Entries in Petit Le Mans (4)

Monday
Oct052015

Monday Moanin' Outta My Mind

While there were plenty of story lines coming out of the 2015 18th Annual Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda, the departure of Team Falken Tire can’t be overlooked. Winners of the final American Le Mans race, the 2013 Petit Le Mans, and winners of the Inaugural TUDOR version of Petit Le Mans in 2014, it’s hard not to imagine what does the “con” side of the decision making process look like as the team and manufacturer depart from the Series.

While I have no inside information, it’s hard not to assume Falken’s decision was financial and market driven. After all, what sense does it make to throw tons of resources (both money and research and development) at a program that is immersed in a venture dominated by a competing manufacturer. Especially, when the domination is bought and paid for.

Michelin dominates the GTLM class by determination and providing a quality performance tire and a well run marketing effort. And I think the Falken people were ok with that. That’s competition. But to attempt to have a voice and capture the ear of the market place, in a Series who’s primary tire sponsor is mandated on three of the four classes… well, what’s the point?

Tires are an integral part of the competition… especially so in an endurance format of racing. Sure, it’s possible that one tire manufacture may dominate. But if it’s earned… so what?

Michelin earned the respect of fans and competitors alike during the hay-day of the ALMS. And, in the absurd weather conditions of this year’s Petit Le Mans, they earned it again putting a GT car in the overall winners circle.

For six seasons, Team Falken earned the respect of fans and competitors through their continued efforts to fight competitively and to win. Bryan Sellers, Wolf Henzler and Team Falken consistently proved they were capable with back-to-back victories at the 10-hour Petit Le Mans, as well as races as diverse as Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and the city streets of the Baltimore Grand Prix. Oh, by the way, they won Baltimore twice. They brought the resources they had and they made it work. It’s fair to say, they were sometimes David to Michelin’s Goliath. Good on them…. and I can assure you, Michelin would say the same.

So… if you’ve read this far, you’ve probably figured out, I don’t like spec tires. I don’t like sponsors buying out the spirit of competition.

To the folks at Falken…. Wolf Henzler, Bryan Sellers, Derek Walker and the whole Walker Racing crew… Thanks! Thanks for your perseverance, your tenacity and your allegiance to sports car racing fans. You’ll be missed!


Saturday
Oct092010

Take No Prisoners... We're Going Home.

© 2010 | Thawley

©2010 Dole Photo

©2010 Regis LefebureWe easily log 30,000 plus miles per year. We drag 40 plus pounds of camera gear and we practically get to know TSA inspectors by name. The airports look alike, the car rental counters seem to get taller as the season wears on. And by time Road America and Mosport roll around, you sit in an airport lounge waiting for yet another delayed flight wondering if you made the right career choice.

But then you get trackside. You fire off a few frames. You point your 500mm at the crest under the bridge coming into Road America’s turn six or at the evil off camber sky shot at the top of Mosport’s turn two and you get that rush. And you remember… this is a pretty damn good job.

And long as the season may feel… as crumby as the airports and travel may get, there always comes that time where you dig a little deeper trying to raise your game. You know there are other eyes out there. Guys like John Brooks, Richard Prince, Bob Chapman… they’re all digging in, they’re all looking for that extra edge. That shot that leaves fans, admirers and yes, other photographers shaking their heads wondering, “wow… how’d he do that? How come I didn’t see that?”

Races like Sebring, Laguna and Petit build a fire in your belly. These are the races that have unique opportunities built in. Well, maybe not built in. But the potential is there. Late day opportunities, sunset, twilight, night practice… pit stops under the lights - and every photographer there… like the teams and competitors… everyone has their game face on.

So as we end the season with arguably the ALMS Superbowl, Petit Le Mans, SCi presents you with the very best efforts of Rick Dole, Regis Lefebure, and me, John Thawley. I know with every aching bone in my body… we left it all out on the track. No effort was spared. From 20,000 plus images shot over 5 days in Atlanta, we’ve narrowed it down to  130 frames. It comes down to this. Hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed the hunt.

GALLERIES:

Rick Dole

Regis Lefebure

John Thawley

Friday
Oct082010

A Thousand Miles in A Thousand Words.

©2010 Dole Photo“Strange how the night moves, with Autumn closing in…”  — Bob Seger

With a return to its rightful place as the season-ending Last Big Bash for the American Le Mans Series, this year’s Petit Le Mans powered by MAZDA 2 was a fantastic end to the 2010 sports car racing series.

One year ago, Petit Le Mans was a wash-out, quite literally. The anticipation of Audi vs. Peugeot taking on the hills, valleys, and twists of Road Atlanta had all of the excitement of Ali vs. Frazier on wheels. Of course, epic floods turned parts of the track into swimming holes and fishing camps, cutting short the action and delivering to Peugeot what could best be described as a split decision.

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