10 December, 2012

A Night of Rolling Thunder

After having a wonderful time when the American LeMans Series came to Laguna Seca, I decided to go watch the 25 Hours of Thunderhill race that took place this past weekend. It was a blast, and falling asleep to the sound of racecars hammering down the front straight at WOT was an amazing experience.

More photos will come, but this post is a prelude of sorts; a tiny glimpse into what it was like to watch a race after the sun went down.
Swoosh! It's often difficult to appreciate the beauty of the land that Thunderhill occupies. During the sweltering, blustery days of summer, it's all you can do to find some shade and some water to drink — this is no Lime Rock. And even when the conditions are moderate, the flat light of the overhead sun hides the mounds and the curves that lend some character to the landscape.

At night, though, it all changes. Like the stroke of a paintbrush, the rise and fall of each passing car traces the outline of a terrain that's just like the miles of rolling farmland that surround it. It's easy to see the hills and the mounds that speckle the horizon, but it can be surprisingly difficult to realize that your vantage point is from just one such hill, perhaps prominent on the horizon of some distant viewer.
This view of the front half of the racecourse happened while the pace car was out, which minimized the gaps between the cars. Cars approach on the front straight, at the left. They cut to the right for turn 1, leave the frame for turn two, but come back just in time for turns 3 and 4, at right. They take the shallower crest of the turn 5 bypass, and then round turns 6 and 7 in the distance as they head toward the back half of the track.

The trail of lights exhibits features of the landscape that are obvious as you drive the track, but that somehow become invisible when you simply stand and watch.
And at last, the sunrise. Until next time…

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