My First Rolex 24 at Daytona

by | Jan 14, 2016

Today’s Post by John Larsen

The 2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona will run on January 30-31, 2016


caption: Canon EOS 30D, 70-200 EF 2.8 L Series lens @ 200mm.  Exposure:  1/250th sec. at f/7.1  and ISO 100

After recovering from a stroke, my motorsports friend, Larry, and my brother, Allan, and I decided to finally cross one of the major international races from our bucket list and go to the annual Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2007. While they were enthused about spectating, I was more interested in taking photos. Having been a contributor to a number of Canadian motorsports magazines previously, I contacted the Toronto Star and learned that there would be a local team competing in the top class in the 24 hour event. I mentioned this in my email, along with a link to my website and tear sheets of previously published motorsports photos. The next day I received a favorable response asking if I required any assistance in obtaining press credentials!

Night Racing

caption: Canon EOS 30D, 17-55mm EFS lens at 38mm. Exposure:  1/6th sec. at f/5.0  and ISO 400

I was late in converting to digital as I had been shooting with Olympus 35mm gear for many years and had been holding out for a digital Olympus body that would allow me to use my assortment of Zuiko lenses without adapters but I could not wait any longer. With the potential for coverage in a national publication I purchased a Canon digital SLR with the kit lens, an EF 70-200 f/2.8 L series lens and a speedlite, along with some memory cards. I managed to try the new gear a few times before our trip but could not practice any motorsports photography.


caption: Canon EOS 30D, 17-55mm EFS lens at 18mm. Exposure:  0.4 sec. at f/6.3 and ISO 400, with Canon EX 430 speedlight and second shutter firing.

Due to delays with our flight and sorting out our rental car, I missed obtaining my press credentials the first day at the Daytona International Speedway. However, the three of us stood on a small grandstand in the infield and took in the sights, smells and sounds of our first visit to this classic event as night practice was in progress under the lights of the famed Speedway. After taking it all in for a few minutes I grabbed my camera and took my first photo of the action on the track. As soon as I looked at the image I realized that I had to change a number of settings to get the result I was after and almost deleted this blurred image. Thankfully I did not as it truly replicates the speeds and lighting that we witnessed that January evening in Florida. Surprisingly, it has become my most successful image in my stock photo portfolio!

John Larsen is located in the Greater Toronto Area, whose PhotoGraffics website contains samples of motorsports and hot air balloon photography from numerous Canadian balloon festivals.