The Rough Draft

If you can't go through it. Go around it.

As far as days at the track go, it could have gone better.  Compared to the Vintage Race weekend we attended a few weeks ago, attendance was a bit sparse.  I wasn’t aware it was the inaugural event.  The turnout was sparse at best.  By sparse I mean thirteen cars in the main display area and maybe six cars actually out doing laps on the track.  However if all you need to do laps is a helmet and a racing suit, I can see some purchases being made for next year’s event but I’ll get to that in a bit.

I like Motorsport get together events for a couple of reasons.  One, you’re probably going to see some cool and or rare stuff (and even with only thirteen vehicles on the display line, this event did not disappoint).  Two, you’ll meet some interesting characters.  Three, regardless of the turnout there still a chance you’re going to get that, “Shot of the day.”  Otherwise known as, “The shot you didn’t know you had until you’re working your way through the post production later.

To be frank, I need that particular shot.  This week started with my external hard drive, the one with three years of captures on it, decided to cack out completely.  Lucky for me the bulk of the good shots are in the cloud on my Smugmug account but even though they are full size, they are .jpg files, my RAW data is gone forever.  So I’m done with the big drives.  I’ve had two fail on me and I’ve lost a lot of past work in the process.  My smaller drives seem to tick along just fine, so I’ll be sticking to them from now on.  Ultimately I’d go solid state but the pricing isn’t quite there yet.  So yeah, it was a shitty way to start the week, compounded by the failure of my desktop computer a day later.Lucky for me, that just turned out to be a burnt out power supply.  Sixty bucks later and we’re back in business.  I’ll be looking at a newer system in the Fall, right now there isn’t the cash for me to upgrade what I’ve got but really, other than storage, it’s fine.

For the bulk of the shots today, I’m using my workhorse lens, my 17-70mm  f2.8 – 4.0 Sigma.  Because of the level of light, I slapped on a my variable ND filter and set it about three stops down.  I think it did a pretty good job of knocking the highlights out.

The first gentleman I talked to was the owner of this Velocette. The blue is a custom color but seeing as he save this bike and its sister from the scrap pile and brought them back to life as racing bikes no less is cool all by itself.

Here’s the sister, also resurrected from the dead.

Even with steering dampening….

I love the exhaust.

This was the car beside the bikes. It’s an ice racer currently on slicks. It was bloody fast round the track.

This is an 02 Mini Cooper S powerplant. Mine’s an 03. He’s done a few mods to his engine. All stuff that gives you ideas, though we did talk about how the standard ready power is plenty. Being able to get your HP from 163 up into the 250 range would be… interesting.

Though there isn’t a millimeter to spare in this fully tricked out Original Mini. This one is actually a Rover version and not a Cooper Works modified, though you’d be hard pressed to tell.

So this would be the rare. Bedford made a ton of large trucks for the military and an equally large numbers of vans for the public but this is the first I’ve ever seen at a car show ever. It has a top speed of 60 miles an hour and it gets 25 miles to the gallon with it’s four cylinder motor. Not bad for a vehicle of its vintage.

This car is a real hot rod. Vintage shell…

Corvette Heart. Robbie Gordon does all right with one of these in his two wheel drive H2 Rally Car.


Of course with nobody really around, you could get very up close and personal with your shots.

It didn’t take too long to exhaust the photographic opportunities of the static displays.  Colin had had his snack (food and timing of food consumption is a big part of his routine).  The best part of an event which is virtually a ghost town is that there’s no chance of losing him in a crowd and there is literally tons of room for him to run in.  This lowers the stress of an outing a fair bit.

I swapped the 17-70mm out for the 150-500mm and we hit trackside.  Unlike their usual format, the track was running counter clockwise which meant a bit of rejigging of my usual shooting positions.  I like to shoot inside the curve but as mentioned Mosport is a track with a lot of altitude changes.  So your angles to dangle to get the, “Good,” shot are or can be limited.  If I was by myself, the track side access is a lot easier but I usually have Colin along and that rules out the best spots right away and we’re stuck to working the perimeter fence which is fifteen feet back and sometimes thirty feet up from track side.  I decided to set up on the inside of corner two, known as Clayton’s corner.  When the track is run in the normal pattern this is a corner where the cars or bikes drop away and down into an outside camber sweeping left hand turn.  As they were running the track backwards, the cars would be coming up towards me and then swinging away.  I’d be able to get some shots from either side of the vehicle as it worked its way through the turn.  The only issue is that your distance closure is very rapid and it can make focusing difficult.

First up was our Ice racing MR2. He took full advantage of his track access and completed 57 laps before lunch. An average lap is in the 1:30 range for the guys who know what they’re doing.  So what I like about this position is you can see the suspension load as he works his way through the turn.

I like shooting long and almost getting in the driver’s seat with these guys.

Each lap offers a different shooting opportunity and allows me to calm myself down and be smoother with the camera.

One shot from the other side coming in to the turn.

This is the driver’s regular car. In order to get it on the track, he just throws on a helmet and racing suit and he gets to put it through its paces. Because they’re running individual laps, it’s a lot safer for guys who want to do this. Nothing needs to be safety wired, drained, taped or removed.

Now we get to the part of the day which made it really made it worthwhile from both a photographic and personal experience point of view.  There were a couple of monopostal racers there.  One was for a Lotus 56/69 which didn’t run the track while we were there and the other I’ll have to tell you about because I was too busy to take pictures.

The next shots are of Kieran Murphy in his F1 open wheel racer.  I Googled him and he’s a top of his field Radiologist who also invents medical devices.  It was his car which got me what I consider to be my, “Shot of the day.”

Coming in to the turn and lining himself up for the shot up the hill.

The long lens is earning its keep here.

You get a real feel for how close to the ground these cars sit in this shot.

This shot is good and it was on my list for shot of the day….

But this was the clear winner. This is the shot that made the day worth it.

Not that I had any idea of this capture at the time.

There was going to be a parade (paced) lap on the track at noon and it just so happened we were there for it.  Getting My Cooper S on a track even for just a parade lap was a big deal.  Lucky for me, I wasn’t the only Mini out there.  There was a guy running a regular Cooper out there all morning.  I formed up in the line behind a vintage Silver Stingray and we rolled out onto the track.  Behind me were some younger guys in an Acura coupe of some sort.  So my Mini is an 03 Cooper S with a Supercharged 1.6L engine with 163 HP.  The car is low and wide and in second and third gear with your foot to the floor it moves like a scared cat.

So the idea in any formation is to stay with the guy in front of you.  We came out of pit lane at the bottom of turn one and shot off down the hill.  The drop and outside camber took me a bit by surprise but I kept it together and found the line.  Things bunched up a bit a turn three as you rise up into it.  The guy in the Acura was pretty close and it was somewhat obvious his suspension wasn’t enjoying the track so much.

Turn five is a right hand hairpin.  You rise up into it and it turns into a diminishing radius corner which has a gradual left going in to the straightaway.  So things really bunch up at the base of the hairpin and then open up as people shoot off down the straightaway.  As we’re not going too fast I’ve got her in second and Acura boy is right behind me.  We hit the bottom of the hairpin and I give it some gas to keep my speed up.  The Mini goes up the hill well and around the corner at a good clip and in my rear view, I see the Acura drop back.  I hit the apex, find the line to hit the inside of the turn and stomp on it.  A quick flick into third and then I’m catching up to the rest of the inmates at turn eight.  There is nothing behind me in the rear view.  Colin is enjoying this as well as evident by his shouts of, “Here we go!”

I see the Acura come screaming up the straight like somebody late to a party.  If that car had arms, they’d be flailing and when he went hard on the brakes to slow down, that wasn’t pretty either.  We did three laps and every lap was the same for this guy.  I’ll admit, it’d be interesting to see how I’d do with just myself on the track at speed.  I’ll have to do some research and see what it’d take to get out there for real…

You know, because I need another hobby.



3 thoughts on “Gods of Speed – Mosport – 2014

  1. Peter Nadler says:

    Great article Steve! I have many vivid memories of Mosport too. Some thrilling, some terrifying. But every time my back aches (most days) I am reminded of cornert wo and the day I came off my Honda at over 120 mph.


  2. sabot03196 says:

    Always glad to bring back memories Peter. Though you probably wouldn’t recognize the place now. The NASCAR oval is gone and they’re modernizing the whole site.


    1. Peter Nadler says:

      It was pretty crude back in the 70’s when we were there. Lots of Aramco barriers shielded by mere hay bales, narrow,bumpy and steep corners with no runoffs. But I was 20something and thought I was invincible! Thanks again for this great expose. Best wishes.


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