I'll be honest, I find car meet ups distinctly boring now. I've seen so many epic cars driving in their natural habitat that seeing a car parked on a slab of tarmac is about as boring as it gets. The Supercar Driver "Secret Meet" is fundamentally one of these situations. Every year they bring together as many members as possible for a group photo to start off the driving season. I wasn't going to head along originally as it's a bit of a trek from London but meeting up with MrJWW for lunch he mentioned he had an XJ220 for the weekend so why not combine hanging out for the weekend and larking about with some nice cars. I'm glad I did, what an absolutely amazing selection of cars they got together. I figured James was going to make a video of the day and have recently decided to only film things I'm actively enthused about as "faking it" doesn't come across that well on camera. This brings me to a task I set myself. Shoot the entire event with a 35mm prime lens. (The lens of choice was the sigma 35mm f1.4 Art}. Now I like the concept of 35mm, bit wider than 50, bit closer than 24 but in reality i've never really got along with the focal length. For some reason my brain doesn't "See" 35mm that well. Anyho it's quite a good lens for general day to day photography, you can shoot portraits and a bit of everything so figured I'd challenge myself and try and shoot the day with just 35mm. Like anything, the more you do it the better you get.
One of the things you will never see in my photography is a moving car that looks stationary. I will do absolutely everything to have some motion in there somehow (look a bit closer at some photos you like and notice if the wheels are moving). Motion is also quite a good way of making really hectic situations a bit less so and help single out your subject.
Upon arrival at Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome there was the usual flurry of introductions, application of suncream and the obligatory burger to kick off the day. Once these were out of the way I had a chance to just have a wander around and chat with some like minded fellows about the usual car related stuff. Whilst on this initial walk I realised a brilliant "added bonus" of a meet of this scale. You get to see soo many different cars and different specs all in one space it's like a real life autotrader search. This allows you to argue back and forth about who chose the right colour, whether you should ever leave your wing up when you are parked. (There is no debate, if the wing isn't fixed or an actual wing like the p1 in racemode you should leave the damn thing down, yes 675lt owners..you included).
I'll be honest, I struggled. I struggled a lot shooting with just this lens but I ploughed on and here are a selection of my photos from the day. I used panoramas to help get a wider view and "zoomed with my feet" for close ups. I still think 50mm is more of "My" lens but I was reasonably happy with the results. Not as much variety as I would normally hope for and quite a few things I couldn't do but all in all an interesting challenge. I'd definitely suggest setting yourself the task of shooting with a fixed prime (or even just set your zoom to a certain length) at some point. It makes you think more and since more is always more it's gotta be a good thing.
I was lucky enough this year to be able to race in the Radical SR1 cup. This was my first foray into motorsport and because of this I had to start by doing my ARDS test.
The ARDS (Association of Racing Drivers Schools) National B - Comprises of three parts
This was fairly straight forward (apart from being asked to summon up a urine sample out of thin air). My eyesight was checked along with a few basic things like blood pressure. Tick..Pass
- Written Test
I didn't really think about this much until the night before when I had a quick look around online to see what people thought of it. One review I found suggested studying for a few weeks...shit. I approached my last minute cramming with the view that whilst there is a lot of stuff in the book, I had been told; "Everything is on the instructional DVD" (Amusingly this caused it's own problem as neither of my computers have dvd drives any more..) So I sat down to watch the 30 minute video with pen and paper trying to figure out what constituted a worthwhile fact. If you have ever had a look at the section of the "Blue Book" which is required reading there is a tonne of information about regulations such as fire extinguisher placement etc..None of this came up on my test. It was very basic practical questions such as what does this flag mean and if your car sets on fire do you A) Get out of your car in the middle of the track and call your mum or B) Pull up as close as possible to a marshall's point safely out of the way..Not rocket science really and yes the test did mention calling your mum.
- Practical Test
I took my test at Brands Hatch driving the Indy circuit. The practical part involved a few laps with an instructor driving showing me what good clean laps looked like. After swapping seats he then gave me some instruction and pointers for a few laps before ceasing all help and requiring me to drive 4 laps or so completely unaided (we still had a good chat about this and that). I had no problems or moments whatsoever but if you have not done much track driving at all I would recommend getting out on track before your test with an instructor some other time to get used to driving on a racing line and good braking/accelerating techniques. I distinctly remember thinking I was using all the track once only to have it pointed out you could fit a mid sized family sedan between me and the kerb. Anyway, once the practical test was out of the way that was it... license stamped and onto racing!