We Drive Harder

ChampTruck NJMP 2016 Saturday

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.

NASA NJMP 2016/05/20

At the 2016 New Jersey Motorsports Park race, the support series on Saturday was a variety of NASA groups.

NASA NJMP 2016/05/20

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!

NASA NJMP 2016/05/20

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.

NASA NJMP 2016/05/20

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.

NASA NJMP 2016/05/20

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.

NASA NJMP 2016/05/20

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?”

NASA NJMP 2016/05/20

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.

NASA NJMP 2016/05/20

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.

NASA NJMP 2016/05/20

“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.

NASA NJMP 2016/05/20

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.

NASA NJMP 2016/05/20

Of course, there were a lot of BMW’s as well–starting with E36 M3’s (in both coupe and sedan varieties)…

NASA NJMP 2016/05/20

…and moving up to E46’s of various descriptions.

NASA NJMP 2016/05/20

Tire boogers…what great looking patina.

NASA NJMP 2016/05/20

Now here’s something you rarely see anywhere, let alone as a full race car—an FD RX7!

NASA NJMP 2016/05/20

What a beautiful car.

NASA NJMP 2016/05/20
I probably wouldn’t have noticed this WRX in the paddock if it weren’t for this collection of stickers.

NASA NJMP 2016/05/20

Out on track she was hauling ass though!

NASA NJMP 2016/05/20

Ah yes, the on-track action. I did manage to stay out and grab some shots of this particular run group.

NASA NJMP 2016/05/20

I love pretty much anything that goes around a track, but it’s just a bit cooler seeing “your” car out there.

NASA NJMP 2016/05/20

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.

NASA NJMP 2016/05/20

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.

NASA NJMP 2016/05/20

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?

NASA NJMP 2016/05/20

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!

NASA NJMP 2016/05/20

Ouch! I didn’t see any super-close racing, but I did see some scars afterward.

NASA NJMP 2016/05/20

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.

NASA NJMP 2016/05/21

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”.

NASA NJMP 2016/05/21

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.

ChampTruck NJMP 2016 Saturday

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.

NASA NJMP 2016/05/21

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.

NASA NJMP 2016/05/21

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.

ChampTruck NJMP 2016 Saturday

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