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Race Day At Road America

Time to work. [Photo by Jack Webster]

Time to work. [Photo by Jack Webster]

By Jack Webster

There is something magical about getting up before dawn and heading out to the race track before anyone else.

When you arrive, barely a person is stirring, save for the food vendors who are preparing for the busy day ahead. Slowly, ever so slowly, the track begins to come alive as crews start to filter in for the long day of work ahead.

By the end of the day, there will be new stories to tell, heroic tales to swap, victories to celebrate and failures to agonize over.

It is now 7am and the beast is beginning to come alive. More crews filter in, tents are beginning to be opened, cars are unloaded, mechanics are joking about last night’s adventures at Siebkens, and someone wonders if anyone on the crew has seen so and so after he left the bar with that girl.

The pits are empty now, save for a couple of crewmembers making adjustments to their pit equipment. In a couple of hours, this arena of motorsport will be hectic, crowded, exciting and tense. Now, it is just shaking off slumber and slowly coming to life.

On the way to the track I stop in the sleepy village of Elkhart Lake to fill the car with gas and stock up on drinks and ice for the day ahead. The village is still asleep, Siebkens deserted, the town at rest. The memories of the adventures of the evening before still hang in the air. This is a racer’s town. Always has been, always will be.

It is now about 8am and the first of the early riser spectators begin to arrive. The artists and track vendors have started to show up as well, opening their tents to prepare for what they all hope is a successful day.

Much drama will be played out over the next several hours and thousands of people will be on hand to witness that drama or participate in it. The day’s events will become future history, its participants able to look back and say, “I was there”.

The beast continues to stir; it is nearly fully awake now. It is race day at Road America.

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Jack Webster
Jack Webster has been shooting motorsports since the early 1970's, covering Formula One, CanAm, F5000, TransAm, GrandAm and American Le Mans races, among others. In addition to his photography, he has also worked on racing teams, both in IMSA and IndyCar, so has a complete knowledge of the inner workings of motorsport. Both his photography and writing can be seen here on racingnation.com
Jack Webster

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