As most of you know, as we’ve been working on wrapping up our 2008 content, we decided to put together “Photos of the Year” galleries from 2008. My first installment of this post had me picking my favorite photos posted by the other Speedhunters (or other photos that have appeared on our site). Just as the other Speedhunters have done, I put together this next gallery is going to showcase my favorite selections from my own work.
Above is a photo that I shot on our first ever Speedhunters trip this year. In April 2008, Rod, John Brooks and I traveled to Brooklands, which is hailed as the first motor racing circuit in the world. This photo has a lot of special importance to me, because as I pressed my cheek up against the cobbled stone surface of the famous Brooklands banking, I kept thinking… “Oh my God. Are you serious? I can’t believe I’m doing a photo shoot here in the UK, at the very first motor racing circuit in the world… I wonder what all my friends in LA are doing right now?” It was one of the first times it really hit me… how amazing this Speedhunters project is, and how lucky we have all been to be part of it. From the first time Rod and I began brainstorming ideas for the site (SEMA November 2007), to the initial roll out… it was at that point that it hit me. I thought, “Damn, this is all happening for real. And just look at that awesome light on the pavement while the sun’s rising. I better hurry, the light will be too bright in just a minute!”
For me, this was truly one of those moments in your life that takes your breath away. Amazing.
Both times I was in the UK this year, I kept thinking, “dang, I wish I could go to one of those ProDrift events – I heard they have a bunch of Corollas and Starlets and cars that I like out in Ireland!” While I haven’t gotten the chance to visit Ireland yet (and now that I’ve seen the No Reservations Ireland episode, I totally wanna go!), I was very happy to see one of the top ProDrift AE86s out at the Red Bull World Drift Championships (they need to pick a shorter name for that, seriously)… and super happy to have captured this image.
As the sun burned through all the Southern Cali wildfire smoke (tons of fires all over Southern Cali that weekend), I noticed the dark, ashy smoke clouds were turning a weird reddish color. It was surreal… it was like the end of the world as you see it in movies. Wow, imagine that… the end of the world, and I’m out at a drift event. Anyway, I wish Mr O’sullivan’s front bumper was on, which would have made this pic even cooler! But oh well, that’s real drifting for ya. This wasn’t from some movie set.
I used a pop of flash to freeze the car with crisp logos, in combination with a longer shutter speed, to get the background blur.
This photo is from the D1GP Round at Ebisu Circuit this year. This event had the most difficult shooting conditions of any event I’ve ever shot in my whole life. The rain was coming down in buckets, and the pit area was completely soaked. In fact, there was a river running through the pit area of Ebisu’s South Course that day, because South Course sits downhill (right underneath the School Course), and all the water from the top of the mountain apparently flows through the pit area! They need a gutter system!
Anyway, as I stood outside and the pouring rain drenched my shoes, jeans, wallet, cellphone, and cameras… I was completely awestruck by how fast Kumakubo was drifting in the crazy rain! It was hydroplane city out there, and he was still running fast and coming close to the wall! Just look at this huge trail of WATER instead of the smoke you normally see…
No special photography tricks were necessary when I was shooting this incredible looking RPS13 at Koguchi Power in Tochigi Japan. This car speaks for itself. And it’s Koguchi’s girlfriend’s car! Damn!!! This is what a 180 should look like! So simple, I decided to just let the lens capture it in its raw state. I love it.
This shoot took place on New Year’s day, two years ago. Wow, exactly two years! I think the San Francisco background on this photo is what makes it more than just a normal car photo. Not to mention the location. A no-shoulder bridge over the freeway isn’t necessarily the safest nor the most legal place to park a car in the middle of the night.
This photo takes me back… this is from an early Drift Day event. Back in those days, the only street car I had was my kouki AE86, with SSR Mark III wheels. And I was shooting with a Canon 10D!!! LOL!!! This photo (and many of the early photos in my book, Drifting, were taken with an old school Canon 10D! Can you believe that?! Haha!
This goes out to all those who attended and supported these early drifting events! Days like this are what started it all.
It’s no secret.I just lovvvvvvvvvve me some All Star Bash. And I love the violence in this photo! RPS13 screeching, kicking up dirt and rocks at Horse Thief Mile! Love it. Ziptied/Just Drift ASB is the best. Actually, come to think of it, I’m not even registered on Ziptied. Don’t you need some sort of special approval or something to sign up for Ziptied? Is it like Fight Club or what?
Samuel Hubinette in deep concentration at Formula D Atlanta 2008. This is a view that most Formula D fans don’t get to see, especially from the stands. Here’s Samuel in fight mode. Focus on your goals and you can achieve them.
Here’s Henry Chan’s Instant Gentleman S13 at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor. It sure would be an honor to drive a car with stance like this! Check out the statue of The Thinker in the background… it signifies that having stance like this takes careful thought and planning! This was definitely one of the most popular features on the Speedhunters site, and one of my favorite photo shoots of the year.
Here’s a photo from my last trip to the Pike’s Peak International Hillclimb in Colorado. I didn’t get to go this year, but I posted this gallery up from a previous trip. Just look at the cool scenery as this WRX STi accelerates past the Devil’s Playground portion of the track. Shooting photos and braving the cold and high altitude was definitely an unforgettable experience.
I’m sure by now, everyone who reads Speedhunters knows of the infamous Magician crew – the Chiba Japan-based bayside sliders with super mean four door drift style. These guys (and girls) have so much style; they’re like the modern day Japanese version of the super cool hot rod crews I saw at the Mooneyes Irwindale show. I loved shooting at the MSC event at Honjyo Circuit… triple tandem four doors with big smoke. That’s what’s up. Only from Speedhunters.
Successful triple tandem drifting photos with cars close together, headlights on, and big smoke will make any photographer look like a hero, as long as it’s in focus! Thanks, Magician! That was an exciting day, and I consider myself lucky to see it in person, and capture it in still photo format.
This is definitely one of my favorite photos from the 24H race at Spa-Francorchamps this year. For some reason I thought this Aston Martin looked kind of moody sitting in the pits, all quiet and menacing like that, while the rest of the pit row was rushing all around. This event was so incredible for me… it was my first time in Belgium, so I was trying to soak in all the sights and sounds of the place. Such a famous race track, it felt pretty surreal when I thought, “wow this is my first time in Belgium… and I’m standing in the pit lane at Spa!”
This Aston Martin was probably my favorite car in the event… I just love everything about it. Sexy silver with orange accents, very classy. And those monstrous huge wheels with death grip tires… watching and hearing this Aston slice its way through Spa was just amazing.
Another one of my favorites from Spa 24H… walking through the extremely busy pit area at Spa Francorchamps was amazing. I wish this photo could transmit the sounds and smell of this place, it was amazing. The distinct aroma of race tires, high octane fuel, and rich exhausts wafted through the air… while cars whizzed by on the straight (just to my right), producing a high tech symphony of throaty individual throttle bodies and high pitched exhaust notes, mixed with the loud sound of downshifting engines and high pitched squeaking of massive race brakes resonating off walls of the pit garages.
Being at this event is special because you’re watching the gorgeous Belgian countryside, with incredible high tech race cars flying past you with sounds of laser guns and light sabers; the cars of FIA GT do not sound like normal cars. They sound like the future; they sound like technology.
Here’s another of my favorite photos from our Speedhunters 2008 trip to Germany. This was taken from the top of the corkscrew at the Porsche Leipzig Test Track. I do like the image of this 1973 911 Carrera RS photographically (and I can remember the awesome sound of the mechanical carburetors, exhaust, and squealing tires as it rounded the corners of the corkscrew at speed), but to me, this photo signifies an awesome weeklong experience.
That week, we drove the Autobahn as fast as our rented car could take us (while bumping an odd mix of Amy Winehouse, Duffy, Kanye West, Gabriela Cilmi and NWA’s F the Police…?), got lost through the backroads leading to Leipzig Germany, and carefully approached the huge funnel shaped tower of the Porsche Customer Center with humble amazement… we got to meet Porsche’s top racing engineer (the legendary Norbert Singer) and marketing executives in Germany, then had dinner with them on the waterfront terrace of an amazing Italian restaurant on the river (yes, the Italian food in Germany is incredible), complete with gondolas on the pier. Then our Porsche contacts gave us a tour of their private museum, took us to eat some authentic German food on the Porsche campus, then allowed me to drive a 530hp Porsche 911 GT2?!
That was an accounting of my “work week” in Germany. And this photo (above) brings me back to that.
Bringing it back to the USA, I’d have to say that photographically, my favorite Formula D event this year was the one at Englishtown New Jersey’s Raceway Park. The stunning elevation changes and shooting positions pretty much turned every photographer into a hero, if they shot it correctly. I mean, I think it was pretty hard to get bad photos at E-town. The sights behind the scenes were my favorite… here’s the JIC team at the top of the hill next to the grid… changing out tires before my boy Tyler McQuarrie got ready to kill it in the JIC Porsche. I absolutely loved seeing this car out on the track. I hope that JIC finds a way to bring it out to Formula D competition again.
This has got to be one of my favorite photos on the site as well… I wanted to make the cars and background look like they were almost artificial, like they were toys on a set. I was privileged to be one of the first people to drive a Nissan 370Z, only a few days after it was officially unveiled at the LA Auto Show. This new 370Z was important to Nissan, as they were debuting a new body style Z that has styling cues that reflect the older S30 Z’s body lines. Since we’re big fans of vintage cars at Speedhunters, I felt it would be only fitting to bring the 370Z out and shoot it with a 240Z. After all, this was something I hadn’t previously seen in other magazines or websites… and with Nissan placing such an importance on the new 370 echoing the 240Z’s lines, I felt that we might as well beat others to the punch.
Big thanks to my friends Ben and Dan Hsu from Japanese Nostalgic Car Magazine, and to our friends Fred Jordan and Kay Milton from the Datsun Museum for their help in making this shoot happen!
One of my favorite photos and stories of the year HAD to be the one about the Legend of Nakai. Rauh Welt has been getting a ton of attention from readers of Speedhunters (and Mike’s Auto Otaku blog before that). It was so cool to be able to finally MEET the guy who popularized everything that I love about Japanese drifting car style. Damn!
No special tricks in this photo, I think just capturing the image of the stern faced Nakai san driving on Japanese city streets with his super mean looking Rauh Welt Porsche is enough.
Last but not least, this photo of Brian La Fuente’s Lexus LS430 was one of my favorite images posted this year. I love the color and the downtown LA backdrop. Anyway, that’s where I’m headed later tonight… Downtown LA and Hollywood are gonna be fun tonight! New Year’s Eve!!!