mosing and Tim Probert.  No idea who was driving at the time, but handling the curbs is clearly a driver by driver preference regardless of the series.  Some drivers scoot around it, some drivers bound across it, and some drivers find their cars launched sideways across the corner.  It is an interesting corner to watch.

Second, it is one of the handful of photos from that corner with the most violent right side lift-off experience.  Few others have both right sides quite so far off the ground.  Not sure whether that deserves credit for being aggressive through the corner or caution for risking damage, but will let the teams and drivers have that debate.

Third, the photo is an encouragement for next time.  As I mentioned elsewhere in this blog, sometimes poor shots or near misses will be featured for what wisdom they can impart.  The shot is wonderful if it can be captured.  I look forward to trying again.

Camera Settings – 1/250 shutter speed, f/6.3, ISO 100, 420mm.

Michael Johnson BMW Crash

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Sometimes getting to the start line can be the biggest challenge.  The BMW of Michael Johnson sustained a hard crash in Thursday qualifying for the Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge support series.  The car nosed into the barriers to drivers right at speed with enough force to push the barriers back several inches.  The track workers winched the damaged car onto a rollback truck and delivered it to the team’s spot in the paddock.

The photo was taken just as the car came off the rollback (which can still be seen in the background) and the team was getting their first look.  The damage was extensive and the team withdrew and was unable to make the race on Friday, ending their season in the paddock rather than on the track.

With apologies to Michael Johnson and JDC Motorsports who are likely pained by the state of their race car and the lost weekend, the only story isn’t always the one told in victory lane.  Usually, these types of setbacks are part of the journey.  As one crew member told me in a matter of fact manner as they were packing up, “Next race is Daytona.”

As if keeping a racecar running and avoiding accidents wasn’t difficult enough, Johnson is paralyzed below the waist.  The car has both hand controls and traditional controls and the teams switches between them as drivers switch.  It is a magnificent example of engineering, endurance, and persistence.  Motorsports is full of engaging stories and teams and drivers like this can always use extra support, so stop by and say hello at a future event.

Thanks much to the team for the friendly invite to take a close look at the hand controls in the car.

Camera Settings – 1/320 shutter speed, f/6.3, ISO 100, 80mm.

Porsche GT3 Race Safety Car

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Porsche simply has ruled single make racing for years and the GT3 Cup is the current American version of the Carrera Cup formula that races in many venues globally.  The two Road Atlanta Petit LeMans Porsche GT3 support races enjoyed healthy grids and very right racing.  These types of series provide the training ground for the drivers that may run someday professionally in the main event.

Single make racing usually proves for extremely close racing and passes are made by bravery and craft and taking advantage of mistakes made by others.  The first of two GT3 races during the weekend took place on Thursday and had the members of the media center glued to the start and watching the action.

The safety car board and double yellow flags waved at the start-finish flagstand slowed the field to address an incident during the race.

Camera Settings – 1/250 shutter speed, f/11, ISO 100, 420mm.  With the benefit of some sympathetic cropping, this photo captures both the starter’s stand and the first 10 cars of the large field along pit straight.  The challenge of such a shot is to keep all of the actors in focus and avoid too much blurring of either the flagstand or the cars passing below.

#7 Rebel Rock Porsche into the 10a Gravel Trap

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Turn 10 is ripe for action and a great place to watch at Road Atlanta.  The hard left turn is situated at the end of a long downhill straight.  Cars carry significant speed at the end of a long downhill straight before encountering a hard left and right turn sequence.  The left hander is known as 10a and the right hander is known as 10b.  It is one of the best opportunities to pass on the entire track.

Practice is the best time to watch drivers test their braking marks into Turn 10.  In Thursday practice for the Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge, the #7 Rebel Rock Racing Porsche Cayman spun on its own and into gravel trap – throwing up a spray of gravel before coming to a stop.

Drivers for the Street Tuner class car were shown as Lee Carpentier and Kieron O’Rouke.

The car was towed out and the driver continued on his way, likely with tires in much more poor condition and gravel tucked away in deep corners of the car for the crew to find.

Camera settings – 1/250 shutter speed, f/10, ISO 100, 420mm.

GTLM leads GTD leads PC through Turn 10

076a1274Multi-class racing is a hallmark of endurance sportscar racing and IMSA’s version in the United States involves four classes.  The 10 hour Petit LeMans race at Road Atlanta was the season finale and involved a field of 38 cars.  Much electronic virtual ink has been spilled debating the merits or drawbacks of each class on its own and the relationship between the classes, but the mixture can make for exciting moments.

This shot was taken during first practice on Thursday and shows one of the GTLM Corvettes leading the #44 GTD Magnus Audi R8 and the #85 JDC Miller Motorsports Prototype Challenge entry.  The lens likely compresses the distance between the cars, but the actual margins between them were likely very tight given that the shot shows the trio having already turned in for the corner but nowhere near the Turn 10b exit.

For what its worth, the fan support for the Corvette program at the track was immense.  The Corvette car corral was huge.  Many of them participated in a parade lap.  The number was so large that the lead car was coming around at the end of their lap when the last cars were just pulling on the track to begin their lap.  Full credit to the fans and to Corvette for such great involvement and support.

Camera settings – 1/500 shutter speed, f/7.1, ISO 100, 420mm.  The key to the shot clearly was looking through the group to focus on the rear of the Corvette.

#31 Action Express Corvette Daytona Prototype Brushes the Gravel

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In the opening minutes of first practice on Thursday, the driver of the #31 Action Express Corvette Daytona Prototype misjudged his braking point coming up on the #70 Mazda.  The car didn’t spin, but the car got sideways and missed the corner apex.  Correcting required putting two wheels into the fringe of the gravel trap and kicking up some gravel, but the car carried on with no obvious damage.  The moment of excitement illustrates by spectators gather at Turn 10a.  It is also an example of a near-miss early in practice that might have been much more costly to two teams.

Camera Settings – 1/200 shutter speed, f/10, ISO 100, 420mm.  The shot clearly isn’t perfect.  A better pan might have resulted in a crisper car or gravel being scattered.  However, it is an example of being in the right place at the right time and quick enough to get a workable shot of the action.  These are the lessons that (hopefully) make for a better shot next time.

The #31 Action Express Corvette Daytona Prototype was driven by season regulars Eric Curran and Dane Cameron and joined for the race by very recently crowned Indycar champion Simon Pageneaud.  They finished fourth overall, just off the podium.

Turner BMW Climbs to Turn 11

IMSA Petit Le Mans Retrospective – 2 of 40

076a1020The uphill climb to Turn 11 under the bridge puts a premium on corner exit to set up the downhill run through Turn 12, across start/finish and to another passing opportunity into Turn 1.  The exit from Turn 10 (called 10b) is also relatively slower than many other corners on the track, giving spectators a good look.

The (relatively) slower speed, also creates a good opportunity for a panning shot.  If the photographer can move the camera and match the movement of the car, the car will be in focus while the background and foreground will be blurred.  This effect creates the sensation of the car’s movement.

Along with a steady hand, the key is shutter speed and choice of background.  Too fast, and the car is frozen on the track and looking like it was placed there as a static display and showing no signs of speed.  Too slow, and the odds of getting the shot diminish considerable.   In addition, a background with variation makes the most of the blurring effect.

The #97 Turner Motorsports BMW was driven by Markus Palttala and Michael Marsal with Cameron Lawrence joining for the endurance event (Lawrence’s name was added on roof near the windshield at some point before the race).  Unfortunately, contact with the #96 team car likely resulted in a difficult post-race debrief session for all involved.

Camera Settings – 1/200 shutter speed, f/10, ISO 100, 420mm.

Mazda Takes the Green Flag

Petit Le Mans Retrospective: 1 of 40

076a0960The first practice session is always a little bit like the first day of school.  So much effort happens before any action.  It takes a huge effort just to get to the track from the teams, drivers, spectators, officials, track staff, suppliers and other vendors.  There is work to prepare the cars from the last race and adjust for the upcoming race.  There are checklists, protocols, and procedures.   Getting a clean start to the race event in the first practice can easily set the tone.   Get a good start on the checklist and the team feels like is can methodically work towards the green flag.  Encounter a problem – regardless of fault or cause – and the damage is two-fold.  Not only does the issue need to be repaired and addressed (if possible), but the time spent is lost and is often measured in money, spares, lost track time, and late crew evenings.

The corner worker in the flagstand at Turn 10a waves the green to welcome the first practice lap of the event for the #55 Mazda Prototype driven by Jonathan Bomarito, Tristan Nunez and Spencer Pigot.  Sadly, the #55 didn’t finish the race due to an engine misfire.

Camera settings – 1/250 shutter speed, f/10, ISO 100, 420mm.

Every Picture Tells a Story…

The philosopher Rod Stewart once observed that “Every picture tells a story.”  That may be true, but there usually is more to a story than a picture shows.

We’re going to try an experiment in this little corner of the interweb.

Foraging through files from photos taken in the past, we’ll use them as little diaries.  Perhaps commentary will focus on the technical mechanics of taking the photo.  Perhaps they’ll talk more about the subject or the venue.

In some cases, the commentary may be more about the warts or missed opportunity than the “perfect shot”.

The theme will be primarily motorsports, but will likely touch on other topics if the mood strikes.

Copyright is reserved for all photos regardless of whether they bear a watermark.  Permission for use can be arranged.

As with anything, who knows how (or even whether) this will work out but we won’t know if we don’t try.  Hope you enjoy the ride.