Here at DDC Towers I get to see thousands and thousands of motor sport photos, almost exclusively they are cars on track. I suppose that’s what we are all focused on, the glamorous bit. So it is unusual to say the least to get an edit that is concerned in the main part with the unsung heroes. Twenty years ago the 12 Hours of Sebring was a hot, dusty affair as it frequently is. Dyson Racing pushed the factory BMW right to the limit with James Weaver finishing less than 20 seconds behind Tom Kristensen after half a day of competition.
James and his team-mates, Butch Leitzinger and Elliot Forbes-Robinson, got to stand on the podium and spray the Champagne and accept the applause. They were keenly aware that the result was built on the hard graft and skills of the Dyson Racing crew, a no Bull outfit. Their story that day was captured for posterity by Brian ‘Doc’ Mitchell and it is fitting that on Sebring race-day 2019 we get to salute a memorable performance.
The miracle of the TARDIS continues to surprise with more travels back in time. Brian ‘Doc’ Mitchell is scouring his archives from ’99 Sebring to give another flavour from that time, the dawn of the ALMS.
The emails come pinging in, more magic moments from the past courtesy of Brian ‘Doc’ Mitchell. Here he looks back to the birth of the American Le Mans Series in 1999…………a wondrous time. In an hour or so the gates will open and Sebring 2019 will get underway, doubtless in 20 years time those enjoying this amazing event will have similar rose-tinted memories, I hope so.
The role of Team Photographer with a endurance sportscar outfit is a delicate one requiring tact, patience and perseverance, as well as skills behind the lens. It is a strange kind of hybrid position, not one of the bosses or drivers or sponsors but also not really one of the guys………the photographer does not do all-nighters mending the damage caused by the latest hero’s antics on track……..nor do they pull the seemingly endless long days back at the workshop preparing the cars in the first place. If you believe some of the others in the team they just point and shoot.
One analogy that springs to mind, it is like the position of the governess in a Downtown Abbey-style house, not family nor servant, neither upstairs or downstairs……….. Most of us who try to chronicle the progress of a team round the clock are tolerated at best.
Like any rule there are exceptions that prove matters. One such example around the turn of the century was to found at Dyson Racing, a no bullshit outfit with all feet firmly on the ground. If you could win the approval of Pat Smith and the guys and gals from Poughkeepsie then you were the real deal. Dr. Brian Mitchell was their bard, their recorder of memories, and as the years pass these recollections become more and more precious to remind those involved of the good times and the good people.
Brian was without question one of the guys, his commitment to the task was clear and unambiguous, the team certainly recognised it. On the odd occasion when I would show up for a Dyson pit stop in the middle of the night at places such as Daytona he would be on hand, part of the process just as much as the man with the tyre or the stopwatch.
So it is illuminating to see his work, a couple of decades down the line, a reminder of a tough week that ended in triumph as Dyson Racing took their second Rolex 24 victory in three years. The times were a-changing with a new century and a new approach on the way, progress they called it………….
Enjoy the view from inside the winners’ tent and share their achievement or at least their pride and joy standing on the podium…………we all know in our hearts it is transitory at best but the view from the top compensates for all that.