The Avants event at Chateau Ste. Michelle had some very high end hypercars on display. A Ferrari Enzo or a La Ferrari might seem like they are the best. How about a McLaren Senna? Seems like the best huh? That might be true but the one next to them was the one I really was taken with. I am not a big Porsche fan. I don’t have a problem with Porsches but I have never been taken with them in the way some have. However, I make an exception for the Carrera GT. That is a car that seems to be special and the end of an era of car types. I recall seeing one on the streets in Chicago and being blown away. Consequently, when I saw this one next to the more recent high end creations, I was really excited. It is a great looking car and something more traditional in the way it is designed. It was also super expensive when it was new. Of course, if you want one now, it is even more expensive!
Tons of Porsches show up at Exotics@RTC. There are more 911s than you can shake a stick at an I am not someone that is terribly au fait with Porsche models anyway so I can tell which ones are which. Rather than focus on the latest ones, I am often looking out for some of the older versions that show up. The late eighties had some beefy 911s like to Turbo and something like that would be good to see.
You also get some more vintage versions of the marque popping in and these are always worth a look. The standard of care/restoration is usually very impressive and, while the Porsche guys will be checking the cars out, they don’t get the same level of interest as the Ferraris and Lambos across the parking lot.
When a museum has a wide variety of vehicles to look at, it seems a bit cheesy to spend too much time looking at the modern supercars. It feels a bit like being a kid with a picture of a Countach on the wall. However, supercars are pretty cool and worthy of a look. On the main floor of America’s Car Museum, there were a few pretty great looking cars.
Ferrari were well represented with some lovely looking modern motors as well as a Testarossa. That car took me back to the 80s. An Aston Martin was also there along with a Lamborghini Aventador which was pretty special. Porsche was also well covered. A 918 first caught my eye but I was quickly drawn away by a Carrera GT. This was only the second example I had seen. (The first was actually driving along Wacker Drive in Chicago, something that would make me very nervous in a car that expensive!)
Weekends are a great time for coming across events that you had no idea about. Our jaunt to Sonoma for the long weekend yielded just such an event when the local Porsche Club showed up in the town square to show off their cars. Nancy had a few things she wanted to see that left me a bit of time to wander around. It wasn’t a huge turnout but the quality of what was there was impressive. The majority of the vehicles were 911s of varying vintage but there were some 928s and a 924 or two. Some Cayennes also showed up but that seemed like cheating to me!’
The owners were generally happy to discuss their cars and what they had done to them. They also didn’t mind the occasional photograph being taken. A number of the cars caught my eye but two are worthy of a special mention. One is the restored racer in a metallic blue which was in beautiful condition and had an interesting racing history.
The other was a 911. The name for this type varies depending on your country but back in the UK they were known as Flat Noses. I wasn’t sure that I had ever seen one other than in a magazine so was really pleased to see it. I am not particularly a Porsche guy (not that I am any brand of car specific to be fair) but I do appreciate a nice car of any sort and these certainly counted. Given that Sonoma has a fairly healthy number of people of means, I had hoped a Carrera GT might be there but sadly not. Only seen one of those before and that was driving down a street in Chicago – a brave thing to do with a vehicle that valuable!
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.