December 1, 2019

2019 Formula 1 Emirates U.S. Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas for Texas Highways magazine

Every time I find myself at Circuit of the Americas outside Austin, Texas I mentally pinch myself. Mentally because if I were to walk around physically pinching myself that'd just be weird. This past November I had the opportunity to cover my fifth Formula 1 United States Grand Prix for the team at Texas Highwaysthe official travel magazine of Texas—and I truly can't thank them enough.

When I photographed my first race back in 2015, if I'm being totally honest, I just barely deserved to be there. It isn't that I didn't get some shots that I really, really like, and I was fortunate that my instincts partially gained from photographing weddings and live music events placed me in the right spot at the right time for the podium ceremony where Lewis Hamilton secured his—at the time—third drivers championship, but I just didn't really know what I was doing. I generally had a sense of the format of a Grand Prix weekend, but I didn't follow the sport at the time. Which I suppose meant I was no better or worse off than your typical American when it comes to Formula 1, but still. It also didn't help that Central Texas experienced some truly severe weather that weekend which scuttled basically an entire day of racing and the subsequent photography of said racing.

Fast forward to this year, and Lewis Hamilton secured his sixth driver championship in Austin, and I was very much aware of that storyline—and all of the storylines—of the 2019 season. I'm now the kind of fan that subscribes to the sports streaming service where I can watch every practice session, every qualifying session, and every race live if I choose—or should I say if I can stay up late or get up super early to watch races live that are taking place on the other side of the world.

When working on an editorial assignment for a magazine covering a sporting event, it really helps me hone my skills in quickly culling and editing photos, and turning them around into something of a narrative—if just barely—and publishing them. Going through over six thousand photos from four days, and culling those down to a manageable slideshow number, and writing captions, and having it all ready to go no later than the day following the race is a heck of a skill set to have when I am trying to turn around wedding photos or family portraits, and really helps me provide those photos to my clients more quickly than many other wedding and family photographers.

With all of that said, enjoy some outtakes that simply wouldn't fit in the published gallery over at Texas Highways. And if you've never followed Formula 1, or only done so casually, maybe this will help change your mind and turn you into the superfan I've become.

Tony Stewart of Stewart-Haas racing and NASCAR fame brought a car to Circuit of the Americas for Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean of Haas F1 to take for a spin around the track.
Renault F1's Daniel Ricciardo has fully embraced the Texas lifestyle and reveals his special edition race helmet for the United States Grand Prix, styled after the football helmet of the University of Texas Longhorns. He was joined by the Bevo mascot and the Longhorn Cheerleaders for the reveal.
Scuderia Ferrari's pit crew runs through pit stop practice on Thursday prior to the start of track action.
Charles LeClerc's Number 16 Ferrari SF90 awaits scrutineering on Thursday, October 31st. Each team has to present their cars each race to the FIA—F1's governing body—to insure their cars conform to race regulations.
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel rounds the hairpin turn 12 during free practice three with the Texas flag painted on the track in the background.
Lando Norris speeds through turn 17, caught here reflected in the glass on the side of the observation deck 230 ft in the air on the COTA tower.
Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikonnen—last year's race winner when he drove for Ferrari—signs autographs during Saturday morning in the F1 Fan Zone.
Ferrari's Charles LeClerc makes his way into the paddock on Saturday morning prior to free practice three.
Daniel Ricciardo sporting a jersey from The University of Texas Longhorns during the drivers parade to coordinate with his special helmet for the race, a replica of the Longhorns' football helmets.
Eventual race winner—Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas—exits turn one towards the beginning of the 2019 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix.

March 27, 2019

Inaugural IndyCar Classic at Circuit of the Americas for Texas Highways magazine

The IndyCar Series finally came to Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas this March and I was fortunate to be there covering the event for Texas Highways magazine.

While it doesn't happen at every race, it sure seems like the purpose-built Formula 1 track has a knack for being the setting for history-making events of varying degrees (see Kimi Raikonnen's winning drive at the 2018 F1 United States Grand Prix.) The IndyCar Classic was no exception, with Colton Herta taking the checkered flag, and becoming the youngest race-winning driver in IndyCar Series history at age 18.

Check out the whole gallery over at Texas Highways.

Alexander Rossi with the general admission area adjacent to the turn one hill in the background during the 2019 IndyCar Classic at Circuit of the Americas.
James Hinchcliffe, rookie Patricio O'Ward, and rookie Felix Rosenqvist make their way from the main straight up the 133-foot hill to turn one as Scott Dixon exits the pit lane during the 2019 IndyCar classic.
Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay crests turn 10 with the Circuit of the Americas tower in the background during the first IndyCar practice session.
Team Penske's Josef Newgarden exits turn 11 behind a field of bluebonnets. Because Texas.
One of the support races at the inaugural IndyCar classic featured Stadium Super Trucks., which are clearly a departure from your standard road racing featuring jumps, and lots of corners where the trucks end up on two wheels.
One of the support races at the inaugural IndyCar classic featured Stadium Super Trucks., which are clearly a departure from your standard road racing featuring jumps, and lots of corners where the trucks end up on two wheels.
Ameripolitan Music legend Dale Watson performing on the "Lone Star Stage" which featured Texas-tinged music throughout the IndyCar Classic weekend.
Carlin's Max Chilton rises up the hill past turn 9 during IndyCar practice three.
Mayer Shank Racing with Arrow SPM's Jack Harvey view from the platform atop the COTA tower. Spectators take tours to the viewing platform 230 feet in the air for a 360-degree view of the track, surrounding landscape, and the Austin Skyline.
Race winner Colton Herta—the youngest winner of an IndyCar race in history—autographs the television camera at the conclusion of the 2019 IndyCar Classic at Circuit of the Americas.
Confetti cannons going off during the podium celebration for the inaugural IndyCar Classic at Circuit of the Americas.

September 29, 2017

2017 WEC 6 Hours of COTA for Texas Highways magazine

When I first pitched the idea of doing a photo essay of this years' Lone Star Le Mans at Circuit of the Americas for my colleagues at Texas Highways magazine, I didn't realize the World Endurance Championship wouldn't be returning to Austin in the foreseeable future. Which I won't lie is a bit of a bummer.

I also didn't realize that there wouldn't be any evening racing, and I'd really hoped to capture the track at night. Double whammy!

But capture the event I did, and I'm really glad I had the opportunity. It was a really neat experience and its a shame that more people didn't attend. The amount of access to the cars, the teams, the drivers, and parts of the facility were truly amazing. And while having media credentials did allow me to shoot trackside which I couldn't have done otherwise, I didn't need it to get up close to the paddock area, the garages, anything really.

These are just a handful of the images, you can view the whole gallery over at Texas Highways.

April 24, 2017

2017 MotoGP Grand Prix of the Americas for Texas Highways magazine

I'd previously been out to Circuit of the Americas to cover Formula 1 twice but had never attended a MotoGP race. That all changed this year with the opportunity to cover the 2017 Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas for Texas Highways magazine. It was a really great experience, with its own minor quirks and challenges shooting it that differed from covering Formula 1 (beyond the obvious differences of course). For additional photos check out the full photo essay.

November 1, 2016

2016 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix for Texas Highways magazine

This year I was fortunate to once again shoot the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas for Texas Highways magazine. In addition to the race festivities, I was also able to secure accreditation for Taylor Swift's sole performance of 2016 following Saturday's qualifying race. And while it may sound crazy, I think there is a lot of overlap between the skills involved in shooting such a large motorsport event and music performance and wedding photography. You're constantly on the move and dealing with sometimes limited vantage points from which to get just the shot your looking for which really forces you to get creative.

Below you'll find only a handful of images from the event, so if you're into F1 and/or Taylor Swift be sure to check out the full photo series.

March 21, 2016

“Let Girls Learn” with First Lady Michelle Obama at SXSW 2016

Last week I had the pleasure of covering SXSW for my day job at Texas Highways magazine. This happened to also include the opportunity to cover First Lady Michelle Obama's panel about the Let Girls Learn initiative with Sophia Bush, Missy Elliott, and Diane Warren moderated by Queen Latifah. It was an inspiring panel, made doubly so for me as the father of a little girl who is in such a hurry to grow up into a world that is not always inviting and welcoming to women. ‪#‎letgirlslearn‬ ‪#‎62milliongirls‬

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Matt Wetzler is an editorial, motorsport, portrait, and destination wedding photographer based in Northwest Montana.

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