At the end of last week’s piece, I had become disenchanted with competition, the allure of trophies and medals and first places tarnished by the knowledge that it is simply how much money you have and what cars you have access to that truly limit a driver’s possibilities. Despondent, yet still possessing a burning love of motor sport and motor vehicles, I made the hard decision to retire from my long journey to becoming a racing legend.
The thing about speed though is that it’s addictive and addictions are hard to overcome. Finding a suitable replacement is tricky, I wanted my skills tested, but on a level playing field, my limits pushed, but not due to technological disadvantage. My methadone then has been license tests, specifically going back to earlier challenges to improve upon earlier times and starting the long road to possessing a ‘Special License’. Here I find goals and aspirations that are within my reach, mechanical puzzles to which I have the tools to solve. Mopping up silvers and golds in the first two licenses is enjoyable and rewarding, mastering the key basics and not just understanding them leaves me with a greater appreciation of the physics of racing. I begin to become very aware of the various vehicles I pilot and the cars begin to become extensions of my body, I synchronise with their weight distribution, knowing to the millimetre how far to one side the suspension will lean on any given corner, at any given speed. It is an incredible feeling of self control and enhanced power and it satiates my hunger for speed to no end.
When I grew full on this bounty of kineticism, my mind wandered to other things, other conquests, other avenues to explore my passion for racing. I don’t know what it was about the world of celluloid that appealed so much, but photographing these works of engineering ingenuity engaged me like never before. I’d never really considered myself particularly artistic but I felt that art is always best when you have experience of the subject you are portraying. I know cars.
I found myself beginning to explore the fundamentals of composition and tweaking filters for dramatic effect. I played with focus and exposure and balance. I experimented with shot angles and height and framing. But the star would always be the car and their beauty began to go beyond aerodynamic curves and hard lines of metal and carbon fibre. They began to tell their story own unique stories, playful designs expressing cars that were full of fun, or sleek and smooth lines of precision revealing a vehicle more animal than machine. The piece I’m most proud of is the below, a war time VW Type 82, the Third Reich’s equivalent of the allies’ Jeep, a participant in war that had no choice but to do so, its large headlights wide open, innocent eyes, its cold focus on function over aesthetic unable to contain a playful and powerful soul.
With all of this thought being put into the historic, I began thinking about how I will be remembered, what my own legacy in Gran Turismo will be. It’s not enough to be a winner, everyone wins eventually. No, to be more than a name listed a long way down a bronze plaque would take something else entirely. Too much of an amateur photographer to have my work held for all time in an automotive museum, not a skilled enough driver to forever hold a course record, I decided that the best course of action was to let my knowledge be remembered, not my name. It was time for me to find a protégé.
But that’s another story, for another time, I’ll leave you with the best shot I took, the one that sums up the world of Gran Turismo and the experiences I had, taken on my favourite section of track – The Corkscrew – at Laguna Seca in the car I started this fantastic journey with…
Conclusion: Gran Turismo 5 is the best simulation racing game available at the moment, though it’s not without significant flaws. The series hasn’t moved on structurally since its PS2 days, there’s still a lot of grind, car fetischism, gear-head-only focused content and a menu system that is infuriating. If you’re willing to look past this, what lies underneath is a title of great subtlety and near-infinite reward, stunning in motion both mechanically and visually.