Car Racing for the Common Man or Woman ( + SLIDESHOW)
I've known Tim Venable for many years. Tim started preschool with my youngest son Kory at Tukwila Community Center back in 1995. They became friends and went all through school, graduating from Tyee High School in 2007. Tim is now twenty-two years old. I knew Tim was involved in quarter midget racing, which he started at age 6, but that was the extent of it, I never saw him race. I talked to him a few weeks ago and heard he was now racing with the big boys. Being mostly a sports photographer I thought it would be fun to cover racing and especially knowing one of the drivers gave me a special interest. Tim invited me to his next race and even emailed me a free ticket, nice!
The group Tim races with is the International Race Drivers Club, founded in 1970. It is an organization of individuals in the Pacific Northwest who share a passion for automobile road racing. It's that easy, if you have a passion to drive, join the club. Tim and his father Jim tow his car and travel to tracks as far away as Spokane, Portland, Eastern Oregon, Mission BC, but locally it's at Pacific Raceways in Kent. This style of racing is called road racing. They run on purpose built tracks that follow the layout of the land and are between 2-3 miles long. This level of racing is called "spec class racing". In that classification drivers race similar cars, usually the same model and you are limited to what can be done to the car. You use the same engine, same suspension, etc... These cars are close to stock which is really great for beginners. This allows the drivers to compete on a level playing field and focus more on their driving skills, rather than who has the deepest pockets to modify the car. The required modifications to the cars are roll cages, racing seats, harnesses, and other safety items because you do not want to compromise on safety.
The day of the race I arrived at 9:15am on Sunday, July 31st, to a wet track at Pacific Raceways just before Tim's qualifying heat at 9:32am. I was there to mainly take photos of Tim, but with a camera in hand, every driver makes for a photo op. Creativity is what photography is all about, so I tried some different techniques and effects for which I was later pleased the results.
I grabbed my camera and with a feeling of excitement, I walked over to the track, not knowing what to expect. All I knew about Tim's car was he drove a Mazda Miata, #427. When I saw him come around the corner for the first time I laid on the shutter. Well, I also did that when the other cars went by too, I just can't help myself! I did get some great pictures of cars with drivers I don't even know. It's the love of photography for which I capture an image, not so much the subject. By the end of the day I took over 2,500 photos. Yeah, that's even a lot for me. Another note about Tim: he went from "area driver" classification before the race to being upgraded to "senior driver" after the race. He can now help teach at driving schools and can have a double digit number on his car.
One week after the race I interviewed Tim. I asked questions that should give insight to why grown men and women of many ages go out on the race track.
My first question to him was why do you race. His answer was, "Because it's a lot of fun and when I'm not racing I know how much I miss it. When you have it, you don't recognize how much you love it. “What's your best feeling in racing? "Winning is always a great feeling. Working really hard to pass someone and when you finally get by them, maintaining that position. It really doesn't matter when position your in." What has been your worst? "To wreck a car, this happened to me in 2009. When you get out of the car and realize it's worse than you thought it was."
Tim explained that this type of racing is for normal, average, hard working people, just looking for fun. There is no money to be made in this type of racing, repeat, NO money. Because there is no money to be made they are always looking for sponsors for paint jobs, brake pads, fuel, wheel alignment, anything relating to a race cars needs. If you’re interested in helping Tim with his racing needs, please contact him at: email@example.com
For the females out there, four women raced on Sunday. In the last race of the day Karen Stimson won the "E Series Production Sports Cars" division while driving a 1985, Mazda RX-7. So women, this may also be your calling, think about it!
If you have any interest in racing you can start by going to a driving school, which includes time in the classroom, and driving a car on the track with a senior driver. This means you can even drive your own street car on the race track. For additional information check out the International Conference of Sports Car Clubs (ICSCC) website at: http://www.icscc.com/novice.php
The website for the International Race Drivers Club is: http://www.irdc-racing.com/