筑波サーキット Part 1
Paddock Lot Pimpin'
You can thank video games for pioneering the way we explore the world, engineer technology and test our limits. I still remember when I got my first Playstation system and how much time I devoted to it during summer vacations playing Final Fantasy VII and Gran Turismo. When I wasn't busy running in circles trying fighting enemies to build up my characters in FFVII, I was busy getting licenses and tuning my cars in Gran Turismo. It wasn't until the third one when I started to get a hang of tuning my cars correctly and just dumping all my credits into horsepower. I matured throughout the series of Gran Turismo but at some point you really need to detach yourself and find another way to get your fill of speed adrenaline.
Then like a gift from the Gran Turismo gods, they released a motorcycle junkie's version, Tourist Trophy. It was then I got hooked on the physics of the game and how different it was in corners and acceleration. I fell in love. But every time I came back from Tourist Trophy to Gran Turismo, I would need a few practice sessions to get used to the car handling again.
The best part of Gran Turismo is the exposure of real world tracks around the globe that you have access to race on. The newer versions are getting ridiculously accurate to every aspect of each track. Once I found what type of corners and speeds I liked to race on, matched with certain cars I found my holy grail of tracks - Tsukuba Circuit.
About a two and a half hour train ride from Tokyo, with two train transfers and taxi ride into the country side of Sodo in Shimotsuma, you'll find yourself in one of the quietest places that you'll hear yourself breath. At the station that looks like it hasn't changed for decades, you'll be greeted by one or two taxi drivers that can assume where you want to go just by looking at you. Of course, my heavy camera bag and tripod doesn't camouflage me that well so the taxi driver knew right away where we wanted to go.
We were blessed with amazing sunny weather, no winds, just sun rays and clear country side air. I couldn't have asked for more, perfect race day weather.
The event I was shooting was the Tsukuba Tourist Trophy which consisted of 8 different class races. Upon entering Gate D, you can already here engines warming up and smell the yakitori grilling for the spectators to enjoy during the long race day ahead. After getting my press credentials, you can bet before I even took my camera out, I scuffed down some salted beef tongue and chicken thighs before I started trekking around the track trying to find the money spots.
It's been a while since I've shot some motorsports, and especially at this caliber. For some of you who don't know, I get car sick and after long drives sitting in the back seat I'll need to step out to get air. The same goes for long train rides facing backwards from the direction of the train, so enduring a grueling two and a half hours was a stretch for me, but I was not gonna let a little headache toll me over on this opportunity to shoot at my favorite race track.
With all the shots I took, it would be unfair to some people to post all of them in one post, it would be murder and a long drag for some servers. So I'm going to break this race segment into three lengthy parts: paddock shots, action shots of the race, and final podium shots.
So far all you motor heads, here's some juicy pictures of to drool over from the paddocks as the racers warm up their tires and finish final preparations for their races.