60th Annual Twelve Hours of Sebring

#6 Muscle Milk Pickett Racing HPD ARX-03a HPD: Lucas Luhr, Klaus Graf, Simon Pagenaud (Darren Pierson)

#6 Muscle Milk Pickett Racing HPD ARX-03a HPD: Lucas Luhr, Klaus Graf, Simon Pagenaud (Darren Pierson)

Sebring is upon us. Winter testing is long past. The season has begun. Its a doozy to start out. Testing starts on Monday as opposed to Wednesday or Thursday. All the drivers need new head shots. The spotters guide needs shot. Autograph Sessions. Practices, Qualifying, Support races. To top it off, they throw in a twelve hour race just for fun. Fun? Insane perhaps. Why not.

Sebring is one of those places that does not allow dogs so sometimes we stay just outside the track instead of using our trackside RV spot. I had so much to take care of this year that we decided to stay inside and to board the girls in Orlando. They had a widescreen TV and A/C but we had pit out. I had to shoot the Cooper and GT3 driver’s head shots on Tuesday Morning so I was over early setting up the lights and background. Head shots are easy, but the drivers tend to show up all at once at the end of the time slot so it does make for some hectic moments. After a quick lunch, GT3 and Lites had back to back test sessions. It was good to get out on the track after spending the day inside listening to the ALMS/WEC cars roar around the grounds.

#16 Wright Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup: Fernando Pena (Darren Pierson)

#16 Wright Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup: Fernando Pena (Darren Pierson)

Wednesday morning had the Lites out bright and early and I had to get the spotter’s guide shots buttoned up as much as possible in this one session. IMSA had decided to shoot all of the spotter’s guide images of the driver’s side of the car so I headed to the once section of the track I could shoot driver’s side with the morning sun at my back. I felt like and idiot standing in one place for the whole session shooting pan after pan of the same dozen cars. In retrospect, I didn’t really need to shoot so many, I was able to nail all of them fairly quickly. GT3 was out next and I had to do the same for them so I headed up to T6. I picked the perfect spot to shoot from as evidenced by the glare on the side window. There was a very narrow window of opportunity to get the shot without the glare. I love it when I make problems for myself. Again I felt stupid standing in one place shooting the same shot over and over, but I got them done. I did have a one hour head shot session between morning and afternoon, but since I was already set up in the hall, it was fairly routine. Wednesday afternoon was more practice, so I was able to get back out and shoot with a more creative bent than the morning sessions.

#41 Ansa Motorsports Cooper Prototype Lite: Alain Nadal (Darren Pierson)

#41 Ansa Motorsports Cooper Prototype Lite: Alain Nadal (Darren Pierson)

Thursday is a long day. Lites quali, GT3 quali, then in the afternoon they both have their first races. Lots of must have shots that have an immediate turn around time. The price of being paid I guess. I like shooting qualis because I shoot the false grid and then lurk about the pits shooting team members until the two polesitters are decided. then I shoot them jumping out of their cars being congratulated. The only difficult part is making sure you know who they are and where they are pitted.

#16 Performance Tech Cooper Prototype Lite: Tristan Nunez (Darren Pierson)

#16 Performance Tech Cooper Prototype Lite: Tristan Nunez (Darren Pierson)

The races themselves are a bit more demanding. You have to shoot the grid, the engine start, race to where you will be shooting the start (in this case turn one which is quite a ways from start/finish) and then you have about ten to fifteen minutes to shoot from one predetermined for the time of day light spot, make sure you get all the possible winning cars in both classes and then race back to the pits to shoot both class checkers shots and then the leap from cars. HECTIC TIMES to be sure. So hectic that we missed part of ALMS night practice because we went out to dinner with friends and spent too much time relaxing from the day’s efforts.
Friday is a fairly short day where I had only the two races to shoot and then ALMS quali. Shooting ALMS quali at Sebring is a bit of a drag because there are so many cars and they are spread out randomly along the pits. Its hard to guess who will get the pole in each class and be in their pits before the driver gets out of the car.  With P1 however, the process is simple: Stand in the Audi Pits and wait.

Raceday Saturday is straightforward, photo meeting in the dark of the morning, morning warmup with beautiful light and then the Start at 11AM. I usually shoot the start and then try to get some rest.  In the early afternoon I work the pits for a while. When the sun is lower in the sky I will go out and shoot on track to catch the good light. I usually shoot the pits again just before the sunset and then head out to turn one for the sunset shot itself.

#48 Paul Miller Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR: Bryce Miller, Sascha Maassen, Rob Bell (Darren Pierson)

#48 Paul Miller Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR: Bryce Miller, Sascha Maassen, Rob Bell (Darren Pierson)

The sun setting during the 12 Hours of Sebring (Darren Pierson)

The sun setting during the 12 Hours of Sebring (Darren Pierson)

After Sebring, we have the long drive out to Long Beach for the three West Coast races. See you there!

My 2012 Sebring Week image galleries can be viewed at dPerceptions.com

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