Stephen Simpson waiting to go

076a4653The #85 JDC Miller Motorsport Entry made what looked like a routine pit stop with about an hour and a half to the checkered flag.  Driver Stephen Simpson went to leave, but a crew member waved his arms and the car was pulled back and the rear deck removed.  The problem didn’t delay the car for too long – Simpson and co-drivers Misha Goikhberg and Chris Miller prevailed to claim a third place podium position in the Prototype Challenge class.

The particular shot catches Simpson’s eyes and the expression is clear – looking for information, hoping that the delay isn’t significant, and eager to get back to the action.

If you’re not familiar with Simpson, the South African was quietly one of the big stories in the 2016 Rolex 24.  He ran the most laps of any driver in the car by a large margin and was consistently faster – a key component in claiming the PC win.  Keep an eye on him for the future.

Note the Justice Brothers logo in the foreground.  The family and company has supported many forms of motorsport for decades.

Camera Settings – 1/100 shutter speed, f/2.8, ISO 1600, 200mm.

Scuderia Corsa Ferrari Fire

076a4544Fire is one of the scariest risks at a race track – and the risk is highest during a pit stop.  By regulation, a single crew member is required to be at the ready with a fire extinguisher (among other safety measures).

During a routine pit stop for the #68 GTLM Scuderia Corsa Ferrari, the refueler had difficulty getting the fueling hose to de-couple from the car.  Jiggling and shaking it, the fuel hose came loose and fuel spilled and ignited – engulfing the refueler and the right side of the car.  The crew member with the fire extinguisher was watching the whole sequence and immediately hit the refueler first and then moved to the car.  After several seconds, other people with extinguishers moved in and blanketed the scene with chemical to put out the fire and the driver jumped out of the car.  Kudos to all for the quick reactions – particularly the crew member on station during the pit stop with the fire extinguisher “just in case”.

The fire quickly produced a plume of smoke above the pit box, triggering a league of safety workers to converge on the scene and curious spectators to see what had happened.  It was over in a matter of seconds.

The car suffered no damage, but was covered in chemical dumped and sprayed to put out the fire.  No time to make the car more pretty during the race, so the driver got back in the car and returned to the action.

This photo shows the car returning on a subsequent pit stop but it later retired with an hour to go.  It isn’t as sharp as a panning shot would usually be, but it caught me by surprise and I was happy to get a shot to tell the story.

Camera Settings – 1/160, f/3.5, ISO 100, 100mm – and sympathetic lightening in post-processing.

Pit Stop at Twilight

076a4527As the sun sets lower in the sky, headlights and pit lane lighting become more pronounced.  The cars also are showing scars and wear from the laps run so far.  The white and yellow nose of the #5 Action Express Corvette shows the marks of tire debris as the crew swaps out old rubber for new and refuels the Daytona Prototype.  The entry would finish 5th overall, two laps off the lead in the hands of Barbosa, Fittipaldi and Albequerque.

As the 2016 Petit LeMans was the last race for the Daytona Prototype formula, one might be tempted to draw an analogy to the sun setting on the Daytona Prototype era.

Camera Settings – 1/200 shutter speed, f/4.5, ISO 100, 95mm.

Porsche 911 GTLM Repairs

076a4508Unfortunate contact between Johnny Mowlem in the #20 BAR1 Prototype Challenge car and Nick Tandy in the 911 GTLM car in Turn 3 resulted in both cars spinning, but the Porsche suffered the worst of the damage.  The car backed into the barrier to driver’s left doing major damage.  At the time of the contact, the Porsche was running third in class with four hours to go.

Tandy drove the very damaged car back to the paddock and the crew descended on it.  While clearly out of contention, the crew methodically rebuilt and repaired the car to ensure it could re-emerge before the end of the race and take the checkered flag.  As might be expected of top-line professionals, the work was urgent but not hurried.  Few words were exchanged as the team worked closely together.  A group of spectators gathered around the Porsche tent to watch.

Yes, the repaired 911 returned to the track – at 9:02pm.  Enough time to see the white flag and then take the checkered flag at 9:10pm.

Camera Settings – 1/125 shutter speed, f/3.5, ISO 100, 88mm.

Vacant Pit Lane

076a4504During the race, there was an extended yellow as track workers repaired the surface that was breaking apart near Turn 3.  With no racing and no pit stops, the lane between the pit lane spots for each team and the fencing was oddly vacant.  Usually, this space is buzzing with crew members hauling tires, drivers getting ready, PR reps, pit lane reporters, photographers, officials, safety staff, pit carts, and other traffic.  Perhaps not a fancy photo or a complicated composition, but it captures a particular unique moment during the race.

Camera Settings – 1/400 shutter speed, f/7.1, ISO 100, 70mm.

Mazda Pit Stop

076a4434During an endurance race, teams make multiple pit stops.  At this point, the #70 was the only remaining Mazda prototype in the field, so the team’s entire focus shifted to the #70.

The completion of this pit stop looks ordinary.  A close look at the removed tires, however, shows a fair amount of grass that has stuck to the hot rubber.  Don’t know whether the pit stop was a result of an off-course excursion of whether the rubber had just given up at the end of a regular length stint, but either way, the photo tells the story of a car that had gone off track just before the call to the pits.

The #70 Mazda prototype would soldier on and encounter a fuel injector issue that would ultimately end its day just short of the checkered flag.

Camera Settings – 1/1250 shutter speed, f/3.5, ISO 100, 165mm.

Marco Seefried Ready to Go

076a4424About four hours into the Petit Le Mans race, and Marco Seefried is suited, booted and ready to go.  He took over for fellow driver Andy Lally in the Magnus Racing Audi R8.  Seedfried joins the team for the longer endurance races, but he is well known to the team and very fast and very experienced.

By this point, Lally in the Audi had suffered damage from contact inflicted by the GTLM Porsche #912 when the Porsche failed to navigate the slower pace of the Audi which had just emerged from the pits after a stop.  The Porsche took the brunt of the damage, although inspection of Lally’s right rear after hi stop to switch to Seedfried (and fresh rubber) revealed a badly damaged wheel.  It is a testament to the wheel and the Continental Tire that neither failed during Lally’s stint despite the damage.

Camera Settings – 1/500, f/5, ISO 100, 142mm.

Park Place Porsche at Speed

076a4322Nothing magic about this shot, but photographer’s prerogative to include.  The nose of the Porsche is in focus while the blur towards the rear of the car and in the foreground and background gives the sensation of speed.  The shot was taken between Turn 2 and 3 at Road Atlanta.

The finish was not as pretty.  The Park Place Porsche ran afoul of the rule for driver times and was demoted from its second place GTD finish to the back of the GTD field.  The team had Balance of Performance objections and made very clear it wouldn’t have elected to run in the race but for prior sponsor and business obligations.   Note the Justice Brothers sticker in front of the left wheel.  The Justice Brothers have been in motorsport for years and have been a very active supporter of all forms of motorsport through their sponsorships of both teams and drivers.

Camera Settings – 1/200 shutter speed, f/5.6, ISO 100, 200mm.

BMW M6 at Turn 3 – Rear View

076a4233The first full season of BMW M6 has been bit of a struggle in the GTLM class.   There are plenty of debates whether a larger car like the M6 is truly has a home within a GT sportscar class, but BWM certainly has a proud tradition of sportscar racing.  Rumors persist that the driving line-up is due for a shakeup and the car is due for a revision in 2018 with GTE regulation changes and a new LeMans initiative.

Regardless, the M6 car still cuts a distinctive silhouette.  The quick and violent transition over Turn 3 gives the photographer situated from the outside of the track a good look at the stability of each car through the turn.  Some cars leap over the curbs and other cars carefully cut around them.

This shot of the #25 BMW M6 isn’t terribly dramatic.  It doesn’t show a wheel in the air or a car out of control.  A close look at the left rear, however, shows the amount of body roll and stress imposed on the left side of the car mid-corner.   The car compresses and slides through the corner as it sets up for the run downhill through the esses.

Unfortunately, the BMW team did not have a good Petit Le Mans.  The #100 car suffered from early contact and an alternator problem.  The #25 car retired with two hours to go with steering rack problems.

Camera Settings – 1/800 shutter speed, f/5.6, ISO 100, 420mm.

Risi Ferrari Wins GTLM

076a3856In January 2016, the Risi Ferrari team barely beat the clock and took delivery of their brand new 488 GTLM race car at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.  After some shakedown laps, the car was delivered directly to the track via Miami and did its first laps on US soil in the first Rolex 24 practice session.  The team ran very well with the debut of the 488 at Daytona but fell short after damage to the rear diffuser cost the team time to repair.  A lack of spares caused them to run the final six hours without a rear diffuser.  In such a tight class, the deficit was too much to overcome.

A GTLM victory at the Petit Le Mans was the teams’ first win in almost two years and the car was dominant.  It was near or at the front for the entire event.  As the solo Ferrari in the GTLM class and running against full factory programs, the Risi program has a lot of fans and followers.

The shot shows the Risi 488 Ferrari about 20 minutes into the race at Road Atlanta at the top of Turn 5.  A very strong driver line-up of Giancarlo Fisichella, James Calado, and Toni Villander is as strong as any in the paddock.

Camera Settings – 1/1000 shutter speed, f/4, ISO 100, 200mm.