AutoMatters: IndyCar & Coronado Speed Festival Previews


By Jan R. Wagner

It seems like it just began but another auto racing season is already entering the home stretch. Coming up on Sept. 21 – 22 will be the Coronado Speed Festival – part of Fleet Week, which pays tribute to the United States Navy, Marines and Coast Guard. You’ll see racecars from the past – and a few from the present, as they gather from around the country to compete on the road course at Naval Base Coronado. This will include an official round of the Mazda MX-5 Cup series, where production car-based Mazda MX-5s will race each other in SCCA Pro Racing.

In addition to the racing there will be a massive car club corral, containing many makes and models of memorable cars. The vendor area typically includes everything from automotive art to useful products for your car. BMW and VW will be offering test drives. Take in the large display of military aircraft and vehicles, including flyovers. Tour an active duty Navy ship and cheer on the 16 crews in the Military Pit Crew Challenge.

To get tickets and for more information, visit


Next up, on Oct. 18 – 19, will be the MAVTV 500 IndyCar World Championship season finale, under the lights at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. Expect to witness a three-wide start, just like at the Indy 500.

This promises to be exciting, if the recent race in Sonoma is any indication. Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) is in a tight battle with Helio Castroneves (Team Penske), along with Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti (both driving for Andretti AutoSport) for the series championship. Scott suffered a major setback in the points when he was sent to the back of the field, late in the race, after being penalized for an incident on pit road.

In addition to the IndyCar and Indy Lights races, this year tickets will also include admission to the inaugural PRD Pan-American Crown of Karting event, on a specially constructed track in the FanZone area. This event will feature world-class drivers from the United States, Mexico, Canada and South America, competing in six high-performance classes of karts.

To buy tickets or for more information, go to

  1. Ticket prices start as low as $20 for Friday qualifying and karting, and only $30 for Saturday race day.

I am looking forward to taking photographs for you at these events. In a previous column (AutoMatters # 281), I discussed some useful motorsports photography techniques to convey a sense of the action and excitement. This time I’ll discuss several essential accessories.

I walk around a lot during the course of a race weekend, carrying two heavy, professional DSLR cameras – one with a wide angle lens and one with a long zoom telephoto, to try and capture the variety of what goes on from many vantage points: turns with exciting, wheel-to-wheel racing action; garages and pits where the teams work on their cars; vendor areas, as the fans shop for race memorabilia: and more. I need to carry everything that I’ll need (cameras and assorted accessories, a jacket, food, water and more) for hours at a time, often over long distances and with few opportunities to rest. That is why the right accessories are so important.

Camera straps around the neck are painful. Instead, camera straps must be comfortable and allow for easy and quick access to the cameras. I strongly recommend the Black Rapid double (DR-1) (

). Worn like a vest, one heavily padded strap fits over each shoulder, and the two straps are joined at the front and back. The cameras are hung securely on each side, from their tripod mounts. For single camera use, one of the shoulder straps can be unclipped and worn like a sling.

Always useful are the many large pockets of a true photo vest. I recommend the well-made Domke PhoTOGS vest.

At the recent Pro Photo EXPO & Conference in Pasadena I learned about something that I’d wanted for years: large backpacks that also provide a padded area for a DSLR with a lens attached. Lowepro (

) makes two of them (the Rover Pro 45L AW and 35L AW). I just ordered one of each.

Also at the EXPO was a company called DriveSavers (

). Since 1985 they have been recovering data from electronic storage media, which can save your digital photographs.

That’s all for now. As always, please write to me at

with your comments and suggestions.

Copyright © 2013 by Jan Wagner – #295