Passion for Speed at Kyalami

A Photo Day Tour
- 9 February 2013 -

My previous car was a Renault Clio III sport, far from a racing car, but relatively quick when compared to other cars in the category. A couple of times I took it to the Zwartkops raceway to test it's ability. The first time I went out, it was a little nerve wrecking. I wasn't in the habit of pushing my car to the limit, but that said, the first time was also the most fun. There is something different about doing something the first time compared to the subsequent times thereafter. It's like the contrast between normal and insane is so much bigger. This goes for many things like, doing drugs for the first time, or skydiving for the first time. 

This saturday morning at about 2:30am I was browsing the internet and saw an advertisement for "Passion for Speed" at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit in Midrand, and because I had previously experienced the adrenaline packed first time on the track (although not comparable to the speeds of pro racing), it did get me interested in the sport. So I decided I would make a turn later that morning.

I set my alarm for 5:00am, that is a total of 2.5 hours sleep, but I knew if I wanted to catch the Kyalami Grand Prix track before all the action started I had to arrive as early as possible. The website indicated that it opens at 6:00am. When I arrived at the gate there was a short queue of cars waiting to get in, but they were mostly car owners, so the queue to the ticket entrance was literally no wait at all.

I first walked through the pits where all the cars were stored, there were a few owners setting up for the day but other than that is was deserted, not like the track, which was totally deserted. 

When I entered at the gate I was given the booklet with the schedule for the day. I had packed both my cameras and four lenses, so it's fair to say that I was here on this day to capture the day, so my intention for the first 2 hours was to explore the premise.

As I started walking around, I regretted that I didn't take the 4x4 and throw my scooter in the back. My scooter would have been perfect for the exploration bit, but I didn't, so I was limited to finding the ideal photo spots on foot. 

Going on foot didn't lead me to a huge number of options, the racetrack grounds are not small, getting from one end to the other end is not a short distance, but beside this fact, every time I thought I was heading in a promising direction I hit either a wall, fence or locked gate.

Eventually I found what I needed. I settled for a couple of spots relatively close to each other. The selection ranged from pit lanes, roof of the pit lanes, the bridge crossing the  track on route to the main stand opposite the pit lanes. I also visited the viewpoints at the private suites which gave me a good view of a length of the track and nice corner too. Although the suites are a relative distance on foot, it was walkable in a reasonable amount of time between races.

Eventually preparation started for the first race of the day.

The first race wasn't actually a race, but more a demo of historical bikes.

The demo latest 15 minutes, but thereafter the race schedule started. It was from this point where I lost track of the schedule, I only knew that there was a schedule that included a line up of bikes and cars.

I started paying a little more attention to the spectators. 

While some bike run was on the go I scouted around for a better angle, it's a little frustrating, just about the entire track is circled with fencing, so getting low is a problem  for an amateur photographer. Only the professional photographers get prime spots on the "right" side of the fence. 

Turns out that my disposition allowed for some un-orthodox photography, the result which I actually like.

I decided to stick it out in the position I was for the first car race of the morning.

Like most races, they are normally led by a warm up lap, so I prepared by getting comfortable in this position. As time passed it was evident that something had gone wrong during the warm-up and the official start to the race was delayed, but I waited patiently... and so did the other spectators.

The race started and I was able to capture the moment. This race consisted of some older historic cars, which I assume on the schedule is the "Historic Single Seaters 50's and 60's". Based on the age of these cars I decided I would switch to black and white for a moment. 

I like the black and white, gives the photo an older look and compliments the original time of these cars.

I then decided it was time I change position and headed of to the suites which I had scouted earlier. In doing so I passed the line up and preparation of the next race.

On route to the suite viewpoints I snapped some photos of the warm-up lap.

As I arrived at my destination I was just in time for start of the race.

The race was going well, except for a car at the back that was wobbling and landed up shoving his competitor slightly off the track. Luckily nothing serious.

Each race was scheduled for 8 laps so I had a reasonable amount of time to get some photos, but I have to say, in general I'm not a patient person, and do get bored of taking photos of the same thing over and over again. So I got a couple of additional shots of this race and then decided to wait for the next one.

Based on my boredom, it was time to change the camera settings and try something else, so I decreased the aperture size and as a result decreased the shutter speed. The idea was to get some photo's with blurred motion background.

The next race was a bike race again, but I got the result I was looking for.

Ironically a friend messaged me, asking me if I would like to go to the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit to see the older cars race. I responded by messaging back that I was already here. He told me that he was coming, but only later in the day. So I tired to kill some time before my friend arrived. I decided to head back to the pits.

On the way stopping over at what appeared to be a key discussion point for some traditional South African petrol heads. 

This was a custom built car for the totally insane. Basically a chasis, a steering wheel and a totally crazy and unnecessary massive engine.

I mean, 27 liter engine!! The fuel tank should get them 3km before it runs dry.

I now headed back to the pit lane to catch the next race line up - "Pre-1974 ISP and Trans-Am", whatever that means, but not before snapping up a photo of a Ferrari which I was pretty sure if not "pre 1974" 

For this race I decided to stand at the pit lane viewpoint. 

A large percentage of the cars here were old Porsches, so once again I thought a black and white photo would go well.

The sun was getting harsh, both on my body and the photography. I had only had about 2 hours sleep and the sun was bright and overhead therefore creating strong contrast in my photos. At this point I messaged my friend who was coming over in about an hour or so, to let him know I wouldn't be staying long and he shouldn't just come out here just for me, and then started heading back to my car.

Heading out I captured some photos of the next race line up from the roof of the pit lane.

I know if I stayed loger I would have got a couple of more photos, probably of newer cars and they also had a demo lined up called "World of F1". It would have been nice to stick around, but weighting up my options, my bed sounded like a better idea so my mind was made up at about 11:30am. 

The advantages of not being a professional photographer is that I can take photos of what "I" like and can do it in the timeline I want. The only disadvantage I see is that because I don't make money out of it, I can't afford the professional equipment (which I really want), but if I weight my options. 1. taking photos of things I don't like with the best equipment vs. 2. taking photo of things I love with less expensive equipment.... I go with option number 2!

Maybe one day my priorities and preferences will change.

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