Ah, yes, the time when I get to relive my favorite photographic experiences of the past year, and reflect on what made each one so special to me. 2018 was a particularly amazing one as it contained my first trip to Japan, a country I’ve been anxious to visit for countless years, along with trips to a few of America’s most famous racing circuits. Follow along as I retrace my steps, and discuss my five favorite Front Street Media moments of 2018.
It has almost been a full year since my first time in Japan as part of the DSPORT Tokyo Auto Salon tour, but I remember each aspect of the trip like it was yesterday—and I know, I won’t shut up about it. My phone is filled with tidbits of proof for each automotive memory circulating my brain, and each of them is a constant motivator for building my own car. The most prevalent, however, is how I got to see cars and drivers from Super GT—one of my favorite racing series—in the flesh! It was a life-changing experience to see the vehicles in person, having only seen pictures of them or watching the races online. The level of engineering applied to these cars is astounding, and although each resembles the silhouette of its road-going counterpart, the appearance is where the similarities stop. The carbon fiber monocoque racecars (except the GT300 Subaru BRZ) have every piece of each vehicle designed around the regulation book for the series. These truly are wondrous machines, and I cherished the opportunity to examine the intricate details of each.
I even met former Formula 1 World Champion and current 2018 Super GT Champion Jenson Button in person, and grabbed a quick picture with him before telling him I enjoyed his book. I also snuck in a quick, “good luck in Super GT this year,” and I, personally, think that propelled him to his championship with Team Kunimitsu. Ha!
This particular moment is a little less deep for me, and closer to the surface for all of us. Yay, pretty pictures! I’ve mentioned in past year-end reviews that the period of time between the final battle and podium ceremony at Formula Drift events has yielded some of my favorite images to date, and this held true for 2018 as well. With the Long Beach drift event winding down to a close, an uncharacteristically cold ocean breeze descended on the famous street circuit with thick cloud cover in tow. This made for a rather energetically reserved final battle, as the atmosphere surrounding the track didn’t rejuvenate the crowd’s surging vigor.
However, during the final turns of the final battle of the day, the sun peeked out from a gap in cloud cover and began to set in true vibrant California fashion. The warm, direct sunlight crested over the track and revamped the energy of the event, just in time for the drivers to celebrate its conclusion. Fredric Aasbø and Forest Wang have had their differences over the years of FD competition, but put it all aside in favor of an asthma-inducing tandem burnout that left everyone in attendance roaring in delight, solidifying my notion that the minutes between the end of a final battle and the podium celebration is still my favorite time of Formula Drift. After the pressure is gone, and the drivers are able to celebrate the culmination of their hard work, amazing moments are sure to follow.
Continuing the Long Beach Grand Prix trip brought me to my first-ever professional circuit race, despite my lifelong enthusiasm for road racing. I had the amazing opportunity to watch the Sports Car Grand Prix of Long Beach from the comfort of the BMW Motorsport VIP suite as a guest of Akrapovič exhaust. Since 2007, I’ve been a media professional, with the best seat in the house for motorsport events, and have been able to trigger the shutter of my camera just behind the catch fencing and K-rails.
Sitting in the stands was a little upsetting for me, but the VIP passes allowed for far more enticing viewpoints elsewhere, including behind the confines of BMW Motorsport Team RLL’s pit lane station. Those of us in the suite coordinated a walk down to the pits, with the hopes of catching a pit stop live in action. I was excited to witness this side of racing from inside the pit area, a place I admittedly don’t frequent enough with my media credentials. Instead, within minutes of arriving at the team’s station around lap 36 of the race, the team received word that the No. 25 BMW M8 GTE piloted by Alexander Sims had collided with the wall, and would need to make a less-desirable emergency pit stop. In stark contrast to how the crew geared up and got psyched to perform their duties servicing the car, their entire demeanor changed once the car arrived in the pit box. The damage was too severe to continue, and the car was ultimately retired on the spot.
I could feel the energy shift, and the complete disappointment of the entire team was palpable. While it was indeed not their weekend in the end, it was certainly a memorable experience to be that close to the action in such a different form, and to witness the unfortunate side of professional motorsport.
The entire road rally of exquisite Akrapovič-equipped Porsche vehicles was memorable, but this moment especially. I touched on this a bit during the actual article, but that didn’t stop it from remaining a memorable moment through the end of the year. As the sun was setting and our journey was only halfway finished, there stood quite a bit of geography to conquer in the upcoming evening hours. With the knowledge of distance in the back of our minds, we stopped off for a quick stop along the California coastline in San Simeon to get some beautiful sunset sights before the sun disappeared. The combination of sunset, the coastline with breaking waves, and the collection of Porsche sportscars was mega! To quote my article, “[This stop] was surrounded in completely breathtaking views without the Porsches, but with them was a sight I’ll never forget.”
Finishing off this list is a collection of memorable automobiles in the Chopard Heritage Display at Rennsport Reunion VI, which took place at the glorious WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Salinas, California. Being surrounded by the four Akrapovič booth display vehicles throughout the drive up to the event, I began to wonder how the week could get better, but I had no idea what I was in for. Upon entering the town, it was clear that the Porsche moniker had completely taken over the surrounding area. The grounds of the racetrack were no different, as Porsche-emblazoned vehicles covered every inch of property, with the best section of vehicles grouped into the Chopard Heritage Display. It occupied a massive section of the Laguna Seca paddock and housed some of Porsche’s most iconic, meaningful, and valued historic vehicles. The transparent openings in the roof of the tent let some of the most desirable light through onto spotless, gleaming Porsche excellence, and made for some of my favorite static images from the event—and possibly of all time. I went into Rennsport Reunion with an admiration for Porsche 911s, and left with an overwhelming desire to submerge myself deep in every facet of the culture, almost strictly because of this awe-inspiring display. It was one of my favorite events ever, and a fitting way to cap off my favorite moments.
If you want more, take a look back through our Archive page and check out everything Front Street did in 2018. While you’re at it, check out Jason’s favorite moments from 2018 right here. For now, I hope everyone had a great New Year, and I look forward to showing you what we have in store for 2019! Thanks for reading Front Street, and thanks for reading this article!