4 PWC Races, 4 Different Marshal Roles! Highlight of my Motorsport Volunteering Career Thus Far

I am not bragging in this post, I’m simply counting my blessings!

Thanks to the powers that be this season, I got an opportunity to work four different PWC events so far. And as luck would have it each one of those races I performed a different role as a marshal. That is a massive accomplishment personally in my book. (Log Book if we were doing those things here)

Race 1: St. Petersburg Grand Prix in Florida: Pit Marshal

PWC ran as a support race to IndyCar… and I was there in pit lane.

Race 2: Grand Prix of VIRginia International Raceway (Fire Rescue)

PWC was the headlining event at VIR and I got a chance to ride in the fire truck and tow truck over the 3 day weekend, hooking cars and picking up debris on the hot track!

Race 3: Victoria Day Speedfest at Mosport (Blue Flag Marshal)

PWC sort of competed for the headline event at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park sharing the spotlight with local Pinty’s NASCAR series… I think most people went there for PWC but definitely stock cars brings it’s die fans too. I was there flagging over the weekend.

Race 4: Grand Prix of Lime Rock Park  (Backup Starter)

The most recent PWC experience at Lime Rock Park over Memorial Day weekend was a cherry on top moment for me working as a Backup Starter to the series Starters. Ahhmazing!

This really is an awesome time for me in my Motorsport volunteering career. If I were to stop marshaling now I’d feel that I’ve done everything I wanted to do with this hobby!

Of course, as many would say and as I totally firmly believe myself: “The Best is yet to come….”

Memorial Day Grand Prix of Lime Rock Park (PWC) the debrief

To say I had a blast at this weekend’s (Memorial Day weekend) PWC event at LRP would be an understatement… I really, truly, genuinely had an amazing time. And the people I got a chance to work with totally contributed to that experience.

It absolutely makes a difference who you work with and this time I was super lucky. You know someone else is comfortable with you when she refers to you as “dipshit” to her colleague. That happened. Both of my series starters from PWC were amazing, and it was my honor to be working with them as a backup starter at the Start/Finish stand.

I thought the weekend went especially well. The racing was better than usual. We didn’t have too many bullshit crashes that tend to ruin other PWC events. The recoveries were smooth and quick, and there were awesome battles for positions throughout the field in all the classes. That was awesome.

I got to make a lot of calls on the radio. Which was good. I’m happy I didn’t make too many mistakes with that aspect. I was even able to do a debris run picking up a large chunk of debris from the race winning Turner BMW in the TC race. But I also made some rookie mistakes and they were to be blamed on me squarely. There were three instances where I was meant to point out a car to the series starters and I pointed out the wrong car. We did track it correctly, but for whatever reason I pointed at a different car that was similar in appearance. In the TCA/TCB race I pointed to the SAC racing 080 car instead of the race winning 70 car. Both were black with Green accents, but one was Teal and another bright Green… One was ND and another NC. And yet somehow I mucked it up. With the other starter I had real trouble with the Porsche Cayman GT4’s… we were supposed to track 018 car and I (for some weird reason) confused it with it’s sister car 017… luckily the series starter was better than me at identifying cars but it tripped her up too, unnecessarily. Maybe the dipshit comment was right on the money.

I must have not been too terrible, because unlike the series starter last year she greeted me with a hug in the morning, which was an AWWWW moment. She must not hate me. And on race day she gave me a little gift, a pin of a Guardian Angel that one of her colleagues designed. AWWWW again! She doesn’t want me to die. That’s nice. I really enjoyed the weekend and I really hope I get another opportunity to work with these folks again… somewhere!

Pirelli World Challenge was a standalone feature of this Memorial Day weekend. So we only had the GT/GTA/GT Cup, GTS and TC/TCA/TCB cars at the track. What was different was the fact that the field of TC cars grew so large in size that they got to run a race on their own without the usual TCA/TCB addition. This meant that the TCA/TCB ran a race of their own too… and it was clear as day to see how well the Global MX-5 Cup cars performed on their own in this series. I knew they won at VIR and Mosport (both races I volunteered) but since there was a different overall winner in TC class, it wasn’t so obvious who won TCA. The older Miata’s in TC class though qualified super well, they were in row 2 and 3 on the grid, but as soon as the race started they faltered. Many DNF’d. Which sucks! But the cars are getting old, and the newest addition to the field this year, the BMW 235M blew up in size, it seems like they are completely dominating this series. In the GT race there were quite a few incidences, but overall it was super enjoyable to watch and especially neat to be a part of in such an amazing position on the start stand. I’m incredibly grateful!

Best of all I didn’t have to choose between having lunch or taking pictures during our downtime. I was smack in the middle of all the action. I could just walk over to the dummy grid and take a few snaps before heading back on duty and the series starters were happy to help me out with a few selfie style shots to capture the moment of this experience. It was tremendous!

I would love to do it again!

Mazda MX-5: Oil Change Deal Castrol EDGE + K&N Wrench-Off Filter $22.99

Memorial Day oil change deal alert at your local Advance Auto Parts store… while I’m not due for an oil change and I still have a perfectly good jug of Castrol EDGE 5W20 from a previous purchase, along with a bunch K&N HP-1002 and PS-1002 filters for my Miata, at this price I decided to stock up on a few more.

The deal is $22.99+ tax for a 5QT Jug or 5x 1QT bottles of Castrol EDGE full synthetic oil plus a K&N Wrench-Off high performance oil filter… which at Advance Auto typically sells for $36.99 just the oil and $16.99 just the filter. Of course I like to shop around and have purchased oil and filters cheaper individually but in this case the combination of the two work really well, I’ll explain why.

Advance Auto is currently running a promo through American Express also, where you get $10 rebate on your AMEX card for a $50 purchase. Similarly, Advance Auto SpeedPerks rewards program allows you to earn $5 (coupon you can apply to a future $20 purcahse) for each $30 you spend. Naturally the $22.99 deal is after rebate, so the $32.99 you shell out upfront qualifies for this deal.

The Castrol EDGE Extended Performance oil is also on sale, a 5QT jug of that is $24.99 after rebate with the K&N filter included. So what I did was purchase both, sending my total with tax to $70… I quickly got an e-mail confirming my AMEX rebate. I’m hoping SpeedPerks comes through for at least $5 maybe even $10 since I spent over $60 (2x – $30) and in the end it will be a fantastic deal.

Almost as good as those end of fiscal year clearance sales where Advance Auto or AutoZone clear out their oil supply and sell 5QT Jugs of various oils for like $5 bux. But alas those deals are hit or miss and sometimes only apply for specific oils. For example two years ago I managed to buy Mobil 1 for $5 a jug, except it was only the 0W20 weight. I read about Pennzoil Platinum going on sale for a similar price but out of the three oils I have used in the Miata, the Castrol EDGE goes on sale least. And I found out it’s the oil that performs best in my car, yielding the best gas mileage!

So I’ll stick with it for a while.

Cars & Coffee at Tice’s Corner Woodcliff Lake New Jersey May 2017

No better way to spend Memorial Day weekend than at my local Cars & Coffee. This meetup at Tice’s Corner in Woodcliff Lake, NJ is always a treat, check out the pix:

I arrived a bit late, after 10am which meant may cool cars were either leaving or had already left… like the Enzo Ferrari and McLaren P1… but the Miata’s were still there, and after parking lot clearing a bit we decided to get them together for a photo op:

At this point it was around noon and everyone was hungry so we headed down to Hackensack to my favorite BBQ joint… Cubby’s!

This place is so awesome… there’s nothing “bad” on the menu, everything is “great!”

Looking forward to the next one!

Post Card from the Dummy Grid at Memorial Day PWC LRP Grand Prix

Fantastic Memorial Day weekend at the races… Lime Rock Park was fantastic to me. I have grown to absolutely love the Pirelli World Challenge series. And best part I got to work as a backup starter… so there was a lot of downtime. I was in the prime spot to see the cars up close, and as a result there was ample opportunity to take some pix. So this is my Saturday Race Day mega gallery… enough talking here’s the pix:

Free breakfast for the marshals how thoughtful! Thanks Skip Barber

Miata Racing is the main reason I signed up to do this event!

They split TC from TCA/TCB races, so it was much easier to see the current MX-5 Cup cars winning a race…

New flavor of SAC racing skittles cars…

Hhhmm… I didn’t know Volvo and GM had a relationship… I knew about SAAB/Scania but Volvo GM – WHITEGMC is news to me… kind of cool though!

This is such a beautiful and completely appropriate paint job… for this event!

Selfies!

The driver of this #70 also raced (and won in) the TCA MX-5 Cup car

Thanks to Chris Booth for taking some pix of me with the cars in the paddock during lunch time.

He sells Miata parts apparently ūüôā

…after doing donuts in Turn 1 and returning to pit lane counter race

The series starter gave me a small gift: A Guardian Angel… Awwww!

I am so grateful to everyone that made this weekend possible for me. Thanks to the folks at Lime Rock Park, to the series: Pirelli World Challenge and of course Chris Booth for taking some pix for me. Thank you all very much! See you at the next one.

Post Card from PWC Grand Prix of Lime Rock

Greetings from an amazing first day of the PWC at LRP.

I love this track.

I love this series.

I love this assignment.

This is my first time since last year working as a back-up starer for a pro event (or for any event period) and it just so happens that last year it was PWC at LRP as well.

Despite the wet weather and the alternating mist and light rain, the racing has been especially good. Only the PWC series are present though they are broken up in bits to make more racing happen. There’s the Sprint X headliner featuring GT (Pro-Pro), GTA (Pro-Am), GT Cup (Am-Am) and GTS (up and coming Pro’s)… the TC group grew so big with all the new BMW 235M’s that they get to race on their own… I think I counted over 30 cars, and it’s especially nice to see the familiar yellow Turner cars #95 & #96 re-join the series. TCA and TCB round out the support races with a pretty large field as well. Really neat to see this racing up close from the Starter stand. I love it! Didn’t take many pix, but the few I did I’d like to share:

And so my day went absolutely perfectly… I truly enjoy working Start and my PWC series colleagues were awesome to me. Despite the rain I thought the racing was very good. No stupid crashes. It was very competitive, very tight and mostly clean with minor incidents here and there (only a few full course cautions)… so I’m grateful for that. Lime Rock Park fed us at the end of the day and I was happy to spy a bunch of Mazda’s at the track including a Miata parade early in the morning and a few Mazdaspeed 3’s and 6’s in the camping area.

I decided not to tent it in the wet, and instead opted for the 2 hour and 100 mile trek home… which was fine in the evening, but I’m sure tomorrow morning I’ll be regretting it. Oh well… looking forward to another great day at the track!

Registered for Red Bull Global RallyCross at Bader Field Atlantic City, New Jersey in August

I just registered for an event I sort of knew about but put on a backburner for so long I realized that I don’t know anything about it. And so after significant research about both the series and the venue, I decided I must take part in it as a marshal.

The series: Red Bull Global RallyCross or GRC

The venue: Bader Field in Atlantic City, New Jersey

This event will take place in early August on the same weekend as the NASCAR Xfinity Series Race at Mid-Ohio… so suffice to say I will not be driving all day to Ohio when I can go to South Jersey in just under three hours (or more since everyone will be heading down the Jersey Shore during the summer…)

What is it? I suspect it is a lot like Rally America event I participated in years ago at NJMP (which is also in South Jersey about half an hour away from Atlantic City). The cars will race part on asphalt and part on dirt. What’s different is that at GRC there will be more cars, I understand up to 10 cars at once. And there will be massive jumps involved. And having worked a number of races with the Robbie Gordon Stadium Super Trucks… it’s a no brainer that anything involving cars and high jumps brings the fucking crowds and makes them go wild. Mix in a little Red Bull and everyone acts like they got wings! … or so I speculate. Here’s an official promo video, which seems to put a ton of emphasis on the crashes:

I’ve been to Atlantic City a million times. Back in high school my dad had a gambling problem and I’d drive him there once a week it seems to feed the addiction. He’d lose money and I’d hang out on the Boardwalk. When the rest of the family would come down we’d go to the piers for Go Karts and everyone would have a jovial time. When I got a bit older I started going down to Atlantic City for conventions at one of the many Casino’s. It has been years since I’ve gone back and I am fully aware that the city has gone through major financial woes. But it is still a city on the ocean, with a beach, Boardwalk, and attractions for people to come from all over the area during the summer months. There’s a direct rail link with Philadelphia and so this GRC event will probably be packed.

(as an aside, Bader Field is an old decommissioned Atlantic City Municipal Airport with both air and seaport capabilities, that more recently hosted a minor league baseball team, a bunch of concerts and plays as home to South Jersey SCCA rallycross venue in the summer months according to Wikipedia hmmm!)

From the races I’ve seen posted about on Facebook the events are as popular as MotoGP or many Formula Drift events. Red Bull is involved so it’s hip as hell… And with personalities like Tanner Foust involved and Scott Speed, there’s the celebrity factor too. I am especially interested in seeing the Ford Fiesta ST looking things err… Supercars compete with all the VeeDubb equivalents and Subi’s.

I’ll share a spotter guide once it becomes available. It seems the series is completely on top of things doing great marketing for their events down to the important things (like the spotter guides for the fans)… which I applaud them for! Great job…

I also understand there are still spots open for marshals in case anyone else in the area is interested. The event is paid apparently and a hotel room is provided. (or so I hope)

Looking forward to it!

Marshaling NASCAR

Whenever I travel to volunteer overseas most people enquire not about our American sports car or open wheel racing series… but instead about NASCAR. More often than not people ask about how they too could come to America and work a NASCAR event… and often times I have to give them¬†the bad news that marshals (volunteers like us) aren’t actually used by the series on ovals.

I have worked NASCAR events on a road course for many years, in fact NASCAR at Watkins Glen International is one of my favorite trips Upstate New York year after year. I even go to the Motorsport Safety Seminar put on by NASCAR and Race Services, Inc. at Watkins Glen to get properly trained to work NASCAR events.

So imagine my surprise when reviewing my calendar for events I wish to participate in this season (2017) the majority of the events I wish to work are NASCAR events. How in the world?

Will I actually work all those events I have pencilled in?

Probably not, but wouldn’t it be cool?

I have begun a habit of making notes (memo’s) of events I wish to do in order to inspire myself to follow through with those plans. So I’ll list the events below in order to reflect back at a later time to see how many of those races I actually participated in:

Completed Events:

April 1-2: Watkins Glen International – MSS (w/ RSI)

¬†May 19-21: Canadian Tire Motorsport Park – Pinty’s Series – Can Am 200 (w/ MMS)

 

Future Events:

June 9-11: Pocono Raceway РMonster Enegery / Xfinity / ARCA РPocono 400 (w/ Team Pocono)

July 28-30: Pocono Raceway РMonster Energy / Camping World Trucks / ARCA РPennsylvania 400 (w/ Team Pocono)

August 3-6: Watkins Glen International – Monster Energy / Xfinity / K&N Pro East – Zippo 355 (w/ RSI)

August 11-13: Mid Ohio Sports Car Course – Xfinity Series – Mid Ohio 200 (w/ Lake Erie Communicators)

September 1-3: Canadian Tire Motorsport Park – Camping World Trucks / Pinty’s Series – Chevrolet Silverado 250 (w/ MMS)

September 16: New Jersey Motorsports Park – K&N Pro East –¬†Just Drive 125 (w/ NJMP)

 

I’m very excited about the possibility of any of these events… we’ll see how many I can actually participate in…!

Victoria Day Speedfest the debrief

WOW! What a fantastic weekend!

Victoria Day Speedfest was my first International event volunteering this year. As such I was really looking forward to the experience and the racing didn’t disappoint. It certainly helped too that everyone was super friendly and welcoming and I took this opportunity to sign up with the local club MMS to finally become one of their members. Motorsport Marshalling Services is a CASC-OR member. Canadian Automobile Sports Car Association – Ontario Region is an FIA accredited ASN. My plan is not to renew my SCCA membership next year and rely solely on the CASM membership to volunteer future international events. We’ll see how that goes.

So having done this event before meant I knew what to expect and took advantage of most of the opportunities which presented themselves. First I took lots of pictures on arrival on Thursday so that I don’t get in trouble (or even the urge) to take any pictures the rest of the weekend.

I had my usual run to get some delicious poutine, and I was set for whatever came my way over the course of the weekend.

Every morning I would stop at Tim Horton’s to get a box of Timbits (Munchkins for those that prefer Dunkin Donuts) two XL French Vanilla Cappuccino’s and a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast.

The Timbits of course were a big hit with the local marshals, as expected. I was happy to share. Right around 3pm though I really needed a Timbit or two for a sugar rush, otherwise I’d get tired.

I CouchSurfed on this trip, so every evening I would rush back to Bowmanville to have dinner with my host… and what a dinner it was:

They spoiled me rotten with amazing home cooked meals, yumm!

The morning meetings were clearly communicated in advance. Details of the day’s events were laid out concisely and precisely. It was fun and every day a new station was assigned.

Day 1: Turn 2A

We were short so I was rotating on Yellow/Green flag. Good thing I wasn’t on Blue flag because we had a massive impact with a roll over right in the area where the Blue flagger normally stands. That would have turned ugly real quickly. That was also the first of two massive roll-overs of my weekend.

Day 2: Turn 9

This time I was on Blue flag working closely with the mirror station for Yellow/Green flags. This time we were a little less lucky as two Micra Cup Nissan’s smashed into the tire wall at our feet basically sending a ton of debris our way as they rolled. It was nuts!

I walked along the spectator fence to use a porta-potty near Turn 8 and the Canadian fans were a jovial bunch. Until someone caught some debris from our rolling car. I assume a drunk person started screaming for help when rescue services arrived by the rolled car. Weird people would do that instead of reaching out to the medical services available for spectators. I guess there ought to be more education available for spectators about what to do in case of injury without heckling the track services on a hot track.

Day 3, Race Day, Turn 6

Turn 6 isn’t really a Turn, it’s a straight away with elevation change preventing Station 5C from seeing Station 7. It is a fantastic role for a Blue Flagger because the cars go their fastest on this part of the back stretch. Unfortunately someone from Race Control wasn’t happy with us standing next to the catch fencing and instructed us to go behind it… which predictably completely obscured our view of the track. I wish the people at Race Control would come out and work a race or two behind the catch fence and see how much they value their life after that. I would much rather see an incident coming and make moves in reaction to that. Rather than stand behind obstructive barriers that block you from seeing approaching danger and wouldn’t help all that much in case a crash occurs and sends small debris and hot fluids through the fence into you by complete surprise (because you can’t see the fucking crash coming). It just makes me angry when people make decisions that affect your personal safety (negatively I might add).

But enough about that… I joined the MMS… it only cost $10 bux for the membership, so I spend another $10 to invest in some warm clothing for the cold weather… a toque:

Hopefully this membership works well overseas!

Happy Anniversary Canada!

Hopefully I can come back this year again for the Labor Day weekend… to work the NASCAR Trucks around a proper circuit.

Mazda MX-5: 1,000+ mile Road Trip from New Jersey to Ontario, Canada for Victoria Day Speedfest

Happy sesquicentennial anniversary Canada!

I had no idea Canada turns 150 until I saw all the colorful banners at the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. My 500+ mile road trip north was for the same reason I went last year. Victoria Day Speedfest event is an excellent combination of racing series at an amazing facility that makes time fly because you’re having fun.

Unlike last year the weather went completely haywire. On the first day it was warm but super windy. In fact the first order of business upon arrival in Bowmanville was to head to my favorite Poutine place to pick up a big plate of fries with gravy (which I ate in the car, parked at Turn 2 watching cars on track)… driving there I thought there was a sand storm, the wind whipped up all this dust it was hard to see the road in places. Next day it was cold. The following day cold and sunny, so I was freezing and got sunburned. And race day it rained which meant one of the feature PWC series got cancelled. But nevertheless I had a blast!

As usual took lots of pix:

Gas station food… it’s different in Canada!

1st Place Fries at Race Track gas station… yep!

…off to the track we go!

Welcome to Mosport!

Watching the test day activities from Turn 2.

Ironically, throughout the weekend I had the most unexpected favorites. The Micra Cup certainly kicked ass… it almost killed us at Turn 9 on Saturday as two cars lunged at us rolling in the process hitting the tire wall pretty hard while we scattered away. Both drivers walked away but it was a scary incident. Pinty’s Series did an amazing job racing in the wet on Sunday. Who says NASCAR doesn’t do rain tires? They certainly do… while PWC cancelled their Sprint X event because the track started ponding in some areas. But then the rain let up and the final race of the weekend took place… Canadian Touring Car Championship ran, but with half the field chickening out.

I tried to organize a Miata meet-up during the weekend. I failed for the second year in a row. This time I posted on Miata.net but apparently in an inconvenient thread because some dickhead jumped on me for hijacking the thread. And a few more assholes joined in the chorus speculating I must have voted for Trump because I made such a massive mistake posting in a thread where Ontario Canadians responded what cities they live in. To me that was the most appropriate post, but needless to say my efforts were wasted. Nobody wanted to meet. I did see several Miata’s at Mosport. One NA even gave me the flip up headlight “Hello” as I flashed my lights at him driving down towards Mosport Road, but that was that.

I did get a chance to visit my favorite gas station in Canada again… and refuel using the grade of fuel that sponsors the Canadian Porsche GT3 Cup series… Ultra 94. I suspect because of the rain and cold weather I never got better than 33mpg which kind of sucks. I wanted to match 36mpg’s from last year’s trip.

More pix:

Just like in the US, the gas prices differ station to station. So note-to-self for next trip… the Petro-Canada in Cobourg, Ontario has the cheapest price along the 401… also important to remember that just like Sunoco Ultra 93, not all stations carry that grade of fuel. I foolishly visited two gas stations ready to fill up, only to pull away from them because they didn’t sell Ultra 94.

Final fill up in Canada, $40 CAD for half a tank of gas. Oouch!

Similar fill up at Sunoco south of the border… but with a more favorable rate.

Ultra 94 is all over the place at Mosport though, so I’m happy to do my part and support Petro-Canada rather than other Canadian stations like Ultramar, Husky or even Esso in favor of those that support local Motorsport.

I think the highlight of the trip was when my Google Maps GPS welcomed me back to New Jersey! That took me by surprise…

I almost forgot to mention… a few miles before the Canadian border at the Thousand Islands crossing I hit quite the milestone in my Miata 66,666 miles!

That’s the second time this year I’ve rolled over all 6’s, last time being in Wes’s Crown Vic driving it from Pennsylvania to Texas.