It’s been a while since I’ve shot 35mm film, and even longer since I’ve had any of my analog work published. This year I’ve gotten back into it, and as always the results are as rewarding as the process.
A few weekends back I packed a couple film bodies in my kit, as I would be heading to two events that lended themselves perfectly to being captured on film. Shooting with film really slows you down and forces you to make much more calculated choices. If you shoot often but haven’t tried it out, there are plenty of cheap SLR and point-and-shoot bodies online to get you started.
I’d highly recommend it, especially for vintage events like Velocity Invitational at Laguna Seca, where our story starts.
This is an event of absolutely epic proportions, and although only in its second year has already become a premier destination for the best vintage machinery in the world. Seeing Ayrton Senna’s iconic Marlboro-liveried McLaren MP4/5B-07 at speed is not something I’ll forget any time soon. This car would have been shot by tens of thousands of other photographers — also on film, of course — when it won the 1990 Formula One World Championship.
This wasn’t the first time I’d seen a McLaren F1 on track, but it was my first time capturing this Gulf car being driven in anger. This GT12R competed in Le Mans in 1996 where it placed 5th overall, and the chassis also won four races in the 1996 BPR Global Endurance GT Series.
There were plenty of amazing street cars on display around the paddock as well. It’s not every day you get to see all of these legendary machines side-by-side, and much like Monterey Car Week, Velocity Invitational is just sensory overload.
Being a historics-based event, it will come as no surprise that there were loads of cars from the Trans Am area and beyond. This ex-Horst Kwech Alfa Romeo GTV isn’t what comes to mind when I think Trans Am, but it did in fact compete alongside the Mustangs and Camaros I usually associate with the era. I actually shot this Alfa shortly after the event for a friend, and it’s slated to go up for sale on Bring a Trailer soon.
Speaking of BaT, this ex-McLaren 1972 Ford Condor RV was also purchased on the site, by none other than McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown. It was very cool to see the motorhome surface here; it’s the perfect event for it to be used at.
I only shot cars from the early 2000s or older on film, cutting it off around these C5s and 993s.
At the end of the day, there was a Mustangs vs. Minis race, and this was the event I was most looking forward to at Velocity.
It’s mind-boggling to see how close the racing is against these two completely different chassis with entirely different formulas. Front-wheel drive vs. rear-wheel drive, large displacement vs. lightweight. It was a complete riot, and there are a handful more photos of the race on film in the gallery below.
You can find many millions-worth of other machinery below, too, including a CSL, Aston Martin, more Porsches, and even a modern (ish) F1 car that was lapping with the other McLarens.
Riko’s Meeting 2022
The very next day I was at Riko’s meeting, and while I normally wouldn’t combine coverage of these two events, they were both shot on the same 35mm camera with some overlap in the rolls. There are also two other elements that relate these events.
First, and most obvious, was the fantastic retro-style venue that Riko selected and the well-curated mix of vintage cars that showed up. The main difference being that these were only old school Japanese cars at Riko’s Meeting.
Second, and more subtle, is that there is no Japanese/JDM equivalent to events like Velocity Invitational. Yes, Japanese classics are finally receiving more esteem from collectors, and yes, a handful of classic Japanese race cars are exhibited at events like Velocity, Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, or the JIA booth at Pebble Beach.
We also have events like the Japanese Classic Car Show in Southern California, that cater only to — you guessed it — Japanese classics. However, when chatting to Riko at his event he was quick to point out that there really is not event here in California – or anywhere in the US – that combines the aspects of events like JCCS and Velocity.
Imagine an event like Goodwood Revival, but focusing on Japanese cars. A destination worth travelling cross-country for, an event where the best modified Japanese classics can be exhibited alongside the most iconic Japanese race cars redlining their engines in exhibition races.
For an event like this, the sky would be the limit. But it would take money, coordination, and time. Lots of time, which is to say — again — lots of money. I think the time is right for a Japanese-centric event like this, though, and I know Riko for one is pushing for something like this to happen.
— already taking place on smaller scales, there’s no reason why the JDM community in the US couldn’t unite to host a super high-caliber extravaganza celebrating decades of Japanese automobiles.
I would love for an event like this to become a reality, and it would be at the top of my list of events to hit in 2023 or 2024 if it could be realized. If a project like this does come to fruition I’m spoiled in the sense that there’s a high likelihood that it would take place on the West Coast, but I wouldn’t hesitate to travel across the country to take it in.
The question is, would you?