Six a.m. Wednesday morning can't come soon enough. That's when the gates open to the public at Sebring International Raceway for the Mobil 1 62nd 12 Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida.
But two days before the event goes live, it's hard to imagine this same place will be filled with well over 100,000 people. The press box feels like a ghost town. There's no rumbling engines or squealing tires from cars testing on the track.
In fact, the only noises are from dozens of semi-trucks carrying essential race equipment. They inch through the complex at a snail's pace, making sure not to damage the priceless cargo they carry.
Out on the track, painters labor under a blazing sun to put the finishing touches on this year's 12 Hours of Sebring logo. They've long since finished drawing thousands of rectangles in the grass. Possibly a futile effort in trying to help ease the parking frenzy that will surely occur Wednesday morning.
These tasks - as purposeful as they are gradual - are vital to the success of the 12 Hours of Sebring. The attention to detail and unyielding preparation, which occurs almost daily outside of race week by small but dedicated staff, are the underpinnings of the event.
In two days the press box will be jammed with people. Instead of feeling and looking like the spacious facility that it is, something resembling an overcrowded phone booth will take its place. Throngs of fans will peruse among dozens of tents. The semi-trucks will be relegated from view. The 12 Hours of Sebring logo, bright and unblemished, will start to age. And the noise from the cars testing on the track will reach ear-splitting volumes.
But it means only one thing: race week is officially upon us. And we can call thank the dutiful people behind the scenes for bringing us such an awesome event.