Shooting old cars, with old lenses, on old cameras: The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix

Discussion in 'Sports and Action' started by ijm5012, Jul 10, 2016.

  1. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Legend

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Every year in Pittsburgh, PA, we have the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix (PVGP). It's a great event that actually spans the better part of two weeks, with activities like charity fundraisers, car shows, and of course car races. What's unique about the event is that they split the racing up between the two weekends, running the "slower" cars through the streets of Schenley Park in the city, while running the faster cars the prior weekend at a dedicated race track, Pittsburgh Internation Race Complex (Pittrace), which is about a 45 minute drive north of the city.

    While I've attended the race in the park multiple times, I've been to the event where the run the faster cars. Fortunately the weather was perfect this weekend, so I decided to make the trip up Pittrace yesterday. But instead of taking the newest and fastest autofocusing lenses, I decided to only use two lenses: The 4/3's 12-60 SWD zoom, and the 4/3's 50-200 non-SWD zoom. Both lenses were mounted on a dedicated E-M1, a vintage camera by today's electronic lifecycle. This was in an effort to see if using these two lenses could help me cut down on the amount of gear I've collected over the years (I had a dedicated thread in more detail here).

    I arrived at the track at about 8:15 AM, parked my car, and headed down to the braking zone at end of one of the straits on the new section of the track. I thought this would be a good place to shoot from due to the gaps in the guard rails and their lower height relative to where I was standing. I used one of my E-M1's with the 50-200 attached on a Sirui monopod, with the shutter speed varying from about 1/40th to 1/80th of a second. This location proved to be a great spot to photograph from, so I stayed here for the entirety of the morning session, where I saw a variety of classes and cars run.

    28141592101_10ae4dfbe3_b.jpg Waiting for the action by Ian Menego, on Flickr

    28141596981_9a213d7f2b_b.jpg Gulf 911 by Ian Menego, on Flickr

    28141600331_1be0fe74ed_b.jpg Castrol Ford Escort RS1600 by Ian Menego, on Flickr

    27938651440_df8165ecf7_b.jpg Lotus Europa by Ian Menego, on Flickr

    28185489546_7d94a7077f_b.jpg GT40 Mk.IV by Ian Menego, on Flickr

    27603920323_2eaa238c92_b.jpg Valvoline Pontiac Grand Prix by Ian Menego, on Flickr

    28219423345_3acc0012a1_b.jpg BMW E36 M3 by Ian Menego, on Flickr

    After the morning session, I headed back to the paddock to grab some lunch and get some up close shots of some of the cars. The great thing about events like this is that you can literally walk right up to the cars, in to the garages, and get shots of the cars or talk the owners. It's a really great way to get some exposure to racing, and see some really cool cars with people who love brining them out to put on a show.

    28219146535_3dfa4966cf_b.jpg Competition Coupe Dodge Viper by Ian Menego, on Flickr

    27938974890_89f11c2ed1_b.jpg BMW E30 M3 engine by Ian Menego, on Flickr

    27603826984_1e5a943a33_b.jpg MG B GT V8 ITB's by Ian Menego, on Flickr

    28141995241_e1c1ee7d70_b.jpg TVR Tuscan V8 by Ian Menego, on Flickr

    27939063860_92e7603bf8_b.jpg Escort RS1600's by Ian Menego, on Flickr

    After eating lunch and wandering through the paddock, I headed down to the last turn of the track, a hairpin turn that's situated at the end of a straight. Again, it provided a location for some great shots where the cars were carrying a good bit of speed.

    27604263023_fbbdb4f99f_b.jpg Patiently Waiting... by Ian Menego, on Flickr

    27939165350_eab17d12a8_b.jpg Cloudy Skies, Green Grass, and a Racetrack by Ian Menego, on Flickr

    27603978604_668c0f5053_b.jpg Alexis Mk. XV Formula Ford by Ian Menego, on Flickr

    27604387073_89abe90eac_b.jpg Escort on Escort by Ian Menego, on Flickr

    27604039484_5a5409f1ff_b.jpg BRE Datsun 510 by Ian Menego, on Flickr

    27939348380_09b2f3fc40_b.jpg TVR Tuscan V8 by Ian Menego, on Flickr

    27604595713_00f3a08895_b.jpg Competition Coupe Dodge Viper by Ian Menego, on Flickr

    28142432461_7b8cffbc87_b.jpg Competition Coupe Dodge Viper by Ian Menego, on Flickr

    So, how did these "old" lenses and cameras do shooting these fast cars? You be the judge. Personally, I was very pleased with the outcome. The high grade 4/3 zoom lenses have to be the best deal going in terms of image quality for the price. Yes, they are bigger and heavier than m43 lenses. But on a camera like the E-M1 with the RRS base plate, I never once noticed any issues based on size or weight. The images I got from the lenses are tack sharp (when using the proper technique and panning smoothly with the cars). I didn't have any major issues with the C-AF. Yes, sometimes it would wander off but that was more the exception rather than the rule. But for the price of this two body, two lens kit, I don't think you could find something that could perform better. I am very happy with the performance of this kit, and look forward to using it more in the future.
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  2. CWRailman

    CWRailman Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jun 2, 2015
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    In a previous lifetime I got to drive one of those Lotus Europa's at what is now called Road America (we knew it as the Elkhart Lake Road Course) and the back window was rather useless. I see this car has the roof modified probably to give the driver more head clearance and possibly enlarge that back window a bit.
  3. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Legend

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    @CWRailman@CWRailman, that's pretty cool that you used to drive a Europa, especially around Road America (or Elkhart Lake as it was once known). That course is simply amazing, and requires some requires some serious bravado in order to do well.
  4. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
    I've been there. Great event.
  5. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jun 26, 2013
    Andrew Lossing
    Beautiful cars! Good work!
  6. CWRailman

    CWRailman Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jun 2, 2015
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Though I was racing stock cars during the early 1970's I was back up driver in a private entry 1969 Z-28 Camaro for a few events at Road America. The Europa I got to do two laps in seemed grossly underpowered considering the other cars I was used to driving and the fact that my street car was a 4 speed 1965 Corvette with the road racing package including large capacity fiberglass fuel tank, knock off wheel hubs, side pipes and occasionally dual four barrel carbs (usually single four barrel) on a solid lifter 327 engine. I should add that due to big money getting involved, the sport of auto racing has changed a lot over the years and for that reason I love seeing photo's such as these featuring vintage race cars in action and thanks to the OP for posting them as they do bring back memories to old folks like myself.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2016
  7. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Legend

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Haha, yeah I could see how going from a 65 'Vette or 69 Z-28 to a Europa would make it seem rather gutless. My uncle has a 65 convertible 4-speed with a 365 horse engine in it, and I was pretty impressed with how well it pulls. Amazing car, and it fully embodies Americana.

    You're right that racing is a big dollar sport now-a-days. I agree though that it's cool to get to see some of these cars. My two favorite cars that were there were the Castrol Ford Escort RS1600, and the black TVR Tuscan. It's really cool to see cars like this today, especially when you can get up close to them and talk to the owners/drivers.
  8. CWRailman

    CWRailman Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jun 2, 2015
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    That 365HP engine in your Uncles Vette is the same type I had in my 65 fastback. It's a solid lifter motor with a 730cfm Holly carb. Sweet motor!!! You can hear the lifters click a bit when it's cold and initial startup. Much wilder than the LT-1 I have now in my 94 Vette or the LS-1 in my 98 Corvette.
  9. rloewy

    rloewy Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 5, 2014
    I raced a super-7 for a while in the past, and while it (or the Europa) might feel like it was gutless compared to the V8 beasts - it made up for it in the corners.

    First rule of driving a Lotus fast is to remember that brakes are not that important in the corners. Just go in hot and somehow, magically, it will stick...

    Lovely photos, btw. That yellow FF makes me happy.
  10. jyc860923

    jyc860923 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 28, 2012
    Shenyang, China
    I took a look at the exif on flickr just because I couldn't believe this kind of quality bokeh was from the 12-60, and now I'm impressed, the 12-60 is that good!
  11. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Legend

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Yeah, with as popular as the 50-200 is on the E-M1, I'm surprised the 12-60 doesn't get more attention. I guess that because there is the 12-40 PRO, people would rather deal with the smaller size & weight, and have the constant aperture over the extra 20mm of reach.

    I love using the 12-60 on the E-M1 though. It's a larger lens, but the weight isn't an issue due to the larger grip of the E-M1 plus the RRS base plate I have. The results certainly speak for themselves though, as the lens is very sharp, and the bokeh is actually pretty good IMO.
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  12. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Legend

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Better late than never I suppose! Thanks for the feature @barry13@barry13 .
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2016
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  13. bjurasz

    bjurasz Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 10, 2014
    Cedar Park
    Great shots! I love vintage racing!
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  14. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 13, 2015
    Troy, NY
    Jock Elliott
    Very nice series. The shot of the guy under the TVR Tuscan is brilliant.

    I used to be a serious motorhead. Are you old enough to remember the "Dan Gurney for President" stickers?

    Cheers, Jock
  15. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Legend

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    No, I'm not old enough to have seen Dan Gurney race, but I'm well aware of who he is. I'm a big motorsports fan, mostly interested in endurance racing (IMSA, WEC, Le Mans).

    That TVR was my favorite car there that weekend. We just don't see a lot of them here in the US, and it sounded awesome.
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  16. Indianpeaksjoe

    Indianpeaksjoe Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2012
    I used to watch the PVGP in Schenely Park when I was in grad school at CMU. It was such a cool event.

    Great pics!