No Matter the Age Passion Never Dies
Crack of dawn, cold and wet. The smell of high octane fuel and exhaust wafting through the air. Yes, my good friends. This was the start of the 2015 Vintage Grand Prix at my home track, Mid-Ohio. I woke up at 4am in order to make it to the track just before the opening events began. Let's get one thing straight though. I am not a morning person. Stay up all night? No probs. Even if I go to bed "early" I still just barely drag myself out of bed every morning. However, not this time. Oh no. Too much to see and experience!
It was a slow start to the day with rain coming and going through the morning, so I did most of my garage work during this period. I tried capturing a few of the wet qualifying sessions but the pace was very slow and there were just not many drivers willing to take the risk. I can understand given how much of these owner's collective money would be sliding around a wet, greasy track. The afternoon was a different story with the skies mostly opening up allowing the track to dry out.
Before we really dive in, I should take time to highlight the gear I used for the day. This was my first motorsport event after my recent transition to the Fuji X mirrorless side of things with a Fuji X-T1 and I must admit that I was a bit hesitant about how well it would perform under sports-like conditions. While running firmware version 3.0, it still performed beyond my expectations. I was hoping Fujifilm would release the fabled firmware 4.0 with the much improved autofocus system, amongst other goodies. But that only came the following Monday after the event. No worries! The kit did great for my needs. The Fuji X-T1 paired with the Fujinon XF 50-140mm F2.8 was a dream. Tack sharp at any focal length and aperture. Speedy-enough focus. *insert-drooling-photographer-fuji-fanboy-here*
Carrying this equipment for miles around the track and paddock was aided by a Think Tank Retrospective 5 in Pinestone for my main bag along with a Black Rapid Curve (RS-7) to handle the camera body and lens in use. I mounted the strap to the lens' metal tripod mount and moved the shoe mount to the right side of the lens. Worked great, but the strap did get in the way a bit with portrait orientation shots. I've been eyeing the Peak Design Slide strap as a potential replacement for the Black Rapid RS-7. Peak Design has some solid stuff.
So yeah, much of the morning consisted of capturing owners prepping their cars for the upcoming qualifying sessions in the garages and around the paddock. Each owner I spoke to had one thing on their mind - will the rain go away? I was hoping the same. Regardless though, many in each class group braved the weather in order to put in some qualifying laps for the races in the afternoon.
On the Track!
Now the real fun begins. The reason we're all here—to get out there and drive! This is where the Fujinon XF 50-140's focus speed and sharpness really shined, even with the slower autofocus on firmware 3.0. As I mentioned, had firmware 4.0 been released before the event I might have come home with quite a few more keepers by using the AF-C zone focus mode. But you work with whatcha got.
The racing got better as the track dried out from midday on. Speeds picked up as the bigger classes came out to play. My panning technique had to get its own warmup lap after a long time off as well. I'll finish this out with the final selection of images from the day.
All in all, it was a great day at Mid-Ohio mixing it up with the passionate owners of these beautiful vintage machines. Not one to keep their "precious" garaged and unused, these owners let the spirit of their cars live on out on the track.