Petit Le Mans 2002 / 2012

Corvette C5R photographed from Spectator Hill, from the 2002 Petit Le Mans weekend at Road Atlanta.

We went to our first Petit Le Mans in 2002…ten years ago.  Having a chance to go check it out again this past Saturday, I couldn’t help but reflect on how things have changed in the past decade.  Maybe not so much for myself, but definitely for others in my life.

I went back into the archive and found these photos from a decade ago.  We had digital cameras back then, but the good ones were prohibitively expensive.  I thought it would be cool to shoot film most of the weekend, back in October of 2002.  I didn’t have any serious gear at the time, still getting by with an old Minolta Maxxum and a standard zoom.  To this day, I might have been the only guy out there shooting black and white film of race cars–loud, gas devouring things that just go round and round.  Not that the outcome of the race had any real effect on the happiness in my life, but for some odd reason, motorsports just has that pull on so many people.  That was partly why we went, but you know, it’s always more about the people than the place.  Grabbing some food to go, parking the car up on the hill and just talking and watching the traffic go by.

I remember one race day, the topic of girls came up, and I blurted out to a friend, “Whatever, you’ll be the first to get married.”  And it was true.  I guess at some points in my life I have been prophetic, and lots of times not in a good way.  That was ten years ago…looking back and thinking about my own mental state, we were about as far as you could get from the “marrying type.”  Still just kids really.

In critiquing my old pictures here, it seems like I might have been a better “photographer” ten years ago.  At least in the whole spirit of it all, of why we did it to begin with.  It was honest back then.  Even when it came to the meeting of people and stumbling into friendships and even crushes.  It was a little more real then, the belief of chance meetings and serendipity.  10 years ahead though, most everyone is already connected in some way, points to be collected.  Not as many delightful surprises it seems, of falling head over heels for girls with four letter names.

Like the slowest car, it seems like I’ve been lapped and lapped many times over.  Would I personally change the last decade?  Some days yes, some days no.  While living humbly and trying to be content is the way so many great people throughout history taught, it’s hard to not be caught up in the competitive nature of modern life.

Why am I wired to think like this, even when the sounds of race cars is deafening?  I don’t know, it really is me.  When you’re a spectator in a spectator sport, you pretty much end up taking the same pictures as the next guy, even if you’re sporting a 400mm lens worth as much as a used car.  No need to compete, why bother.  Standing there perhaps a better use of oxygen is to figure out what, if anything went right in the last ten years.

2012 Petit Le Mans

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