Sonoma: Vintage Motor Car Racing

vintage car racing sonoma california

Photo © Dennis Gray

Add impact to your photographs of vintage race cars! Get inside the fence and next to the track. Meet the owners and drivers and discuss what sets their cars apart and what you need to know about them to create compelling photographs on the track in this new photography workshop focusing on vintage car racing!

No matter if you’ve been shooting automotive racing for years or if you’re new to the subject, this new workshop will sharpen your creative eye and give you inside access to the world of vintage car racing at California’s famed Sonoma Raceway. If you read, own a sports car, or know the names Jesse Alexander, Bernard Cahier, or Pete Lyons and have always wondered how they captured their wonderful images, you will profit from this class.

Your ticket trackside at the Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival will be award-winning automotive photographer Dennis Gray—this is an incredible opportunity to work alongside a photojournalist working on assignment. Dennis will show you how to approach Sears Point and historic/vintage cars to create images that truly stand out.

vintage car racing photography workshop

Photo © Dennis Gray

We’ll photograph every aspect of car racing, at the track, in the pits, and in the hot pits. We’ll learn to use techniques like panning and stop action, learn to choose the best lens for the situation, and capture reflections and light refractions to create images of these vintage race cars that will really make an impact.

We are offering TWO itinerary options for this workshop: two days and four days. Regardless of whether you attend two days or four days, the daily itinerary will be the same. Students who do not live in the vicinity of Mill Valley may attend the June 13 critique via Skype or Google Hangouts.

Each day, we’ll have lunch in the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association’s media room alongside journalists, photographers, and other members of the media covering the event. The SVRA has been instrumental in helping us set up this workshop. With over 2,500 licensed drivers, they are the largest organizations in the country for vintage car racing; their singular goal is to make safe, fun, and fair vintage racing events memorable and enjoyable for all involved.

Our workshop can handle a maximum of six participants. This small group will allow us to move freely inside the spaces at Sonoma normally reserved only for working press photographers and journalists. We’ll photograph the action trackside and go down to the pit to meet the owners, drivers, and crew members and photograph these gorgeous automobiles up close.

Whether you’re a long-time automotive shooter or new to car racing, with the access and instruction provided in this workshop, you’ll go home with a set of images that you’d never be able to get on your own.

And—included in the price of the workshop, each participant will get five 11×17 prints on Epson Premium Luster paper of photographs made during the weekend in Sonoma.

vintage car racing sonoma photography workshop

Photo © Dennis Gray


Thursday, June 1, 7:30AM: The workshop will begin with a meeting to discuss track etiquette and safety both around the track and in the pit. Then we’ll head out to the track for a tour to introduce students to the various shooting locations available, explaining the pros and cons of each shooting location.

Friday, June 2, 7:30AM: The day starts with a group meeting at 7:30. Spend the morning shooting the drivers’ meeting and then shoot in and around the pits before heading out to the track. Expect to visit four shooting locations depending on light and weather. We’ll focus on shooting subjects for magazine publication. Lunch break in the SVRA media room with press and photographers covering the event. In the afternoon we’ll shoot at the track until closing time. We’ll finish the day with a short meeting.

Saturday, June 3, 7:30AM: The day starts with a group meeting at 7:30. Spend the morning shooting in and around the pits before heading out to the track. Lunch break in the SVRA media room with press and photographers covering the event. Afternoon shooting will focus on late light locations and creative techniques for light. In the evening we’ll attend the AVRA track party where we’ll have an opportunity to meet and photograph the drivers, owners, and crew members away from their cars.

Sunday, June 4, 7:30AM: The day starts with a group meeting at 7:30. We’ll photograph the hot pits—we’ll get close-ups of drivers in their cars waiting to go on the track. Lunch break in the SVRA media room. In the afternoon it will be photographer’s choice: track or pit shooting (no hot pits). We’ll close the workshop with a final short meeting at the end of the day.

Tuesday, June 13, 7–9PM: Dennis will hold a critique session at The Image Flow to discuss work made during the weekend in Sonoma. Workshop participants who live outside the Bay Area will be able to join the critique session via Skype (or another online meeting platform if it’s determined to be more convenient for the group).

Four-day workshop:

Price: $1,450.00 Sold Out

Two day-workshop: $875. Please call to register.

Please review our Registration Terms & Conditions

Call 415-388-3569 for more information or to register.

Five sessions (4 in-field, 1 in-class):
June 1 – 4, 2017
Three sessions (2 in-field, 1 in-class):
June 3 & 4, 2017
June 13, evening critique

Who should take this workshop: 

Anyone who wants to learn how to create compelling photographs of vintage car racing.

Pertinent details:

  • Maximum six (6) students
  • Students who do not live in the vicinity of Mill Valley may attend the June 13 critique via Skype or Google Hangouts
  • Lunch will be with other photographers and press covering the event
  • Clothing restrictions from the Raceway: No shorts and sandals; No shirts or jackets in red, yellow, green, or blue
  • Includes five 11×17 prints on Epson Premium Luster paper (files must be uploaded to the TIF website)

Required materials:

  • Camera of your choice with a selection of lenses from wide to long; at least one wide angle, one medium, and one long lens, or one good zoom lens
  • Extra memory cards
  • Monopod
  • Standard travel support pack for your camera: extra camera battery, battery charger, lens cleaner, lens tissue, extra caps, etc.
  • Laptop computer with Lightroom installed

Further reading:

sportscar vintage racing association


dennis gray photographer vintage car racing

Instructor Bio: Since 1976, Dennis Gray has been photographing cars, motorcycles, and airplanes along with their drivers, pilots, owners, and crewmembers, if not for clients then for himself. An award-winning photojournalist and advertising photographer, Dennis has spent his weekends shooting car races at Sears Point and Laguna Seca raceways. Dennis was the team photographer for George Dyer Racing when they won the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1978 and the following three years he crisscrossed the country shooting professional racing as the RJ Reynolds IMSA photographer. In 1988 Dennis moved into automotive advertising and counts Pirelli, Mercedes, Honda, Audi, Cadillac, Ford, Kenworth, Beechcraft, and Peterbilt among his many clients.