Road America: Travel Day

Prompted by Vincent Laforet's recent blogging from Beijing, I thought there might be some interest among race fans and amateur photographers in reading an inside view from each of the racing events we travel to throughout the American Le Mans Series season. Sure, it's not Beijing, but each and every trip always offers a new experience.

So, I thought I'd start of with a look back at Road America.

Travel is becoming quite a challenge. My flight from Florida to Milwaukee may as well been on the back of a freight train with Boxcar Willie. Fort Myers is a terrific airport, but everything is a connection. Maybe it will change during "the season" this winter... but I travel in the summer. The trek to Road America required leaving on Wednesday, fly to Detroit, through  Minneapolis then on to Milwaukee. Fortunately, I wasn't dragging my camera gear with me. Chris Clark did me the favor of bringing it from Mid-Ohio where we last shot the AMA Superbikes.

Speaking of camera gear and flying, dragging a 49lb. (in case the airlines are reading) carry on with you is quite an experience. I use a ThinkTank Airport Security rolling bag and believe me, it's maxed out. TSA loves my bag. They like to look at it inside and out... over and over... everywhere I go. Occasionally, they will wipe it down with these tiny little towels.. though never when I come home... only when I'm outbound. And, honestly, they don't do a very good job. And they like to unpack it and repack it as if it were some sort of Rubrics' cube puzzle. They never get it right. And, they won't let me help.

The ThinkTank Airport Security is a must have for flying. There's not better made bag out there. To-date, I'm carrying three camera bodies, two flash heads, a 500mm f/4, 70-200 zoom, 300mm f/4, 24-105 zoom, 12-24 zoom and a 16-35 zoom. I also pack a turbo battery pack for my flashes. Lastly, I can conveniently fold my IMSA photo vest flat and lie it on top before zipping it close. The bag is extremely versatile and very well built. The wheels are unbelievably smooth. It you check one out, don't let the "slop" in the collapsible handle fool you... it's not loose. It is built that way as a form of suspension allowing the bag to absorb bumps has you roll over different surfaces.

Arriving in Milwaukee, I dutifully wait for Hertz to take care of the 10 people ahead of me. Seriously, I bought my Scion Xb faster than some of these people choose their rental car. Brutal.

Finally, me and my Ford "ball of conFUSION" were on our way to Sheboygan and the opulent digs that awaited us at America's Best Value Inn. I'm not sure about the "Best" or for that matter the "Value" portion of their moniker... but for a $139 per night you'd think they could do better. And, wireless internet means "in our lobby" or an iBridge plugged into your electrical outlet.. assuming they're not all checked out. Oh... and by the way, the translation for "hi-speed" in Sheboygan is about 56k... in bursts. Maybe I should look for "HIGH-speed" in the future.

But... hey, we're having fun. Seriously.