Car Life: My 2012 recap

With 2013 approaching fast it’s time to look back at 2012. One of the goals I set for myself was to improve my photography dramatically and to achieve that I spent a lot of time behind the camera. I took thousands of pictures and in total I photographed more than 40 cars and car-related events. In this blog post I want to show you, my fellow petrolheads, what my year looked like.

My automotive year started early, with the very first round of the Winter Championship of the NL Drift Series at January 8th. It was freezing cold that day and I really envied the drivers who could turn up the heater in their cars. When I returned to Zandvoort two weeks later for a grassroots drifting day it rained all day. Oh, the joys of being a photographer!

Just a few weeks later, in February, the first snow of the winter fell and the next morning I immediately took the opportunity to snap some pictures of my own car. The next day I drove to Zandvoort again for the second round of the NL Drift Series. Unfortunately not many drifters showed up due to the snow and again it was terribly cold. The big clouds of snow behind the cars more than compensated the lack of smoke that day!

March was a busy month for me. It all started on the 3rd with the third and final round of the Winter Championship immediately followed the next day by the first round of the normal championship of the NL Drift Series. After five drifting events in two months I almost began to think that sliding cars sideways was the normal way to drive them.

A week later I finally had the chance of photographing a car I’d wanted to shoot for a long time. I found this weathered Chrysler Newport by accident and I thought the setting was perfect. Unfortunately there were always modern cars parked next to it so it took me a few weeks of taking the long route home from my work before I finally had the chance to photograph it on a Saturday morning. The old derelict car parked in back street near a cafe and a brothel, I love the atmosphere in this photo.

March ended with a very successful Wangan Warriors meeting in Amersfoort, The Netherlands. Finally something with good weather and the first time I saw Tim’s amazing wide body Supra in real life. It’s an amazing car and a real head turner and I hope to see it again on the track in 2013.

April, the traditional start of the tuning and racing season here in Holland. Suddenly there are events, meets and races everywhere, like Automaxx Streetpower. I spend a whole day near the track to photograph the drag races and Time Attack. Especially Time Attack was fun to watch, with a lot of familiar cars back on the track for the first time this year.

The last weekend of April I was back at Zandvoort for another event, JAF. Although I find myself skipping the paddock with the show cars almost completely, I love the Automaxx events because of all the action on the track. Drifters from The Netherlands and the UK, Time Attack, drag races, I loved every second of it!

As a Toyota Yaris owner I’ve got a weak spot for the Yaris Cup racecars. When I heard one of these little racers would be attending JAF I immediately jumped at the opportunity and contacted the owner for a shoot. At the end of the day I saw this very car in action on the track, overtaking far more powerful cars in the corners and the noise it made when its small engine revved all the way up to 7400rpm was amazing.

I drove to Assen for the last time in 2012 in May to shoot the photos for a car feature of one of the most amazing cars in Dutch Time Attack. This old Suzuki Baleno was beating much faster cars with relative ease and I really enjoyed watching it on the track. Unfortunately the owner sold the car before the third and last round of the Time Attack season, but I can’t wait to see what he drives on the track in 2013.

In June I went to DHB in Denmark with a bunch of friends. Unfortunately the weather was very bad with lots of wind and rain, but we enjoyed ourselves nonetheless. I’ve been to DHB four times now and I can’t wait to get back there in 2013. The Danish are very warm and open people and the event is just insane. Drifting, drag racing, a burn pit to shred some tyres, a huge party area, I’m guessing it’s just the Danish version of Gatebil.

Just two weeks later I drove to Zandvoort again for the second edition of Fast Car Festival. One of the most race minded events I’ve ever visited in the Netherlands. It was almost a full day of non-stop action with a lot of different vehicles on the track. Everything from drifters to kit cars to supercars like the Bugatti Veyron. Sadly there won’t be a 2013 edition but I really hope this event will return in the future.

On the last day of June and the first day of July I went to the second round of the NL Drift Series. Only one word can describe that weekend: Awesome! Very good weather, lots of smoke and an enormous amount of spectators. I think I was walking around with a huge smile on my face for few days after this event.

Just three days later I was back at Zandvoort again, for a track day of the dutch forum. A lot of cars showed up, like Sakers, Ferraris, Porsches and a nice matte orange Lamborghini Gallardo. My heart just isn’t into supercars, except the Ferrari F40 of course, but I like Lamborghinis because of the styling. I love the aggressive lines of the Aventador, for example.

On my birthday I went to Automaxx Summer Edition. Well, there wasn’t anything ‘summer’ about it. It rained constantly and I was soaking wet all day. I appreciated my old camera even more after that day. It isn’t waterproof and when I removed the battery a lot of water dripped out, but it worked flawlessly during the day and it continued to be my main camera for many more events.

On the 28th I found myself back at Zandvoort, again. This time for my car feature of the incredible SVA Imports Evo. I originally intended to stay there for a few hours, but I ended up following them the whole day through a test day of the new setup of their car. As a bonus a large group of Germans brought their cars for a few laps on this famous Dutch track. They certainly knew how to drive and push their, often very expensive, cars to the limits.

Two days later I went to another track day, again on Zandvoort. Two friends of mine were using this day to get more experience on this track to improve their lap times during Time Attack, in which they both compete. It certainly helped, because one of them took his first podium finish in the third and final round of the season.

In august, on one of the hottest days of 2012, I went to an endurance race on Zandvoort. It was so hot my camera showed temperature warnings and I couldn’t shoot the cars far away because of the heat waves above the track. I brought two small 0,5 liter and two larger 1,5 liter bottles of water with me and I drank it all during the five hours I was there, along with five glasses of cold Coca Cola I bought. You got to have a lot of respect for the drivers, driving cars without aircon and no insulation on a day like that.

The next day I went to Airport Valkenburg with some friends for the famous M.I.V.W. event. I think it was even hotter that day, with temperatures rising to well over thirty degrees Celcius. As a Dutchman, I’m not designed to withstand temperatures like that. After only a few hours we got back in the car and turned the aircon up for our drive home.

August ended with another visit to Zandvoort for some evening fun. I had heard Misha’s already famous 700+ HP Impreza would be there, so I couldn’t miss this opportunity to see it going around the track for the very first time.

September kicked off with something amazing, DUMPd. An awesome event with a lot of high quality cars at the best location I could imagine. Although I have to say as a photographer I really hated the light inside the old ENKA factory.

The day after DUMPd I was back at a familiar place, Zandvoort, for the third round of the NL Drift Series. It was held on the paddock next to the entrance and without any wind at all the smoke of the tyres made everything look very hazy. I enjoyed Automaxx Super Sunday, just a week later, a lot more. Lots of drifting in the morning followed by the Time Attack sessions in the afternoon. The moments between those sessions were filled with drift demos around the track, even with some rather surprising vehicles. Have you ever seen a drifting race truck?

I went to another track day in October, one with an amazing mix of cars. Sakers, Porsches, Caterhams, Formula 3 cars, BMW’s, Alfa Romeo’s and even a prototype of new Dutch race car, the Hansen GTR. It is a stunning car, especially in orange, and after seeing this car on the track a few times throughout the year it is amazing to see how much it changes every time.

On the 18th I visited Zandvoort for the last time in 2012, for a two hour track session in the evening. It started raining only minutes after I arrived but when the rain stopped and the sky cleared I saw one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen.

It lasted only minutes so I immediately turned my attention back to the track to take advantage of this beautiful light. Unfortunately most of the cars already stopped due to the rain, but a nice vintage Alfa with a brave driver gave me the opportunity to make a nice photo just before the light faded away.

In november my automotive year was already switching to lower gears, with only two events to go. The first one was the fourth and final round of the NL Drift Series on a insanely difficult to photograph track on parking lot in Amsterdam. Harsh back light through trees made the photos very hazy and the rain ruined it even further. Luckily I managed to grab a few shots with smoke, because as a drift fan I can’t live without my monthly dose of tyre smoke.

The second event was the traditional Wangan Warriors End of Year meet. It was the perfect end of the 2012 season, a lot of cars showed up and I talked to a lot of old and new friends. Meets like this are the ones I love and I can’t wait for the next Wangan Warriors meet.

My year finally ended with Speed&Action in Gorinchem in December. It rained a lot, but hours of non-stop action on the parking lot more than compensated for that. Between drifting sessions the track was used by race tracks, karts, stock cars, etc. It was a worthy end of this year for me.
Looking back I can genuinely say that I had a lot of fun in 2012. I visited a lot of places, met a lot of great people and photographed lots and lots of amazing cars. What will 2013 bring? All of this and more, I hope. See you next year!

-Alex Kamsteeg