More than anything, great photography captures a moment in time and helps a viewer feel all of the original scene's emotions.
Those emotions – fun, an elevated heart rate, of doing something that (although our group of motorsports enthusiasts may find "normal") relatively few people have ever done – are what make SCCA Track Night in America Driven by Tire Rack one of the most popular forms of motorsports in the country. And it's what makes the Track Night photographers so vital to that experience.
Thanks to Tire Rack and our fantastic photographers, every participant gets one free downloadable photo after each event. But how often is one image ever enough to truly capture the excitement of a Track Night? Many of our photographers also sell photo download packages, prints, and even posters or mementos for those looking for more.
Each Track Night in America event has a photographer ready to stand by, and it's not your typical school photo photographer that captures those moments. Each of the selected photographers feels strongly about the event and could easily find themselves on the other side of the fence. Instead, they help facilitate the fun for other participants by capturing those memories. Let's shine the spotlight on a few of our photographers today!
Geoff Bolte, Clarus Studios
Geoff has been photographing Track Night events for several years and currently shoots our events at Lime Rock Park, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, New Jersey Motorsports Park, Palmer Motorsports Park, and Thompson Speedway. We asked him a few questions to learn more about how he got into motorsports photography and what he likes about shooting photos at Track Nights.
"I have been a professional photographer for the last 15 years, starting in youth sports. I started in photography in the film days as a kid using my dad's cameras and eventually blew out a shutter. I picked photography back up in college and ran with it since. I started Clarus Studios in 2013 with a partner after bouncing around with different companies and was ready to go out on our own. My company works in a wide range of industries: construction, business, advertising and marketing, editorial, and of course motorsports/sports with not only photography but video and drone as well.
I have always been interested in racing, and the photography side came naturally to me. I love every aspect of the on-track action and the camaraderie of the drivers, especially in a Track Night setting. Everyone is there to help and have fun! I love being able to talk to the drivers and get to know them. At my home track of Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, there are many regulars, and we catch up like it's a reunion every time!
I utilize Nikon cameras along with a variety of lenses, although my go-to lenses are the Nikon 70-200 and 200-500 for on-track and 24-70 in the paddock. But you can almost use any camera and lens combination and make some great photos!"
Gregory Pfaff, Gregory Pfaff Photography
Gregory is based in Fort Worth, Texas, and shoots our events at Harris Hill Raceway, MotorSport Ranch Cresson, and Eagles Canyon Raceway. He's well-known at our events for his comically-large zoom lens and his right-hand-drive 1990 Toyota Celsior. We asked Gregory to tell us a bit about how he got interested in motorsports photography.
"During a particularly stormy day cooped up inside our rented beach house, I picked up my older brother's May 2005 issue of Super Street magazine. It featured a heavily modified white G35, and I was enamored by that build. I read that article countless times and still have it on the shelf today. That was the moment that led to my passion for all things automotive. Consuming as many automotive magazines as I could, I decided to satisfy my craving for more car content by creating my own. I bought myself a digital camera and started photographing everything I could. The freedom of digital photography allowed me to shoot indiscriminately without the worry of wasting a roll of film, and I could immediately see the results of my work. After years of casually shooting my friend's cars and autocrossing as much as I could, I studied photography at Loyola University Chicago and worked for an event photography company in the summers. That knowledge and work experience led me to seriously pursue freelance motorsport photography, which I have been doing for the past 6 years. Nowadays, I focus mostly on road racing for work, but I also enjoy the opportunity to shoot lifestyle themed content, preferably in 35mm color film.
Motorsport photography provides me with a great opportunity to satisfy my love of modified cars and gets me closer to the action on track. I pursued it as a way to get closer to my favorite fast machines, but the most rewarding aspect turned out to be quite different. People really come together to support and encourage each other at racing events. Photographing beautiful cars is a wonderful experience, but the friendships I have made through the car community is certainly the most enjoyable part.
A few years ago, I got an email from a driver thanking me for my coverage from a past event. He informed me that his car had been totaled in an accident just a few days after, and he was very grateful to have those memories preserved of him driving that car on track. The coolest part about shooting Track Night events is getting to preserve those memories for people. I photograph cars because I want to capture the beauty of them on track, but it is often the case that those photographs hold a different significance for the people in the photos.
My typical equipment for an event consists of a Nikon D3s, a 70-200 f/2.8 lens, and a 400mm f/2.8 lens. Photography is a wonderfully flexible process because there are no hard and fast rules for what equipment you need to get your final product. Because of this, you can start shooting with your phone camera as long as you are patient and willing to constantly challenge yourself to improve your technique. In my experience, the biggest factor in motorsport photography is proximity. If you can get close enough to the action, you can still provide great content with less than ideal equipment. Bigger and better equipment allows you to more consistently get the shots you want at a safe distance. For anybody wanting to get serious about shooting on-track action, the most important piece of equipment is a good quality lens. I got by for many years with just my 70-200mm. It is versatile enough to shoot in the pits or trackside without being overly heavy."
At the Track
The next time you're at a Track Night, take a minute to thank our wonderful photographers. Even though they're often hidden behind a camera lens, they play a key role in making your Track Night experience memorable by commemorating the thrill of the track.
Are you a photographer who loves motorsports, Track Night in America, and helping folks capture memories? If that applies to you, and you live near one of the tracks listed below, we may be looking for your services! Apply to be the official Track Night photographer at any of those locations through the staff application here.
- Blackhawk Farms Raceway
- Dominion Raceway
- High Plains Raceway
- NOLA Motorsports Park
- Pikes Peak International Raceway
- Portland International Raceway
Photos by Geoff Bolte & Gregory Pfaff