In early August, Leica photographer Michael Agel had the chance to document the 42nd edition of the famous annual AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix, a paramount festival of historic motorsports taking place at the world-celebrated Nürnburgring in Germany.
Q: Michael, considering the fact that you previously documented the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Bensberg Classics and the Gaisberg Race, you must be a true petrolhead. How does it affect you, when you’re commissioned for a photographic work you’re very passionate about?
A: For sure, you have simply more fun when you’re photographing something that you truly love. For me, the most fascinating thing about this event is the mix of old and proven, but still high-performance technology. Also, witnessing the passion and enthusiasm of the drivers gives me inspiration.
Q: You’ve experienced many different motorsports events. What is especially remarkable and unique about this event?
A: The Nürburgring is just an amazing place. On this race track you can literally feel and breathe motor racing history. Many, many legendary races happened there. But what is especially exciting for me is seeing those old vintage race cars from the past. From a today’s perspective, it’s almost unbelievable how fast these cars already were. Back then, the race drivers were true daredevils.
Q: What camera and lens did you use to shoot these images of the Oldtimer Grand Prix?
A: I used the new Leica Summarit-M 75 mm f/2.4 and a Leica M.
Q: Why did you only use a 75 mm lens in this surrounding, which is quite rich in variety?
A: In such an environment, I love to do mainly two things in particular: focusing on interesting details and taking portraits of the race drivers, who are all very interesting characters. Since I had the chance to be quite close at the pit lane the 75 mm lens was perfect for both things. Also the compact size of the lens was a huge advantage. I had to be very quick and move fast, so a huge telephoto lens would have made my life much more difficult during this Grand Prix. So overall, I’d say that the Summarit was a universal lens for this racing day.
Q: What did you set out to achieve with these images and do you feel that you achieve what you wanted?
A: Actually, I just wanted show the point of view of a race car fan, who has the chance to have a look backstage. So, I simply walked around and let myself be inspired by the things that just happen in front my eyes.
Q: You used the Summarit lens for some close portrait photos, but also for capturing the race. How does the 75 mm focal length accommodate the wide-range of photos you captured? Most people would argue that 75 mm is not exactly a universal lens. What is your opinion?
A: In cases where I have to decide for only one lens, I usually pick a 50 mm or 35 mm lens. However a car race can certainly be a quite dangerous thing. So, you’re usually not allowed to be too close, where the action happens. So the new Summarit-M 75 mm f/2.4 was my weapon of choice since it still gives me quite a lot creative freedom since its angle view allows also capturing landscapes.
Thank you for your time, Michael!
– Leica Internet Team
Connect with Michael on his website.