2017 Tri-5 Nationals

The third annual Tri-5 Nationals were held at Beech Bend Raceway on August 11-12, and I went on Saturday.  I was surprised to find out that it was the third annual event because since I’ve been to the past three it means I’ve been to ALL of them ;)

Despite the forecast calling for mostly cloudy skies throughout the day it didn’t look good at first.  I checked the radar when I got up and there was a big thunderstorm right over Bowling Green, and to make it worse I drove through light rain most of the way to Bowling Green.  But the weather wizards were right because that was the end of it.  I stopped in Franklin, KY and ate breakfast and by the time I got to the track the rain was gone leaving behind soggy conditions, humid air, and a lot of people drying off their show cars.

And show cars there were aplenty!  I heard the announcer claim that there were 2,800 cars registered but I think that was a bit of an overstatement.  My guess would have been closer to about half that many, but still plenty enough to keep anyone busy looking and admiring for a while.

Stroll Through The Pits …..


The owner called this one a “BelVette” since it is a 1957 Chevy BelAir mounted on a Corvette chassis.  The interior is pure digital Corvette and an absolutely immaculate and interesting machine.

The two cars above are owned by LJ Motorsports, LLC.  The first two photographs are of Lester Johnson’s ’55 Chevy Top Sportsman car named “Excalibur” and the remaining three are of Andy Johnson’s ’55 Chevy Top Sportsman car named “Black Knight”.  I included the third photograph just to show how low the two cars are, they abrely come up to my waist!

I’ve seen Excalibur run a number of tiem but this is the first time I’ve seen Black Knight.  Lester’s son Andy drove it to a 231mph pass (I don’t remember the time but I think it was 6.0-something) in an exhibition run between Excalibur and Black Knight.

On The Track …..

There was an extreme diversity of cars on the track.  The period I watched was “Fun Runs” as well as some qualifying.  The “Fun Runs” consisted of a few cars in the 9.x second bracket, 1 car in the 8 second bracket, and a whole bunch of them a lot slower than that!  The slowest run I saw blistered the track at a whopping 50.11mph in 19.xx seconds.  I don’t remember the exact time, I was bored by the time he got to the end.  But in all fairness they didn’t have to be purpose-built race cars, that’s why they are called “Fun Runs”.

Off Topic …..

Photographers frequently sneer at the capabilities of so-called “All-In-One” lenses. especially those photographers who have never used one and are simply parroting what they have read or heard.  And up to a point they are right.  The “All-In-One” lenses are those whose focal length encompasses a very wide range so that one can use the lens for close-up wide angle shots and zoom to the long end for telephoto shots.  I agree that they compromise image quality up to a point to accommodate that large focal length range, but I disagree that they are “Bad” or “Useless” or “Poor”.

I’ve been using a Sigma 18mm-300mm lens at races for the past couple of years and love the flexibility of it.  Is it as sharp as an 18mm prime and a 24mm prime and a 50mm prime and an 85mm prime and a 135mm prime (tired of typing, just extend that list out to 300mm) but I don’t have to carry 2 dozen prime lenses with me or a couple of zoom lenses and miss a lot of shots changing lenses constantly.  The “All-In-One” lenses have their place and a race track is a good place for them in my opinion.

As proof I offer the images below.  The first is an uncropped version of one of the Super Pro cars on the track.  The second shot is cropped as it shows up above.  Look closely at the front brake caliper, or just look at the third image that is an extreme crop of the overall photo.  You can clearly read the word “Wilwood” behind the wheel spokes on the front brake caliper of a car going down the track at around 100mph taken from probably 150′ away.  If that’s the mark of a “Bad” lens I’ll gladly use them all day long.