The official photo blog of J. David Buerk Photography.

2018 Virginia Gold Cup

Another year, and another Virginia Gold Cup in the books!

This was on my second Gold Cup, and it took a bit of convincing to get me to go again after last year's disastrous first attendance; I am happy to report that I did not get assaulted and threatened with physical violence by any random attendees like I did at last year's rainy mud-fest of a horse-race.  In fact, if you watched the Kentucky Derby today, the weather at that event mirrored the Gold Cup's weather one year ago.  Although it did sprinkle off and on as the afternoon went on, it was still much drier and enjoyable than the introductory fiasco from last year.

One benefit to being a muddy mess is it makes for dramatic pictures.  I admittedly was more focused on relaxing than capturing photos this year, and my placement during the event was at the beginning of the home-stretch, not at the finish line like last year; for those reasons, I feel last year's photos turned out more dramatic, but that's no problem.

Since I presented last year's muddy photos in grungy black and white, I am sharing this year's captures in color.  If you'd like to see all the photos in color and black and white (or even make a purchase), you can do so by viewing the gallery here.

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Arterra Wines

Burnt out from last year's rain, we had a rain contingency plan this year since the weather was forecasted to be spotty; after enjoying a nice picnic lunch and spectating several of the races, the rain started rolling in and we packed up to head to a nearby winery.  Being wine people, we'd visited quite a few of the nearest ones (Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn is a unanimous favorite), so with a bit of driving around we landed on Aterra Wines; a small, modern rustic barn tasting room with a selection of varietal and blended wines.  With bold, fruity flavors and low tannins, this winery's offerings are on the sweeter side, and wine drinkers of all places on the sweet / dry spectrum will find a refreshing Summer wine to enjoy with a snack here.  This hit the spot on a warm, rainy day!

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Upon leaving The Plains, we spotted a controlled burn on the mountain opposite us; it appeared to be burning piles of branches from felled trees, with the satisfying smell to accompany this educated guess.

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2017 Virginia Gold Cup

This was my first time attending the Virginia Gold Cup despite years of being invited to it.  Unfortunately it rained all day; reportedly 2017 had the most dreadful weather for the event in recent years - usually it's sunny and comfortable.  The rain and mud didn't change how anyone dressed though; everyone in attendance still dressed dapper as ever... we were all just covered in mud doing it.  Women in their dresses and heels had mud splattered all the way up to their thighs.  Men bore the same stains, but instead needed extra Shout to launder their trousers later.  I'm pretty sure my brown shoes are ruined.

At the end of the event while walking to the car to leave, some guy came up and pushed me into a huge puddle of mud, and the splash of mud from my shoes splattered several of the girls he was with; the group then proceeded to curse and threaten me for it, despite the guy being the instigator.  The Virginia Gold Cup was two months ago as of writing this, and there is still mud on my camera from this incident.  That wasn't the only unsavory behavior spotted at the Gold Cup; immediately upon arriving, we witnessed two guys get in a fistfight and quickly get arrested.

Needless to say, I did not enjoy my first experience at the Virginia Gold Cup.  It was pretty miserable; the only redeeming part was the pictures I got out of it, which I am presenting here in black and white because I think they are more powerful and accurately portray the conditions that way.  Besides, I love black and white, but don't present most of my work in this format, so it's a nice departure.

Jaguar Alive Driving Experience

After getting exclusive access to the new Jaguar F-Type at the 2013 Washington Auto Show, my friend Jake and I were invited by Jaguar to a track day in which we could test drive all of Jaguar's top end and most recent models, including the 550HP, $155,000 XKR-S, and the pre-production XFR-S, among others.  Unfortunately the F-Type was still unavailable to drive, although a beautiful orange example from the Paris Auto Show was on hand to demo under the reception tent. Events we took part in were a Timed 0-60 / Top Speed Run, Autocross Circuit, Traction Control Demo Circuit, and Free Drive of any of the available lineup (the XJL was VERY well appointed).  As Jake later pointed out, we drove ~$1,000,000 worth of cars in just a few hours time.

The day started out with being greeted by showcase Jaguars, including a 1967 Jaguar E-Type, with DC plates "ELATED".  The event attracted plenty of exotic cars in the parking lot, mostly Jags of course.


Not far away was the Orange F-Type V8 S, and one of MANY XKR-Ss (actually there AREN'T many; the XKR-S is a limited production run vehicle with only 100 examples being sold in the United States).



Our driving experience started out by road testing the XJ, which was very responsive, although the Eco feature that disables the engine in stop and go traffic was a bit strange (we later disabled it).  All the Jaguars had very sensitive brakes - not a bad thing, but something that took a few minutes to get used to.



Next we were briefed by Lorraine McKiniry, host of Velocity Channel by Discovery Network's "What's My Car Worth?" who gave a history of the Jaguar brand, culminating in the 2013 lineup, and discussion of future plans for the carmaker.  Then it was out onto the track, where first up was my 0-60 / Top Speed run in the XKR-S.  I reached 90MPH with a 5.5sec 0-60 time (unofficial - official times are forthcoming).  The track was uphill on cold, hard tires, so the XKR-S' specified 4.0 - 4.2 sec range wasn't possible given the conditions.  You can watch my runs and see the live telemetry below!



Next it was on to the Autocross Course and Handling Tests.  I had a more strict course instructor than Jake did, so I wasn't allowed as much freedom on the course as Jake was which was somewhat disappointing.  The result was a top time of 39.6sec compared to Jake's 37.something sec time.  The Handling Course in the XFR-S was much more fun however, mostly because I startled and impressed the course instructor with a massive drift - he wasn't expecting it, but he was shocked that I maintained full control around the entire turn in a textbook drift without the traction control engaged.  His reaction after I snapped the car back in line for the straightaway was "WHOA!!!... OK.... Um... I didn't know you could do that.  That was very good...  Wow!...  You handled that.... really well!..."

Unfortunately I don't have many pictures from this or the rest of the day... because I was too busy driving!!!



It was an amazing, fun day!  I wish we'd had more track time!  I think our performance on the course would have improved dramatically with just a little more time to become more acquainted with the cars; but this goes without saying!  I also had two people, one of them a Jaguar representative, ask me who I was writing for - I apparently looked like an automotive journalist for this event (not paparazzi, like so many other occasions - I'm so happy!).

Loved it!  I can't wait to do another track day like it!  Now we're looking into other events sponsored by Porsche, Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and others to experience more!