When we lived in Chicago, I enjoyed taking trips to the various motor racing venues nearby. The move west has not taken away the options. There are two race tracks within easy reach. Sonoma Raceway is less than an hour from us and just over an hour and a half in the opposite direction is Laguna Seca. They were hosting a big race weekend and we decided to take in the final day.
The main race was a combination of two classes from previous years. American Le Mans and GT cars were in a new format this year and this was to be the prime event of a weekend of racing. There were also other support races taking part. We arrived mid-morning and the racing was already underway. A lower class race involving prototype and GT cars was in full swing and we settled down to watch some of the action.
I had not gone primarily to take pictures but I had taken along some gear. Shooting at race tracks is a mixed business. The best spots are usually in areas that are restricted and only accredited media are allowed in there. However, you can find good angles but just need longer lenses to get the shots. Sun on race tracks does tend to lead to heat haze so there is a limit on what you can get.
Add to this that the areas that get you closest to the track are well protected and you have fence to shoot through. There is nothing you can do about this. However, I did figure that going with as low a shutter speed as possible in these cases would tend to blur out a lot of the fencing and reduce its impact. However, a fence post will still be conspicuous in the shot and you have a low keeper rate given the shutter speeds and the pace with which they are passing you.
The thing with shooting motor sports is to try and emphasize the speed. There are some angles that look dynamic anyway but a lot of time, if the car is frozen, there is no impact to the shot. At least the wheels have to be blurred and preferably the background. It is always a compromise but it does make for some good challenges.
There were some interesting cars to be seen. Even as we walked to the stands, there was a lineup of a couple of dozen Ferraris. Quite a lot of money stored in that line. One of them was an Enzo. I have only seen those a couple of times. There was also a cool looking prototype car called the Deltawing. For some reason it did not start the race with the other cars so it spent the entire race working its way up through the field. It was certainly a curious looking beast.
The most famous part of the track is the Corkscrew. This is a ridge followed by a tight left-hander that drops down the side of the hill and cuts back right. It is a tricky turn and I imagine is quite something to do at speed. The layout of the hillside makes it a great place to watch the cars come by and we weren’t alone in stopping off there. A class of Lamborghinis was racing while there and they provided a lot of entertainment as there seemed to be some closely matched groups hounding each other around the circuit.
The place is great for watching racing and, even during a busy event, you never felt too crowded. Even walking through the paddock was a relaxed thing to do. They did open the hot pits ahead of the final race and that did look pretty jammed but we chose to head elsewhere ahead of the main race. I will definitely go back and would recommend it to anyone interested in motor racing and maybe even those who had not through they were. Our entire group had a great day.