|Peugot 908 driven by France's second fastest man.|
I've been a fan of racing for as long as I can remember. I can probably attribute that to my dad, but at some point I deviated from his preference of perpetual left turns. NASCAR isn't my bag. I need right-hand turns and cars a bit more exotic than a Chevy Lumina.
|Peugot 908 - Finished 3rd overall.|
|Audi R15 being driven by Allan McNish|
And that's one of the marvels of Sebring...the intimacy with the racing action. I spent a large portion of my 12 hours there walking the footpath that closely follows most of the track. And in most areas you're less than 40 feet or so from the cars with only some Armco and a waist-high chain link fence in between. Of course, there's a lot more protection at the areas of the track that call for it, and unfortunately that's where the best photo opportunities are. And you only get there with the proper credentials.
The problem I faced was having to remind myself I was there as a spectator. I was there to enjoy the race, not cover it. It's hard to make that separation at times. I will admit that I hauled my digital camera along. For as much as I love my Hasselblad, and 4x5 and the rest, they are all but useless for shooting race cars being driven in anger. (I supposed they would be fine if said race car was not moving, and in a studio...) The weapon of choice was the Nikon D200 I picked up very used over the winter. The lens that spent the majority of the day on my camera was my manual focus Nikon 135mm f3.5. It seems like an odd choice but the optics are superb, the MF is great for prefocusing on pan shots, and the focal length was a perfect fit for the distance from the track. I had my 70-300 shitbox along, but it can't compete with the quality of the 135mm and without photo creds or scaffolding, there was no point that I could exploit the longer focal length.
|These fans seem most comfortable near the left-handers.|
And I'm not kidding when I say scaffolding. Apparently it's fine if you want to turn your campsite into a construction zone. A couch on top of three stories of scaffolding is a great way to watch the race, I suppose. And for the regular spectators like me, no one at the gate is going to stop you when you walk in with your camera gear and step ladder.
|Ferrari 458 Italia|
While the LMP cars are eyecandy, they're seriously lacking in the audio department. The
turbos diesel engines are, well...too quiet. They're like angry pickup trucks. Thankfully, the GT class picks up the slack. These actually look like their production counterparts but absolutely scream around the track. And each has it's own personality. The Ferrari's were all about high-strung Italian engineering and were not thrilled about slowing down. They sounded like they were standing on the rev limiter through out the entire lap and put up quite the protest under downshift. The opposite end of the spectrum was the Corvette. Deep, boomy, American. Also approaching the pain threshold on the dB scale.
|Ford GT - Not particularly competitive but pleasant to listen to.|
The worst was the Jaguar. I cringed every time I saw it headed for the corner I was standing at because I kept thinking, lap after lap, this it. This is the lap the damn thing is finally going to explode and kill me.
|Jaguar XKR - Glowing brake rotors and exhaust. Near the point of detonation.|
|BMW M3 GT - Thought you would appreciate this, Wade.|