This year, I had the incredible opportunity to attend the 2023 MotoAmerica Superbike Championship for the first time! Let me tell you, it was a truly unforgettable experience. The roaring sound of the engines, the adrenaline-filled atmosphere, and the sheer speed of the superbikes and “baggers” left me in awe. I was captivated by the passion and skill displayed by the riders, and I knew I had to capture these breathtaking moments to share with you all.
That’s why I’ve curated a captivating collection featuring the most exhilarating moments and breathtaking captures from this year’s championship. Each photograph tells a story of dedication, precision, and pure adrenaline. You’ll feel as if you’re right there on the track, witnessing the heart-stopping races and triumphant podium celebrations. It’s an immersive visual journey that will transport you into the center of the action!
But that’s not all! In addition to the new gallery items, I’m offering special, full-sized downloads of select photos from the 2023 MotoAmerica Superbike Championship for just $5 each! You can own a piece of racing history captured through my lens at an affordable price. It’s an opportunity you won’t want to miss! Come check out the new collection right now!
I’ll be adding more galleries and store items very soon, so stay tuned!
When I embarked on my photographic journey in 2017, I was clueless about using my camera. Shooting seemed like an intricate dance of trial and error. My early photos were plagued by blurriness, out-of-focus subjects, and missed frames. But through relentless research, countless hours of reading, and dedicated practice, I’ve reached a level of confidence where I can now effortlessly capture the shots I desire at any race. If you’re itching to dive into race photography (or any other sport, for that matter), then join me as I share my guide on How to Shoot a Race!
Before venturing to a race, meticulous planning and strategizing are paramount. Dive deep into understanding the racecourse, identifying those pivotal spots that offer dynamic photo opportunities. Take note of lighting conditions, potential obstacles, and accessible points to ensure you’re thoroughly prepared.
For instance, at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, I prefer waiting until late morning or early afternoon to shoot at the Corkscrew. This allows me to avoid the foggy conditions that dull the colors and lighting. Moreover, with the sun’s rays angling towards the Corkscrew for most of the day, the cars are beautifully illuminated from the front when shooting from inside the track. However, if you’re seeking more dramatic photos, try shooting against the light at Turn 5 during the late morning and afternoon. The resulting backlit shots will leave you awestruck! Just remember to exercise caution and avoid shooting directly into the sun.
Knowing when and where to shoot is a skill you must master. It’s not rocket science (well, mostly), and you can employ tools like SunCalc to conveniently plan your lighting conditions. Yet, part of learning how to shoot a race is discovering the spots where the real action unfolds. Some of my most breathtaking shots were captured where racers were compelled to slow down and navigate tight turns. At Laguna Seca, Turns 2, 3, 5, the Corkscrew, and Turn 11 present phenomenal opportunities to seize action-packed shots. In fact, it was at Turn 11 that I captured one of my all-time best photographs! Learning the art of shooting races entails being in the right place at the right time. With practice, you’ll soon be freezing remarkable moments through your lens.
The adage “the gear doesn’t make the photographer” still holds true, but having the right equipment is vital for capturing high-quality race photographs. A DSLR camera with a fast burst rate and excellent autofocus is highly recommended. Opt for a versatile telephoto lens that allows zooming in on the action while maintaining clarity. Don’t forget spare batteries and memory cards to capture critical moments without interruption.
Fast memory cards are a must. I use a Sandisk 64GB Extreme Pro SD Card with a read/write speed of 200Mb/s to avoid buffer issues when shooting in continuous mode. It’s great for short bursts in RAW format and even better for JPEG shots.
The best part is that you don’t need to break the bank. Older DSLRs work just fine, and there are affordable options on the used market. Check out B&H Photo, Amazon, eBay, Craigslist, and swap meets for cameras, lenses, and accessories.
Also, you should carry only the essentials. Opt for a small camera bag or backpack. It’s lightweight and perfect for getting interesting shots while hiking around the track. Your back will thank you!
Lastly, remember to carry sunscreen, water, ear protection, and cleaning tools. Always have a microfiber cloth and duster to keep your lens dust-free. Wear a hoody, sunhat, sunglasses, and ear protection for added comfort and safety. I can’t tell you how many times the incredible-sounding Mazda 787B nearly made me deaf as it flew by!
Now, get ready to capture breathtaking moments. With the right gear, the race is on, and endless possibilities await. Embrace the adrenaline and let your lens do the talking.
Using Different Shooting Modes
Let me tell you, the combination of Continuous Autofocus (AI-Servo or AF-C) and Continuous Shutter (or Burst Mode) is an absolute game-changer when it comes to capturing the heart-pounding action of a race! I can’t emphasize enough how powerful this duo is. With my Canon DSLR’s autofocus mode set to AI-Servo, all it takes is a half-press of my shutter button to lock onto a specific point on the race car I’m aiming to shoot. It’s like magic! Once I’ve set my focus, I can keep that car razor-sharp even as it zooms by at breakneck speeds. Now, pair that with Continuous Shooting mode, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for capturing that perfect shot or a jaw-dropping series of shots! It’s pure photography bliss!
But let me give you a word of caution— that shutter button can be a bit of a double-edged sword. Once you start clicking away, time seems to fly by, and before you know it, you’ve amassed thousands of photos! Believe me, it’s incredibly easy to get caught up in the adrenaline rush of the race and end up with a memory card bursting at the seams. So, while this combination is an absolute dream, be mindful of your trigger finger and keep it in check. Quality over quantity, my friend!
So, buckle up and embrace the magic of Continuous Autofocus and Burst Mode. It’s the ultimate ticket to freezing those exhilarating moments and immortalizing the thrill of the race! Get ready to capture shots that will make hearts race and jaws drop!
Timing and Anticipation
Timing is everything when learning how to shoot a race! Anticipate the decisive moments by observing the racers and their patterns. Be ready to press the shutter at the peak of the action, whether it’s a thrilling overtaking maneuver or a celebratory victory moment. Patience and attentiveness will greatly improve your chances of capturing captivating images.
I often only shoot the very beginning stages of a race, or the end, since that’s when most of the action will happen. For example, I’ll wait at the exit of Turn 2 at Laguna Seca at the beginning of a race, since everyone will be jockeying for position into the turn and out of it! Sometimes you can get some off-roading action there! Other times, I’ll wait at some sharp corners near the end of the race, since that’s where some racers would go a little too fast and end up in the gravel traps! That’s how I got those awesome photos of the Panoz LMP-1 Roadster-S scrambling to get back on the track after overshooting Turn 11!
Other times, I sit back and watch the race without even using my camera until I notice something interesting. A few years back, I saw one of the Kremer-Porsche K3 race cars spitting massive flames before it plunged down the Corkscrew. I hurried to a vantage point where I can fully see where the flames would appear, and just shot as many photos as I could. That’s how I ended up with my favorite photo series of all time!
Learning how to shoot a race is an exercise in patience, timing, and anticipation. Once you learn how to be at the right place and at the right time, your photos will be incredible!
Now here is where the real work begins: Post Processing! This is where you will spend most of your time if you want your photographs to stand out. But the first thing you should consider is whether or not you will be shooting in RAW, or JPEG format.
RAW format is basically this: a digital negative where you can edit the look of a photo, but without losing the original photo. Basically, when editing a RAW photo, you’re actually editing a copied instance of the photo. RAW format is perfect for making multiple edited copies and tweaking as many settings as you can to get the look you want. However, RAW format takes up a lot of space and memory. You can actually hit the image buffer on your camera much more quickly, making you miss that shot!
JPEG format is a lossy format that has much less editing capabilities than RAW, but also takes up less space! It’s easier to handle for beginner photographers, but professionals will lament the limited editing capabilities. With a faster memory card, you’ll be less likely to hit the image buffer of your camera too. Did I mention JPEG is the most common image format on the web? With JPEG, you won’t run into problems publishing your photos on Instagram, WordPress, or other platforms!
Editing your photos often boils down to what programs you can use. For my own photos, I use Adobe Lightroom. Its editing, cataloging, and export capabilities allow me to quickly collect, edit, and publish photos! But, if you’re just starting out, you can use free programs like Darktable. Darktable has a lot of the same capabilities that Lightroom has; like the ability to read RAW format. It’s also open-source, which means it’s completely free to use! While both Lightroom and Darktable seem very complicated, there are a lot of tutorial videos on YouTube that can teach you the basics and allow you to quickly learn how to edit your photos from the races!
Learning how to shoot a race with a DSLR camera presents an exhilarating opportunity to capture the speed, passion, and intensity of these exciting events. By planning ahead, selecting the right gear, mastering the essential techniques, and using your creativity, you can produce stunning photographs that not only document the race but also convey the emotions experienced by both the racers and the spectators. So grab your DSLR, head to the next race, and let your lens tell the captivating story of the race like never before!
In my last post, I shared my recent discovery about the Eco-Racer and its true heritage. Originally, I believed the Eco-Racer was Osaka Sangyo University’s ENE-1 GP racer from 2011 to 2017. However, I took a closer look. I discovered these were actually separate vehicles! The ENE-1 GP racer had several differences in its construction compared to what I had. This included a different design for it’s canopy and tail cowling, and a different steering system. This led me to believe that my car was either an earlier prototype, or possibly the earliest version of the ENE-1 GP racer from 2011. I concluded that post by mentioning that I had reached out to the University for more clarification. All that was left to do was to wait for an answer. Well, I’m happy to say that answer came! Here it is; the final word on the Eco-Racer!
An Early Morning Email
I awoke to an email in my inbox with a Japanese email address. Upon inspection, I discovered the email was from a gentlemen named Takashi Sudo. If that name doesn’t sound familiar, maybe this picture would provide a clue:
In his email, he very kindly explained to me that the he was one of the people that worked on my car! In fact, he was a teacher during the duration of the project. According to him, my car is in fact a sister car built by a team of interns from Stanford University studying carbon fiber reinforced plastics manufacturing in 2009! This means that my car and the ENE-1 GP Racer were both made at the same time in the summer of 2009!
Takashi Sudo went on to explain that he was the person who helped design and manufacture my car. He participated in the ENE-1 GP, and can be seen in the photos I shared working on the ENE-1 GP car at Twin Ring Motegi. In my last email exchange, he stated he was currently making a smaller car to compete in the next ENE-1 GP.
Here is the original email in its entirety below:
Nice to meet you. This is Takashi Sudo. At that time, I designed and manufactured the car in the photo at Osaka Sangyo University. sorry. Since I am using translation software, the text may be strange.
Thank you for researching the cars we made. This car was specially designed for students who came to an internship from Stanford University in 2009 to learn about CFRP in a group called New Energy Vehicle Project, Osaka Sangyo University when I was just a teacher at that time. ..
At first I participated in the battery competition Ene-1GP to compete for the ranking, but it is so big for us to ride, so now I am making a small car and participating, and now I am a driver I am participating as a practice car. There used to be a lot of photos, but my computer broke and there are almost no photos left. sorry
For inquiries about electric vehicles Also, when I was a student, I made and rode an Oxyride Battery Vehicle. Now that I’m away from my teacher’s job and working as a clerk at Osaka Sangyo University, it’s difficult to make a new car, but I’ll be participating in the 2021 Ene-1GP!
If you have any questions, please contact us.
– Takashi Sudo
I couldn’t believe it! Here was definitive proof of the history of the car straight from the source! But, I still had a lot of questions. If my car was the sister car to the ENE-1 GP racer, then why were there differences in the canopy design and the steering system? Also, I wanted to know if my car raced as the previous owners once stated, and what was used for the original power source. I wrote another email to Takashi Sudo (with translation from English to Japanese) with the hopes of gaining a clearer insight into my car.
Takashi Sudo replied to my second email and provided much needed insight into the design of my car. Originally, the OSU car was developed for a race series called the “World Econo Move GP”; a race series similar to the ENE-1 GP in which electric cars powered by 2-4 motorcycle batteries competed for endurance. According to Takashi Sudo, the first race the car attended was at the Eco Car Festa 2009 for the 4th round of the 2009 World Econo Move GP. From what I was able to gather, this race was held at Sportsland Ikoma between September 22nd and 23rd. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find pictures of the car at the race, but did find a photo of the participants of the race, as well as the practice, qualifying, and race results. The OSU race car was listed as car No.9 “Super-Sanda”, and placed 10th overall with 47 laps completed!
Takashi Sudo went on to explain that while the OSU “Super-Sanda” was designed for the World Econo Move GP, its sister car was the car developed at the same time by the student intern team from Stanford University. The Stanford car was designed and built using the same molds that were used for the Super-Sanda, but with slight differences in its construction that set it apart from the original car. So why were there differences in the design of the Stanford car and the Super-Sanda?
The Stanford Car
Takashi Sudo explained in his email that the he had designed and built both cars in the same shape in order to make the manufacturing process more simple. Both cars were actually completed at the same time, but, Takashi Sudo and the students decided to utilize different concepts for each car. For easier clarification, I’ll be referring to The Stanford University Car as #1, and the OSU Car as #2.
The most notable difference between the cars were the design of the canopies and bulkheads. #1 utilizes a two-piece canopy and tail cowl, whereas #2 uses one solid piece. Takashi Sudo explained that car #1 was designed so that less people were needed to carry the canopy and service the car. This meant that a smaller team could use the car at events. The bulkhead of #1 was also designed to not only position the canopy and the tail cowl for better airflow, but also acted as a built in rollbar to protect the driver in case of a rollover. Car #2’s canopy was designed for ease of access of vital equipment, and to be more aerodynamic. Because #2 was used as a research car, the team needed to access the testing equipment more quickly.
As for the differences in the steering system, Takashi Sudo provided enlightenment. Both cars use a slightly different steering system from each other. In car #2, the steering system was developed to resemble the steering system in a typical car. This in theory made it simple to operate, as it would operate just like a road car. However, Takashi Sudo had difficulties keeping the car straight with this type of steering because his arms would float in the air during operation. So when the steering system in car #1 was designed, it more resembled the steering system for a motorcycle. The mechanisms were also slightly lowered as opposed to car #2. This made it so that the arms would be extended and resting on the driver’s abdomen during operation, which made it easier to keep the car straight when in motion.
In other words, car #1 (the Eco-Racer) has a small set of improvements over the original car. I have yet to take the Eco-Racer out for a test drive, so we’ll have to see how easy it is to steer!
The Final Word
While both cars were developed and completed around the same time, only the OSU car was used for racing. Takashi Sudo explained that the Eco-Racer was sent to the United States upon completion of the project. It would eventually end up in the hands of one of the students that worked on the Eco-Racer, and ultimately into my own hands. As for the OSU car; it was used for various events and demonstrations, including participating in the ENE-1 GP. As of now, the original OSU car is no longer being used for demonstrations as far as I can tell.
When I became the owner of the Eco-Racer, I only had a vague idea of where it came from based on what I was told. Little did I know, I would embark on an incredible journey rediscovering the history of this brilliant machine! In my last email to Takashi Sudo, I had asked him to kindly share our email exchange with the university so that anyone else who might have been involved with the project would be able to share their experiences. While it’s unfortunate that Takashi Sudo’s records of the both vehicles were lost, but perhaps someone else may have something? Maybe they’ll be excited to see the Eco-Racer alive and well in the USA!
Right now, the Eco-Racer is currently sitting in storage as I’m going to be moving to a new location soon. But, as soon as I’m settled, I’m getting this thing back on the road again!
A very special thanks to Takashi Sudo for reaching out to me and revealing the history of this car! I am looking forward to hearing more from you my friend!