2016 – Day 1 at Petit Le Mans Road Atlanta (Sep 28)

The 19th running of Petit Le Mans was held at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia, during the last week of September. This was the last race of the 2016 season for the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship and the end of an era for the Daytona Prototypes. The next few blogs will be recounting my experiences covering this endurance sports car race for the first time. First up is the team paddock set-up day and Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge practice session. Hope you like the photos.

2016 Road Atlanta (4a4a6558)

2016 Road Atlanta (4a4a6493)Arrived at the track in the morning and went to the Photo Hut near the Support Paddock area to reserve a seat, then took a walk across the Yokohama Bridge to the Main Paddock where the WeatherTech Sportscar Championship teams were located. Was a great opportunity to see the team transporters get into position and watch the teams setting up their garages. It also gave me some time to appreciate the different artwork on the team transporters, which ranged from minimalist to very complex designs.

2016 Road Atlanta (4a4a6501)Towards the top of the paddock was Turner Motorsports.

2016 Road Atlanta (4a4a6502)The black and green livery on the Tequila Patron transporter was a work of art.

2016 Road Atlanta (4a4a6510)The BMW of North America transporter had a minimalist but distinctive red, white and blue design.

2016 Road Atlanta (4a4a6521)The Ford Performance livery did a great job at depicting the beautiful Ford GT.

2016 Road Atlanta (4a4a6511)Honda Racing HPD had an impressive bus in the paddock.

2016 Road Atlanta (4a4a6545)The iconic Ferrari prancing horse.

2016 Road Atlanta (4a4a6531)In line with a pair of transporters from Stevenson Motorsports with the iconic eagle and stars on the sides of their trucks.

2016 Road Atlanta (4a4a6554)“Makin’ power” with VP Racing Fuels.

After the 1.00 pm photo meeting, got my gear together, and headed to the track. Even though this was a large road course, decided not to rent a golf cart, since their would be photo vans available and walking the track allows you to explore it better (also needed the exercise). The goal of the afternoon was to explore the track to get my bearings and locate vantage points for the upcoming days of racing. Went to the inside of The Esses at Turn 5 for the mid-afternoon Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge practice session.

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2016 Road Atlanta (222a0862)

2016 Road Atlanta (hc7a1078)

2016 Road Atlanta (hc7a1132)Here’s some shots of the cars entering The Esses at Turn 4, then descending into and through this turn complex. These shots were taken from the spectator side of the fence on drivers right near the flag marshals stand at the bottom of the hill.

2016 Road Atlanta (hc7a1148)If you turn-around, you can get rear shots of the cars as the ascend into the second half of The Esses. Shooting into the sun at this time of day really gives a “gritty” look to the photos.

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2016 Road Atlanta (222a0876)

2016 Road Atlanta (hc7a1204)Towards the middle of the practice session went to the top of Turn 5 for front shots of the cars ascending out of The Esses. Really liked the elevation changes at this part of the track.

2016 Road Atlanta (222a0899)You can also get panning shots of the cars as they speed out of Turn 5 into the straight leading into Turn 6.

2016 Road Atlanta (222a0903)IMSA safety vehicles were on hand for responding to on-track incidents.

2016 Road Atlanta (4a4a6567)Decided to walk back from Turn 5 to the paddock to see more of the track layout. By the time I got back to the paddock, the teams were all set-up.

2016 Road Atlanta (4a4a6581)#23 Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R.

2016 Road Atlanta (222a0973)In the shadows and light with a Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3.

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2016 Road Atlanta (222a0983)As I was leaving the paddock saw the “Green monster” The #16 Change Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3.

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