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The Oldtimer Grand Prix meets Sleeklens

The Oldtimer Grand Prix takes place once a year at the Nürburgring in Germany. It is an event in which around 500 historic race-cars from the 20s until the 80s take part and share track time. Each category boasts a great number of very special cars in their line-up varying from touring cars and DTM right to F1. There are plenty of highlights to talk about during this amazing weekend.

I am not a portrait photographer so when Sleeklens asked me to try out their portrait presets I decided to apply these to my domain, classic racing photography. Each photo uses a different combination of their presets to create a unique look. Despite not using the Sleeklens presets as intended (for portrait photography), I was impressed with what they do and how this effects the end result.

Sleeklens offers an endless amount of possibilities to enhance your photography results. I hope you like my photos and that you check out the Lightroom presets from www.sleeklens.com for your own work.

www.sleeklens.com

CAR CAVE

I came across Car Cave on Instagram through their beautiful photos. Each car that is for sale gets an impressive photoshoot somewhere on an industrial estate nearby and by doing so they create a distinct mood that runs throughout the website and defines their in-house style.

This caught my eye and digging a little deeper I discovered that Car Cave is situated in Hasselt, near my home town in Belgium. I therefore decided I would pay them a visit next time I am in the country.

Although Car Cave is not that easy to find tucked away at the back of an industrial estate, they are definitely worth looking for and are well situated to attract customers from Holland, Germany and France not far away.

They not only buy and sell cars but also store your cars for you or restores them when necessary. In addition, they organize CarCafé on a regular basis where car enthusiasts can gather and share their stories.

I turned up with my camera across my shoulder and was welcomed with an espresso and a good dose of car talk. All the staff at Car Cave are truly passionate about what they do and had time for me throughout the morning. After my coffee, I set off to discover a wide-ranging selection of cars and quickly discovered that there is something for everyone.

Are you a 1980s rally fan? Then the white Renault 5 Turbo2 on offer is just for you. If your heart beats American, there is plenty to look out for such as a striking 1960 Chevrolet Corvette C1 or the loud V8 1968 Chevrolet Camaro SS. If German machinery is your thing, there is plenty to go for too, a stunning first series Mercedes 190 SL sitting alongside a "Grand Prix white" 1993 Porsche 964 speedster. Somewhat surprisingly both the Mercedes 190E Evo 1 and Evo 2 stand next to each other and are available for sale. Not often do we see these together, you do at Car Cave.

The Italians are well represented too, with a Ferrari Testarossa, 512BB and a 348, but also a Lancia Fulvia and a beautiful Alfa Romeo Junior Z Zagato 1300 in Giallo Ocra, a car that does not find its way to the market often.

A few Land Rover Defenders and an Austin Healey or an impossibly impressive Pantera GTS are thrown in for good measure, it can all be yours. Car Cave is keeping them warm till you arrive.

You get what I am saying, this place is filled to the brim with toys worth owning. Looking for something special? Be sure to visit Car Cave. If you are not in the area and are passionate about cars, follow their Instagram page and their website for wonderful photos of very special cars.

Below you find a selection of photos I took during my visit showing their ever-changing fleet of cars. Enjoy these photos but be sure to also visit www.carcave.be for plenty of beautiful photos of their vast selection, taken by their own photographer.

www.carcave.be

Instagram: carcave.be

Where is Mount Fuji?

It has been a lifelong ambition of mine to go to Japan and watch a race at the Fuji Speedway. Fuji Speedway is a technical yet fast racetrack at the foothills of Mount Fuji, a perfect backdrop from which to watch round 7 of the World Endurance Championship 2017.

I was invited by a good friend of mine who races in the WEC for TDS Racing in the LMP2 category. A perfect opportunity to visit this mythical place, I thought. So, with my new Leica M10 in my hand-luggage I traveled all the way to Tokyo where I was welcomed by a mighty rain storm. It took me three trains, lots of language challenges and a taxi ride before I arrived at my hotel. It was still raining. Time for bed.

When I woke up early the next morning, I shot out of bed and went straight to the window to discover that the rain had not subsided. I met up with the racing drivers and we headed to the track. Conversation in the car was mostly centered around a wet set-up and how to drive the track in these conditions. Nothing in the conversation led me to believe that the weather was going to improve all weekend. There was always hope of course.

Saturday qualifying was a wet affair. The short and intense session did not go so well for car #28 but with a 6 Hour race ahead on Sunday, there was still everything to fight for. The clouds hung low all day and not once was there a hint of Mount Fuji on the horizon. Maybe tomorrow.

On Sunday morning, I was awoken by rain beating on my window. That’s promising. Once we arrived at the circuit it became clear that the rain was dueling with fog and visibility was even worse than the previous day. Where is Mount Fuji?

The race did get underway in these treacherous conditions and amazingly without major incidents which says a lot about the impressive talent of all the drivers out there.

Red Flag. Due to bad visibility, the race was interrupted shortly after it was started and all cars gathered on the main straight where they waited impatiently for conditions to improve. After a while visibility did get better and the race got back underway again. Chasing each other down the straight at 280km/h with no visibility on a slippery and drenched circuit is very impressive but also extremely dangerous. It was therefore no surprise when the second red flag came out and the race was not restarted.

At this point in time TDS Racing #28 was in 4th position in their category and moving up the ranks fast. It was not meant to be that day and they missed the podium by the smallest of margins.

Despite the poor weather conditions and the shortened race, I had a great weekend. It was my first visit to Japan and I fell in love with the place immediately. Tokyo is breathtaking and the Hakone area where I stayed simply beautiful. The Japanese people are very polite, well mannered, and willing to help. They queue in neat lines everywhere and don’t push in, try that in Europe. 

I cannot wait to visit again and perhaps next time I can get a glimpse of Mount Fuji. It is supposed to be amazing.

 

 

Spa Classic 2017

As I arrive at the 7th edition of the Spa-Classic event I am greeted by low menacing clouds, heavy rain and a dramatic backdrop for a weekend of historic racing.

With 14 races, 8 grids and more than 300 cars competing on what is most driver’s favourite circuit this historic racing event is the place to be during the weekend.

Time to head out onto the track. As I work hard to keep my equipment dry the race-car tyres out on track are working equally hard to disperse water from beneath them and by doing so create dramatic scenes of cars delicately dancing under a blanket of heavy spray. Perfect for moody shots.

Wet, and worn out I return back to the paddock from a day out on the hilly circuit (I covered 17km by foot) but am satisfied with the dramatic photos I was able to take. Day two and three are dry and sunny which I am grateful for.

The public and drivers share their passion for cars in an open and friendly atmosphere. There are plenty of touring cars on display reminding us of the heyday of the Spa 24 hours when the race was still reserved for large scale production cars.

Participating categories include Sixties Endurance, Classic Endurance Racing, Heritage Touring Cup, Trofeo Nastro Rosso and Group C. Single seaters also made a comeback with the Euro F2 Classic races as the first single seater series at the event followed by 50+ Formula Vee’s.

A special treat was the night race for touring cars on Saturday, throwing the spectators back into endurance races of a bygone era.

As the weekend draws to a close, I leave with sore legs but more importantly with the smell, sound and sight of classic racing engraved into my mind for a long time to come!

 

Blackbird Automotive Journal: Mulsanne Memories

The first thing that jumps out at me when I pick-up my copy of the Blackbird Automotive Journal Volume 11 is the intense red colour of the cropped Porsche 917 that adorns its cover. What makes it even more striking is that it is a photo that I took for Blackbird myself at the Le Mans Classic event in 2016. My first cover shot!

Blackbird Automotive Journal is a quarterly publication that combines great stories with stunning photography. Although we live in a world of digital media there is something wonderful about print and holding a copy of this quality magazine in one’s hands is very satisfying, a must for all car enthusiasts.

The article ‘Mulsanne Memories’ tell the story of the 2016 Le Mans Classic event and accompanying the text are a selection of my photos. Although the event feels far away now, reading this article brings back fond memories of an unforgettable weekend behind the camera.

Be sure to get your copy of this stunning magazine and read ‘Mulsanne Memories’ as well as the other superb stories that unfold within this must have publication.

www.blackbird-autojournal.com