What’s it like to shoot a DTM race meeting and the Nurburgring 24 Hours during the same weekend? We find out.[Not a valid template]
This weekend was quite unfortunate in many respects. My favourite event of the year has always been DTM at Brands Hatch, simply because it’s awesome. Great cars on a great circuit: what more could you want?! However, with the financial woes of the Nürburgring, I swore to myself that this year I would shoot the 24 Hours event just in case this was the last endurance race at the Green Hell for some time.
Now, as tends to be the way with these things, these events fell on the same weekend, which left me in a pickle: which do I shoot? As it turns out the solution was simple: do both of them.
Initial plans were to shoot the DTM race at Brands Hatch on Saturday and Sunday, leave after the race, drive throughout the night, and try to hit the Nordschleife at about midnight, some seven hours after the start. However, Eurotunnel check-in times meant this wasn’t going to work: whichever way I played it, I was looking at a couple of hours wait for the next train. So I decided to shoot DTM on the Saturday then drive to the Nürburgring on Sunday for the 24 Hours race in the afternoon.
DTM is historically my favourite event of the year, since the German touring car series (or Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters if you insist) is one of the most photogenic race series I’ve ever shot. The cars are very photogenic coupe-esque tourers, covered in lots of big colourful sponsors and which run very close to the ground thanks to their aerodynamics: they generate sparks from their titanium running plates and spit flames into the slow corners.
And then there’s the Brands Hatch circuit. I grew up in the surrounding area and cut my teeth as a young(er) photographer shooting the smaller motor racing series that made their way to Kent, UK. Whenever series like the DTM or historic racing events head to Brands Hatch, the circuit always receives a fresh lick of paint, plenty of sponsor hoardings and a bumper crowd. It makes my job very easy as this event looks brilliant in almost any photo, and it’s always great fun to see the circuit dressed up and appreciated to its full extent.
Upon arriving at the circuit at a slightly bleary 8am, I signed up at the media centre in order to get my XXL media tabard (I’m not fat, this is just a one size fits all type of affair!). My first stop is usually the pitlane, always a spectacular area during DTM weekend. The sound of these cars bouncing off their respective rev limiters down pitroad is something else, and when you’re less than six feet away from them, they certainly grab your attention.
The aim of my visit to DTM on Saturday was purely to shoot self-indulgent arty shots. All events though require a certain amount of ‘safe’ stock images to be shot: it is ultimately what newspapers and magazines want. The good thing is that these can normally be finished pretty quickly, and such proved the case this weekend too. One memory card full and safely stowed on my laptop, I was then able to take advantage of DTM’s generous on-track time – nearly three hours – which is manner from heaven for a photographer used to shooting 20-minute British Touring Car Championship races.
Having shot Brands Hatch so many times before (I’d say well over 50 but I’ve lost track of the exact number), I find it hard to come up with angles I’ve yet to shoot from before. And this is where the large amount of time DTM spends on track comes into it’s own, since it gives me time to explore areas I might never have time to access during a BTCC race.
I chose to spend most of qualifying shooting from the commentary tower. One particular shot I was trying to get showed sparks flying off the DTM cars as they turned through Surtees, the final corner that leads onto the Brands Hatch GP circuit layout. This is usually a fairly featureless corner, but the DTM cars completely transform this otherwise dull shot.
Several hours of arduous salivating over the touring cars later, it was time to stow my gear, head for home and prepare for shooting the Nürburgring 24 Hours. It was a shame I wasn’t going to see the DTM cars in anger during the race – a race which Mike Rockenfeller ultimately won in the Phoenix Racing Audi RS5 DTM – but a family barbeque in the evening sun certainly wasn’t something to be sniffed at. Especially considering the early start I had ahead of me the following day.