July 07, 2011

Welcome to Wisconsin -- Part One

Subaru Road Racing Team (SRRT) ran at Road America near Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, a week ago. The four-mile track is located only two hours from home, so it was easy for my family to join me to experience road racing together.

On the first day, my stepson, Johnny, and son, Matt, set out in the cold rain to find SRRT in Road America's paddock. We walked in circles among the other team haulers and had no luck finding the Subaru team. Finally, after a hard downpour, we returned to the car for shelter. Although the #35 WRX STI would be on track soon, I couldn't take pictures in such a rain. After practice, we followed the car toward the team trailer.

We found the team hidden away with a few others. There were a lot of competitors at Road America for the weekend. I introduced the boys to team owner Joe Aquilante, and we checked out the #35 WRX STI Sedan and the work area.


After lunch, it was dry enough for photography. The boys spectated from Turn 5 for the second practice session of the day. The track has fencing around a lot of it, so getting shots without the fence takes some planning and considerable walking.

Practice the next morning resembled deer hunting in the woods. There were a lot of orange (photographers') vests visible through the trees. Matt assumed his usual position -- taking pictures from the fence behind me.

Later that day, the rest of my family -- my husband, Mark, my daughter, Madalyn, and my step-daughter, Lily -- joined the boys and me for the race weekend. Everyone put on their Drive Performance T-shirts, and we walked down to the main paddock area and the Subaru trailer.

Madalyn wondered what happened to all the stuff from inside the car. I explained that the team removes everything to make the car lighter and to make room for the roll cage.

Before each Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race, fans are allowed to walk pit lane, meet the drivers, and ask for autographs. The girls played bashful, but Lily wanted the Subaru drivers to sign her shirt. This was her very first time at a race, but she was getting the hang of it quickly.

SRRT's race took place late in the day, and one of the interesting aspects was viewing the cars driving at night. Following the headlights around the turns once it turned dark was a unique experience.

Spending time with the team made me feel like I was a part of it. The kids were just as excited for Subaru Road Racing Team. They even spoke of the car in terms of "we."

SRRT had its first top-10 finish of the 2011 season, coming in 6th place.

Find more images from SRRT at Road America here.

But we weren't done supporting Subaru teams for the weekend. After the road racing at Road America, Madalyn and I headed to Wautoma, Wisconsin, to follow the Subaru Trek Mountain Bike Team racing in the Subaru Cup. Read the journal from that event on the Subaru Drive magazine website here.

-- Melissa Carlson


P.S. One of the places I chose to shoot was the Sargento bridge, which has a natural association with Wisconsin -- cheese. During the race, I realized that only in Wisconsin would you most likely be able to find cheese and sausage bridges at the same venue.

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