IMSA Spotlight: Shea Adam
IMSA Radio Reporter
With two races to go in the WeatherTech Championship, have you been surprised by the performance (or lack of performance) from a particular team?
“A few teams have taken me by surprise this year, to be quite honest. The fact that CORE autosport isn’t in the top 3 of the PC championship is stunning, although more due to lack of consistency and bad luck than performance.
“It’s shocking that the 90 VisitFlorida team has yet to win this year, given the quality of their drivers and the past performance of the team in championships.
“As far as GTLM is concerned, a few things are hard to believe: Risi Competizione winless for 2 calendar years now and the 911 driver pairing 8th in points.
“On a good note, the performance of the Ford surprised everyone, starting at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and it’s been great to see a new team to GT racing and new car thrive!
“Speaking of which, almost all of the GTD teams that switched manufacturer allegiances have found success, which is rare for a first year.
“Paul Miller Racing just got its first win since Petit ’14, (and with a bit of irony, one of their drivers, Bryan Sellers, also got a class win in that one) as well as Magnus Racing and Stevenson have made it to the podium with their Audis.”
What are you looking forward to the most for the COTA race?
“I love the event at Circuit of The Americas. If you don’t use “track limits” as a drinking game term and accept the rules we are given were put in place for a reason, the race will be one of the most enjoyable of the year.
“Since it is the last sprint race of the 2016 calendar for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship contenders, the pressure is amped up and we see that reflected in driving standards on the track.
“The city of Austin has great entertainment, food, and hotels that aren’t a million miles away from the circuit. It’s a fun all around weekend and I’m really excited about all four IMSA sanctioned series running and seeing the WEC cars for the first time since June.
“With everyone there, the event becomes a big party, a family reunion, and the atmosphere of the paddock is contagious.”
How did you get your start in broadcasting?
“In 2011 and late 2012, I was working for Prestige, delivering press cars around the state of Florida. It was a great job, but I’d realized the year before that I really wanted work that allowed me to follow ALMS.
“My dad, who was one of their announcers, took me to four races in 2011, and it just felt like a place where I could really belong. When John Hindhaugh came to Florida in 2012 for the 24 Hours of Daytona, I delivered a BMW to Orlando airport for he and Eve Hewitt.
“I’d met John at the ALMS races and had many conversations and laughs with him, but this was the first time I met Eve! They came to visit us after the race, and hadn’t been on my parents’ couch for five minutes when they brought up the idea of me pit reporting.
“It had never occurred to me that I could do that as a career. They offered me a shot, should I choose to accept, to cover Le Mans!
“Very soon there after, I wrote an email to Jim Roller, who was the producer for the ALMS broadcasts, and pretty much begged for a job. As luck would have it, he needed a Graphics Supervisor, and I was willing to learn.
“For 2 years, I learned the tricks of the trade from some of the best, and the ever-valuable lesson that the real talent in television is in the truck. Billy McCoy and Jim made a perfect team as director and producer.
“The late Anne Roller helped me understand the complicated world of graphics, and my education continued at the hands of my two grfx girls, Jenifer Gemisis and Lisa Woody.
“I miss a lot from those ALMS days, but nothing as much as working along side those two. My first race was Sebring 2012, or the one that didn’t have the last of its nine podium ceremonies until the next day, yet somehow I survived that initiation by fire.
“The first time I was handed a microphone for racing, I asked Dindo Capello, a long time hero of mine, at scrutineering if this was his last Le Mans. Jim and John both gasped slightly, but Dindo laughed and told me it probably was, the first time he’d confessed such a thing.
“Of course, all this is my broadcast background in racing but I was actually on television the day I was born. My mom was the main news anchor for WPLG, the ABC affiliate in Miami, and they sent a camera to the hospital 11 hours after I arrived to show why Mom wouldn’t be reading the 5pm news that night!”
What is the most challenging part of your job? The most rewarding?
“There are so many difficult aspects to being a pit reporter. Learning to speak sensibly while someone else is talking to you through your headset.
“Often, John or whoever is in the booth as lead commentator will feed questions or information while I’m talking, so it’s important to stay calm and not trip over multiple trains of thought. Doing homework to be prepared and then remembering it all. My mom always says, ‘Information is power.’
“Staying fit enough to cover an entire pit lane while wearing a heavy and hot firesuit and wearing broadcasting kit on my lower back without becoming physically exhausted. Working out at least an hour a day keeps me as fit for the last moments of Petit Le Mans as the first.
“Learning how to disconnect during a 24-hour race to get some rest so that I’m sensible at hour 20 has been one of the biggest challenges for me. The first year at Le Mans, I slept about 45 minutes because I was too excited to sleep on my breaks! This year, I got more than 2 hours sleep.
“The most rewarding part of pit reporting is getting to see the joy on peoples’ faces after they’ve realized a life’s ambition.
“By far, 2015 Le Mans was the coolest end-of-race ceremony I’ve ever been a part of. Getting to interview friends like Earl, Jordan and Tommy after they’d won the biggest race of their careers was beyond special. I live for those moments.
“The winning interviews of every race are special, don’t get me wrong. They’re all filled with such happiness. I love arriving to the track on a Tuesday or Wednesday of race week, but I can’t wait for the moments when the teams and drivers, no matter who they are, celebrate a win!”
If you had the chance to cover one race you haven’t done yet. what would it be?
“Oh man, this is a hard question! Can I have one per series? I’ve always wanted to cover the Nurburgring 24, but that would be from the booth not the pits. It would be insanely fun to pit report the Supercars Enduros!
“I love Bathurst for the 12 Hour, and can’t imagine how much fun the 1000k would be! That said, you wouldn’t have to twist my arm very hard to go to the GoldCoast 600 either!
“People are always asking where my dream job lies, where I’d like to end up. They think I’m being disingenuous or sycophantic when I say it, but the gig I’ve got right now working for IMSA Radio in North America and RadioLeMans.com wherever Eve and John decide to send me is the dream realized.
“Sure, it’d be great to cover more series, but IMSA is my priority!”