Home ARTICLES The California Eight Hours: The Calm Before The Storm

The California Eight Hours: The Calm Before The Storm

There’s nothing quite like the calm morning air. A certain special stillness exists here, something that should be cherished.

Perfect silence, interrupted by a few waking birds chirping around from tree to tree. The crisp fresh air of a new day, the sun creeping up on the horizon, your breath condensing in front of you. You’ve been there, you know what I’m on about — there’s a certain tranquility associated with this, a peacefulness I understand entirely. It’s something to be earned, only experienced by those willing to rise before the sun to enjoy a few solitary moments.

These exact conditions are good enough for the majority of our population, a pleasant morning full of nothing. Yet, for some of us, a certain amount of mechanical chaos can only make things better.

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Waking before the sun for a good day of racing is nothing new to me, and it’s this particular chaos that I sought on a quiet Saturday morning last weekend. The incredible sound of a few dozen GT cars hammering away for an eight-hour shift to see who — manufacturer, team, mechanic, driver — is truly best.

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With this competitive nature comes something else: egos, pride, and an incredible amount of cash being turned from useful currency into spent fumes and glory.

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And, of course, crowds, slowly creeping around the amazing cars. Although there weren’t nearly the number of spectators I expected for a race of this level – which grants the standard attendee incredible access – there were still enough people around that plenty of wanderers welcomed themselves into my ever-shrinking frames.

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I wouldn’t have it any other way, though, as suddenly the calm of the meanderers was interrupted by familiar sound – the cranking over of a V8 power plant, albeit in this case a highly-tuned AMG unit that we’ll never quite experience on the road. Although, for all the great sounds they make, the GT3 class rules result in this particular Mercedes-AMG making in the neighborhood of just 550hp.

As it droned away in the paddock it wasn’t much on the ears, but at the same time a clear indication of what was to come: Pure, unbridled fury in the form of instantly available torque under a skilled right foot. Cars in dangerously close proximity for hours’ worth of pushing the limit. Drivers exceeding their physical abilities for the purpose of being the best.

It’s a world unlike anything else, yet one that’s become remarkably familiar to me.

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Teams completed prep, safety cars crept to the line, and the United States Navy stood at attention. We were all really waiting for the same thing to kick off race day: The green flag for the California 8 Hours, a race produced by the SRO Motorsports Group which would contribute to drivers’ point tallies in the Intercontinental GT Challenge, a series powered by Pirelli.

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As intertwined as the back end of any race series may be, at long last the safety cars cut through the crisp morning air to hit the tarmac at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, a sign which could only mean one thing.

The race start was imminent, and only after eight hard-fought and sweat-filled hours would a victor emerge.

Trevor Yale Ryan
trevor@speedhunters.com
Instagram: tyrphoto
TYRphoto.com

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