THE WEATHERTECH® INTERNATIONAL CHALLENGE WITH BRIAN REDMAN PRESENTED BY HAWK (VINTAGE CARS)
Words and Photos by: Andrew Smith
Last year I went to Road America for the VSCDA Vintage Festival. I remember seeing photos from some of the most amazing vintage cars belting around the track and rolling through the small town of Elkhart Lake. While the VSCDA event was still a blast and I got some awesome shots, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. After doing some research and talking with a few people, I found out that the vintage weekend you wanted to go to was the Brian Redman weekend. So this past winter, we checked the schedule and put the WeatherTech International Challenge on the calendar. As the weekend approached, I was excited to see what kind of cars ended up in town throughout the weekend.
Initially we had planned on only heading up Saturday for the races and then the parade, however after texting my buddy Ramon, he informed me that the downtown “car show” and parade was actually Friday night, not Saturday night. A quick text to my co-pilot for the weekend and we decided a last minute trip up there Friday night was in store as well. I got out of work at 5:00 and we quickly headed up to Elkhart lake. Unfortunately we missed the parade into town, but we did get to walk around downtown and get a close up look at many of the vintage race cars.
As it was getting late and we still had a hour ride home, we started to walk back out of town to our car. The plan was to catch a spot at the end of the parade route and watch the race cars head back to the track.
The site of vintage Can Am race cars slowly cruising down the street of a small town like Elkhart Lake was breathtaking. Sitting alongside the road, your chest was compressed by the side exit exhausts and massive cylinders.
As the parade ended, we walked back to the car to start our trek home. Knowing that we would be heading right back up in about 9 hours, we chatted about our future car plans and relaxed on the drive home.
The next day we awoke early and headed back up to Road America. We parked by carousel corner, and I set up at the exit to Turn 8 excited to try out my new 300mm F2.8 prime! While I have shot at Road America with longer lenses longer than my 300mm, I havent shot with anything that could isolate the subject quite as well as the 2.8. I struggled with learning how to shoot a large prime on a monopod, but I started to get the hang of it.
After testing out my new 70-200mm VR II lens, I switched back to the 300mm and we headed to the outside of Turn 7 to sit in the bleachers and relax while watching the qualifying races.
It was at this point where my dreams came true. This same F1 car had been at the previous vintage weekend that I went to, but I didnt have a decent camera at that event. I was hoping all weekend to get a chance to shoot a few photos of the F1 cars.
To try and get some variety in my shots, I decided to see how slow I could get with my panning. This was shot at 1/200 handheld. And my 300mm F2.8 is not a VR model as well! Not bad for my first time I think! Although i was a little too close on this particular shot.
After seeing the F1 cars, we decided it was time for the most important part of the trip, a Gearbox melt. Basically it is a grilled cheese sandwich with a burger patty in the middle. Add some jalapenos, onions, and BBQ sauce and you have the greatest sandwich ever. After lunch, we headed to Canada corner, my personal favorite. I love shooting through the trees and using them to frame the cars on the track.
This was one of the coolest cars the entire weekend. This is a true JGTC (Japanese Grand Touring) car from Japan. It was purchased from Nissan directly. Initally it had a 3.0 liter VQ engine that is not currently in it. Plans are to get the car built back up to as close to race spec as possible and race it here next year.
After the last race, we headed for one more lap through the pits to see if there was anything else going on. Most people had already headed out, so it was pretty much dead. We got some pretty good access.
And then we headed home. Overall the day was everything I thought it would be and more. I had ample opportunity to try my new 300mm F2.8 lens, hang out with a few friends, and see some of the coolest race cars throughout history.