ALMSChicks – Sebring: Race Day Wrap-Up

There is just something about watching the sun come up over the track race day at Sebring International Raceway. You have the best technology that Audi, Corvette, Porsche, and Lotus can offer, practicing at speed with bright sun breaking the horizon. It’s breathtaking!

We were able to watch the morning warm-up from the Gurney Terrace Pit Box Seats right behind Dyson Racing. If you are planning on attending the morning warm-up, remember to arrive very early. It took us almost 45 minutes to find a parking spot in the infield. The track had raised the prices on the parking from $25 to $40, while also lessening the areas where you can park. Very big disappointment!

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The pre-race fan walk may just be our favorite part of race day. After placing the cars on the grid, fans were able to get up-close and personal with the drivers, cars, crews, and flag girls. While we aren’t interested in the latter, we love getting one last chance to talk to our favorite drivers and wish them good luck. This was also a wonderful opportunity to get your photo taken with the cars. This year’s fan walk was the busiest we’ve ever seen. With all 64 cars, the drivers, the crews, and the fans, it was wall-to-wall people. We always try to take the photos of our favorite cars early, before it gets too overwhelming.

After the fan walk, we returned to our lovely and shaded seats in Gurney Terrace to watch the beginning of the race. It was a wonderful sight watching people like seven time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen, Formula One star Nick Heidfeld, and 2011 Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year Andy Lally all racing together.

Twelve hours is a very long time when it come to attending a race. We always try to break up our day and check out different fun places around the track. We started with merchandise shopping in the paddock vendor area. After that we found ourselves in the brightly colored beach chairs. It was a great place to relax and people watch. The chairs were located just outside the main pit entrance, which led to a game of Spot the Drivers. Just after getting out of the car, Timo Bernhard came over to chat and tell us how his race was going. You know you’ve finally made it when an Audi driver comes to talk to you right after his stint!

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We spent the rest of the race walking around the infield area. The spectator viewing areas between Turns 2 and 5 are great places to take car photos and we certainly took advantage of it. It’s also a great place to take a nap with the sounds of the Audi’s humming you to sleep. After that we decided to stroll the Midway. It is one of the most entertaining places to people watch. Being St. Patrick’s Day, the fans were even more festive than usual wearing green wigs, green beads, and even drinking green beer. The food vendors were more adventurous than ever this year. We saw everything from Deep Fried Bubble Gum to Alligator Balls. We were even able to catch a bit of the broadcast on a what is possibly the only video board in the entire track!

After the sun went down we headed back to the paddock. We grabbed dinner and settled in to watch the final two hours of the race from our spectacular seats. Next thing you know we got a personal invite from Beaux Barfield (former ALMS Race Director and incoming INDYCAR Race Director) to tour Race Control…during the race! As you can imagine, practically ran to the tower, craftily dodging security. He showed us all of the equipment, video screens, and explained what each persons responsibilities were during the race. They have this down to a science. Everyone was so calm and collected. We had no idea what it took to officiate a race of this size. It was astounding and a surreal experience! A big thank you goes out to Beaux and Scot Elkins (ALMS’ COO) for making our weekend so special.

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Once our tour concluded, we watched the rest of the race from behind the Flying Lizard pit box. It was hard to know what was going on most of the race, but at least we had timing and scoring on our iPad and Hindy announcing on the PA. At the end of the race, we usually go to pit lane to watch the podium celebrations. This year’s podium was insane! Before these track officials allowed the fans to enter pit lane, people started pushing and yelling. We knew this wasn’t going to end well. As they finally let us in, a fight broke out between a security official and several disorderly fans. At one point, we were actually shoved, which was very scary in the confined space of the pit entrance!

Eventually, we were able to make our way onto the pit wall and snap some photos of the victory celebrations. It’s always great to see some of our favorite teams make the podium, like Audi, Dyson, Team RLL, and Corvette Racing. Once we had our fill of champagne and confetti, we headed back to the paddock to say our goodbyes. It’s always kind of sad for us. All of the teams are packing up, and we know it’s going to be months before we get to see our friends again. On the walk back to the car we’re always quiet and reflective. We try to soak up every last amazing site this beautiful facility has to offer. We always make amazing memories at Sebring!

Editor’s note: As always, we’re very thankful for the contributions of the ALMSChicks. Be sure to follow them on Twitter at @ALMSChicks, and see the full gallery of their photos from the weekend posted here in our Sports Car Photo Galleries.

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