Always a unique experience for fans and drivers alike, this year’s Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring was even more special than ever before, owing to what photographer Jamey Price describes as ‘super, super hazy, full-on smoke bomb fog’ weather conditions. In his exclusive blog for Mobil 1 The Grid, Jamey explains how the Floridian haze made for an out of this world sunset and an epic twelve hour race at Sebring Raceway.
There is no place like Sebring.
When the sun is shining in central Florida, and the cars are roaring by, I think Sebring is as close to Heaven on Earth as I’m going to get, at least as far as taking photos is concerned.
Whilst wandering the paddock on Friday, I ran into some friends from a World Endurance Championship team who were all there scouting the facilities and the track. I had no idea any of them were going to be there, so it was wonderful to catch up. Knowing that it was their first time to the race, I asked them what they thought of Sebring.
Their eyes lit up. Everyone nodded in agreement, and all said what a spectacular place it is to have a race, and what a unique track Sebring is.
Sebring is special and unique in the world of race tracks. There’s been a lot of talk in recent months about track limits. As F1 makes their tracks bigger and bigger, the consequences of a misstep from the driver becomes less severe. Gone are the gravel traps, grass or dirt run-off areas and enormous curbs. Replaced by endless miles of tarmac. Sure, it’s maybe a little safer in some ways but the racing and – certainly – the spectacle, suffers for it.
These are not issues that Sebring has. If a driver goes wide, pushing for an extra tenth, or goes for a brave pass, they’re going to be in the dirt and losing time without any need for penalties because the track will give more than enough of a disadvantage by design. It’s that old school race track that I love. It kills cars. It beats everyone up. The endless miles of walking, dust and dirt cake your face and hands, and the cars themselves.
The 2018 Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring was also a special one for weather-related reasons. To be honest, I don’t know that I’ll ever see conditions like that ever again during a race. Apparently, a nearby farmer torched his field to help it renew for the next year. But unknowingly, he also filled the surrounding air with smoke every morning.
I know what you’re thinking: Why would a motorsport photographer want the air to be filled with thick choking smoke?
Let me just say this, when the sun rises through that smoke at 8:00am for practice and warmup on race day, it creates a photographer’s heaven. All the colours become more rich in the backlit light, and the cars get silhouetted in hazy light.
It was incredible. Add to that the cloudless afternoon sunsets, and it was a perfect weekend for motorsport photography. Like I said, I doubt I’ll ever see light like that again, certainly not during one of my races on Earth.
So thank you, Sebring. I can’t wait to go back already. Is it March 2019 yet?
Jamey Price is a Charlotte-based motorsport and automotive photographer who has covered NASCAR, IndyCar, F1, MotoGP, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the World Endurance Championship and IMSA, whose clients include the likes of Ducati, Ferrari, Audi, Lamborghini and many more. You can find more of his work at www.jameypricephoto.com or on Instagram, @jameypricephoto.