Road America: Race Day

Saturday morning we attended the Audi meet and greet. I used the Leica to grab a few fun shots while socializing.

Though the Saturday morning warm-up was later than usual, we headed over to the bottom of turn five. It's much prettier earlier though. The glare took away from a usually pretty part of the track and a signature of Road America. Also, to keep us on our toes, the TV camera was no longer on a scaffold in that location and was now shooting directly into our normal shooting location. After some negotiations, the lady operating the camera agreed to shoot wide if I got down on my knees. No.... not got down on my knees... kneeled down to shoot.

Next we hit the autograph session. Again, I took the Leica. I like the limited functionality of this type of camera for this type of work. It forces you to think differently and I also feel it's less intrusive. The autograph session is part shooting and part socializing, so it's always worth the walk around the paddock.

For the start of the race I laid out a strategy that would allow me to be on the grid for a short time and allow me enough time to get down to turn one for the start. It was almost a good plan. I say almost, because the grid opportunity lasts about 5 minutes before the recon laps end and the fans spill over the walls. You can grab a few shots with teams and drivers... but that's it. You need to beat feet out of there or you'll be crushed.

By time we got down to turn one the lone photo hole was already getting congested. Fortunately, everyone worked together to make sure we all were getting the shot we wanted. A few more shooters arrived late... fortunately Phil Abbot showed up with "hole in a can" (black spray paint) and created a few more opportunities to shoot through the fence.

The start was delayed... but I think it was worth the wait. We did a few more laps from the location and enjoyed Jon Field's march to the front.

We then went looking for a shot that didn't exist. At least not if we were going to complete our day shooting the race. I had seen an image from driver's left going down into turn three... unfortunately, there was no access to shoot it safely. We settle for some going away shots in three and squeaked out a couple of frames under the Briggs & Stratton sign. Unfortunately we had to sit through the long yellow at that location and wasted a lot of time.

By now the light was getting "magic." We stopped for some water then headed back to the top of turn 6. Oh my! The light was nothing short of spectacular. And while the shadows of the trees gave some nice looks coming out from under the bridge, from the exit of the corner they created what looked like a dark opening of a tunnel. The cars were bathed in golden light and the driver's faces were clearly visible though clear visors. It was stunning.

Next, I wanted to get over to where we had shot the bikes the night before. Once again... MAGIC. Instead of going tight on the cars with my 500mm, I decided to shoot the 3/4 head-ons with my 300mm and then do some panning with my 70mm-200mm. Money! I couldn't have been more pleased.

Our last stop was the final turn heading onto the front straight. I shot directly into the sun from driver's left exiting the turn. Not a spectacular sunset, but some interesting images just the same.

I had a client on the podium so I scrambled back to shoot victory circle. Sadly, this is an exercise in futility. I don't know if I should blame IMSA/ALMS or the track promoters, but these victory circle / hat dances are a dismal disgrace. So, there we all stood, dutifully shooting our podium MACPhotos praying we didn't end up with a camera full of champagne.

By 3AM, Mike Levitt, Phil Abbot and me decided to call it a night. I had completed all my edits and transmitted my galleries and was done for week. I did come back and shoot a little SPEED World Challenge on Sunday, but I ALMS duties were put to bed and complete.

It was an uneventful trip home... this time only requiring a stop in Detroit. By midnight I was on Florida soil and looking forward to nine days off.

We'll see you in Mosport.