There’s just a few minutes to go.
For the last 30 minutes the grid has been abuzz with anticipation. A record field, changeable conditions, and a demanding track layout. It’s left everyone at Spa-Francorchamps – from the competitors to the teams to the media – a little nervous ahead of the 12th running of the 24hrs of Spa.
Drivers in their race suits talk strategy with their engineers and teammates in their civvies. There’s a laugh here and a bit of banter there of course, but alongside that is a lot of to-ing and fro-ing: a camera here, a microphone there, a laptop scurrying past and team personnel of varying shirt colour moving through the flock in every direction. But there’s steely-eyed focus on just one thing: the first corner.
To the left a helmet is being put on, and to the right. Soon there’s another, and then another. The anticipation, almost tangible in the air, kicks up a notch as six-point belts are fastened and GT car doors are closed. Moving back to the pit wall you can catch a glance at the driver’s eyes. Again, all you see is La Source.
From behind there’s the sound of 570hp firing into life, and soon a chorus erupts. The crowd is cheering. Many are quickly to their feet, others edge off their plastic seat. All around the 7km circuit the crowd is watching through fencing and from atop inclines, their seats for the event the green grass. From this vantage point they’re invisible. But their presence is felt.
Moments later the cars move away from the grid and begin their warm-up lap: row one…row two…row five….row ten…row sixteen…all are away and gone within seconds. The roar falls down the hill, up through Eau Rouge and Raidillon, and barrels onto the Kemmel Straight. And then it’s gone, and the crowd settles down one last time.
But three minutes later the roar is back, 67 GT cars in formation line-astern circle the final corners waiting for the green flag to drop: champing at the bit, reigning in the power, holding back the throttle, and just waiting. Waiting.
The crowd is up, the cheers begin, the roar kicks up, the earth itself moves…and the green flag drops.
The race is on. The roar is defining. The moment is everlasting.
Shots courtesy of Camden Thrasher