21
Jun
Canon 1Dx, 70-200mm, 800iso, f5.6, 1/1000th, Manual The first car of the day, Jeff Zwart in a Porsche GT3 Cup races up the mountain through the glare of the rising sun.

A few weeks ago I found out I would be covering my first Pikes Peak Hill Climb. Naturally I was super excited about the gig but also nervous. I had never shot Pikes Peak before so I had no clue where to go and what to do. Luckily at the last minute I got invited to shoot a testing session with some teams on the mountain. Sweet!

My primary objective of this shoot was to get plenty of car shots of legendary racer Rod Millen in his electric powered Toyota.

The day prior to shooting the test session on the mountain I headed out to Pikes Peak International Raceway, an oval track about 30 minutes from the mountain. It would be a good chance for me to check out the car up close along with shoot some shots of it.

Canon 1Dx, 16-35mm, 800iso, f6.3, 1/250th, Manual Crew members work beneath the Toyota TMG EV P002 electric car of Rod Millen inside a garage at Pikes Peak International Raceway.

Canon 1Dx, 16-35mm, 800iso, f6.3, 1/250th, Manual
Crew members work beneath the Toyota TMG EV P002 electric car of Rod Millen inside a garage at Pikes Peak International Raceway.

Even had the time to set up a couple studio lights and shoot the car. Background was less than desirable but with other vehicles and stuff littering the garage area beggars couldn’t be choosers…

Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 640iso, f7.1, 1/250th, Manual with Strobes The Toyota TMG EV P002 electric car of Rod Millen sits inside a garage at Pikes Peak International Raceway following an early morning tire test on Pikes Peak.

Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 640iso, f7.1, 1/250th, Manual with Einstein Strobes
The Toyota TMG EV P002 electric car of Rod Millen sits inside a garage at Pikes Peak International Raceway following an early morning tire test on Pikes Peak.

The schedule for the testing session required me to wake up at 2:30 AM, meet the video team I was partnering with and head out to the track for when the Park Rangers opened the gates at 3:30 for competitors and teams.

The night before I took Nyquil as the sun was still shining outside so I could try and fall asleep at 8 PM. #didntwork

The road they race up is actually a public highway so the early hours are necessary as to not disturb the public use that begins at 9am.

It blew my mind to get there that early and watch as the race teams literally parked on the sides of the road wherever they had just enough space to set up a mini pit area. No giant semis with the cars in them, due to the lack of space the teams use small enclosed trailers or even flat bed trailers!

With no street lights on the sides of the windy road, crew members all wore LED lights on their heads to be able to see as they unloaded the car.

Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 10000iso, f2.8, 1/125th, Manual With only LED headlamps to provide light, crew members unload the car of Rod Millen on the side of the Pikes Peak Highway prior to a scheduled tire test.

Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 10000iso, f2.8, 1/125th, Manual
With only LED headlamps to provide light, crew members unload the car of Rod Millen on the side of the Pikes Peak Highway prior to a scheduled tire test.

The test session would begin at sunrise so I headed a few miles up the mountain to a spot that would allow me several angles without much movement.

Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 100iso, f6.3, 1/320th, Manual The sun rises through the trees from my position a few miles up Pikes Peak.

Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 100iso, f6.3, 1/320th, Manual
The sun rises through the trees from my position a few miles up Pikes Peak.

Over the radio of the corner worker nearby I heard an official say, “green course!”

That radio transmission wasn’t even needed as I quickly could hear a car taking off and racing up the mountain.

The sound of upshifts and downshifts echoing through the forest as the sun rose above the trees was nothing short of magical. Such a cool thing to hear!

With the racing occurring between 5:30-8:30 AM it guaranteed some amazing early morning sunlight that I was eagerly anticipating.

Canon 1Dx, 70-200mm, 800iso, f5.6, 1/1000th, Manual The first car of the day, Jeff Zwart in a Porsche GT3 Cup races up the mountain through the glare of the rising sun.

Canon 1Dx, 70-200mm, 800iso, f5.6, 1/1000th, Manual
The first car of the day, Jeff Zwart in a Porsche GT3 Cup races up the mountain through the glare of the rising sun.

With the electric cars, they actually are so quiet that you can’t hear them. With no security to keep people from crossing the track between cars it would be incredibly unsafe to have a silent race car heading up a mountain at 130 mph. With that in mind all electric cars are required to have a siren sounding as they run. Totally odd to hear what sounds like a police siren in the distance getting louder and louder until the car comes hauling ass around the bend past you. Then you hear the sound of the siren getting less and less until it disappears.

Canon 1Dx, 70-200mm, 800iso, f4.5, 1/1600th, Manual Rod Millen (at a much faster speed than 30mph) in action on the mountain.

Canon 1Dx, 70-200mm, 800iso, f4.5, 1/1600th, Manual
Rod Millen (at a much faster speed than 30mph) in action on the mountain.

With each car that raced past me I would try and change up angles to have a good variety. I quickly learned its incredibly easy to get cool shots on Pikes Peak. Simply find a pretty scene without a car and find a way to incorporate a car into the scenery shot.

Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 800iso, f5, 1/2000th, Manual Steve Goeglein races his Camaro up the mountain as the sun shines through trees lining the side of the road.

Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 800iso, f5, 1/2000th, Manual
Steve Goeglein races his Camaro up the mountain as the sun shines through trees lining the side of the road.

Less than 15 cars participated in the test so once they would all race up the mountain they would turn around and head back down the mountain.

While its not high speed racing, it still allows you double the chances to shoot each car.

Canon 1Dx, 70-200mm, 640iso, f5.6, 1/1000th, Manual Rod Millen heads down the mountain following one of his four runs halfway up the mountain.

Canon 1Dx, 70-200mm, 640iso, f5.6, 1/1000th, Manual
Rod Millen heads down the mountain following one of his four runs halfway up the mountain.

Just by walking up and down the mountain looking around enabled me to find small slices of visible road through the trees. That plus a 400mm lens made for some cool shots.

Canon 1Dx, 70-200mm, 640iso, f5.6, 1/4000th, Manual Swedish driver Ralf Christensson races his 1967 Ford Fast Back GT 350 through the trees on his way up the mountain. All I know is I wanna fish that lake back there!

Canon 1Dx, 70-200mm, 640iso, f5.6, 1/4000th, Manual
Swedish driver Ralf Christensson races his 1967 Ford Fast Back GT 350 through the trees on his way up the mountain. All I know is I wanna fish that lake back there!

The below photo was taken from the same position as the previous shot, 16 seconds later!

Canon 1Dx, 70-200mm, 640iso, f5.6, 1/1600th, Manual Just 16 seconds later Christensson races past my position on his way up the mountain towards the finish line… all the way up where that snow is!

Canon 1Dx, 70-200mm, 640iso, f5.6, 1/1600th, Manual
Just 16 seconds later Christensson races past my position on his way up the mountain towards the finish line… all the way up where that snow is!

With no security telling me where I could and couldn’t stand it made for a really fun time working on the mountain.

Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 100iso, f8, 1/250th, Manual WRC rally superstar Sebastien Loeb races his Red Bull sponsored Peugeot up the mountain. This guy was FAST!

Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 100iso, f8, 1/250th, Manual
WRC rally superstar Sebastien Loeb races his Red Bull sponsored Peugeot up the mountain. This guy was FAST!

Canon 1Dx, 70-200mm, 640iso, f5.6, 1/800th, Manual With a large rear wing providing some much needed downforce, the Camaro of Steve Goeglein drives through a turn on his way up the mountain.

Canon 1Dx, 70-200mm, 640iso, f5.6, 1/800th, Manual
With a large rear wing providing some much needed downforce, the Camaro of Steve Goeglein drives through a turn on his way up the mountain.

Canon 1Dx, 70-200mm, 640iso, f5.6, 1/5000th, Manual Jeff Zwart rounds a bend in his Porsche GT3.

Canon 1Dx, 70-200mm, 640iso, f5.6, 1/5000th, Manual
Jeff Zwart rounds a bend in his Porsche GT3.

Canon 1Dx, 400mm, 320iso, f7.1, 1/1250th, Manual If you look closely you can see some trees in this photo.

Canon 1Dx, 400mm, 320iso, f7.1, 1/1250th, Manual
If you look closely you can see some trees in this photo.

Without all the sponsor stickers and rear wings on the cars, many could have passed as a simple motorist who paid their 12 dollars to drive to the top of the mountain.

Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 400iso, f7.1, 1/1250th, Manual John Edwards-Parton races his Mini Cooper past some flowers lining the mountainside. I was laying in the dirt to shoot this photo but was quickly motivated to get up when I saw some big black ants crawling on my legs!

Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 400iso, f7.1, 1/1250th, Manual
John Edwards-Parton races his Mini Cooper past some flowers lining the mountainside. I was laying in the dirt to shoot this photo but was quickly motivated to get up when I saw some big black ants crawling on my legs!

Got Downforce?

Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 400iso, f6.3, 1/2000th, Manual Rod Millen in action on the mountain.

Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 400iso, f6.3, 1/2000th, Manual
Rod Millen in action on the mountain.

Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 400iso, f6.3, 1/2000th, Manual A beautiful Cobra in action on the mountain by a big rock.

Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 400iso, f6.3, 1/2000th, Manual
A beautiful Cobra in action on the mountain by a big rock.

Its weird to be done work by 9am yet the only thing you can think about is getting back to bed! Too bad thats not an option when you have a few hours of editing to do!

For the flight back to Phoenix I did what I always do and carried a camera with me to hopefully get some cool aerial photos during trip home.

Luckily I would get some good views!

Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/5000th, Aperture Priority An afternoon thunderstorm dumps rain and a rainbow viewed from my window seat on takeoff from Denver International Airport.

Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/5000th, Aperture Priority
An afternoon thunderstorm dumps rain and a rainbow viewed from my window seat on takeoff from Denver International Airport.

Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/1600th, Aperture Priority Through some good luck my flight would go over Pikes Peak. If you look closely towards the middle of the frame you can actually see the road they race on winding its way to the summit.

Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/1600th, Aperture Priority
Through some good luck my flight would go over Pikes Peak. If you look closely towards the middle of the frame you can actually see the road they race on winding its way to the summit.

That wraps up my first weekend at Pikes Peak. Beyond excited to go back up there for the actual race which is a for sure bucket list item for a motorsports lover such as myself!


 
Posted in 10 Spot, Aerial Photography, Colorado, Racing, Scenic, Sports   2 Comments

2 responses to “10 Spot / My first trip to Pikes Peak”

  1. phil reynolds says:

    You Are Truly a Talented Man. Thanks For These Photo’s, They’re Beautiful. Thanks …

  2. Joe H says:

    As is your normal OUTSTANDING shots Mark! THANKS for letting us have a PEEK at Pikes Peak!

Leave a Reply

Check out my Facebook page devoted my photography where I routinely share my favorite photos from each shoot as well as favorite photos from the past. Click the below banner to check it out. Be sure to "like" the page so you can be kept up to date on all the events I am doing!