About Cyber Motorsports

The Story of Cyber Motorsports

Testing Technology

Earl Cook has used the Spring and Fall races at the nearby Road Atlanta (RA) road racing course as a place to test new still and video cameras and techniques. After long and dreary winters, it was a special experience to go up to RA in the spring to see the endurance prototype sports car race. Testing new cameras became an annual event.

In 1994, Earl and his wife/fellow photographer, Gail, went up to the track during the time the new Ferrari 333 SP’s were being uncrated, bolted together, driven and, raced for the first time. Earl shot four hours of historic video during the racing weekend. This video served as the main content as Earl learned how to create a multimedia title. As result, the couple created one of the world's first multimedia titles and Cyber Motorsports was born.

The images to the right are the Main Menu and Guide to Icons for the multimedia title. A steering wheel with buttons and graphic icons served as the interface for photographs, videos and, factsheets about the car, teams, drivers and the IMSA racing series. Earl designed the wheel, logos and icons while Gail perfected the design. Ferrari gave Cyber Motorsports their blessings to proceed with the project but the Ferrari logo could not be used. Earl then designed the steering wheel logo that became the Cyber Motorsports logo. The logo represents a side view of the Ferrari 333 SP with the rear wheel fender and engine and valve cover outlines. At a time when steering wheels were round and computer screens rectangular, Earl designed the wheel to fit the screen. Interestingly, the future of steering wheels would begin to take this basic shape. Three colored ‘thumb’ buttons served as the start, help and exit icons.

Main Menu and Guide to Icons

20+ Years PLM with Cyber Motorsports

Premiere Petit Le Mans

Historic Cyber Motorsports’ Website

In 1998, a few years after the launch of the Ferrari CD, Atlanta entrepreneur, Don Panoz, starting making history. He had entered his race team in the 24 Hours of Daytona for the first time, purchased the Road Atlanta circuit, started a new racing series, the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), and started a new major international event, the Petit Le Mans. Like a tornado out of nowhere, Panoz shocked and surprised the international endurance prototype racing community.

Cyber Motorsports was an early supporter of Panoz, the ALMS and his Petit Le Mans race. Many challenged the ideas and dreams of Panoz while Earl thought he was a genius and supported his dreams. In 1998, with the first Petit Le Mans, Earl and Gail were there each step of the way. While continuing the effort to use racing as a learning and experimentation experience, the couple produced their first of many websites covering the Petit Le Mans.

At a time when it was common for limited news and photographs to come out in a print six weeks after the event, Cyber Motorsports coverage reduced this time to six hours. By the third PLM, Cyber MotorSports was asked to delay our coverage by 24 hours so as to not compete with the live television coverage. These pages contain photos taken during these times of experimentation and learning. With these photos and websites, we celebrate the vision, courage and, world-class attention to detail of Don Panoz that brought the world’s best to Road Atlanta.

Testing Technology

Digital Revolution

Traveling Light


THE VIEW FROM TURN 6


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Audi R10 TDI

The Audis were dominant at the Petit Le Mans from their introduction in 2000 throughout the decade. Audi started with the R8, powered by a twin turbo V-8. This car was one of the most dominating in history and won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, and 2005. In a drive toward even greater efficiency, Audi introduced the FDI (fuel direct injection) turbo V-12 diesel-powered R10 TDI in 2006. The R10 went through several iterations until replaced by the closed cockpit etron quattro in 2010. In the great battle of the diesels, Audi’s dominance at Road Atlanta was only ended by the vaunted Peugeot 908 HDI FAP.

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Peugeot 908 HDI FAP

The Peugeots brought the battle to the Audis in the epic battles of the V-12 turbo-diesels. The 2011 908 HDI FAP was one of the fastest prototype sportscars ever to race at Road Atlanta. The battles between Audi and Peugeot were some of the most fierce between the high-powered, high-speed prototypes that had engines with the torque of a truck and the efficiency to take them far in the long distance endurance events.

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Porsche RS Spyder

The Porsche RS Spyder was introduced in 2-xx by the mighty Team Penske in the P2 class. The P1 class was dominated by the larger, heavier and more powerful Audis. The RS Spyder was lighter, less powerful and more nimble. For two years, 2007 and 2008 the world got to see these two classes fight for overall wins using these two basic design philosophies. Porsche had left the prototype arena after their Le Mans winning 1998 GT-1 raced at the premiere Petit Le Mans and had crashed in a dramatic aerial flip where the car left the track at high speed and did a complete nose-to-tail flip. It also marked the return of the fabled Team Penske to the highest levels of American sports car racing.

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Acura

Acura (Honda) has been a leader in F1 and IndyCar and a periodic participant in sports cars. They began testing the waters by putting their engines into the chassis of other constructors. Like Porsche, they were attracted to the P2 class with lighter and more nimble cars. Jumping to the modern era and a bit of irony, Penske is now racing the Acura DPi prototypes in America. The Penske Acuras are racing against the team of another legend, the Team Joest Mazdas.


TURN 6 at ROAD ATLANTA


The Spot

THE SPOT

Photographers are a lot like fishermen, they don't like to tell you their best spots. In the early days of shooting the cars, Earl observed where others had gone to shoot their photos. With his equipment and without the long lenses, he needed to get closer to the track and the action. Up at Turn 6, which is the ‘finger tip’ of the track, there was a special spot. Earl saw a photographer shooting there and after he had left, Earl asked the corner workers if he could go down there to the spot closer to the track? He had credentials with track access so was permitted to go there.

The spot was between the track and the flag stand. It was on the inside of the curve and nearly at the apex. There was a concrete wall between you and the track less than ten feet away. When the drivers came by, you were eye level with them as the curve was a banked corner and you were on the low side of the track. Cars were there in a perfect position for photographing only feet away only! Only problem was that they were traveling near 100 mph as they went around the curve.

Earl recounts his first time at ‘The Spot’ at Turn 6, “The first time I went down there, it was before a race and I got situated and ready during the calm before the storm. Suddenly, at the start of the race, there were three cars coming down the straight from Turn 5 at about 175mph and they were side-by-side approaching the curve and no one was letting up or braking! I knew there was no way the three of them could go around that curve side-by-side at that speed! I dove face first into the Georgia clay behind the wall to protect myself. They passed, no one crashed and the flagmen were all laughing at me as I stuck my head up. I got up and looked around amazed that there was no crash. The next time, I stayed standing and watched the cars approach and go by just feet away in a flash. The third time, when they came by, I was ready and shooting photographs.

I used to say my prayers before going down to ‘the spot’. Once there, I always looked at the skid marks on the track and checked the trackside side of the wall to see if there had been any crashes into the wall during the past year. The skid marks were always taking the cars to the outside of the track and I never saw a crash mark on the wall. If I had seen skid marks and crash marks, I would not of gone there. This was my adrenaline rush in life. The excitement was addicting.”

After NASCAR recently bought Road Atlanta, the spot is now a no-man’s land and no one is permitted there. Also, with the advent of in-car cameras, I was probably being videoed by the cameras of many cars and was interfering with the live coverage. So, enjoy the photos!

Story of the Road Atlanta Simulator. IMSA traveled over to Greenville, South Carolina, American home of both Michelin and BMW. They had a great concours d'elegance along Main Street. They also had a simulator of Road Atlanta. Earl says, “I took a couple of laps while my interest was Turn 6 and the spot from which I had shot so many photos. I asked Gail to stand behind me and shoot a photo when I said, “Now!”. I approached Turn 6 at 77 MPH and put the car into an intentional slide with the nose of the car and video camera pointed towards ‘the spot’. The Spot is highlighted in the photo. I also wanted to see what the car would do in a relatively highspeed spin? The car went straight off the curve and away from the wall. That’s what I had assured myself that cars would do for all those years!

Simulator View of ‘The Spot’ at T6


THE PHOTOGRAPHERS


The Photographers

Earl Cook and Gail Cook

Earl Cook was an early pioneer in microcomputers and their application, especially, with digital printing, photography, videography and publishing through print and the Internet. In 1986, he was a co-founder and president of the Atlanta Desktop Publishers Association. He was an early Apple consultant and Apple Computer sent Earl into pilot projects for some of Atlanta’s largest organizations. As a consultant and custom software developer, Earl solved complex problems for some of the largest organizations. Earl has been through multiple paradigm shifts throughout his career and is now working on responsive websites as front ends to cloud-based content. These pages are examples of this work.

Gail Cook was also an early pioneer in microcomputers and their application, while working with Earl. She was a graduate from the Art Institute of Atlanta in Photography where she won Best of Show in her graduating class. As an expert in film photography and self-developer of black and white photography, she was an early doubter of digital photography. This countered Earl who was an early adopter and expert with digital photography. Earl learned photographic skills from Gail and then applied them to digital photography where he then taught Gail the power of digital photography.

Gail influenced Earl in finding the artistic beauty in the cars. Earl was also influenced by fellow photographer, Tim Crete, a professional and perfectionist who shared the time of day and spots for “perfect lighting” at the Road Atlanta track. When Earl was learning to create illustrations using Adobe Illustrator, he chose to draw the GTP’s. For measurements and dimensions, Earl would have Gail stand in front of a car at different locations for photographs. Once home, Earl compared the photos and measured Gail standing in front of the cars to get the dimensions.

As software application developers, Earl and Gail created a software title based on alternative healthcare that is use in homes, clinics, spas and schools in over 85 countries. As a speaker, Earl has spoken at conferences around the US and in Switzerland and Japan.


RELEVANCY TO THE REAL WORLD


Relevancy

Relevancy

Earl Cook was a graudate in International Relations at the nearby University of Georgia. He graduated, with honors, in the same year that he saw his first sportscar race at Road Atlanta. The UOP Shadows took the victory and Earl was hooked again. As a highschooler, he had been intrigued by the Ford GT success at Le Mans. His doodles were drawings of the GT 40’s. After returning to Georgia from California in 1980, the annual trips up to Road Atlanta were to see the awesome GTP’s and then the World Sports Cars before the ALMS era began.

As a student of international relations, Earl appreciated the American Le Mans Series on many levels. With top teams, drivers and cars from the leading manufacturers of the world coming to the Petit Le Mans, to Earl, it was an automotive-Olympics that occurred annually. The intensely competitive international battles were fought peacefully on the track. The better your technology and teams, the better you performed and achieved greatness. To Earl, the core aspects of endurance racing are important to the world: endurance; efficiency, and; speed. These cars are perfect platforms as they are rolling testbeds of advanced technologies that have can provide dramatic offshoots to the road-going automotive fleets of the world. Design, test and, perfect new methods and systems for efficiency and transfer this knowledge to improve the overall efficiency of all automobiles.

Earl Cook was a proponent of the “Relevancy” philosophy and promoted it whenever and whereever he could on motor racing message boards. This was an unpopular idea amongst many racing ‘purists’ who hurled many insults. Thankfully, some of the leading car manufacturers, especially, in Germany and Japan, took on the montra of making their racing programs ‘Relevant’ to their road-going automotive products. The ACO and FIA joined forces and restarted the World Endurance Championship (WEC) where the most advanced hybrid prototype vehicles race around the world. ‘Relevancy’ has become a world-wide battlecry in the marketing, engineering and racing programs.

World Endurance Championship (WEC)


Hats + Legends + Cars


Hats + Legends + Cars

Hats + Legends + Cars

Cyber Motorsports was there at the beginning of the Petit Le Mans and through its history. One long-time IMSA supporter who had been stationed in Europe, attended a dozen 24 Hours of Le Mans. He knew his stuff and told Earl, “I hope you know that you helped make the Petit Le Mans a success!” That comment and the time when the ALMS asked us to delay our coverage by 24 Hours so as to not conflict with the live TV coverage were the two greatest compliments we received. Another compliment occurred in 2018.

Over the 20 year period, Earl had purchased or was given a variety of team hats. He then got autographs on these. For example, on the MOMO hat, there are autographs of Giampiero Moretti, Kevin Doran, Didier Theys and Max Papis. On the Doyle/Risi Ferrari hat are Wayne Taylor and Eric Van de Poele’s. On the Audi hat are the autographs of Alan McNish, Tom Kristensen, Rinaldo Cappello and others. Earl’s goal for the 2018 PLM was to take these hats from over the years and then get a photograph taken with the legends that are associated with these hats. He chose a day and time when things were relatively slow and calm on Friday morning after the late Thursday night practice. Most of the crew was sleeping in while the team owners that Earl wanted to see were there early.

The first hat was for the Ferrari team that won the premiere Petit Le Mans. Wayne Taylor was a driver on that team and is now a team owner. Earl put on the Ferrari hat and saw Wayne arriving at the Wayne Taylor Racing paddock. Wayne saw the hat, laughed and said, “That’s a hat from when I won the first Petit Le Mans!” Earl showed Wayne his autograph on the hat and he laughed again and said, “I want you to show this to my team! Maybe, it will give us good luck this year!” The photo at the right was taken in the WTR paddock. And, it did bring them good luck as they won the 2018 Petit Le Mans!

The next hat was the Audi hat. Audi was a dominate team for nearly a decade at the Petit Le Mans. Rheinhold Joest, who managed the teams for most of those years is the most successful prototype team owner in history. His teams have won the 24 Hours of Le Mans an incredible 15 times. Even with all this success, Joest is a private man and shuns photographs and autographs, etc. Earl told one of the team principles for the Joest Mazda team what he wanted to do and showed the Audi hat with all the autographs. The team representative then took the hat over to Rheinhold standing in the back of the paddock and explained what I wanted to do and pointed at me. Reheinhold laughed and waved for me to come in. Earl says, “Though, we had never met personally, when you are at the track for over 20 years, people recognize each other‘s faces.”

One of the most moving experiences involved visiting the paddock memorial set up in honor of ALMS and PLM-founder, Don Panoz, who had passed away just weeks before his beloved Petit Le Mans occurred. Earl put on his Visteon hat and walked into the memorial. Geoff Lee, president of Road Atlanta and long-time Panoz associate said, “Look! He’s wearing a Visteon hat! Get a photograph!” Visteon had been the major sponsor for the first Panoz racing efforts. In fact, the Panoz GTR-98 with the Visteon sponsorship was sitting in the middle of the Panoz memorial. The car was also portrayed on the tickets for the premiere PLM. Earl showed his ticket from that race and someone suggested, “You should take a photo of that ticket on the car that is on the ticket!

Seeing the memorial set up in this way with all the hundreds of signatures and messages on the banner were quite moving. Earl admits to tears welling up in his eyes when seeing this. Earl says, “Don Panoz is the one responsible for us being able to experience the Petit Le Mans like we have for all those years. To Don, I owe a big, thank you, and RIP, my friend. I know your efforts are still making a positive difference and will do so for many years.”

Earl was responsible for organizing a gathering of online racing afficianados at the 1998 and 1999 Petit Le Mans. Earl did not plan this but it was befitting of the history... he was wearing the same shirt in 1998 at the premiere Petit Le Mans as he did at the 2018 PLM!


DRIVERS OF THE ALMS


Rinaldo Capello

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Ron Fellows

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Lucas Luhr

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JJ Lehto

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