Vintage Car Racing Photography

The Art of Vintage Car Racing Photography

Image 5. Chevron #8

Chevron #8
Track: Sears Point Sonoma
  • Location: Turn ten
  • Camera: Nikon
  • Lens: 3.5/5.6 200/500 mm – Polarizing filter
  • ISO: 1400
  • Shutter Speed: 1/400 second
  • Aperture: f8
  • Monopod: Yes

Image Notes:

Late afternoon backlight. Here the car is flat across the track with the camera perhaps a little too high for maximum impact.


Image 6. McLaren Can-Am

McLaren Can-Am
Track: Laguna Seca Monterey
  • Location: Over the hill approaching turn 6
  • Camera: Nikon
  • Lens: f4 400
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter Speed: 1/800 second
  • Aperture: f11
  • Monopod: Yes

Image Notes:

This McLaren Can-Am is captured at mid-day. Even mid-day, if your careful and plan out your images, you can capture interesting light on the right cars. Can-Am cars have so many curves and planes that they often excel in the worst of light. Notice how different the light is between this image #6 and the Maserati 250F image #4.


Image 7. BMW 3.5 CSL engine

BMW 3.5 CSL engine
Track: Laguna Seca Monterey
  • Location: Paddock
  • Camera: Nikon
  • Lens: f1.4 50mm
  • ISO: 250
  • Shutter Speed: 1/250
  • Aperture: f11
  • Monopod: Handheld

Image Notes:

Keep looking for that unique paddock image. After I took this image, I stood talking to the car’s crew chief for thirty minutes or so. Not one person raised their camera to get an image of this piece of art.


Image 8. HWM Formula Car

HWM Formula Car
Track: Laguna Seca
  • Location: Turn two
  • Camera: Nikon
  • Lens: 3.5/5.6 200/500mm with a polarizing filter
  • Racked to 500mm
  • ISO: 6400
  • Shutter Speed: 1/750 second
  • Aperture: f10
  • Monopod: yes

Image Notes:

The fog is clearing, leaving a soft, overcast light. I wanted to compress cars with the front driver sharp and others falling into soft focus. When viewing a full-frame hi-res file of this image, you can see the threads on the front suspension bolts.


Image 9. Shadow F1

Shadow F1
Track: Laguna Seca
  • Location: turn 2
  • Camera: Nikon
  • Lens: 3.5/5.6 200/500mm with a polarizing filter.
  • Racked to: 200mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter Speed: 1/100 second
  • Aperture: f9
  • Monopod: yes

Image Notes:

“Slow” shutter speed to capture the speed/motion of the Masters F1 cars. Oversteering as he exits turn two. The front tires are turned into the camera—soft, overcast light. Keeping the focus curser on the driver’s helmet kept him sharp with nose and tail blueing from the speed.


Image 10. Penske MARCH F1

Penske MARCH F1
Track: Laguna Seca
  • Location: Turn 2
  • Camera: Nikon
  • Lens: f3.5/5.6 200/500mm
  • Racked to: 200mm
  • ISO: 280
  • Shutter Speed: 1/250 second
  • Aperture: f9
  • Monopod: yes

Image Notes:

Here motion comes from a “Cross Pan” the car in front is going from left to right, so the pan is going left to right following the car, The car in the back is moving right to the left against the pan, building its speed blur even though the shutter speed is set at a moderate fast 1/250 second. Again a late day soft light to build detail in the car.


Image 11. MARCH F1

MARCH F1
Track: Laguna Seca
  • Location: Turn 2
  • Camera: Nikon
  • Lens: f2.8 70/200mm with a polarizing filter
  • Racked out to 170mm
  • ISO: 180
  • Shutter Speed: 1/80 second
  • Aperture: f11
  • Monopod: yes

Image Notes:

I spent some time establishing the background and discovering how it would play out in the early afternoon light with a soft overcast to smooth out the shadows. The slower shutter speed tends to combine the texture/colors of the background into one smooth surface. The same happens with the reflections off the track’s pavement.