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I Read the News Today Oh, Boy……………………

Sports car teams come and go as the seasons change, that fact is a given without any doubt. A professional team, whether as a long term investment or just a seasonal one off has to look the part and act like they belong in the show. People such as Sylvia Proudfoot are indispensable in getting that aspect right. Her resume includes the great names and manufacturers of the sport as well as the tossed together late entries who run the major endurance events. She treats everyone with respect and simply, gets the job done as only a professional can do. However, even in the heat of the on track battle, she still finds the time to flash that famous smile of hers.This season has been an especially taxing one as she is covering Farnbacher Lole’s adventures in North America. Yeah, so what you may be thinking. In motorsport, what you see is never the actual reality of it. Here is a brief look at a day in the life of Sylvia Proudfoot.

                                                                                 Kerry Morse

Sylvia Proudfoot: Six days On The Road

Wednesday 14 May

The chilly Salt Lake air wakes me as I stumble off the plane. I usually get several hours of sleep on two flights from my home in Calgary to wherever we're racing. But Utah is close, so I'm here in one flight and it's not yet 10 am. Yow!

Two weeks ago, I took on new duties with Farnbacher Loles Racing. I'm now responsible for logistics and administration for the team's seven to 10 entries in the American Le Mans Series, IMSA Challenge by Michelin and Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, plus the pro team's support of a seven-car entry in an upcoming Porsche Club of America race. That means race entries, credentials, crew rosters, flights, hotels, rental cars, uniforms, catering, golf carts and whatever else is needed to take care of our 50 team members on the road. It would be a challenge to set up off-season, definitely daunting to start mid-season.

My first task was to coordinate seven interlocking races in four weeks, starting with this week's triple challenge of ALMS and IMSA Challenge races at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, and a Rolex Series race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. From here, the crews will merge and regroup into teams for Rolex Series races at Lime Rock Park and Watkins Glen, an IMSA Challenge race during the Formula One week in Montréal and the PCA race at Watkins Glen.

Our crew are based in 25 locations worldwide. For this seven-race run, they will criss-cross North America in an intricate pattern of 220 flights. Somehow, I managed to get them all to the same airports about the same time, so they can share rental cars. I've done my best to cover their airline frequent-flyer numbers, favourite seats and preferred roommates. Oh, and I still have my day job as the team media officer. See why I crave extra snooze time?

I go straight from airport to track. The big sky and snow-capped peaks remind me of home, so it's always a relaxing drive. Farnbacher Loles is fielding three IMSA Challenge cars in addition to an ALMS GT2 car, so our transporters get early paddock access and we're soon setting up. We were told to leave transporter awnings at home because all teams would be working in garages, but we've been bumped to a distant spot beyond the grandstands, with no garage and no cover for our second transporter. The ever-ready Farnbacher Loles crew test several options before settling on a tent to replace the missing awning.

I help pick up golf carts, stop at Vanessa's to confirm team meals, try to assist two crew members stranded in Chicago, start a list of crew uniforms, then head to the media centre. My phone buzzes – Ben Brown, the master administrator for Wheeler Television (the company that produces the series telecasts) confirms plans for dinner.

Yikes! The day is gone, so I race to check in at my hotel, shower, change and out. Dinner with the television crew is always a delight, but I still have flights to book, so back to the hotel. More work, then lights out.

Thursday 15 May

The hotel Internet is working at a decent speed! I know I'll be drawn in too many directions when I get to the track, so I steal a few minutes to work before I head out.

Today is setup day for our ALMS and Rolex teams in Utah and California, IMSA Challenge test day in Utah. I talk by phone to our team manager, Frank Resciniti, who's at Laguna Seca. All's in order, so I use the day to work on – surprise – more travel.

I join the crew for dinner at Vanessa's. They're eager to talk about the race program, so I stay as long as they want to share ideas. Back to the hotel, handle urgent messages, crash.

Friday 16 May

Practice and testing for the two series races in Utah, qualifying in California. My Miller clone covers practice and testing, reviews future plans with team management and helps with as many crew questions as possible. Dirk Werner posts the fastest GT2 time, so I grab a quote from him and remind him he has a jet waiting to take him to Monterey for tomorrow's Rolex Series race. My Laguna persona watches qualifying online, sees an exciting front- row result for Pierre Kaffer, calls the team's three qualifying drivers for quotes and zaps out a story.

Then I run to our distant transporter and back with Marc Basseng, who is the solo driver for this evening's Free Prix in pit lane. If you haven't attended Miller's Free Prix, do it next year. Every ALMS team is required to have race cars, drivers and crew members on hand for the fans. During the hour-long session, our mega-crew Paul Bauer and Sam Dunlap invite about 50 kids (and a few young-at-heart) to sit in the Farnbacher Loles Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The looks on their faces are incredible and their gratitude overwhelming. Wow! Marc signs an autograph card for every fan and we talk about the terrific experience as we leave pit lane.

Fast dinner at Vanessa's, back to the hotel, more travel stuff (does it ever end?), sleep.

Saturday 17 May

Now it gets intense. IMSA qualifying and race. ALMS practice, autograph session, driver meeting and qualifying. Rolex race. I distribute the last of my CD media kits, then practice the fine art of split focus between the ALMS autograph session with Marc Basseng and the Laguna Seca race online. Because we're paddocked away from the other ALMS teams, Marc has moved to sign autographs just below the media centre. I'm grateful!

After the autograph session, I zap back to the media centre where our team owner, Dino Loles, joins me to watch the Rolex Series race online. Porsche's Jared Schupack sets his screen to Rolex timing/scoring, so I can work on my computer and still follow the California action. Thank you!!

We're elated as Eric Lux, then Dirk Werner (driving with Pierre Kaffer), lead the GT class. But the excitement dissipates as Eric and his co-driver Leh Keen relinquish their position to a stronger Mazda and Dirk is bumped off track. Balancing the bad news, Steve Johnson and Dave Lacey finish seventh after racing as high as fourth. I start my media report as I watch, but I miss the last half-hour of the race because it's time to qualify at Miller.

After recording the quickest GT2 practice lap of the day – matching Dirk Werner's lead in Friday testing – Marc Basseng handles qualifying duty. He notches second place in a few laps, then pushes a faster lap, only to spin off track, settling for fourth on the GT2 grid.

Tom Moore (Tafel Racing) and I optimistically hoped to get together for dinner this eve. Both overwhelmed covering three series at two tracks, we see each other in the media centre and know we're still hours from the finish. Our solution is typical of our race world – we take a 20-minute break for dinner together at Vanessa's. Pretty glam Saturday night, yes?

Sunday 18 May

I'm at my computer at 5:30 am, but I hit traffic (on Sunday??) and miss the early ALMS warmup. Yikes! I make the driver briefing, then collect strategy info for our ALMS team manager, Peter Goebel.

Back to pit lane, then the media centre, where I watch Tom Pank dominate the second IMSA race of the weekend, relinquishing the lead only on the last lap. I meet him at the victory podium, where the other drivers are congratulating him. The kudos are appropriate – he's the only driver who has competed in every IMSA Challenge race since the series inception.

Now to the final race of the weekend – ALMS – and the bad news that we're starting from the back of the grid. Although both our drivers have been on track at Miller this week, Dirk's Friday sessions don't count because it was a promoter test day, meaning we paid the track, rather than IMSA, to participate. Other teams have been hit by the same rule in years past, but it doesn't make it easier to accept.

Next challenge, the flag girl. A flag bearer is required, but it's always a last- minute chase for teams who are focused on preparing cars instead of finding the right person to carry the flag in pre-race ceremonies. We're fortunate Mary McGonigal has offered to help at Salt Lake, so we head to the grid together. I introduce her to our crew members, then race back to the media centre to don my borrowed firesuit – men's size large. I can't wait 'til my Sylvia-size suit arrives!

Marc starts the race, quickly moves to third and hands off to Dirk, who returns to the track seventh. He charges to second, setting a lap record on the new track configuration. The crew is elated until the last lap, when the low-fuel indicator forces our technical director, Horst Farnbacher, to call Dirk in for a splash of fuel. That drops him to fourth in class at the checkered flag. Argh!!!

I run to the announced parc fermé at pit in, but no cars. An official directs me the long run back to IMSA tech, where I find only our car. The other cars must be lost, just like me!

Back at the media centre, I cover the immediate post-race stuff, then run to our paddock, where I find IMSA officials hovering over the race car. Not good. Charlie Cook delivers the bad news – the fuel cell appears to be over- capacity, giving the team the option of tearing the car apart for a precise reading or signing an agreement that the cell is over-capacity. Horst opts for the latter and Peter goes to sign.

Discouraged, I head to the media centre to rewrite my report. It's always difficult to get driver and team quotes after a race, near-impossible after a tough race. I piece together a rough draft, zap it to our team owners for approval, then run back to the transporter. John Gardner, the dynamic overseer of Miller's media program, lends me his golf cart so I can move quickly. I'm grateful! The crew help me return four of our five carts, but one is missing. A precious 40 minutes later, I find it, parked near pit-out. Strange.

Back in the media centre, I get fast approval from our team owner, Gregory Loles, so I send the media race report. Done! I stop at Vanessa's, where I join the Risi Competizione crew for dinner. They also had a tough race, so we talk about scandalous stuff happening elsewhere, then I head back to the hotel. I work 'til almost midnight, but my eyes are closing ...

Monday 19 May

This should be an easy run home. I check in early for my flight and head to the gate, boarding card in hand. An hour before departure, we learn the flight is oversold and three people have to stay until tomorrow night. Delta's rules require bumping in a specified order – luckily, I'm safe because I booked flights early, had a confirmed seat a month ago and checked in early this morning. Good thing – I have only a day at home before I leave for the next race at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut.

But wait! The gate agent doesn't know the rules, so she randomly selects three people to bump from the flight. I'm one. NO!!!!! One of the three has never flown before, so meekly accepts a coupon for a flight 36 hours from now and leaves. The other bumpee, Clinton, and I carefully explain the rules and use the agent's own paperwork to prove we should be on the plane. But she stands by her decree and the plane leaves without us.

Ms Agent says there is no way to get home until the next night, but Clinton and I disagree. I fire up my computer, we get online and find options she hasn't considered. Almost two hours later, she finally has us booked on other airlines, we sign acceptance and head to Delta's lounge, where we've negotiated day passes while we wait for our flights. Double-checking, we discover we're not booked on any aircraft to go anywhere! Hours later, with the immense help of the lounge staff, we find ourselves on a tiny regional jet heading north.

But Ms Agent gets the last kick – we get to Calgary, but our luggage has been sent on the flights we weren't on, so it's in California. I find a helpful agent and eventually get my bags back at 1 am. Last I heard, Clinton was still trying to locate his ...

Sylvia Proudfoot
June 2008

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