I’ve been shooting 35mm film for a while now, and even longer since my analog work came out. This year I took the plunge again, and as always, the results are as rewarding as the process.
A few weeks ago I packed a couple of film bodies into my kit as I was preparing for two events that were perfect for filming. Filming really slows you down and forces you to make much more thoughtful decisions. If you’re a frequent photographer but haven’t tried it yet, there are plenty of cheap SLRs and flashy bodies online to get you started.
I highly recommend it, especially for vintage events like the Velocity Invitational at Laguna Seca, where our story begins.
It’s an event of absolutely epic proportions, and although only in its second year, it’s become the number one destination for the world’s best vintage machines. I won’t soon forget Ayrton Senna’s iconic Marlboro-painted McLaren MP4/5B-07. This car would have been shot by tens of thousands of other photographers – of course also on film – when it won the Formula 1 World Championship in 1990.
It wasn’t the first time I’d seen a McLaren F1 on track, but it was the first time I’d captured this Gulf car being driven furiously. This GT12R competed at Le Mans in 1996, finishing 5th overall, and the chassis also won four races in the 1996 BPR Global Endurance GT Series.
There were plenty of amazing street cars on display around the paddock as well. It’s not every day you see these legendary machines side by side, and like Monterey Car Week, the Velocity Invitational is just sensory overload.
Being a history-based event, it will come as no surprise that there are plenty of cars from the Trans Am area and beyond. This is not the ex-Horst Kwech Alfa Romeo GTV that comes to mind when I think of the Trans Am, but it actually raced alongside the Mustangs and Camaros that I usually associate with the era. I shot this Alfa for a friend shortly after the event and it is scheduled to be sold Bring a trailer soon.
By the way Batthis ex-McLaren 1972 Ford Condor RV also bought on the site by none other than McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown. It was really cool to see the RV surface here; this is the perfect event to use.
I only filmed cars from the early 2000s or older, cut from these C5s and 993s.
At the end of the day there was a Mustangs vs. Minis competition and the event I was most looking forward to at Velocity.
It’s amazing to see how close the racing is to these two completely different frames with completely different formulas. Front-wheel drive versus rear-wheel drive, high displacement for light weight. It was an absolute riot and there are some more photos of the race on film in the gallery below.
Below you’ll find other multi-million dollar machines, including a CSL, Aston Martin, several Porsches, and even a modern (yes) F1 car that collided with the rest of the McLarens.
Riko’s meeting in 2022
I was at Riko’s meeting the next day, and while I don’t usually combine coverage of the two events, they were both shot on the same 35mm camera with some overlap in the reels. There are two other elements associated with these events.
The first and most obvious is the awesome retro-style venue Riko chose and the well-curated mix of vintage cars that popped up. The main difference is that they were just old school Japanese cars at Riko’s Meeting.
Second and more subtle is that there is no Japanese/JDM equivalent to events like the Velocity Invitational. Yes, Japanese classics are finally getting more appreciation from collectors, and yes, there are a handful of classic Japanese race cars on display at events like Velocity, the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, or the JIA booth at Pebble Beach.
We also have events like the Japanese Classic Car Show in Southern California that only cater to Japanese classics. However, when talking with Riko at his event, he was quick to point out that there is no event here in California – or anywhere in the US – that combines the aspects of events like JCCS and Velocity.
Imagine an event like the Goodwood Revival, but focused on Japanese cars. A destination worth going off-road for is an event where the best converted Japanese classics can be displayed alongside the most iconic Japanese racing cars, re-painting their engines for exhibition races.
For such an event, the sky would be the limit. But this would require money, coordination and time. Many time, which means – again – a lot of money. I think it’s about time for such a Japan-centric event, and I know Riko is pushing for something like that.
Lots of brand-specific conventions – think NSXPO or ZCON
– is already happening on a smaller scale, there’s no reason why the JDM community in the United States can’t come together for a super-high-caliber extravaganza celebrating decades of Japanese cars.
I would love to see such an event become a reality, and if it could happen, it would be at the top of my bucket list in 2023 or 2024. If a project like this comes to fruition, I’m spoiled in the sense that it’s highly likely to happen on the West Coast, but I wouldn’t hesitate to travel across the country to be a part of it.
The question is, would you?
More 35 mm