2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona

It’s fitting that the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship starts out with the two longest races on its calendar, the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring. If you can make it through those two weeks, you might just survive working the rest of the season. For us, the race doesn’t start on Saturday, we typically have to be in Daytona and on-site Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday at the latest.  Plus, it always seems to be raining the last few years.  I’m a fan of shooting in the rain, but at a certain point, say 8:30 PM during night practice, at the end of a very long day, the rain is simply cold and annoying.  I will keep my shots from that session though, since I earned them and all.  Somehow water got through my Think Tank Hydrophobia and the next morning I went to shoot, the LCD on my D3 was all fogged on the inside.  Checking exposure via histogram isn’t hard, but the LCD seems to have become a something of a crutch or at least a (mis)step in the shooting workflow. I guess I need to replace my rain gear, I’ve been using them for eight seasons now. Dear @thinkTANKphoto please send new gear to replace my leaky stuff.

Saturday was, thankfully, rain free, and from time to time, the sun even made an appearance. Most of the daylight hours were grey skies, but we are not at Daytona to look at the clouds anyway are we? Skip forward to ~9:40 PM. The fireworks were scheduled to go off at 9:57PM and I and a few others were in place to shoot our cars with the light show in the background. Except.Yellow.Flag.Full.Course.Caution.Safety.Car…..The fireworks started just as the last car in the procession went by me. Towards the end of the display, the cars came back by and I was able to grab a few shots, but it really ended up being a bit of a fizzle.  One client was specifically interested in the fireworks shot and when he went by, most everything in the sky had faded. I was able to get the shot, but it wasn’t anything to retire on. Great, but nothing to be done about it; that’s the life of live action shooting.

Defeated by the might of the safety car,  I went back to the media center to finish up the day’s files and then headed back to the coach for some sleep.  I usually go back to the pits around 5AM to shoot sleeping drivers and crew as well as the odd pit stop.  I was tired this year and arrived in the pits around 6AM, plenty of time to shoot a bit before heading out to T5 to shoot the (hopefully) sunrise. I was able to grab a few killer pit stop shots and had the added reward of three clients about to get into the car.  Open cockpit driver changes are usually much more fruitful to shoot due to less objects in the way, so whenever you can shoot your client driver change in the pre-dawn dimness at Daytona, you need to grab it.  Even better, they were scheduled in enough laps apart I could shoot all three of them. Not bad. I had about 10 minutes before the second one was supposed to get in so I went a few stalls up the lane to shoot.  As the first team’s car was rolling up, the second car, not due in for another five laps or so, rolled by me. Crap, no way to shoot that one. Finish the stop at hand and head up for the third driver change. Made it in perfect timing. He was suited up, helmet on and one foot on the wall, sticker tires at the ready, lollipop ready to drop. Except.Yellow.Flag.Full.Course.Caution.Safety.Car.Pits.Closed.Dammit

Then the pre dawn sky lit up with bright pink light blaring through window blind clouds. Beautiful pink light in just the right place. Except.Yellow.Flag.Full.Course.Caution.Safety.Car.Pits.Closed.Dammit. Finally, after what seemed an eternity, the pits opened, the car came in , I got my shot and hustled out to shoot cars on track. The sky was gone. Mushy grey. No color. Crap.  The sky did eventually pink back up, but it was nowhere near the quality of what I missed while in the pits. Knowing what I know now, I would still have chosen to shoot the driver changes. I nailed several shots and made my clients happy and was able to grab a few sunrise shots of all of them in the car as well.

I have included below some of my favorite shots from the week.  Please comment and enjoy.

Thanks!

The full highlights gallery can of the Rolex24 can bee seen by clicking the link you just read. My entire body of work can be seen at DarrenPierson.com

#540 Black Swan Racing Porsche GT3 R: Timothy Pappas, Nicky Catsburg, Patrick Long, Andy Pilgrim

#540 Black Swan Racing Porsche GT3 R: Timothy Pappas, Nicky Catsburg, Patrick Long, Andy Pilgrim

#22 Alex Job Racing Porsche 991 GT3 R: Cooper MacNeil, Leh Keen, Shane van Gisbergen, Gunnar Jeannette, David MacNeil

#22 Alex Job Racing Porsche 991 GT3 R: Cooper MacNeil, Leh Keen, Shane van Gisbergen, Gunnar Jeannette, David MacNeil

#4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R: Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner, Marcel Fassler

#4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R: Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner, Marcel Fassler

#540 Black Swan Racing Porsche GT3 R: Timothy Pappas, Nicky Catsburg, Patrick Long, Andy Pilgrim

#540 Black Swan Racing Porsche GT3 R: Timothy Pappas, Nicky Catsburg, Patrick Long, Andy Pilgrim

#007 TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3: Santiago Creel, Antonio Pérez, Sergio Pérez, Lars Vilijoen, Ricardo Pérez de Lara

#007 TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3: Santiago Creel, Antonio Pérez, Sergio Pérez, Lars Vilijoen, Ricardo Pérez de Lara

#26 BAR1 Motorsports ORECA FLM09: Adam Merzon, Ryan Eversley, John Falb, Don Yount

#26 BAR1 Motorsports ORECA FLM09: Adam Merzon, Ryan Eversley, John Falb, Don Yount

#01 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Riley DP: Lance Stroll, Alex Wurz, Andy Priaulx, Brendon Hartley

#01 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Riley DP: Lance Stroll, Alex Wurz, Andy Priaulx, Brendon Hartley

#96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3: Bret Curtis, Jens Klingmann, Ashley Freiberg, Marco Wittman

#96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3: Bret Curtis, Jens Klingmann, Ashley Freiberg, Marco Wittman

#9 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT3: Boris Said, Kenny Habul, Tristan Vautier, Dion von Moltke

#9 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT3: Boris Said, Kenny Habul, Tristan Vautier, Dion von Moltke

#26 BAR1 Motorsports ORECA FLM09: Adam Merzon, Ryan Eversley, John Falb, Don Yount

#26 BAR1 Motorsports ORECA FLM09: Adam Merzon, Ryan Eversley, John Falb, Don Yount

#30 Frikadelli Racing Porsche GT3 R: Klaus Abbelen, Connor De Phillippi, Sven, Patrick Huisman, Frank Stippler

#30 Frikadelli Racing Porsche GT3 R: Klaus Abbelen, Connor De Phillippi, Sven, Patrick Huisman, Frank Stippler

#2 Tequila Patrón ESM Ligier JS P2: Scott Sharp, Ed Brown, Joannes van Overbeek, Luis Felipe Derani

#2 Tequila Patrón ESM Ligier JS P2: Scott Sharp, Ed Brown, Joannes van Overbeek, Luis Felipe Derani

#38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA FLM09: James French, Kyle Marcelli, Brandon Gdovic, Jim Norman, Josh Norman

#38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA FLM09: James French, Kyle Marcelli, Brandon Gdovic, Jim Norman, Josh Norman

#25 BMW Team RLL BMW F13 M6 GTLM: Bill Auberlen, Dirk Werner, Bruno Spengler, Augusto Farfus

#25 BMW Team RLL BMW F13 M6 GTLM: Bill Auberlen, Dirk Werner, Bruno Spengler, Augusto Farfus

#26 BAR1 Motorsports ORECA FLM09: Adam Merzon, Ryan Eversley, John Falb, Don Yount

#26 BAR1 Motorsports ORECA FLM09: Adam Merzon, Ryan Eversley, John Falb, Don Yount

#37 SMP Racing BR01: Maurizio Mediani, Nicolas Minassian, Mikhail Aleshin, Kirill Ladygin

#37 SMP Racing BR01: Maurizio Mediani, Nicolas Minassian, Mikhail Aleshin, Kirill Ladygin

#2 Tequila Patrón ESM Ligier JS P2: Scott Sharp, Ed Brown, Joannes van Overbeek, Luis Felipe Derani

#2 Tequila Patrón ESM Ligier JS P2: Scott Sharp, Ed Brown, Joannes van Overbeek, Luis Felipe Derani

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