I could have never imagined that a late-night Instagram DM would spin off a 5-month journey to 3 different counties, multiple states and open the doors to 3 race different teams and multiple racing drivers.
Another night at a friend's house, I was going through my Instagram stories and saw that my friend, Sam, was at Circuit Of The Americas. If you know a thing or two about me, that is my home/favorite race track currently. Without hesitation, I sent him a DM saying “TFTI” which simply means, thanks for the invite. A few messages later, I ended up buying a plane ticket to Austin, Texas for a flight at 6 AM the next day. That ended up being one of the best choices I’ve made for myself and The Function Factory.
Since this trip was “slightly” last minute, I had no credentials but decided to bring all of my camera gear. I had been to this track many times but had no idea what to expect this time around as this would be my first SRO Motorsports event I would attend.. and definitely not my last. Sam picked me up and gave me a hard card credential which granted me nearly all access to the event besides photo shooter holes. I was immediately thrown into the gauntlet, filming commenced with no clear direction but I was determined to create something great from this adventure.
I learned that Ceramic Pro had sponsored the number 04 Mercedes-Benz AMG GT3 piloted by George Kurtz and Collin Braun. We’ve been working with Ceramic Pro and their media division for almost 3 years now. Armed with that knowledge, I knew what needed to be filmed to create the videos that would lay the groundwork that we needed for months to come. We walked away with some great images and more importantly, a testimonial video from George Kurtz about Ceramic Pro and the products benefit to their Mercedes-Benz and Audi R8 race cars.
With a successful showing at Circuit of The Americas, we went on to produce a video for Ceramic Pro and newly signed driver, Jason Bell from Jason Bell Racing and GMG Racing at the Long Beach Grand Prix. This event is hailed as one of the greatest racing events in America as it features multiple racing sanctions from Indy Car, to SRO, IMSA, and even stadium trucks. Jason had just purchased a brand new 2019 Porsche Cayman GT4 MR replacing his now SprintX Audi R8 LMS. Naturally, I made quick friends with Jason which would spin off another series of great videos. Ceramic Pro had a fantastic showing with Jason Bell and TR Knockouts/ESPN model, Rachel Anne Cook. Additionally, this trip would tee up our racing venture with Ceramic Pro and JIMGLO Trailers.
After a great debut of Ceramic Pro on Jason Bell’s Porsche, the SRO Motorsports series headed to Virginia International Raceway that would prove challenging for all race teams. This was an all series race which means that all classes were being featured including Pirelli GT4 America and Blancpain GT World Challenge America. In short, that meant double time for us since we had to cover 3 different race cars. This was my first time at this track and on our first day, we were met with heavy rain and wind. Some teams chose to go out but most stayed in. Personally, I would have gone out just for free practice and taken it easy as the conditions we’re not that ideal. Lucky for us, we were provided with a souped-up golf cart which made it an absolute breeze to get around the track. Tire problems would end up plaguing the number 2 Ceramic Pro Porsche of Jason Bell. George Kurtz and Collin Braun managed to pull together a podium finish in the GT3 class. Amazon Web Series was kind enough to invite us to their private gathering at the tracks upper facility. This event was crucial for us to attend as it would open up a new relationship with GMG Racing.
The next round of all series SRO racing would take us north across the border to our maple flag friends over in Toronto Canada. This trip was by far one of my most favorite as I was hosted by Ceramic Pro Canada/Vaughan. Big shoutout to Vanessa and Jeff for the hospitality and truly made this an amazing adventure. Ceramic Pro wanted to focus on the Canadian lifestyle side of things so the second I got off the plane, we had already gotten Tim Hortons and attended a wild Porsche meet up downtown. The Canadian Motorsports Park would prove difficult to shoot as there were no inside shooter holes at the track. It gave us a very limited perspective but I made do with what I was given. The weather was quite a shocker as it stayed in the low 60s throughout the week. Canada brought out a scary moment for Jason Bell, on his last race of the weekend, a failure caused Jason to barrel down turn 2 at over 110 MPH directly into a tire barrier. Jason walked away from the crash absolutely unscathed. A true testament to the safety of Porsche and SRO’s rulebook. George Kurtz and Collin Braun drove their Crowdstrike Racing Mercedes-Benz AMG GT3 straight to a podium finish. Canada would set the stage for another great relationship, this time with Crowdstrike Racing. To round off our journey, Jeff and Vanessa took me around Toronto to see the sights and sounds. The race weekend had landed on a Canadian holiday called Victoria day and for me that meant attending a local fair to enjoy a fireworks show with great eats. Check out the video below to witness our Canadian madness!
Rounds 7 & 8 of the SRO series took us to one of the most beautiful tracks on their schedule, Sonoma Raceway. With San Francisco already being one of my favorite cities, I was excited to go explore the Napa Valley area to see what the hype was all about. Sonoma ended up being all work with zero play as we were servicing 3 different racing teams including Crowdstrike Racing, Jason Bell Racing, and GMG Racing. With 5 days to get our filming done, the logistics were set in place by us and were executed by the entire team with ease. Crowdstrike hosted their CXO Summit for investors and business partners, we were tasked with covering this private and exclusive event. From the hills of Napa Valley to the beautiful resorts, Crowdstrike spared no expense on hosting their top tier guest. While I was out living the lavish life, our boots on the ground were capturing footage of George and Collin carving their way around Sonoma Raceway. As always, Jason Bell Racing tasked us with covering his venture that netted him 2 highly needed and deserving podium finishes. He and GMG Racing were out in full force as he debuts another brand new 2019 Porsche Cayman GT4 MR and brought his Audi R8 LMS that would participate in the SprintX race. Owner of GMG Racing, James Sofronas was his co-driver for the 2 days. On the 2nd day of racing, James and Jason earned themselves a podium finish while earning the “Hard Charger” award for most positions gained during a race. As we approached our final days, we managed to get an over the top interview out of James Sofronas as we were tasked with the responsibility of providing a visual representation of how GMG Racing is the leader in Porsche Customer Racing solutions. GMG Racing additionally services Lamborghini Super Trofeo teams, the Audi R8 LMS and an array of Porsche 911 GT3 Rs and GT4’s. Race two of the Blancpain GT World Challenge would be the one that would put James Sofronas and factory Porsche Motorsports driver Dirk Werner in victory lane as they managed to clinch a 1st place podium finish in their 2018 Porsche GT3 R. Our weekend came to end with George and Collin being our last interviews as they told us how Crowdstrike and SRO Motorsports benefits from each other and how racing is the perfect platform to host their CXO Summit events.
With little down time, it was time for a special round of racing that would ship The Function Factory over the pond. Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps was our final destination with Jason Bell Racing and GMG Racing. Porsche Motorsports hosted a prestigious event for gentlemen drivers that allowed them to participate in a one-off series before the big 24 hour GT3 race battle. Porsche created two out of this world carbon-fiber bodied race cars for their GT2 Supersportscar Weekend. Drivers had the option to either purchase a Porsche 935 or the very sought after 2020 Porsche GT2RS Clubsport. Both cars were nearly unrestricted making over 720 horsepower. This was enough power to propel James and Jason down the Kemmel straight at speeds close to 200 mph. Jason and James were a big fan of our 360 video coverage at Long Beach, we once again offered that services for both their Porsches and the results were beyond satisfying. The lighting at this track was constantly beautiful, some days provided cloud cover while others provided a nice sunny atmosphere. I was able to take advantage of the bounce light from the pits to capture some dramatic moments.
The hospitality provided by Porsche Motorsports was above and beyond. Within less than 2 days, Porsche had constructed a free-standing building for the drivers, their spouses and invited guest. Per tradition, German food was served all week long and I had absolutely no complaints. The beer was unlike anything I’ve had and the entertainment was grade A. The host for the Porsche 911 Cup simulator had mistaken me for a driver as I had posted the 2nd fastest lap time on the simulator. Maybe it’s a sign.
Spa proved insanely difficult to navigate for media. I quickly learned that the only means of transportation were private golf carts or scooters and with it just being just US and no support truck, I was out of luck. I did manage to make it to turn 15 and shoot a few photos. During my first day, I walked the ENTIRE 4 miles of the race track as I knew it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity. The walk gave me a game plan of how I would plan to shoot this by myself 5,500 miles away from home. I knew Jason and James wanted the 360 footage, the problem was, their practice sessions were extremely short so that did not leave me enough time to start the cameras and leave the pit area. I decided to start the cameras and stay in the pit area and watch the action from the monitors. I held off until the last race day to double time on track to capture some beautiful 4K video from turn 1 and swap lens furiously to take photos. I was so excited to capture the moment James dived his way into first during the first lap of the first race.
Our Belgium adventures were concluded by one of the coolest moments in my life. The track opened up Eau Rouge to all fans to come out and take photos with all the Porsche race cars and drivers. As a fan and driver, it was truly a spectacle to witness. I think everyone at that very moment felt some type of euphoria as they looked around at the view, the cars and mass of people that had accumulated on the famous corner.
So now what? This does not seem like the end of our SRO Motorsport days! 2020 looks very bright as we are in talks with multiple race teams to provide a comprehensive, full-season media package from photography, videos, interviews and more. If you’ve made it this far and are interested in media of yourself or race team, please feel free to contact us at this link or email us at “Charles@TheFunctionFactory.co”.