For the past 35 years, the sound of racing engines has reverberated throughout the streets of Long Beach in southern California. The Long Beach Grand Prix is the longest running street race in the USA and any motorsports fan who has attended the race will attest that it’s a world class automotive event.
This is the second year that I’ve attended the LBGP. Both times, my primary reason for attending has been to see the American Le Mans race, not the open wheel cars…. In fact, I’ve yet to see an Indy car race in person…. I always leave the event as soon as the sports car race is done. Perhaps next time I’ll have to stay on, to get a sense of Indy Car racing.
My main focus at this year’s LBGP, was to creative direct a film production that NFS is doing about the BMW M3 GT2 and Tommy Milner… it’s certainly a weekend I’ll never forget!
Even if you don’t have the inside line on a racing team, it’s possible to get up close to all the ALMS cars. The best time to do this is just before a practice session. Around fifteen minutes before the start time, cars and drivers and pit crews will line up near the exit of the ALMS paddock area.
There is no restriction on people intermingling with race drivers and team members as they get ready to go on track….. So if you want to reach out and touch your favourite ALMS car, this is the time to do so :>
You know, I’ve seen top line European Sports and GT racing at classic venues like Le Mans, Spa-Francorchamps, Silverstone and Donington Park, and was a little skeptical at first if these types of machines would work well on a street circuit like Long Beach. Their natural playgrounds are big, high-speed racing circuits, not small, claustrophobic city blocks…. But the Long Beach GP circuit is big and wide enough that the cars can let loose to get some proper speed going.
The Corvette C6R is a pretty viciously loud racing car to begin with, but just imagine the racket it makes thundering under overpasses and next to apartment blocks!! I’m sure the sound carries for many miles in all directions.
Hey, so I’ve been experimenting with different camera techniques to try and develop some motorsports photography skills…. Remember, this is only my third time shooting racing…. I find that slow shutter shots help to convey the sense of speed that you experience trackside. The Falken Porsche is flashing past literally only a couple feet away from me and I think this shot works well in conveying the speed and proximity.
Here’s the BMW in the same corner…. this is the inside of Turn 1, and the car has just finished braking from 150 odd mph to nail the first apex. What is cool about the Long Beach GP is that the average spectator can also get very close to this same position too! If you want to experience the thrill of getting right next to the racing action, then visiting this race is a must.
This next shot was taken next to the Fountain — a roundabout with…. you guessed it… a big water feature in the middle. Here one can see the cars hoppng the curb and brushing up against the poor hedge…. We also got a shot of this hedge destruction at 120 FPS slow motion with one of Spitfire Film’s Red cameras….
…. The Fountain seemed to be a pretty popular spot with the motorsports photographers. There definitely was some jostling going on for access to the photo holes. We managed to squeeze our video camera into one of the slots, but not without annoying a few of the photographers. Sorry guys!
It’s a pretty nice vantage point from this photo hole though… You can see the cars zigzagging their way directly towards the camera lens…. BTW you like the headlights on the Farnbacher Loles Porsche?
The headlights on the Flying Lizard cars are also pretty cool… They seem quite futuristic.
I was pretty impressed with the sight of the new Acura P1 cars. They obviously have gobs of grip from their unique wide tire set-up. It’s just a shame there is no one to race against them. I hope that the ALMS can make a recovery for next year and get the numbers up again in the prototype classes.
The Risi Competizione Ferrari originally qualified on pole in the GT2 class, but was put to the back of the grid after the car was found to be running too low. Are any of you guys fans of this type Ferrari race car? Personally they don’t do it for me, not sure why…
Myself and the film crew from Spitfire Films spent a lot of the weekend hanging out at the back of the BMW Garages. They were kind enough to give us a little area to plant our camera gear. This is one of the Panasonic HVX Cameras outfitted with a 35MM film lens adaptor.
The two Red Cameras were reconfigured slightly to be more manageable for hand held shooting. The film crews had to lug these bulky HD cameras all the way around the track, which was not too easy, especially in the hot California weather…
We also rigged up BMW driver Tommy Milner with a POV camera for both off and on-track activities. I’ve had a look his in-car HD footage and it’s pretty stellar!… You’ll see soon enough…. :>
On Friday afternoon, the BMW team conducted a question-answer session with their drivers at the Rahal Letterman Racing paddock area. With their matching hats and blacked out sun glasses, it’s a little hard to distinguish the BMW drivers from one another, but I’m pretty sure the guy holding the mic is Joey Hand…. In the BG, Milner has removed his Baseball-cap-cam…. Guess it would haved looked a bit too silly in fan photos :>
For the moment, the BMW team are understandably relunctant to allow photos under the skin with their new M3 race car… We were getting a little demanding with all the HD video camera mounts on the car, so I didn’t want to push my luck asking to shoot the engine and the transaxle. We’ll try and present this material for you for BMW month in September though….
OK, more Long Beach GP stories soon! In the meantime I need to clean out my email inbox.
Talk in a bit…