CBS documentary of Monterey race spot on

The first turn at Mazda Laguna raceway provides action for the CBS presentation "Racing into the dark".

NORTH BEND, Wa -- I am not a big fan of delayed broadcast of events -- whether it is racing, football, or war -- but the CBS production Racing into Darkness is a spot-on glimpse into the psyche and persona of the American Le Mans Series as seen through the lenses of the InterSport production team and the hearts and souls of the drivers and crews of the race at Mazda Laguna Seca raceway last weekend. The production was a great job of story telling, something the InterSport production team has practiced for many years; they are the makers of the 2008 epic from Le Mans, The Truth in 24, and are perhaps better known for their work for NFL Films. The 90-minute show provided excellent insight into what it takes to both run a team on the ALMS series and to win the race -- a combination of pit work, race car management, and great driving. The story does an outstanding  job of showing action and reaction to that action with cutaways to the principal players in the pits -- the owners (such as Bobby Rayhal), Team managers,  crew members, and other drivers. The shot paints a picture of the myriad facets that go into running a race team at any level but specifically within the realms of the ALMS and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. A couple of great cutaways to people aspect of the event include a race official coming over the Bobby Rayhal during a heated moment in the race when Rayhal thought one of the competitors had fouled one of his team cars. The offical told Rayhal that they had reviewed the tap and did not see anything. Rayhal's response was "Oh that's bullbleep". Another great job of photography in the pits came when the fastest qualifying Mazda Lola expired  late in the race and the camera caught car owner Rob Dyson's disappointment at his team's loss. A third moment that was very telling is during a pit-stop by the eventual winner Patron Highcroft Acura team; the rules are relatively clear that the car can not be "touched for fueling or other activities" until after the tires are changed. One member of the crew starts to fuel the car before the tires are changed. It was a mental gaffe on his part and his actions bring the the wrath of the crew cheif. The ALMS officials decided that the actions did not constitute a true foul and do not penalize the team; the crew cheif chuckles and tells the crew member that he just got an early Christmas present. The race goes on. The combination of visual images and word pictures provided by the narration is well done. At one point in the show, with 20 minutes left and darkness beginning to set in, the cameras pan to a couple of fans who are keeping themselves in front of an enclosed fire and then mention that while fans are trying to keep themselves warm, drivers are trying to heat up their tires. While the end of the LMP class was a bit anticlimatic since both the Mazda and early race leading Porsche were both out of the race by the time the last 20 minutes rolled. The race for the checkers in the ultra competitive GT2 class was a different story and the InterSport cameras did a great job of showing this race from lap one until the decisive moment in the race when Patrick Long in the Flying Lizards Porsche passes Joey Hand on the Rayhal-Letterman BMW on one of the last restart of the race. Great camera work provides the reaction of the two teams to the race-winning move by Long along with the commentary of the ALMS radio crew. All-in-all it was a great piece of work that gave both race fans and those who were perhaps not as familiar with the sport a glimpse into the heart of ALMS racing. You can see snippets of the presentation at the ALMS site and hopefully it will be posted somewhere online for others to see at a later date.

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