Ken's Journal - Fall 2003
  Tuesday, 10/14/2003, Day 1. To Raleigh. An uneventful trip, except for the steady rainfall from Maryland, south to North Carolina. Stayed the night at a Wal-mart. Although the price is right (nothing), the steady traffic on NC 64 all night made for fitful sleeping. Visited with my daughter, Carly, and her husband, Steve. Carly is going on eight months and is due by mid-November. Everyone is healthy!!
  Carly's mug shot --

Wednesday, 10/15/2003, Day 2 A travel day -- Raleigh NC to Commerce GA, just to the east of Atlanta on I85. I'm staying at an ex-KOA a couple miles off I85. Kampgrounds Of America places a pretty high standard on their franchisees and you pay a commensurately higher price per night. A KOA runs from $25 to $35 a night while others run $15 to $25 a night. This place is NOT plush and lacks many of the amenities common to a KOA so I have a pretty good idea why it is no longer a KOA. But the price is ok at $20 a night (cash up front, no questions asked) and the lack of amenities don't bother me at all since this is simply a place to sleep.

While working the race (Petite LeMans - see we're up at 6:00 am or earlier and don't get back until sometimes 9:00 pm or later. "We" equals Fred Snow, the Hella MotorSports Manager (among other things) and myself.

Fred works in Peachtree City, south of Atlanta and 82 miles or so from Braselton, the location of Road Atlanta and the site for the Petite LeMans. Fred lives a little south of Peachtree City.

I'm in Commerce, about 20 miles from Braselton - so the choice of where to stay is obvious.

Thursday-Saturday, 10/16-18/2003, Days 3-5.

Thursday morning I meet Fred at Road Atlanta. He drove up from Peachtree City this AM to set up our space on Garage Row behind the Hot Pits (the new pits on the inside of the track). He's already set up by the time I to the tent but he's off somewhere on a mission.

By the time he comes back, I've set the lights on two of the GT Porsches. That's what we do at the track - we set the lights, provide spares for the teams, make sure there is appropriate Hella signage on the cars, dispense technical lighting advice, and ogle the Umbrella Girls ( - more on that later.

Fred has worked with many of these teams for years. The result is that all but one of the cars at this race is running Hella lights. Most of those are running Hella logos as well. It's a long  story but some don't, even though we help them on and off the track. It's a political/marketing thing.

Thursday is all practice sessions and scrutineering. Thursday is also important because tonight is the only night practice before the event. Night practice is important to us -- that's where we get the feedback from the drivers on how well we've set up their lights. No complaints is what we look for. Today we set up the lights on some 15-20 of the cars running. We even set up one Ferrari 550 (GT Class) with the driver sitting in the car on his way to the start of night practice - apparently they hadn't thought of lights until it started getting dark. We received no complaints from anyone.



One of my first shots of the event. The Dark Dog LMP675 at a pit stop during a practice session -- apparently there was a fueling malfunction and the car caught fire - it was extinguished quickly and car suffered little/no damage. It ran the race. That's foam on the side of the car.

  Friday is more daylight practice. Today we set up the lights on another few cars. I again set up the lights on the Ferrari 550 from yesterday evening -- his lights were so badly misaligned when he came to us last night, it was impossible to line them up properly without major work on the car. This particular car has seen some HARD off-road activity before this race and was (is still) slightly out of square -- making it hard to align the lights - we did the best we could. The day ends relatively early at 6:00 pm and we head off to dinner with a friend of Fred's.
  Saturday, the day of the race, we are on the road early to avoid the crowds. We're at the track by 8:00 am and open for business. We set the lights of one or two more cars before the race starts. The race is preceded by a warm-up lap and then all the cars line up on a false grid on the track for a little pomp and ceremony.



A ProDrive Ferrari on the grid. You might notice that his headlights are yellow. By the Le Mans rules, the lower (and slower) classes have to run a yellow tint on their headlights. The reasoning is so the drivers can tell the difference when a car comes up behind him - if the lights are white, it's one of the faster cars and if yellow, it's one of the slower classes.



Left to right - Saelens, Baretta and Max Papis clown for the fans. Max is a sometimes CART driver.

They are sharing one of the Panoz rides. In any endurance race, there are typically at least three drivers to share the driving duties. Each might drive a three hour stint before a driver change. Of course, the changes are timed to pit stops for fuel or tires. Ideally, you'll swap tires and driver and refuel all in one stop.




The Miss Meringue girls - Miss Meringue is one of the sponsors for the ProDrive Ferrari.

These are umbrella girls. There were several groups of them at the track this time -- Is this a great job or what?!?!




One of the Hawaiian Tropic ladies. It was a little chilly so they weren't wearing their normal bikini outfits. L

"People don't take trips -- Trips take people." -- John Steinbeck


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