We Drive Harder
My favorite thing about shooting ChampTruck races, besides the obvious allure of seeing 12,000lb trucks going sideways, is seeing the support series that share the track for the weekend.
At the 2016 New Jersey Motorsports Park race, the support series on Saturday was a variety of NASA groups.
I’ve seen some pretty awesome support series in the past year, like US Drift Circuit in Palm Beach. But seeing these NASA groups really got my heart pumping due to their immediate relevance to my own tastes. As followers of this site know, I own two cars: a 2013 Scion FR-S and a 2000 Porsche Boxster. And there were many 86 and 986 race cars to drool over!
Track cars are infinitely more interesting to me than any show car, because you don’t do things to a track car for no reason. Sure, you can put your life savings into buying racing parts, but if all you do with the car is take it to WekFest and gently wipe the dust off it, those parts don’t mean anything. When you go a track, you see why these parts exist.
It’s always interesting to see things done not necessarily in the name of aesthetics, but performance. Like the bumper grilles, single wiper, and deleted-and-taped-over reflectors in the bumper.
I also like that the Spec Boxsters have their little spoilers permanently erect. It’s an all-business look that’s probably a bit too much for the street, but just right at the track.
One of the most important things I’ve learned in my career as a photographer is not to care what anyone thinks about you. Look at the drivers in these cars–probably thinking to themselves, “What the hell is that dude taking photos of?”
Unfortunately I didn’t have time to talk to many people, so most of these were quick stealth shots. I don’t think they would be so perplexed if they knew I had an FR-S and a Boxster back home and I’m a huge fan of grassroots motorsports.
It wasn’t all Spec 86 and Spec Boxsters, though–some of my other favorites were there too! There was a nice showing for the Honda Challenge series, including this S2000, which is a real CR (Club Racer) model.
“Driven to Conform”–love it. I probably spent more time talking to the owner of this DC4 Integra than everyone else combined. He was running a B16B, the engine from an EK9–the Japan-only 96-00 Civic Type R. With a tiny 1.6L making a massive 180hp, it’s a pretty impressive little lump.
Another badass Honda. I always thought the “bug-eye” Acura Integra front end was pretty cool, but the Honda Integra is one of the best looking Hondas ever. Even if it does look like an Accord.
Of course, there were a lot of BMW’s as well–starting with E36 M3’s (in both coupe and sedan varieties)…
…and moving up to E46’s of various descriptions.
Tire boogers…what great looking patina.
Now here’s something you rarely see anywhere, let alone as a full race car—an FD RX7!
What a beautiful car.
Out on track she was hauling ass though!
Ah yes, the on-track action. I did manage to stay out and grab some shots of this particular run group.
I love pretty much anything that goes around a track, but it’s just a bit cooler seeing “your” car out there.
I’ve owned several fifth gen Civics as well. I had a ’93 Si, ’95 EX coupe, ’92 VX with a D15B, and a ’92 Si with a B16A2. Great cars.
Admittedly it’s not the fairest comparison, but I drove an early V6 Genesis and it was a total piece of crap. I do like this capture of a Genesis about to dip its toes in the dirt, though.
Check out this GTS 2 E46 chasing a Spec E46. Interesting that the GTS car has a “Laguna Pipe”–a left-curving exhaust tip commonly seen on the west coast by track-day cars trying to sneak an extra few decibels past the strict noise regulations at Laguna Seca. I wonder what track(s) are that strict in the North Atlantic region?
There are a few angles on the track that are just special. I love watching cars dive into the apex from this particular view, which lets you see them rotate into and through the turn.
I made this quick clip using the D750. Even with a monopod I can’t hold the damn camera steady!
Ouch! I didn’t see any super-close racing, but I did see some scars afterward.
Those are the Tom’s tail lights, which I’ve always wanted to put on my car. They look exactly like what should have always been on the car since it went into production.
On Sunday, the support group was the Ultimate Street Car Association, which sanctions the Optima Batteries Search for the Ultimate Street Car, which used to be called the Ultimate Street Car Challenge. Whatever they call it, it’s a place for high-end builds to prove they have as much ‘go’ as ‘show’. The events consist of five segments: a road rally (public road driving from A to B), autocross, road course, a “speed-stop time trial”, and a non-driving judged stage called “Design & Engineering”.
Unfortunately, the day went from overcast to pouring rain, so these are the only shots I was able to capture. There were some incredible machines though, from 60s muscle all the way to brand new cars with badges reading GT-R, Z/28, and GT350. Not all of them were off-the-shelf modern builds, and I wish it wasn’t pouring rain all day so I could have gotten a look around all the amazing cars I saw. They did everything on schedule, but I wasn’t interested in hanging around and getting soaked.
It’s hard to showcase just how rainy it was, but I assure you, it was pouring and the track was soaked. Thankfully, the track has good drainage and I didn’t hear any complaints about the driving conditions.
Certain cars generate more enthusiasm than others, so maybe it’s not surprising that the owner of this SSR gave me a stereotypical experience when he saw me taking photos of his truck.
He came up and asked me if I wanted to know anything about it, and I said that no, I just like these and wanted to grab a few snaps. But he just started rattling off facts and figures anyway! This is not the first time I’ve been in this situation–I think some people just get really excited when someone takes notice of their pride and joy–so I let him run out of steam and then quietly snuck away.
Of course, the rain had to let up right when all the racing was done. But there was no time to hang around, for me or any of the teams. They packed up their race cars and I helped pack up the ChampTruck gear. In closing, here’s a quick snap of one of my failed assignments for Scorpion Jacks, makers of high-quality super heavy duty pneumatic jacks.