This year has been nothing but great. Every event so far, has been fast, cool, or just Race Cars Always. After spectating with a friend on Friday for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, I thought I wouldn’t have the itch to shoot some cars. Well it’s been years since I’ve taken it to the grandstands and become part of the Spectators Section, and luckily for me I had a friend that was willing to roll along with me. So the food is still expensive as hell, the drinks too, but the walking around and checking out booths and cars felt much different. I didn’t have my camera with me to capture some moments, or make small talk to fellow photogs. I just took it in as I should, saw familiar faces but didn’t interact much. Just as I remembered back years ago of just being a fan of the sport.
Saturday Day 2 was it, so I grabbed the media vest, and headed to the beach. Long Beach that is, for years it’s been home to this spectacular event that’s been a So-Cal thing longer then I have been around. But this time I didn’t want to shoot IndyCar this year, and I chose to focus on capturing the Sports Car Racing parts only. We had the Pirelli World Challenge, the Historic Trans Am Challenge, and the Icing on the cake, the IMSA Weather Tech SportsCar Championship aka the Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix. Now without going into a lot of detail and get you lost with some long story line. I’m going to just let the photos of each race do the talking and take you there.
Pirelli World Challenge 2018 – Now the race cars in this series have the closest resemblance to modern day sports cars you would see on the road and your local track. Fueled by the same passion, the racing is still pretty intense, and draws a lot of attention from all over the USA. My friend that I brought with me on Friday knows some of the people that participate, work, and actually drive in this series, so her knowledge and info sharing was quite interesting. In the end on Sunday, Daniel Mancinelli of TR3 Racing and a fast white Ferrari 488 GT3 took the win with Toni Vilander in another Ferrari 488 GT3 of Ferri Motorsport took second, while Alvaro Parente of the K-PAX Racing camp with their beautiful Bentley Continental GT3 topped off the podium in 3rd.
Historic Trans Am Challenge – This race was a trip back in time, it was nice seeing these older V8 powered Race Cars rumble through the streets. Knowing some history behind the series and the cars. It’s still amazing today to see them in action. If you ever get a chance to read up on some good racing stories and the cars of this era. Check out the details of how each team would work on the cars, the amount of innovation and work ethic some of these teams back then did to get these cars running fast, and with a slight edge if they could. The one car that stood out for me was the #6 Sunoco Chevy Camaro, since I remembered the crazy story of it’s roots and the original #15 “Lightweight” Camaro aka the famous unfair-advantage Penske/Donohue creation.
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – Which I mentioned earlier is also known for this event as the Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix. The highlight of this event is watching these extreme high tech machines go toe to toe with each other as if it was the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The cars themselves are absolutely gorgeous, with the worlds best drivers piloting them. Team Porsche had their Mid-Engine 911 RSR’s and the Ford GT’s which look like they came out of a Transformer Auto Bots Assembly line, where the best looking out of the roster. But not to be left out, the BMW’s surely looked incredible too. In the GTLM Class, Team Corvette with Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner took 1st, and held off the Ford GT’s of the Chip Ganassi Racing Team. While Mustang Sampling Racing and their winning Cadillac DPi took 1st, with drivers Joao Barbosa, and Filipe Albuquerque. Followed by Scott Sharp and Ryan Dalziel in the Tequila Patron ESM Nissan DPi. I was hoping to see more cars this year from this series, but it fell short and I guess after this event it made me realize if I really want to see the Best of the Best in Sports Car Racing, I need to man up and save up of course, and head over to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.. Lol.. Well in due time.. -Rommel Estrada #racecarsalways