The siren song of Sebring didnít quite catch me this time, however, I felt like I was
almost there thanks to efforts of a number of friends. Our favorite official timing
person dropped us a noteÖ and who could have a better view of how it all played
out other than Chris Syfert.
View from the Timing Stand Ė Sebring 2004
Now that I am back in the official timing department for the first time since 1997,
my view has changed and itís a good view. One disadvantage at Sebring was that
Kerry was not on site to deliver a good cup of tea while I was working.
Sebring provided beautiful weather for the entire weekend and a crowd that looked
larger than two years ago at the 50th Anniversary event. My view from the third floor
of the tower (all 55 steps up) showed every square foot of the place occupied by
campers and partiers from Thursday on. During the first hour of the race, one of
our timing crew was dispatched to replace a battery on remote transponder
decoder unit. He was gone for nearly an hour and a half. We thought maybe he
had been captured in Green Park. Upon his return, he said it would have been
quicker to walk. There was no room to turn his car around from turn 7 and had to
back most of the way back to the tower.
My assignment of maintaining the driver database is very different from what Iíve
done the last six seasons in pit lane with Panoz Motorsports and JML Panoz. Itís
an interesting view, tied closely to the latest technology in the scoring world. The
multi-driver aspect of the ALMS adds another dimension to the timing from what
most series have to deal with. Itís also exciting to brainstorm even more upgrades
in the future. The other fun part of the job is that my radio has direct
communications with all the other officials. The pit marshals are all relieved that
they donít have relay messages from me to Marty any more! Speaking of Marty, he
made some notably good calls, most ironic was the one where he penalized a car
for contact with another car Ė and the victim of the hit was Jan Magnussen.
It was great to get a chance to visit with many of my former Panoz teammates.
Dewain Rice and Al Wickenrider were with the official IMSA staff. Andy Waldrep,
Paul Caves, Luke Dudman, Kent Moon and Scotty Naish were helping run the
Panoz Batmobile for Larbre Competition. They hoped for a top ten finish for the car
and fought through lots of challenges to finish ninth overall. They set their fastest
race lap two or three laps from the end while chasing and claiming an overall
position from a Job Porsche. I had a momentary visit with Don Panoz who looks
terrific after his Australian vacation.
The race was not a classic close finish as the Audiís ran as well as ever to clearly
lead the field. The joke around the paddock was that the winning team is
pronounced AUDI uk, with the emphasis on the German components of the team.
In any case, they are doing an excellent job.
I also had a brief conversation with Donnie Wilson, now advising Pratt & Miller on
the best use of their new Michelin tires. He was very enthused about his new
assignment and the team was showing once again that they are the class of GTS.
All in all, I think I have found the best assignment for me this year. I miss being in
pit lane, but there are advantages to being upstairs. The timing crew is well run
and makes the working environment very good.
See you all at Mid-Ohio.