After a long winter hiatus, it was great to get back to the race track last week for the 12 Hours of Sebring and to catch up with friends. This event is held at Sebring International Raceway which is one of America’s classic sportscar racing tracks with 17 turns over a length of about 3.7 miles. Its been a couple of years since I last visited this track, and was glad to make it back for the 12 Hour race. The next few blogs will be about my daily experiences at the track and what its like to get photographs from the spectator side of the fence. Hope you like the photos.Sebring International Raceway has many vantage points for getting unobstructed shots of race cars on the track. Low fencing surrounds much of the track from Turns 2 to 14. In some cases, the higher elevation of the spectator mounds helps, but I prefer to be as close and low to the track as possible. In regards to camera gear, a 70-200mm lens (or equivalent) is all you will need for most track shots. Of course, longer and wider lens help for different perspectives, but if you only had one lens to take, the 70-200mm would be the one. I used the 70-200 and 500mm lens for track shots on a full-frame camera. For the paddock, mainly used the 50 and 70-200mm lenses. Since the track is very large, it also helps to break the circuit up into sectors and to plan which sectors you would like to cover in different parts of the day.
#45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS ultra: Tracy Krohn, Pierre Kaffer, Nic Jonsson – Arrived at the track early Thursday morning and parked the car in the General Parking area. This is a great spot to park due to its central location. From the car park walked over to the Turn 6 to 7 straight on drivers left near the Corvette bridge for the WeatherTech Championship morning practice session at 10.00 am. At this time of day the sun is lighting the left-hand side of the cars as they come down this part of the track.
#3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R: Antonio Garcia, Mike Rockenfeller, Jan Magnussen.
#25 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM: Bill Auberlen, Bruno Spengler, Dirk Werner – About half-way between the Corvette and Sebring Bridges is a good location for getting panning shots of the cars, as well shots of cars passing each other.
After the practice session ended, walked through the Party Zone area and over the front straight bridge to the paddock. Near the paddock was a “monster red jeep”.
Upon reaching the paddock was greeted by “Ferrari yellow”.
When you are walking around the paddock you should also keep an eye out for moving race cars.
#25 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM – The technical inspection station is a great place to get close to the race cars for different perspectives.
Continued my walk down the paddock and saw the “Stars and Stripes” flying in the sky.
#97 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3.
Robin Lidell, one of the #6 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT3 drivers.
The rear diffuser on the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT is an amazing piece of engineering.
#25 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM: Bill Auberlen, Bruno Spengler, Dirk Werner – After lunch headed over to the inside of Turn 17a for the WeatherTech Championship afternoon practice session at 2.25 pm. This is a very fast right-hander into the front straight and is a blind corner from a photographers point of view, since you have to react immediately as soon as you hear the car. If you get the timing right, you can get a panning shot of the Château Élan Hotel in the background.
#100 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM: John Edwards, Kuno Wittmer, Lucas Fuhr – Also tried getting some close-up front 3/4 pans of the cars speeding into the front straight.
For the evening WeatherTech Championship practice session went to the inside of Turns 4 to 5 (drivers left). Saw a beautiful Florida sunset while waiting for this session to start.
#52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA FLM09: Tom Kimber-Smith, Robert Alon, José Gutierrez – At 7.30 pm the cars rolled out for the night practice session. First started shooting the cars as they went through the Turn 3 to 4 complex. Exposed on the race track to avoid overexposure due to the cars headlights. At times, was difficult to focus on the front of the cars due to the bright headlights.
#27 Dream Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3: Paolo Ruberti, Fabio Babini, Cedric Sbirrazzuoli, Luca Persiani.
#44 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3: John Potter, Marco Seefried, Andy Lally – Really line the angular lines of the new R8.
#52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA FLM09: Tom Kimber-Smith, Robert Alon, José Gutierrez – As the night got darker the fluorescent paint work on the cars became more evident.
#0 Panoz DeltaWing Racing DWC13: Katherine Legge, Andy Meyrick, Sean Rayhall – The DeltaWing has always been one of my favorite cars due to its unique shape, especially with its triangular light configuration that gives some nice lighting effects.
#24 Alegra Motorsports Riley DP: Carlos de Quesada, Cameron Lawrence, Daniel Morad, Dominik Farnbacher – Took me multiple attempts to get this shot, but really wanted to get a nice pan of a car speeding past the colorful background lights. The night practice session was scheduled to finish at 9.00 pm, but I headed off a little bit early since had a hour’s drive back to the hotel and wanted to get to bed at a reasonable hour. Was great to get back to the track.
3 thoughts on “2016 – Day 1 at Sebring International Raceway (Mar 17)”
Great read here David. I am a little curious about your exposure settings for the night shots.
Thanks Jeff for the kind words. For the head-on night shots, I exposed on the track when there were no cars around, and this exposure was a good starting point, since exposing on the front of the cars would lead to underexposure due to the bright headlights. For the panning night shots, exposed on the background lights from the fans tents. Hope this helps.
Hi Jeff, in regards to exposure settings for some of the night shots – #24 DP car used 1/50th, f/2.8, ISO3200; #53 PC car used 1/100, f/4.5, ISO1000; #27 Lambo 1/100, f/4.5, ISO1000. Regards David