Photographer’s Diary – Racing In The Rain

Rain tire. [Jack Webster Photo]

Rain tire. [Jack Webster Photo]

I have photographed many races in my 44 plus years of covering sports car racing, but I think I would be hard pressed to recall a race that was more miserable for drivers, crews, spectators and yes, photographers, than last week’s running of Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

On Thursday afternoon it started raining and literally never stopped. Thankfully, the race was stopped with a little over two hours remaining in the ten hour event on Saturday, as with nightfall and the circuit being totally saturated with water it was getting far too dangerous to continue.

Of course, as a shooter, I spent a good amount of time out in the rain as the photos posted here prove. Shooting in the rain, just like racing in the rain, takes a high level of concentration and preparation to survive the day.

Concentration was an absolute must, for you were constantly struggling to literally see the cars as they were coming toward you over a blind hill. Due to the conditions, cars were always taking different lines so it became more difficult than ever to predict where they would come into the viewfinder. On top of that, you had to be more aware than ever of where you were, where the cars were and where the cars might go in the case of an off road excursion.

Preparation was a must as well. You had to struggle to keep your camera gear dry, or at least dry enough to continue to operate. I went though many microfiber towels as I constantly was drying off the camera, wiping rain off the front of the lens and the eyepiece (which kept fogging up making it even more difficult to see). I did my best to keep the rain off the gear, using the tried and true method I have used many times in the past – putting the camera in a clear bag, cutting a hole for the lens hood and taping the whole contraption together with electrical tape. It actually worked pretty well.

I hope that Petit Le Mans this year is the last time I have to shoot in the rain for a while, but I am sure that it won’t be the last time. At this point, I just need a bit of time to dry out.

I hope you enjoy the photos.

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