Tag Archives: automobiles

AMG Mercedes Fins and Strakes

I was taking a look at one of the AMG Mercedes cars that was at Exotics@RTC.  This is a road car but it has clearly gone through a lot of aerodynamic development.  The front end of the car is covered in aero treatments with fin and strakes of all sorts.  I have no idea how important this is for driving the car around Seattle but it was really quite something.  I spent a few minutes just looking at them and thinking back to my aero days.

SOVREN Spring Sprints

It wasn’t terribly long ago that I became away of a motor racing circuit not too far from home.  The Pacific Raceway is down near Kent and is about 40 minutes from home if the traffic is moving normally (by which I mean moving and not bogged down with traffic which might seem normal sometimes).  With one of the early events of the year coming up, I decided to pay it a visit.  I was planning on shooting for a friend’s website but they limited media credentials to those that had shot there before due to a shortage of staff.

No matter.  I figured I would go down anyway and shoot from the public viewing areas.  As it happened, this suited the friend as he needed some material for an article on anyone shooting motor racing for the first time.  The event was the SOVREN Spring Sprints.  I got down there at lunchtime on the Saturday after visiting the opening event of Exotics@RTC.  There was nothing happening when I got there and it turned out that there had been a fatal accident during one of the sessions.  After a little waiting around, it was announced that there would be nothing further that day and they would start the following day.

I headed home and came back the following morning.  A few of the competitors had gone home after the Saturday so the field was a bit reduced but there was still plenty to see.  There were very few spectators so it was easy to go wherever I wanted in the public areas.  The best shooting locations are on the south side of the course but that is only accessible with credentials.

The variety of vehicles was great.  Plenty of single seaters but also lots of road cars modified for track racing.  I am not familiar with all of the classes of car racing but I just get to enjoy watching them blasting around the course.  I wandered from place to place to try different shots.  The light was not ideal with backlighting for a large part of the day.  I was messing around with low shutter speeds which, with the speeds they are at and how close you can be to the track, resulted in a lot of blurry images.  You get parallax issues that close as well so deciding which bit of the car is sharp to be an acceptable shot is a bit of a taste issue.

The entry to the track from the paddock area is by a stand so I would often sit on the ground but the entry point as the cars drove in.  It made for a slightly different view of the cars but the backgrounds can get pretty busy.  I also went up in to the stands to get some shots looking down.  The barriers could sometimes be a hindrance but they do have some platforms at ground level to get you close to the track which is handy.

I probably was being too aggressive on the shutter speeds which meant lots of useless shots but, to be fair, it was a day for playing around and, as long as you get some shots out of it, does it matter?  I was getting a little tired in the afternoon and then realized, I wasn’t shooting for anyone else so I was free to leave if I wanted.  Therefore, I decided to head off home.  I took one more pass through the paddock area shooting people working on their cars or just hanging out and then I called it a day.  I will aim to be back for some of the upcoming events, though.

Exotics Starts Its 2022 Season

After two aborts due to bad weather forecasts, the Exotics@RTC season finally kicked off in April.  The first event of the year is always a popular one with both those displaying their cars and those coming out to see them.  I was keen to be there and didn’t have a conflict so got ready early and headed down to Redmond.  It was a full showing.  They had the center of the shopping mall filled with cars as is the case for the special days – normal weekends are confined to the parking lots – and it was interesting to see what cars had a lot of attention.

Some of the more special cars are often there and don’t get so many people looking at them.  I find it strange that a Ferrari F40 elicits so little attention.  Even the Senna wasn’t getting too many people around it.  With so many exotic vehicles, I guess there is plenty to look at.  A few of the cars I saw on this day will get their own posts because they deserve it.  However, this will be a selection of the views and cars available that day.

The Supercar That Kind Of Wasn’t

One of the more interesting vehicles (among a ton of interesting vehicles) at the Avants event in Woodinville was a Jaguar XJ220.  This was something that was developed in the early 90s and was supposed to be a big impact in the super car world.  Intended to get to about 200mph (which it almost did), it was a huge vehicle with a twin turbocharged V6 engine (not the V12 which was originally considered).  It was long, wide and very fast.  It was also very expensive costing something like GBP400k at the time.

Unfortunately for it, the super car market took a bit of a dive at that time with the economy not being great.  Also, McLaren introduced the F1 which was fast and light.  (It also did not seem terribly well because of the same market conditions but did turn a small profit when the racing versions were sold.)  Production of the XJ220 never reached the intended numbers and the unsold vehicles at the end of the line ultimately were sold for some pretty low prices.  It just didn’t really arrive at the right time.

It is a hell of a car to see in person.  It is very big.  The width of the vehicle head on is impressive but the length of it is something else.  It also seems quite unusual compared to more modern cars in that the wheels are a long way in from each end of the car.  The wheels themselves are strange too with quite a small wheel compared to the tire unlike a modern super car with low profile tires.  It’s a shame that it never really had the impact that was intended but it was cool to see one out on display.

Avants at Chateau Ste. Michelle

I was chatting with one of my neighbors and he mentioned a car event coming up at Chateau Ste. Michelle, a local winery.  This event was arranged by Avants and was a selection of exotic and unusual cars on display in the grounds of the winery along with wine and food to enjoy.  Sounded interesting and Nancy was keen to try it out so we got ourselves tickets.  On the day, the weather started out looking pretty bad but, since the event started in the afternoon, we decided to see how things turned out.  As it was, the day became overcast but basically dry so it worked out fine.  I’m not sure whether it actually reduced the number of people there or not but it felt busy but not crowded.

Exotics@RTC will provide a bunch of unusual cars but this had some very special vehicles and was definitely worth going to.  I am going to have some specific posts on some of the vehicles but this is more of a general overview of what we saw.  The cars were spread out across the lawns so were not crowded together.  Also, while there were people around most of the time, the cars were often clear of visitors if you were trying to get a shot – even when it came to some of the most unusual vehicles.

There was wine from the winery to purchase as you walked around (assuming you hadn’t bought the more expensive tickets with packages of wine and food) and you could order food.  However, the food options were not that impressive and didn’t seem to fit with the nature of the event.  That would be my only complaint with the event as a whole.  Whether you wanted race cars, hyper cars, vintage sports cars or even more unusual vehicles from Europe, there was something to see.  Nancy is not a car person but she certainly enjoyed looking at the beautiful styling of some of the vehicles (and the quirky styling of others).

Vintage BMW Style

When I go to Exotics@RTC, I just enjoy the vehicles and occasionally know something about them.  Most of the time, I don’t know much about them at all.  Some of my friends are far more knowledgeable about cars than I am and they can recognize what is significant and what is not or even what is genuine and what is not.  I don’t have that knowledge.  Instead, I see something that appeals to me or doesn’t.

German day, earlier this summer, included a vintage BMW.  This car looked like the sort of thing that would have appeared in old movies.  The sweeping lines of the car, the suicide doors, the shape of the windows – all of these just looked really elegant to me.  This was a car that had a certain something and I was drawn to it.  The fact it got a central position in the display must suggest it was not an average vehicle but I don’t know why.  Maybe some of you will instantly recognize it and point out I was looking at something amazing or something decidedly average!

Off Road Style

More from Exotics@RTC with this one, a Pinzgauer.  This was a beast of a vehicle.  Looking at it the idea of Paris-Dakar sprang to mind.  It looked like it would be capable of taking on any number of adventures.  It’s entirely possible that the owner doesn’t go further afield than local car meets but maybe they really do put it to the test.  Either way, it was quite a cool looking vehicle.  From what I understand, this is an early generation of the vehicle and, while they were sold to militaries around the world, they were also sold to the civilian market.  A newer generation came along but this is the older version.  Production has stopped at this point.

Liquid Carbon GT40

This car was getting a ton of attention at one of the Exotics@RTC meets.  It actually took me a while to realize that it was a Ford GT40.  It was called Liquid Carbon and was carbon fiber everywhere.  I don’t know how much a normal GT40 is carbon fiber, but I didn’t think it was too much.  This was very different.  Everything from the body panels to the wheels was carbon.  It was quite an impressive looking machine.  I imagine it takes a lot of weight out of the car.  No doubt it also takes a lot of weight out of your wallet.

Getting Rid of the Visitors at Exotics@RTC

This was not something I really made a proper effort at during a visit to Exotics@RTC but I did have a brief go just to see how things might work out.  With all of the lovely looking cars on show, there are plenty of people checking them out all of the time.  This does mean the chances of getting a shot without someone in it are limited.  I figured I might play around with using a bunch of shots and Photoshop to blend out the people and get left with the cars.

To do a good job of this I really could use a tripod to keep the shot identical and take way more photos than I did to give the algorithms something to work with.  However, I didn’t have the tripod and wasn’t too keen on staying in exactly the same position for ages trying to hold the camera in place, so this was always destined to be a feeble effort.  With limited data, people aren’t going to vanish but become ghostly.  Added to that is that a few people were chatting with friends for ages so didn’t move much at all during the time I was shooting.  They clearly were not going to disappear.  Still, it was a good thing to play with and might encourage a more planned approach next time.

I Learned Something About Karmann Ghias

The Karmann Ghia is a vehicle that I have known of since childhood.  A teacher at my primary school had a white example and it looked amazing to me as a small boy.  They turn up at car event pretty regularly and I occasionally see one out on the road.  However, I was caught out at Exotics@RTC recently when I saw another car parked next to a Karmann Ghia that was also badged with that name.  I had to google it when I came home and found out that there was a different platform used for a newer design during the 1960s.  These are apparently known as the Type 34 whereas the original version is the Type 14.  I had no idea until this visit.  I guess that makes my excursion and educational exercise.