Chasing Light At Daytona

My name is Mike Maravilla and I run a digital production and consulting agency in Chicago, Illinois. Cars have been an enormous part of my life ever since I could remember (allegedly my first words were ‘car keys’), and I relished every opportunity to sit behind the wheel of my grandparents’ E30s and my dad’s Euro E28 long before I could drive myself.

As quickly as I learned how to operate a camera, a car was my favorite subject in front of it.

I guess you could say it was just a matter of time for me to fall in love with the world of motorsport.


The best part about a 24-hour endurance race like the Rolex 24 At Daytona is the night. It’s almost as if every other noise falls off, leaving you to soak up every bit of mechanical orchestra that the race cars have to offer.


Most of the spectators have retreated to their hotels, the track temperatures have dropped, and the lights and glowing rotors are the only respites your camera can swallow amongst the darkness.


It’s absolutely crazy to think that the IMSA season kicks off with this 24-hour enduro at Daytona. It’s a brutal ask for teams and machines alike, juggling ever-changing strategy with a Costco-sized variety pack of cars in each class.


But to me, that’s part of the appeal. It’s unpredictable, honest, and viciously intense. And that, I think, is part of the reason why victory here is so sweet.

Shooting it then, for me, is almost romantic. The cars show up as shiny and optimistic as the drivers, and then you see them over time – the cars battle-scarred and weathered as each hour ticks by; the drivers’ blinks by morning more than a few ticks slower than the night before. And you stand there, the camera’s shutter clicking in overtime to capture its unpredictable present, while its uncertain future keeps you pressed eagerly behind the viewfinder.


This year was especially dramatic; 10 consecutive hours of relentless rain yielded 20 safety cars and one final hour of awe-inspiring, no-holds-barred driving before the coveted chequered flag dropped.


But more than the race itself, being able to see just how much work each team puts into the cars throughout the 24 is beyond imagination.


As an enthusiast, I would highly recommend forking over the extra to get garage access (and the hot pits if you’re lucky). The breadth of work, focus, and emotion you see going on in the middle of the night to keep a car in the race is humbling to say the least, and it’s a perspective that you really don’t get to see on television.


As much of a workout as my cameras get on a weekly basis back in Chicago, I love travelling to shoot motorsport events all over the country. It’s a nice change of pace from the more commercialized and aftermarket work I’ve grown accustomed to providing for my clients, and I thoroughly enjoy shooting with just the gear on my back trying to catch moments flashing by at nearly 200 miles per hour.

Mike Maravilla
Instagram: unscenemedia
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Yes! I was hoping we'd get one of these :D. Absolutely fantastic work Mr Maravilla, very well done! Trying to pick a favorite, but it's not easy lol. I really like both the rear shot of the dirty Vette, and the #18 in the pets at night in the rain.


Thanks so much, Twitch! Means a lot!


These night photos are bloody incredible.
beautiful coverage


Thank you, Simon!


These photos are incredible!


Much appreciated, James!


All those pics and you didn't feature the VW buses that show up every year!! This year was especially fun. Not many people up at 3AM in he rain though.


Haha I know. It's such a treat to see those guys every year. I'd love to do a feature on them...hopefully next year we're luckier with weather! Know any of them I could contact?

Matthew Everingham

Great story Mike! Bonus points for making me sad that we don't run any similar 24 hour races down in Aus. :p


Very much appreciated and glad you enjoyed the story! We are definitely very lucky to have this stateside, though the next step will be Le Mans!


Shame, huh. I wish that the 12 hours of bathurst was an IMSA race! Would be incredible to see the Ford GTLM rip around the Mountain.


Great job Mike, love the Vette shot even though I'm not a Vette fan. Your Ford GT garage shot too, here is one I got at COTA.


Thank you! Nice shot of the GT—I hope I can visit COTA sometime soon. Such a great looking track!


I love the progression of dirt and grime on these cars makes them battle harden and better looking in my opinion


Beautiful set of images and a good read: fantastic work!


Thank you very much, Steve!


What camera 6 lens do you have because these are fire!


Thank you, Hevar!

I was using my Canon 1DX and mostly a 100-400L f/4.5-5.6 IS II, but a 35L f/1.4 and 85L f/1.2 II came in handy as well.