The Petit Le Mans experience

Visiting race tracks has become a sort of hobby of mine. While some people like to travel the world to visit famous landmarks, I like to visit race tracks or other car specific events. Some of these are famous, some not so famous. This sort of travelling becomes a pilgrimage for me, visiting temples of the automotive world. This year I was able to visit Road Atlanta for Petit LeMans. Now, Atlanta Georgia is a long way from France but, for endurance racing, Le Mans is the ultimate event. No race is more synonymous with endurance than the 24 hours of Le Mans. Seventeen years ago Don Panoz brought a little slice of that prestige to northern Georgia when he created the Petit Le Mans event. The race lasts 10 hours instead of 24 hours and over the years Petit Le Mans has become an institution in American endurance racing. Rivaling in difficulty the other North American endurance races, the Daytona Rolex 24 and Watkins Glen 6 hour races.

You should never let the excuse “If I only had a media pass” run your life. If you enjoy taking photos at races, Road Atlanta is a great place to visit.

So far, the only other track I’ve been to that comes close in style is Lime Rock Park. There is no grandstands or assigned seating and as a spectator you can just wander the grounds during the race. Basically except for the “hot” pit lane you are allowed everywhere. It is an amazing place, a real old school road course, it doesn’t have huge modern run offs. That would require a massive zoom lens to cover the distance between you and the cars. There are points along the track that you can stand (behind a barrier) only 30 – 50 feet from the track. Road Atlanta has some fantastic sight lines. If Petit Le Mans isn’t on your bucket list, it should be.

Dempsey racing had a tough go at it over the weekend. This shot was from practice.
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The famous “esses”
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The light changes so dramatically over turns 6 and 7
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Endurance racing at night should not be missed.
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Petit Le Mans Highlight gallery 

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