Winter hat…Check, sweatshirt and jacket…. Check! Say what!? 30 degrees in Florida, Burrrr! The weather is not even the crazy part about this story, and neither is this any average car and driver article.
If you’ve been following my blog in the past, you know it is about my experience. So let’s rewind and go back to the day before, where I checked into my hotel right down the street from the track. Struggling to get my key card to work in the door after about 15 tries it finally opened. I just finished bringing everything up from the car, realizing I forgot something and had to return to my car yet again. As I backed out and closed the door, I turned to walk away when there was a raccoon 5-10 feet away from me. Staying extremely still, the raccoon somehow sensed me as it decided to come towards me. Safe to say that I was frightened and ran towards my room putting the card in and out of the door to get in. It what just like something straight out of a horror movie, but with this clever raccoon apparently wanted to kill me. Or so it would seem. I got in my room and slammed the door thinking it snuck into my room. Peeking out the window, there it stood staring at me wondering what I tasted like (or at least that’s what I was thinking). Well just so all of you know I am sure I would taste like grapefruit juice, since that is what I have been drinking while being here. I grabbed my camera, as I needed to document my “death” and when I looked out the window, he was gone. I still needed to grab my laptop from the car, so I snuck out, noticing he was on the other side. I noticed that someone left a nasty bag of leftovers outside, 3 doors down from my hotel room. He was just looking to get to the bag and not me. That made for its own adventure.
Since hearing about the Roar before the 24 about 3 days prior, I did not have the ability to receive media credentials. I had to go to the closest Home Depot and pick up a small step ladder so that I would be able to get up over the fence to get some great action shots. It was a very different feeling not being able to have the special access, almost like an outsider and a spectator all at once. I made my way towards the media room, seeing if I could have the opportunity to grab a vest. With the approval for the next day I could attend the photographers meeting. They are always mandatory so I completely understood, but unfortunately I needed to cover Mecum Auctions in Kissimmee that day. I still managed to get some good shots, even though I didn’t have the vantage points I wanted.
The Roar Before the 24 features 30 GTLM/GTD and 20 Prototype cars, which is a test session for the main event, the Rolex 24. It is held at the infamous Daytona International Speedway, which is an exceptional track. The banks on the track are so steep that if you were to try to climb it by foot, you would have an extremely hard time being able to touch the wall. The experience is like no other for these guys, as they rip around trying to create the best lap time. The Roar Before the 24 is a three-day event that is the kickoff to this IMSA series for the season. Starting on Friday and going through Sunday. Saturday they held the first prototype race at the Roar Before the 24, but I went on Friday since I had prior commitments that weekend, ending up only catching the practice sessions.
BMW debuted the new BMW M8 GTE IMSA car at this event and wow was it spectacular! Everything about the car just screams!
As I was there just spectating, I took the time to really experiment and mess around with the low shutter speeds. The results were okay, but I am a stickler about anything slightly out of focus. It needs to be sharp or I will delete it. I don’t settle for mediocre. If I am not satisfied, nobody gets to see them. I once asked Regis Leferbure if it was okay to have some blur and he said yes, however I still struggle with it. Also understanding that if the car is on a bend it will be out of focus no matter what.
When one of the sessions were over it was very busy in the pits, as everyone had to be on their toes and fully aware of the cars coming in and from the tracks. Also being aware of the trailers filled with tires that were weaving in and out of people as well. It was a mad house and if you were not paying attention you might get your feet run over.