The build was coming down to the wire, and this show car-owning automotive photographer knew he had only a short window to get official photos taken of his car at a race track that wasn’t exactly around the corner from him. There wasn’t much time to plan—that is, if he’d gone the traditional route with it.
Enter Sam Dobbins, automotive photographer, Creative Director for Vossen Wheels, and owner of the first-ever Rocket Bunny Volkswagen GTI entitled “GTI RS.” After getting rear-ended on his way to Southern Worthersee in Helen, Georgia, Dobbins was in an unfortunate situation.
Purchased brand new, the car had just finished being modified and, like most show-car owners who encounter this kind of thing, Dobbins had two semi-realistic choices: repair the car, or start the build from square one. He chose the latter.
Dobbins is an automotive purist who believes that good-working vehicles should be left alone (sorry, RAUH-Welt Begriff fans) and that a wrecked car like his is the perfect foundation for a build. Having shot countless magazine features of beautiful Volkswagen builds, Dobbins wanted to do a feature-worthy build with his own car. Dobbins took the bits and pieces that he liked of each build that he photographed, which helped lay out the blueprint for what would become his functional, trackable dream car. All that was left to do was execute the plan.
Fast-forward past the 14-plus trips to New York from Miami and the usual headaches of building a show car, and now the official photos of the car had to be taken for sponsors. Dobbins decided that he’d photograph and have video of the car, both shot at the world-famous Lime Rock Park race track. With the show season quickly approaching and also working his day job, Dobbins literally had no time to location scout with the car.
And that’s where Forza Motorsport 6 comes into play (pun intended). Because the game is remarkably realistic, there are a wide range of gamers: racing fans who rarely see a track day, track junkies who need their fix, and professional racing drivers who actually need it to learn race tracks they don’t readily have access to.
Dobbins used the game, not to race, but rather to location scout for his shoot. Using Forza’s “Photo Mode” at Lime Rock Park with a 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI, he was able to not only “drive” on track, but also find the exact points on the track to shoot and the depth of field he wanted to shoot at. On a previous visit to Lime Rock with a LaFerrari and a 30-minute window to shoot, Dobbins had not yet used this tool that, he would later remark, was a huge timesaver. The photoshoot took all of 20 minutes and the video shoot took 10. Then, they left.
As a fellow automotive media professional and previously sponsored show-car owner, I have a pretty good idea of the stress that Dobbins went through to get this all done. I also know that, in the general world of media production, we’re always looking for timesavers.
You can watch the full story of the “GTI RS” build in the video below.