[Photos] Le Mans 2011

#12 Rebellion Racing Lola at Ford Chicanes from the Ferris Wheel

This weekend I made my first trip to Le Mans for the word-famous 24 hour sports car endurance race. As well as being one of the oldest and most revered events in the motor racing world, the Le Mans weekend is a sort of automotive Glastonbury. Upwards of half a million people descend on the 8 and a bit mile circuit over the race weekend, and the vast majority camp inside the track. Around half those who attend are from Britain, and most are there as much to show off their own cars as they are to watch the professionals drive. The campsites are seas of Aston Martins, TVRs, Lotuses and Ferraris. It’s a fairly impressive site, but not quite as impressive as the racing action itself.

I didn’t have a grandstand seat (that would cost another £100 or so) but with such a long track there are plenty of vantage points to get a good look at the track. Sadly, many of them feature catch fencing that stops you getting a clean view of the action. Photographic opportunities were therefore limited. I was shooting using a combination of my old Minolta beercan 75-300 and my new 500mm F8 lens. The 500mm is a beast, and needs decent light to work well, so night shots were out. It did though allow me to get closer than anyone around me to the action, and to shoot handheld (Sony’s mount is the only one to support a true AF mirror lens) if needed, putting me at an advantage even over those using massive pro 2.8 400m lenses worth thousands of pounds.

Sadly due to unforseen circumstances I wasn’t at the track for sunset so I couldn’t shoot then either. Saturday’s weather was sunny and warm so the lighting conditions were great. Sunday was overcast, with constant rain, so things weren’t ideal, but a few laps of the giant ferris wheel near the start/finish straight helped me get some nice shots from above, and lax security meant I could sneak into a grandstand opposite the pit entrance for the last couple of laps of the race.

In all I was reasonably pleased with what I got. Better light would have let me reduce the ISO noise a bit (almost everything was shot at 400 which is acceptable, but a sunny day would have probably let me get away with 200), and a grandstand seat would have meant I could set up properly, even in the rain, and get a clear, unobstructed view.

Next time I’ll also make sure to camp nearer to the viewing points, or bring a bike, as lugging a couple of camera bodies, four lenses and a tripod around all day for miles on end soon got to be a drag.

Anyway, do check out the full set of photos over on Flickr, and please feel free to comment on what you find there. I’ve posted a selection of my favourite photos from the weekend below (note that WordPress trims photos linked from Flickr in a weird way so a couple of the shots below have had their edges lopped unceremoniously off), click on the them to see that photo on my Flickr account.


Team Oreca Peugeot 908 and Team Felbermayr Porsche at Finish

Le Mans Winner  - Audi #2

#2 Audi R18 Wins Le Mans

Finishing Le Mans 2011

Rebellion Racing #12 at Ford Chicanes

#77 Porsche Clips the Kerb at Ford Chicanes

GTE AM Winner #50 Corvette

#66 Ferrari from the Ferris Wheel

#65 Lotus Evora at Ford Chicanes

#77 Porsche Being Hauled in by #2 Audi

#59 Luxury Racing 458 at Porsche Curves

Three Wide at Porsche Curves

Greaves Motorsport LMP2 Winner at Porsche Curves

#71 AF Corse Ferrari

#7 Peugeot 908 Heading For 4th Place Finish

#7 Peugeot at Virages Porsche

#1 Audi at Porsche Curves

#12 Rebellion Racing Lola Flies Past Karting Track


Le Mans Formation Lap


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Categories: Photos


  1. [T-Shirts] Don’t Get Excited – I’m Just the Wingman | TGIGreeny.com - July 10, 2011

    […] suggested by my friend Suggy on our recent trip to Le Mans. Based on the Top Gun design (see my other Top Gun shirts for similar stuff), these shirts […]

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