We photographed an old school race with an old school camera

Old film cameras are hopelessly overrated.

Fabulous magazine covers have been shot anonymously with smartphones; “geniuses” have shot with disposable film cameras, yielding photos only slightly better than I took on my seventh grade aquarium field trip in 1992. (Yet, Terry Richardson still gets plenty of advertising work?)

I know all of that. The fake nostalgia for film means less to me than an ad on Instagram.

But sometimes a roll of Ilford 400 is the best tool in the box.

I spent a day shooting drivers and their cars at the 2016 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in California last month to try and capture a part of the race that many overlook.

[Note: The square-format film I used does not play well with our gallery format. These pictures are best viewed full size. Just click on a photo in the top gallery and it will open full size.]

Modern shutters clicked away at the famous corkscrew and pit straight at the track that day. It’s hard not to spend an afternoon trekking up and down the hillside between the two destinations—it’s time and calories well spent. Panning shots of cars barrelling down 8A are glorious; digital cameras click away at Can-Ams and their deep red, bright yellow, and pale blue colors on the starting line.

Photographers can spray here, but there’s no need to pray; nearly every photo will be a frame full of beautiful and rare cars.

It turns out, a different part of the race day lends itself better to film.

Walking through the pits and into the tents and campers that drivers drag across the country each year, there’s a texture and nuance to the drivers and their cars that’s every bit as interesting as the unmuffled roars from vintage V-8s. That’s where film comes into its own.

For the most part, the pit roads at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion aren’t like NASCAR infields. The whole race is a party, but the pits have a more casual atmosphere. Drivers chat with each other and friends, waiting for their next few laps on the track.

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