Last weekend (Yeah, this post is late!) I was lucky enough to attend the 14th Petit Le Mans at the beautiful Road Atlanta. It must be said that if you enjoy racing then the longer endurance races like Petit Le Mans(and really any race that is part of the ILMC) in North America are great just because of the turnout from the teams.
I was able to attend it due wholly to my association with BMWBlog.com and, aside from ripping the crotch out of my pants while scaling the pit wall, I had a great time! Audi brought their powerful but near silent R18’s – the first closed cockpit answer from Audi to the reigning Peugeot 908’s(at least in the US).In the GT class BMW had already locked up the team and driver championships but were still angling for an overall victory for the manufacturer’s championship – however, they found themselves wedged behind an AF Corse Ferrari 458GT who eeked out pole position.
Road Atlanta, and ALMS races themselves, are great to attend just for the high level of access it grants to all fans to the paddock and teams – something that lends to heightened interest by fans. Petit Le Mans opens up the grid for about 30 minutes with all cars and drivers in attendance to give fans a closer look at the machinery they’re about to watch duke it out for the next 10 hours or 1,000 miles – whichever comes first. The field is so packed and the race so long there are bound to be a few retirements. The Lotus Evora seemed to struggle all day keeping grip before letting go and crashing out late in the day. There were also a few LMPs that has some off’s and weren’t able to re-enter the race.
Once the race kicks off – everyone settles in to their favorite spot on the track (usually the ones with the most shade) to see gleaming hunks of steel blast around the wavy, tree-laden hills of North Georgia. I found, as many already know, that Turn 10 is a great place to be and is what amounts to basically a mid-sized valley of red Georgia clay with a massive slab of asphalt snaking through, into a gravel pit, and up over a massive hill. I found this to be one of the best spots on the track to grab shots of the cars as they braked for 10 and climbed the hill and under the Audi bridge. Another great spot to shoot photos is the top of 5 to watch the cars pour into and up through the Esses on the back half of the track – unfortunately, I didn’t make it over that way this year.
I did manage to get a few decent shots while I was there. Here is a link to the Flickr gallery and I’ve included a few shots here. Enjoy!