Kids 12 and under are free! Tickets start at $55. See the web site for details.
Thanks to sok07, Huntsville Car Scene will be providing coverage of this event for Wednesday and Thursday.
Thank you sok07!
Here's the complete schedule of events:
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
8:00 am - 8:30 am Practice - USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda
8:40 am - 9:25 am Practice - Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear
9:35 am - 10:05 am Practice - Patrón GT3 Challenge by Yokohama
10:15 am - 10:45 am Practice - Cooper Tires Prototype Lites
10:55 am - 11:25 am Practice - SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series
11:35 am - 12:05 pm Practice - BF Goodrich/Skip Barber National Series presented by Mazda
12:05 pm - 12:50 pm Lunch
12:50 pm - 1:20 pm Practice - USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda
1:30 pm - 2:15 pm Practice - Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear
2:25 pm - 2:55 pm Practice - Patrón GT3 Challenge by Yokohama
3:05 pm - 3:35 pm Practice - Cooper Tires Prototype Lites
3:45 pm - 4:15 pm Testing Session - American Le Mans Series Presented by Tequila Patrón (GT1 / GT2 / GTC/ GTH)
4:15 pm - 5:15 pm Testing Session - American Le Mans Series Presented by Tequila Patrón (All Classes)
5:15 pm - 5:45 pm Testing Session - American Le Mans Series Presented by Tequila Patrón (LMP1 / LMP2 / LMPC)
6:00 pm - 6:30 pm Practice - SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series
Thursday, September 30, 2010
8:00 am - 8:30 am Qualifying - Cooper Tires Prototype Lites
8:40 am - 9:10 am Qualifying - Patrón GT3 Challenge by Yokohama
9:20 am - 9:50 am Qualifying - USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda
10:00 am - 11:00 am Practice - American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón (All Classes)
11:10 am - 11:35 am Qualifying #1 - BF Goodrich/Skip Barber National Series presented by Mazda
11:45 am - 12:15 pm Qualifying - SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series
12:00 pm - 12:30 pm Mandatory Driver Autograph Session for ALL Patrón GT3 Challenge by Yokohama Drivers at the American Le Mans
Series presented by Tequila Patrón Merchandise Trailer before the Suzuki bridge
12:15 pm - 1:00 pm Lunch
1:00 pm - 1:30 pm Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Race #1 - 30 Minutes
1:40 pm - 2:25 pm Qualifying - Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear
2:35 pm - 3:35 pm Practice - American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón (All Classes)
3:55 pm - 4:40 pm Patrón GT3 Challenge by Yokohama Race #1 - 45 Minutes
5:00 pm - 5:30 pm USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda Race #1 - 30 Minutes
5:45 pm - 6:15 pm BF Goodrich/Skip Barber National Series presented by Mazda Race #1 - 30 Minutes
6:15 pm - 7:00 pm Dinner
6:20 pm - 6:45 pm IMSA facilitated Corvette Corral Parade Laps (100 cars maximum)
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm Combined Night Practice - American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón (All Classes)
Friday, October 1, 2010
8:00 am - 8:25 am Qualifying #2 - BF Goodrich/Skip Barber National Series presented by Mazda
8:45 am - 9:15 pm USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda Race #2 - 30 Minutes
9:30 am - 10:30 am Practice - American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón (All Classes)
10:30 am American Le Mans Series presented by Tequlia Patrón Tech Talk at Team Falken Tire Team Transporter
10:50 am - 11:35 am Patrón GT3 Challenge by Yokohama Race #2 - 45 Minutes
11:00 am American Le Mans Series presented by Tequlia Patrón Tech Talk at Green Earth Team Gunnar Team Transporter
11:30 am American Le Mans Series presented by Tequlia Patrón Tech Talk at Corvette Racing Team Transporter
11:55 am - 12:40 pm Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear Race - 45 Minutes
12:00 pm American Le Mans Series presented by Tequlia Patrón Tech Talk at BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team Team Transporter
12:00 pm - 12:30 pm MANDATORY Driver Autograph Session for ALL Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Championship Drivers at the Cooper Tire
Display Transporter located in Vendor Village
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm MANDATORY DRIVER AUTOGRAPH SESSION FOR ALL AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES PRESENTED BY TEQUILA
PATRÓN DRIVERS BEHIND EACH TEAM TRANSPORTER IN THE MAIN COMPETITOR PADDOCK
12:40 pm - 1:40 pm Lunch
12:45 pm - 1:10 pm IMSA facilitated Porscheplatz and Ferrari Corral Parade Laps (100 cars maximum)
1:30 pm - 1:45 pm American Le Mans Series presented by Tequlia Patrón Tech Talk at Flying Lizard Motorsports Team Transporter
1:40 pm - 2:10 pm BF Goodrich/Skip Barber National Series presented by Mazda Race #2 - 30 Minutes
1:45 pm - 2:00 pm American Forest Live Auction at the Flying Lizard Motorsports Team Transporter
2:30 pm - 3:00 pm Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Race #2 - 30 Minutes
3:15 pm - 3:40 pm Qualifying - American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón (GT1 / GT2 / GTC / GTH)
3:50 pm - 4:15 pm Qualifying - American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón (LMP1 / LMP2 / LMPC)
4:35 pm - 6:05 pm SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series Race - 90 Miles or 90 Minutes maximum
6:15 pm - 6:35 pm Road Atlanta facilitated Corral Parade Laps (100 cars maximum)
6:15 pm - ? Johnny O’Connell Auction at Main Paddock to benefit the Alzheimer Assoc GA Chapter of Guest House
Saturday, October 2, 2010
9:15 am - 9:40 am Warm Up - American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón (All Classes)
10:15 am - 11:15 am Pre-Race Activities / American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón Vitesse Program (by invitation only)
11:15 am Petit Le Mans Powered by Mazda2 Race for the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón (Round 9) -
1,000 miles or 10 hours maximum
Click here to see the gallery. Buy photo prints and gifts!
All proceeds help pay Huntsville Car Scene bills.
My first trip to Road Atlanta and the Petit Lemans started early in the morning well before the sun rose. I was operating on just a few hours sleep as I had to work feverishly to prepare cameras after just coming off a busy weekend.
Sok07 and I started heading out to Atlanta via 72 and cut across through Mentone and Gadsden. It was a great morning drive. The sun rose right after we passed through Mentone giving us a breathtaking morning sky above.
Once we hit the interstate, the pace sped up as we were there just after morning traffic.
But in true Atlanta style, as we got closer to the city, we hit traffic.
We made it to our hotel and I jumped in sok07's mr2 to head to the track. We were there in time to see the tail end of the practice session for the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites, and I grabbed a few shots. Sok07 showed me around the track, which is small in comparison to Barber Motorsports Park, but still not tiny by any means. I grabbed a few shots of some of the nice spectator cars as we walked around before we headed to the paddock.
We had a very ambitious goal in the paddock--to get sok07's helmet signed by all
the drivers. It's a goal you'd think would be really hard, but during the practice sessions it's a lot more laid back, so the drivers are more accessible. It didn't take too long to get our first autograph from driver Jonny Cocker
of Drayson Racing
Even though it was a practice day, the paddock was still alive with activity as cars drove to and from the pits. What amazed me was how easily these race cars would sneak up on us. We wouldn't even hear them until they were practically behind us.
So I shot some video clips of these quiet monsters. And I wasn't the only one shooting. The press that was there was armed to the teeth.
During the lunch break, we headed over to a close-by Chinese place and then headed back to the hotel to check-in. It was neat how we always found someone admiring the mr2 when we came back to it.
Great cars just get that type of attention. We parked next to a very nice BMW from North Carolina that had the tag equivalent of "Shake and Bake".
It was a very nice car with tasteful mods and even a domo
in the carbon fibre front lip that color-matched the center caps on the BBS wheels.
We returned from lunch back to the paddock to find it bustling with activity. I covered the paddock activity so I could cover the cars on course tomorrow. I found a great way to get video of the cars was as they were exiting pit row. They either went to the left or the right of me to their paddock location--unless that location was right behind me!
I had forgotten that I was blocking Drayson Racing's paddock spot entrance.
I couldn't figure out which way the car in front of me was going to turn until I realized he wasn't going to turn, and I jumped out of the way. Needless to say, the driver was a bit upset, and I felt really, really bad.
As a professional of the media, it's your job to stay out of the way of those you are giving media coverage to. In this situation--I failed.
This is why you have to be on your toes and alert when you're in a live racing environment like this. And it's why it still surprises me how race events allow the public in the paddock minutes before grid time, like what I saw at Barber Motorsports Park during the Indy race.
As the light faded and we started getting tired, the cameras could no longer do their job, so we just watched the practice sessions until we decided to leave.
When we got back to the room, I set up my mini command center with 3 hard drives for redundancy and card readers to copy off the memory cards and start uploading. Our Internet connection was slow, with only 1.5mb upload bandwidth--about 10x less than what I have at home. I didn't expect the uploads to finish even by morning. Once I had all the memory cards offloding and batteries charging, we headed off to a nice sushi place where we both sok07 and I ate well.
Click here to see the gallery. Buy photo prints and gifts!
All proceeds help pay Huntsville Car Scene bills.
Thursday morning was an early start after some badly needed rest. I still needed more, but we were trying to get to the track before the American Le Mans Series practice session at 10am. There was still an hour of memory card work before I could head out, so we ended up a bit late catching only the tail end of the session. But as David Brabham
of Highcroft Racing
told us as he was signing sok07's helmet, "there wasn't much testing that could be done out there because of the wet track. You can't get consistent readings with one driver moreless two, so there wasn't much point [in risking the car]. Besides the track will be dry on race day, so there's no reason to even test in the wet." He said the only car that was even really out in the session was the Porsche GT3 hybrid. So I was relieved that we didn't really miss too much. The weather was playing a large part in the sessions today, and would continue to do so the whole day long.
David was really down-to-earth and easy to talk with. I felt like I was talking to Gary White or one of the other local racers as opposed to one of the most talented drivers in the world. I should have shot video of our conversation, which basically turned into a short informal interview.
And right after speaking with David, we saw his teammate Simon Pagenaud
through the fence. Both were pretty relaxed as neither of them had much to do that morning.
The paddock was a bit quiet, but still bustling as the teams prepared for sessions coming later in the day. We got a glimpse of the Hella crew aligned the headlights on the #16 Dyson Racing LMP car as we made our way through the paddock.
At the end of the paddock were the pace cars as well as the Panoz tent. Panoz had some of their earlier race cars like the Esperante GTR-1 on display yesterday, but today they had a real treat--the Panoz Abruzzi.
Abruzzi is an exotic quite like no other. It is made in the 'Spirit of Le Mans' and the phrase is actually part of its full name--The Panoz Abruzzi "Spirit of Le Mans." According to the press release, "The Abruzzi will be offered as a strictly limited edition. Only 81 Abruzzi 'Spirit of Le Mans' vehicles will ever be produced, corresponding to the number of Le Mans 24 Hour contests between the inception of the race in 1923 and the race to be held in 2013." A Panoz representative told me that "30 of these will be made for France before US production." So while not explicitly stated in the press release earlier this year, the car is definitely coming to the states. He also told me the price is currently set at 460,000 euros, so this is clearly in the ultra-exotic range with the like of the Porsche Carrera GT and higher-end Ferraris.
The powertrain will deliver 600-plus HP with 590 ft.-lbs. of torque. Originally there was some skepticism where this powerplant may come from, as Panoz has used Ford as their supplier in the past. I was told that the Corvette ZR1 LS9 engine, drivetrain, and brakes would be used on the Abruzzi. I could tell from the front calipers that the brakes were definitely there, but what surprised me was that it even looks like the instrument cluster was borrowed from the Corvette. It's not the first time it's been done, and I'm sure it won't be the last.
This Abruzzi was a production prototype with a body made out of carbon fibre. The production models will have what I was told is "an additional weave that will make it less brittle [than carbon fibre]." According to their press release, it's a "body system that offers environmental, performance and structural advantages like no other automobile body system on the planet. Never used before on any road-going automobile, the multi-layer composite system is lighter than carbon fiber yet equally strong. Unlike carbon fiber however, it is dent-resistant, shatter-proof and recyclable."
The Abruzzi that was driven right from the street into the Panoz tent looks like some version of the Batmobile. And many of Panoz's cars have been said to look like the Batmobile, so I guess the tradition continues with the Abruzzi. Seeing it in traffic might look something like this:
You may expect some sort of jet engine afterburner lurking somewhere in the rear of the car, but you'll only find two fairly small exhaust openings.
The interior seems quite plush and on par for a car of this stature. A lot of the design elements remind me of Spyker without completely going off into the realm of 'art-turned-functional'.
Just from seeing the reaction here in a racing environment, this is a car that turns heads like no other. Even the racing teams were taking breaks to come check it out. And with the heritage of racing from Panoz Auto Development and Don Panoz, the performance promises to be just as exhilerating.
After we checked out Panoz's tent, we headed back to the car to get some stuff and head to Vendor Village where sok07's brother was joining us. Formula1blog.com
forum regular Christopher Oliver
met me at the event and walked with me taking pictures with random pretty girls. It must be his British accent.
I need to work on mine again.
He's a hardcore racing affecinado and got an inside line with some of the teams at the race in 2009
I checked out the various vendor booths and their products until we were going to lunch to meet with some friends. It was sushi time again--yum! We took the Mazda Speed 3 to the restaurant, and I shot some video of everything going on around us as we were leaving.
We returned to the track to find that the rain that we saw on the way to the restaurant also made it to the track. The mr2 beaded the rain nicely, and was parked on solid ground so we weren't going to be stuck in the mud.
Most of the prototype race teams were just hanging out as they weren't going to practice in the rain, and their next practice was hours away at night.
We took this time to make our way to the other side of the paddock to the SCCA and prototype lites area. The Cooper Tires Prototype Lites race was done for the day so they were putting away the cars, so I got what static shots I could. But I did run into the Pole Position winner for race #1 as well as the Cooper Tires Girls.
And then while we were there, we watched Race #1 of the GT3 Challenge. I shot some video of the cars on course and saw the awards presentation from above. I also got some video of the USF2000 National Championship cars going from the paddock to the grid.
After the race and awards presentation, we crossed the bridge again to get a better vantage point for the first race of the USF2000 National Championship. It took me a little while to get my settings right to get the type of pictures I wanted of the cars on track, but I got there.
After the race, I went back to Vendor Village to do a full sweep and see everything there. The manufacturers had the most impressive displays. BMW and Audi both brought some historical cars for their display. And Audi brought the new R8 Spyder, which I was just recently saw up close last week.
I liked the red one I saw versus this color, because this color scheme seemed to be more 'classy' and less 'sporty'. It felt like the equivalent of an athletic shoe trying to be a dress shoe, but I guess someone will like it.
As I was finishing up with vendor row and meeting back up with sok07 and his brother, we ran into the line of Corvettes that were doing the parade lap right before the night practice session. We even saw our local 'Corvettes Conquer Cancer
' Corvette in the lineup.
I also had a little bit of fun with the Papa John's delivery driver by reciting a line from The Fast and the Furious
The official pace cars flew around the track before the official start of the night practice session. I only got a few shots of them because they were really moving. These weren't parade laps for sure.
And as the sun set, we found the soft light perfectly to our backs for some really great shots of the cars--that is if we could move fast and steady enough.
I shot some nightvision video which really showed the glowing rotors as these cars came flying into turn six.
I saw one crash while taking pictures in the turn six area where they had a big light setup. It was actually only a tap by one of the LMP cars on the rear of a Corvette that didn't see him tuck in. A small piece of carbon fibre broke off, but you would've thought it was something much worse from the gunshot-like noise.
The damage may have been small, but the forces involved must have been quite substantial.
After the session, we went back to the hotel and I packed for the drive back to Huntsville. I met some friends and family before I finally made it home the next day. What an exciting and exhausting few days!
I want to thank sok07 and his brother for the opportunity to hang out with them and their hospitality. It was a blast and a half.
And sok07's helmet had all the signatures by the end of the weekend.
Mission accomplished...until next year!
3 members will be attending this event: