Petit Le Mans
When: 11:30 a.m. Saturday
Where: Road Atlanta, Braselton
Race: 10-hour or 1,000-mile race is the final race of the season on the American Le Mans Circuit.
Tickets: two-day pass with paddock access $80; Saturday-only with paddock access $70; parking pass $50.
For more information: 800-849-7223
Bryan Sellers and his wife Jamie Howe get excited every October when Petit Le Mans rolls around. This year is no exception.
While Sellers is chasing the GT title for Falken Tire behind the wheel of his Porsche on Saturday in the 10-hour, or 1,000-mile, endurance race on his home course of Road Atlanta, his wife will be busy tracking down interviews with drivers in her role as a pit reporter.
She will be seen by fans that watch the weekend race either live online on ESPN3.com or rebroadcast nationwide at 1 p.m. Sunday on ABC.
And living only a couple of miles from the 2.54-mile course in South Hall, the couple that met through the sport seven years ago plan to have to have about 15 family members and friends come to town for this year’s race, joining the more than 100,000 expected fans from all across the world to attend the final race of the season in the American Le Mans Series.
“Petit Le Mans is a very special week for us,” said Sellers, 30, who won at the Baltimore Sports Car Challenge on Sept. 1. “We have all our family and friends come out for support and it gives me a lot more energy for the race.
“It’s like a homecourt advantage in basketball.”
Howe also enjoys that the rest of the world gets to see the area they call home up close and personal.
“Petit Le Mans is one of the races that has a very global feel with drivers and cars from all over the world,” she said. “Plus, a ticket in gets fans everywhere and fans really get to enjoy the experience.
“The drivers are all friendly and there are no big egos ... just remember to bring ear plugs for the race.”
And since both professions are intertwined together, Howe knows there’s always the possibility that she’ll get to interview her husband of four years in front of the camera. Neither says it’s awkward. Both know that it comes with the territory and most involved in the sport already know their personal relationship away from the track.
Howe is not timid about having to interview her husband, and wouldn’t think about showing emotion at the track when her husband is racing well. On the same note, Sellers knows that his wife might be there with a microphone in his face and a cameraman by her side from time to time when he steps out of the car.
“We’ve done this long enough now that it doesn’t cross my mind anymore,” Sellers said. “She has to maintain her professionalism when doing her job.”
She chose to stick with her maiden name for the job at the suggestion of a former producer.
“He said it’s easier for people to remember three syllable names,” Howe said.
One moment Sellers and Howe shared at the track ranks right at the top. Sellers put on a dominating performance for victory at Baltimore for the win in 2011. Howe was in charge of interviewing the winner. With cameras flashing all around, Sellers remembers getting out of the car, then seeing his wife approaching for the interview.
They were both equally excited about the moment, but were able to play it cool for the television audience.
“I just wanted to give him a big hug,” said Howe.
And what exactly did Sellers’ wife ask him during that victory interview?
“I can’t remember at all any of the questions she asked,” Sellers said. “We were both very excited.”
Despite the common workplace, it’s rarely a topic of conversation away from the track. Right now, the next goal for the young couple is training for an Olympic-distance triathlon, probably in February or March, Sellers said. This athletic venture groups both of their athletic interests in one competition. Sellers is an avid runner, usually running 8 or 9 miles per day when possible, and Howe grew up a swimmer.
“We enjoy training for the triathlon because it’s something that we can do together,” said Sellers, who started racing sports cars in 2005 as part of the Panoz factory GT2 program.
While Sellers always knew he wanted to race, his wife’s introduction to the sport was purely by chance. As a senior at Brookwood High in the spring of 2003, she was invited by a parent of a child she was coaching in swimming to come out to Road Atlanta to see what goes on behind the scenes in broadcasting.
Howe already had an advanced broadcasting background to be so young, coming through the school’s broadcasting department in conjunction with CNN in Atlanta.
Howe’s first race at Road Atlanta was the Chevy 500 in April of 2003, working as a runner for the television compound.
“It was sensory overload the first time I went to the track and so many interesting people,” Howe said. “Even at that time, I knew I wanted to go back.”
Immediately, she made contacts and stayed involved in production assisting while attending Georgia State University. She met the driver Sellers while she was working as a production assistant for a promotion for Pirrelli Tires to air on SPEED back in 2005. After marrying, they moved to Braselton in 2008 to be near the track.
Howe has shot up the ranks as a respected broadcast media member. Today, she works as a pit reporter for American Le Mans Series and NHRA coverage on ESPN2, ESPN3 and ABC. She also hosts the show Lucas Oil on the Edge for SPEED. She also does similar work for SPEED at the Daytona 24 Hours and the 24 Hours of Le Mans races.