I said it before, and I will lead off with the same sentiment. #Valcourt is one of those fun motorsports events, that you wish would never end! Usually my day would start off at about 10-10:30, as I would make my way around the paddocks. I like to wander around and grab some of those candid photos of people going through there routines preparing for the day ahead. I also visually, and mentally prepare for the day by going over a shot list, which I will sketch down in my daybook, or into the notes on my phone. It is very important to go through your photos at the end of each day, if not during the day at some point if you have the opportunity to do so. Sometimes you can pick up on some little detail, and make an adjustment to the composition, or “re-take” a shot. It is always a learning process at a new event, and for myself a sport I am not familiar with. It is part of training ones eye to take better shots.
I noticed right away on Day 1 that this event is focused on having fun. Hours before the first green flag drops the DJ is bumping (and I mean bumping!) tunes that I am sure can be heard for miles away. I caught myself putting on regular dance performances throughout the day. How could you not, as the snocross racers dance through the moguls almost perfectly in tune to Justin Timberlake’s Filthy?
Play track change, some old school Ruby Soho by Rancid and the action takes to the Ice Oval. The most fearless athletes in motorsport battle it out at over 100mph on a very unforgiving ring of ice. One slip, bad edge, or mental lapse and you’d find yourself barrelling into the retaining wall of hay bails, often with your machine coming in hot.
Of course if that isn’t entertaining enough, Valcourt serves up an order of bikes, ATVs, and Side by Sides.
I was also ultimately blown away by the “chill out zone”. Complete with a party tent, and all kinds of kid fun. Every evening from around 5PM, until waaayyyyy too late at night, live bands rocked the party tent. You could enjoy some amazing food truck eats, check out products from your favourite manufacturers, or have an adult beverage. Bring the kids too, there was all sorts of amazing fun. A huge toboggan hill was constructed, bouncy castles, a mini ATV race course, and fire pits to warm up beside.
Of course for me the fun is had with my camera. This event provided me with all sorts of challenges. Which I always relish the opportunity to work through. You cannot grow as a photographer without being faced with all sorts of challenges that push your limits. I talked about a few of these in brief in my other blogs. Some that really stood out were shooting in snow and ice during daylight hours. The white washes right out and it can really mess with your shots. Slightly overexposing seems to get a more favourable outcome to eliminate the hard shadows.
The obvious one was shooting in snow, and freezing rain conditions. Although I will admit I loved the results when I was able to snag them. The challenges were endless here. Fogging lenses and view finders, wet glass, frozen buttons, slippery buttons, you name it. It was just a measure of perseverance and realizing that the shots were totally worth it!
Another obstacle was not being able to use a flash. This became a task of creative shots, and utilizing the track lighting as best as possible. Along with full pressing the limits of the cameras abilities.
One other challenge I did not expect to face. An impromptu photoshoot with the Rockstar Energy girls. Also low lighting conditions, without any sort of lighting gear in tow. It took a little trial and error, however my Nikon D800 was up to the task as it always is!
If you were unable to attend the event, and wanted to take in the racing action. You were in luck! Sledknawker.tv broadcast the event live, and for free. The broadcast was also repeated via the official website of the Grand-Prix.
The official testing site for Ski-Doo, Grand-Prix Valcourt serves up this one public event yearly. It is an action packed event, where you will meet a lot of great and friendly people. There is a little something for everyone, but most of all, a lot of FUN! So we will see you in Valcourt next year? I know I will be there!