Jaguar SHC 2019
Arriving in Knysna, in the Western Cape on a beautiful Thursday afternoon, unfortunately missing the Classic car town parade, Shirah and I checked ourselves in to the Speed festival welcome centre extremely excited. Excited not only for the event but this was the first time having Shirah as my assistant for LifeStance.
I didn’t think we’d get to experience any action so soon after check-in, however, we got some first hand experiences ourselves. On the way to our accommodation, a gentleman, not realising he was not, in fact, part of the hill climb, decided to rear-end us. As with all accidental matters, our first reaction was to be angry, however, it was a mere bumper bashing and no one was injured, so off we went to the police station and sorted everything out in a calm manner. Once all the paperwork was completed, we were back on the road, on the way to our accommodation.
Knowing the next few days were going to be crazy (good crazy), I got a good nights’ rest.
Waking up to a rainy morning was quite the surprise and made things a lot harder when choosing an outfit. However, complaining was not going to happen, thick grey clouds and rain dropped car badges was on the agenda, and what an agenda that would make.
After the rain briefly stopped, that was our cue to grab our gear and head off to Classic Car Friday. It was just Shirah and I for this one, as the rest of my gang aren’t in to the classic cars. It started out empty and the weather didn’t help either. As the clouds opened up, the crowds rolled in as quick as the times were tumbling.
Being pre-war to about 1985 model cars, I wouldn’t exactly compare them to the likes of The Flash, more like the sloth on Zootopia.
Not to worry, I’m not going to generalise either, there was also a whole host of Porsche’s, and of course Franco Scribante’s Chevron B19, who ran consistent 42s up the standing 1.9km. Also being the Classic conqueror once again.
I decided not to go up the track for some shots as the weather didn’t inject me with any confidence. I instead, settled in and enjoyed the polarizer on my 50mm and my vintage Minolta SR-7. With the camera being a 1960s model and the cars also being pre-war era, I thought they would all make a fitting pair. **These shots will be added on a separate post, completely unfiltered.(If they came out right of course)
We left just after lunch to have a look at the Supercar shootout contenders, which were on display after being scrutinized. We were quite early for it figuring we could get a look at the cars, before the crowds return from the hill. Lots of familiar cars were back this year including the likes of the Border towing team known for their extreme gunshots up the hill. I spotted the pair of Lotus’s who did very well last year, both being on the podium with a respectable 2nd and 3rd place to the brothers. The one Lotus even looking like a winner with a fresh lick of what seems to be slate grey of some sort and just looks great standing in the streets of Knysna.
Static these cars look fast with their wild aerodynamic tweaks already, then they get to lay down some rubber for the local crowd on the closed Waterfront drive. I don’t have many shots of this parade as we ran away to the Friday night food market close by before the parade actually took place and came back to closed and packed roads for the super car parade.
Race day 2 seemed a lot better,(weather wise) until it started drizzling which was on and off for most of the day. Once again, I didn’t complain.
With the day starting with a brief drivers meeting, we quickly did our daily check in at our new media centre sponsored by Castrol. I tried early at getting bibs, which is compulsory if you wanna be on track. Being two of us, I thought it’s going to be trickier, surprisingly it wasn’t as most photographers figured the drivers won’t give it the beans just yet.
With the warm-up stint upon us, I immediately jump in my view finder too. You never know, anything can happen to any car and you’ll never have the chance to photograph that car again, being mechanical or incident. This weekend wasn’t shy of any incidences. I wasn’t as lucky as Franky’s Funky Photos to be out on track to catch any of the 3 major accidents.
According to the Bell & Ross watches on the start line, we were still on schedule. So we hopped on the media shuttle and headed straight for turn 3, possibly one of my favourite corners. Approaching the left hander where the aerodynamics would really come into play, the driver slams hard on the brakes and swiftly makes his way around the corner leaning and scraping the carbon splitters.
Halfway through practice 1, the heavens opened ever so slightly as the mean Franco Scribante racing R35 GTR took on the track. I wasn’t going to run for cover that easily. I kindly apologised to my camera and carried on shooting, I was actually hoping for some reflection shots of some sort. Yet the drizzle actually made the pictures look all grainy, like I pushed up the ISO function on my cam.
Took the shuttle down after the heat as they nicely asked all photographers to do one heat and return the bibs, so we all can have a chance. Returning to a very wet pit area, everyone returned to the track from the pit gazebos, I took my opportunity to shoot the dripping badges and worked my way up to get a print out of practice 1.
Martin van Zummeren was on top with a benchmark time of 46.430.
Half way through Saturday saw long intervals after the 7R went down the track and the beautiful grey Lotus Elise of Charl Joubert rolled a few times after hitting, what seemed to be, a wet spot on the track and things quickly got out of control. It's scary how quickly things can go south. Luckily, both drivers walked away unscathed, thanks to their safety installs.
The last picture of this beauty, before her incident.
Pictured here is the 7R that went down the hill(and its quite a downhill) apologies for terrible snap, I had to make it quick, asyou can imagine, you aren't actually allowed to stand there...
Due to these long intervals and the sky opening up nicely, the track, or more importantly, the race line, was starting to dry up for those semi slicks to get some grip, and to pilot those cars to times like 38.5 to end the day off. Distance over time, calculating to an average speed of 177.66, AVERAGE.
The Le Riche Racing brothers, providing lunch time entertainment.
Once Sunday rolled around, and it being the last day, I tried my luck at asking Canon Professional Services(CPS), who was onboard this year and situated in our media tent, if I could borrow some of their equipment (Shirah had heard whisperings that their equipment was for test driving). I had cleaned my sensor the Friday but was still unsure so being the last day, I checked with them and they actually had 1 lens left, a lovely L series 16-35mm F2.8. At first I was disappointed in my options, but man was I surprised once I started with that lens, it was hard to go back to anything else or even worse, giving it back.
Hesitantly, yet safely returning the lens, it was time to go back up the track for the remainder of the qualifying rounds, then the final shootout. This is where the time-attack style racing comes into play. Only the top 3 qualifiers in each class will get the chance to take the hill again, you would then still have to run another perfect lap up for the actual shootout in your class and of course then the top 10, which is the top 10 cars through out the classes.
With the clouds making a grumpy return, it did the turbos good for better intake, but with no sunlight on the tar to get grip for the tyres. For me, on the other hand as a photographer, trying to get quick shutter speeds, things got dark, quick. I was creeping deeper and deeper into my ISO, and for those of you that don’t know, the deeper you go into your ISO, the noisier the picture gets or, in simpler terms, more grainy.
I strategically stood at turn 2 during the last rounds of the racing, (speaking from experience, the further you are, the longer they will take to collect you and you might miss out on the podium) so we could walk back to the start line where the podium takes place. Being winter, it gets dark very quickly, and last year the podium lacked a lot of light. I’m not much of a flash kinda guy, I love natural light way too much with my nifty fifty. This year the organizers thought ahead and acquired nice and big LED lights, brightening the future of the drivers. Unlike last year, with this extra lighting, I didn’t have to steal flashes from the other photographers.
The podium was similar to last year with regards to the winners, the only change being, that Franco Scribante brought his purpose built monster. ***This will be on a separate post, because I think it is well deserved. Wilhelm Baard just missing out on the title by 1.007 seconds, giving all the car had with its numerous malfunctions over the weekend.
Andre Bezuidenhout and Reghard Roets on the other hand, retained their titles of their respectable classes. Reghard Roets in the yellow wrapped R35 GTR, won the road and supercar shootout and Andre Bezuidenhout in his Gould GR55, won the single seater and sports car shootout.
Despite starting work on this the minute we left for home and part of the editing even being completed, it still took us this long to achieve my perspective. I hope you have enjoyed my take on it. For more Simola Hill Climb results, tickets and even a count down to next years event visit the website www.speedfestival.co.za
Stay tuned to LifeStance for more hill climb goodness on my vintage 35mm Minolta and for a indepth look into the purpose built R35 GTR of Franco Scribante.
Words: Cheslin Solomons
Editor: Cherylee Ludwig
Photos: Cheslin Solomons and Shirah Cheezer
Edit: Cheslin Solomons
Tags: #JaguarSHC #JaguarSHC2019 #JSHC2019 #SimolaHillClimb #SimolaHillClimb2019 #SpeedFestival #LifeStance