Super Sebring 2019
I’ve been to plenty of races in my life. Some at Lime Rock, two or three Indy 500’s, and I even drove the Nurburgring in a rental car. Nothing, and I mean nothing, compares to the awesomeness that is the 12 hours of Sebring. To give some backstory, the 2019 running of the 12 Hours, wasn’t your typical race. It was actually two full days of racing, which is why the 2019 running was called Super Sebring. Friday was the 2 hour long Michelin Pilot Challenge as well as the FIA WEC 1,000 miles of Sebring. Saturday was the annual Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring race.
Thursday’s races were pretty spectacular. For those who don’t know, the Michelin Pilot Challenge series is made up of lower class race cars. Things like Ford Mustangs, McLaren 570S’s, Honda Civics, etc. Now, that probably seems odd having a Honda Civic racing against a mighty McLaren. However, thanks to homologation standards, everything in this class are fairly equivalent. This race was pretty fun, but not too exciting. It was a great way to warm up with a new lens (70-200mm) and find good track positions, but it wasn’t too spectacular. The cars weren’t that fast, loud, or expensive, nor was the racing even that exciting. It wasn’t really until the next race when everything became truly amazing.
Love him or hate him, Fernando Alonso is a superstar. To be able to show up to a track that you’ve never driven, in a car you’ve never driven, and set a new lap record is insane. Watching WEC cars is simply incredible. The way they fly around turns at top speed, barely hit the brakes, swerve around the slower GT cars, and so much more is just mind bending. Now, throw in F1 Champion and (hopefully) soon to be Indy 500 champion Fernando Alonso into the mix, and you have one serious spectacular race. From the moment they got off the grid you could tell it was going to be great. And it sure as hell was. For hours to come we wandered around the track simply captivated by these machines and how well the drivers raced. But honestly, the most fun was had behind the camera. Again, I’m no professional photographer so this was totally out of my setting. But as ever, I learned to adapt quickly.
The art of shooting cars is easy. The art of shooting moving cars is not so easy. The art of shooting moving cars in low light is possibly one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Especially with a new lens. The 70-200mm lens is not an easy lens to learn on, especially when even your setting is totally foreign too. Shooting a high speed object with low light takes a few things. Patience, adaptability, and willpower. It takes time to get it down, but once you get your perfect settings and equipment setup, you’re golden. For me, that perfect setup was no tripod, with a very quick shutter speed (almost 1/250) at a very low F-stop (2.8). Now, I didn’t learn to not use a tripod until the second day, but regardless, the settings are what truly makes or breaks the photo. You need the perfect shutter speed to get the right amount of light in, but not too much, while also accounting for the “speed” of the shot (the blurriness of the background). Too bright is never welcome, while too dark is editable. Obviously you don’t want your shots becoming midnight black but you certainly don’t want them bright as day.
By the end of my time at Sebring, I came away with roughly 2500 photos to look through and edit. Out of those I chose 600 to upload. These are some of my best photos ever and I’m incredibly proud to share them on this page. Sebring is possibly one of the most fun places to be on race day. Just walking through the RV areas and looking at the things people build/do is some of the most fun. People legitimately brought scaffolding, old couches, and a bunch of beer and built these massive 2 story high towers to watch the race from. People set up makeshift bars and grills. It was hilarious yet awesome. It really is worth going to once just to experience the people.
So, to conclude, if you have that weekend open in March and have not been to the Mobil 1 12 hours of Sebring, I highly recommend it.