Story and photographs by John Sukowaty
What happens when you get more than 400 vintage cars together in one place in the middle of the summer? Road America calls it the WeatherTech International Challenge with Brian Redman and I call it a great time to have a camera in my hand. So many different cars, from pre-war to the modern GT series and all of them are getting on the race track at one point or another over the 4-day event. Elkhart Lake Wisconsin is packed with vintage style and now you have vintage race cars from many different places coming together to show their stuff. Photography at this event can be a bit of a burn out session, but I have been looking forward to it all season.
So Many Cars
The weather for the weekend looked to be pretty good as long as you were not at the track overnight. I feel bad for the campers that pitch a tent on the property as it almost always rains on them by morning. It was hot and muggy for the most part, but that did not stop fans from lining up along the fences on Friday to enjoy some vintage racing. With more than 10 groups of cars, some with 40+ cars, ready to race on the track things were really starting to shape up. Friday I focused on the racing and wanted to leave any crowd interaction shots for Saturday and Sunday. Race groups were going to be on the track for just a short time each and wanted to be sure I got images of as many race cars as possible.
The Crowds Are Great
It was a little wet on Saturday and even though I passed on the Concourse in Elkhart Lake on Friday, I was happy to get to the track a little later than usual. From what I heard, all of the fans and media staff that went into Elkhart Lake for the Concourse had a great time, despite the fact that it rained on and off for the 2 hour event. The weatherman can tell you when it will rain, but that is not going to stop fans of all things vintage from getting up close and personal with the cars in downtown Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. At the race track, I could tell that the attendance was starting to pick up. Even though the heat was going to hit the 90’s, fans were there early to try and stake out the best viewing areas hoping to catch a glimpse of their favorite race car.
As the day went on the temperature was on the rise and that made it increasingly difficult to find a comfortable place to take photos. On the one hand, there were places like outside of Turn 6 that are great for afternoon photos, but the majority of that area is in the direct sun. A little bit of shade provides some relief, but then you are limited to the views your camera has. Check out my gallery below for the photos that I was able to salvage from the 4-day event.
Sunday Is Always Bittersweet
For the most part, Sunday on race weekend is all about the big show. Feature races were on the schedule and they were pretty much on time throughout the entire day. Thursday and Friday got a little behind schedule due to oil on the track, but the two main race days, went very well. As the day went on and groups were finished with their races, competitors started to pack up and leave the track. Seeing the haulers move classic, vintage cars away from Road America while other races are still going on is a sad feeling. The crowds start to dwindle and by the middle of the afternoon the entire area is starting to look like a ghost town. Even though it is the best time to visit any of the concession stands, it brings a sad feeling to the end of a long, race weekend. If you have never been to Road America and can only pick one weekend, shoot for the vintage weekend in July, it will NOT disappoint.
Photographs provided by John Sukowaty (http://www.racedayphotog.com/road-america-2017). John Sukowaty is a contributor to Sports Car Illustarted. John has been taking photos at Road America over the last 5 years and really enjoys capturing the overall interest of each race that he attends.
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