Before I Start //
I land in Florida after absolutely no sleep the day before my 7:30am flight, and I have to say, I really wish I would have slept at least an hour. But then again, how could anyone sleep knowing their going to be part of a huge opportunity, and maybe be a small ink drop in history? On top of that, my phone literally went “poof” and my Iphone completely died a few hours before my flight. Needless to say, it was going to be a long night... Thankfully, a friend lent me his backup phone before I left. He really saved me from extra strain. Thank you.
Racing // Team Eeuroparts
After coordinating a ride from my hotel to Daytona International Raceway, we quickly scrambled in the rain to get setup for prepping and testing. Through all this, I was in a bit of a disarray as the team didn’t seem as tightknit or familiar with each other when compared to last season. Nothing seemed synergized and the level of expectations was all over the map. Somewhere in-between my sleep-deprived thought process though, I slowly realized why. The eEuroparts team, led by Matt Moran, ambitiously expanded their second season line-up. As far as I’m aware, 2018 was their first ever stint with IMSA and they finished 3rd podium and 6th overall as a team consisting of two cars (Audi RS3), four drivers, a handful of mechanics, engineers, and support team members. For the 2019 season however, the team expanded to a whopping five car line-up (three Audi RS3s and Two Audi R8s), ten drivers, and a substantial investment in adding new support members. After realizing these facts, it made sense that the team hadn’t found their balance yet. Imagine trying to coordinate a crew that’s more than doubled in size, entering into a second class known as GS while maintaining their position in the TCR class, and trying to organize efforts between veterans and newer members of the team. Of course, this is all during the first official race of the season in cold, rainy, and occasional sudden waves of extremely warm humid weather. Needless to say, the level of organization, communication, and fortitude is beyond what most could handle.
Though they didn’t achieve an unquestionable podium finish in either TCR or GS classes, they gained the knowledge of experience. Two RS3s and one R8 were involved in a does not finish (DNF) accident. All of which was not by their own doing, but was instead opposing teams’ miscalculations. All things considered though, team eEuroparts, currently based out of Connecticut, did a fantastic job. One of the lead drivers in the TCR class, Lee Carpentier, set the fastest lap time in the class and walked away unscathed from a visually brutal accident. Meanwhile, two of some of the youngest drivers in IMSA, Ryan Nash and Russell McDonough, really demonstrated their focus and skillsets by finishing their first race in 6th overall.
By the end of the race though, team morale wasn’t exactly high in the sky, but there was an unspoken bond that strengthened between all teammates. The team I observed on day one and the team I witnessed two days later was completely different. The level of determination, passion, and appreciation for the sport really shined through with the team working together. Likewise, the experiences gained from all the mishaps brought on a greater understanding of one another. Like most determined individuals, they will learn from the mistakes and comeback stronger for the next race. The point is, they have potential. A lot of potential, and everyone has a lot of heart which goes a long way.
Soon they’ll find their balance and through it, a successful campaign.
Remember how I didn’t sleep at all before day one? Well… I was able to squeeze in maybe one or two hours of shut eye between three days. Including the night before my flight, that’s about three to six hours of sleep between running around, shooting, and editing all day and night in a 96-hour timespan, while trying to keep three separate social media pages up to date. Normally that little amount of sleep would drive me insane, but fellow photographer, John Groo, was side-by-side with me through it all. Thanks to Groo, I was able to make it through the extraordinary insanity that is IMSA. I also learned what being a GOOD photojournalist meant through his work ethics and tenacity. Something I naively thought I understood well before.
A professional photographer for over 30 years in multiple disciplines, Groo, is one of few of the most tenacious creatives to cross paths with. Not only is he an outstanding photographer, a diehard gearhead, and one of the most hilarious individuals you could possibly meet, but he’s also one of the best mechanics around. He got his start with the team by being a dual mechanic and photographer way before eEuroparts became what they are now. He would document the teams exploits and jump right under a race car to solve mechanical issues when they arose. Likewise, we’ve had hours of stimulating conversations about life and experiences that seemed startlingly too real. However, this is a story that I don’t feel qualified to tell. For now, know that he’s a great photographer and human-being that deserves recognition. Even when he doesn’t particularly want or need to be recognized. When the team’s morale is low, John Groo’s the one that instantly brings it back up without effort.
The Rolex 24 //
In an effort to tame my workflow and find a balance, I’ve decided to split these into two separate entries. Plus, I have too many photos I want to share and it made more sense to do another one. Also, my bad for the delay. There’s a lot of moving parts right now. Thanks for visiting.