NASCAR Camping World Trucks Spotter Guide for Labour Day Weekend at CTMP – Mosport

Since I haven’t done a NASCAR Camping World Trucks race yet, I’ve been doing some homework on what the liveries of these racetrucks look like… a spotter guide if you will, or as NASCAR calls them: paint schemes. Unfortunately nascar.com didn’t have them handy. So after some research online, and some weird links to ESPN’s Jayski web site and a random blog, I found a great source here:

http://nascarmockseason.weebly.com/2017-paint-schemes2.html

(to be perfectly honest this site’s spotter guide looks much better than the official ones that NASCAR had on their web site for the Monster Energy and Xfinity Series cars I posted about for WGI)

I’m pretty excited about watching these guys race this weekend. Last year’s event was nuts with crashes happening all the way down the front straight under the starter’s stand. Curious to see if there will be racing if the weather turns wet with what’s left of Hurricane Harvey making it’s way Northeast from Texas and the Gulf Coast. Pinty’s series were amazing in the rain last time I went to the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park for Victoria Day weekend, so hopefully this Labour Day lives up to all the hype… can’t wait!

Michelin GT Challenge Biscuitville Grand Prix IMSA at VIR the debrief

People often ask what’s my favorite race track, and it’s a hard question to answer because I frequent some of the best of them in the world. VIR though is one of the very best in my book! I can say that with confidence and I would encourage people to come and check it out for themselves.

The IMSA at VIR event was my second trip to Danville, Virginia/Milton, North Carolina this year. Of the two this was arguably the bigger event and it showed with amazing crowds of spectators that showed up in force. For the third time now I failed to read the instructions given to volunteers to camp in the South Paddock and instead did what I did before and set up my spot in the North where the usual spectators camp. I say the usual, because most of my neighbors were there for PWC weekend earlier this year, and they were there last year for IMSA as well. One of the spectators made a comment complimenting my Miata saying he remembers it from before… COOL! I even got a visit from a “Mazda Santa” this time who mysteriously dropped off a few new Mazda lanyards by my tent. ALSO COOL!

My first accomplishment of the trip was finally getting to try out Biscuitville… I’ve seen their restaurants before in this area but they were always closed by the time I had free time to visit.

To my surprise Biscuitville sponsored the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race, which is nice to see. Local businesses supporting the Motorsport activity in their region.

We were extremely fortunate this weekend to be blessed with perfect weather. It wasn’t too hot or too cool. It didn’t rain. It was perfect. Our pit fire team consisted of a bunch of visiting marshals from Daytona which was very neat. Some very experienced firefighters that follow the NASCAR circuit around.

And then there was me in their midst. Good educational experience.

Nothing noteworthy happened in the pit boxes I was responsible for. But I’m happy to say it was a lot to see right in front of me from the Weathertech Series down to SCCA Pro Formula 4. And specifically the ITM sponsored Kiwi Motorsport driver that hails from the part of the North Island in New Zealand where I got my start as a marshal. It was very cool to see them in action, and even though the guy didn’t win he certainly crashed enough… as the saying goes, if you’re not crashing you’re not going fast enough. He was fast!

I already mentioned this in a previous post but for some reason the burgundy Acura NSX really caught my eye this weekend. It was easily the nicest car on the grid. And it just so happens I was manning their pit box.

The blue one looked pretty neat too… neither did particularly well unfortunately.

Big thanks to IMSA for sending out an ice cream lady with free refreshments during the big race. They did this last year too, and it was a very nice gesture at a perfect time. This was neat!

My local New Jersey dealership sponsored Lamborghini team expanded again, with the paddock growing from 3 cars to 5 now. They didn’t do so well except for one. Which I guess was good.

All the usual NC Miatas had a great race too, but a NISSAN won, which was somewhat appropriate as VIR is NISSAN sponsored track. Nevertheless I enjoyed watching them race.

I didn’t get a chance to check out the infield with all the displays and such, but I did get a chance to walk past the local SCCA region tent which had this car on display…

Figures that the local club would feel this paint job was appropriate to attract new members. But whatever.

All in all a fantastic weekend. Car was covered by an inch of dust by the time the event was over. I would love to be back again at this track… what an amazing facility. As the Radio Le Mans commentators put it, “its a very old school track, no run off areas… you make a mistake and you’re off in the grass”

Happy I was a part of this race weekend!

Grid Walk Post Card from Michelin GT Challenge Biscuitville Grand Prix IMSA at VIR

There was one car that caught my eye this race weekend at VIR: the burgundy red Acura NSX GT3 of Michael Shank Racing. I’m not a huge Honda fan or an NSX fan in general, I liked their patriotic Fourth of July liveries too, but this red wrap really stood out… and I found myself always checking up on that car… checking it out. I was lucky that since I got to work as pit fire marshal one of my responsibilities was the Acura pit box, and their hauler was parked directly across from their pit box in the paddock… so there were many glimpses of that car. But of course other cars shined bright, and while the Mazda Miata’s are showing their age, I was very happy to see them race and do fairly well over the weekend.

Lots of pix of course:

I love when they send out the ice cream lady up and down pit lane, all the crews from each pit box run to her to get cooled down lol

For a little while there exotica had taken over the GS class of IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge… now with both Mustang and Camaro in GT4 form however, they are back to dominating… beating Porsche’s, McLaren’s, et al.

My other favorite car of the weekend…. sadly it didn’t do so well either, just like the NSX

and a few uniform pix working with VIR Fire Rescue:

more to come soon…

Post Card from IMSA at VIR Michelin GT Challenge and Formula 4

Greetings from beautiful VIRginia International Raceway where IMSA has brought some of it’s best classes with support from US Formula 4 open wheelers. I’m excited to say I finally got to see F4 after a number of failed attempts in the past, and it was very exciting to see a field of 30+ cars do three races over two days. IMSA brought everything except for the Prototypes which was awesome as well as I love GT3 and GT4 machinery and all the spec-racers like Lambo’s and Porsche’s.  All in all it was fantastic!

I’ll write in more detail about my role for the weekend in another post, but here are some photos from Day 1, walking around the paddock…

So my plan was to sleep during the day and drive to VIR overnight. The sleeping part didn’t happen, and foolishly I departed for the 8 hour trip around 9pm. Twelve hours later I arrived in Danville, VA

I felt like a zombie even after stopping a few times along the way for a snooze. But first order of business after collecting my credentials and setting up my tent was to get some food at Biscuitville. I saw them on my last trip but they close at 2pm which was way earlier than I could get there in the past. This year Biscuitville actually sponsored the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. The food was delicious, I ordered a bunch of biscuit sandwiches to last me through Friday…

The others I ate in the car while watching the cars practice on track.

stay tuned for more…

Michelin GT Challenge Biscuitville Grand Prix Spotter Guides by Andy Blackmore for IMSA at VIR

Great news!

Andy Blackmore Design has released the latest spotter guides for the Michelin GT Challenge and Biscuitville Grand Prix racing this weekend at VIRginia International Raceway.

This is the event I’ll be working as a pit fire marshal and am very much looking forward to spending some quality time in hot pits.

So a few observations looking at this guide compared to the last IMSA event I worked… there’s a change for the #50 WeatherTech car… it used to be a Mercedes-AMG GT3 and now is a Porsche 911. In the Conti Series, a bunch of McLaren 720 GT4’s have been replaced by Mustang GT4’s… interesting!

I’m sure there are other changes also. I’m glad to see the same Mazda MX-5 Miata’s in the ST class.

I’m looking forward to seeing the Prestige Lamborghini’s doing well. I’ll be driving past their dealership on my way to Virginia here in Paramus, New Jersey.

2017 Official IMSA Spotter Guide

www.spotterguides.com/portfolio/17_imsa/

Thanks to Andy Blackmore for these awesome little keepsakes I get to collect at every IMSA event I participate in.

Sunday Fun Day: Ice Cream down the Jersey Shore

Perfect weather today for a little trip down the Jersey Shore for some ice cream! Of course besides my friend Bill and I, everyone else in Northern New Jersey and Southern New York had the same idea… the traffic was atrocious. Everywhere, all the time. But we followed through with it and had a great time hanging out and sampling some delicious ice cream from Charlie’s Creamery in Seaside Park, New Jersey

Originally my plans for this weekend were to volunteer with Team Pocono for the Indycar race at the tricky triangle. Unfortunately for me they did not invite me back. So I had the weekend free to have other fun in the Miata.

We met up at Cheesequake Service Area on the Garden State Parkway. I expected some traffic along the way, and there was some… lots of volume of cars on the road heading south. But when it came time to cross the bridge in Perth Amboy it was just bumper to bumper, it took me half an hour to cover 95% of my trip, and another twenty minutes to go the last two miles to the service area.

Bill was already waiting…

My plan was to continue south on the Parkway until Seaside Heights, visit one creamery and then work our way back up Ocean Avenue to the second creamery in Asbury Park before heading home. But because of traffic that plan was scrapped. So instead of getting back on the GPS, we took the local route, 35 in South Amboy towards Hazlet and Atlantic Highlands.

First stop was at the Navesink Twin Lighthouse park where the skies were so clear you could really see Manhattan and Brooklyn in the distance… no haze or humidity at all.

Part of the big backup on Route 35 before hitting the Ocean was the fact that Sandy Hook had filled up to max capacity. Everyone was waiting in line just to find out the park was closed and then sat around weighing in their other beach options.

The traffic further down the shore wasn’t any better. With pedestrian crossings every few hundred feet, most of the way we were going less than 20mph.

Hey I spotted a Holden Commodore!

The famous Windmill hot dog place…

Lots of cool cars out and about today… the weirdest thing about this Ferrari was a strong smell of burning plastic. We only followed it for a few miles at relatively low speed, but the bad smell coming off this thing was scary!

Gas prices down the shore were all over the board. It varied almost 50 cents between stations for the same grade of fuel. For whatever reason this Mobil was only $2.77 for 93 premium. Surprising!

The further south we went the less the bad the traffic got. As soon as we cleared all the towns with Boardwalks along the way, the pedestrians were less and less of an issue. And the traffic sped up. Obviously! It was a good opportunity to scout beaches to take the family to in the future.

Tons of people at the beach!

And we finally arrived… 2pm ice cream breakfast! Got a parking spot right in front of the joint…. one NJ.com highly recommended as one of the best ice cream parlors down the Jersey Shore!

Luckily the ice cream was very tasty! But since we lost a ton of time driving down here we scrapped the idea of following Ocean Ave back up… instead opting to go directly back to the Parkway and fighting the traffic there. The road was busy but not as much as it would be a few hours later when all the beach goers packed up and headed home.

It was an awesome, nearly 200 mile and $30 in fuel trip, just to get a $5.25 ice cream…

Mazda MX-5: Miata Horn Upgrade to Something a Little Louder

When I first bought my Miata it became painfully clear that most other bigger cars on the road are on the mission to kill me. Multiple times I found myself taking defensive action to avoid a pick up truck or an SUV veering into my lane, completely oblivious that I was there. My solution was to buy a dash cam so at least I would have evidence when someone runs me off the road. My buddy Bill instead opted to get a louder horn.

Today we went ahead and installed his Thompson Engineering sourced horn. The Tornado/Marco labelled model (Made in Italy) it says… looks a lot more bulkier than the puny stock horn. It was a quick and easy bolt on once we go to it by unbolting a whole bunch of plastic that packages the bumper area of the Miata nicely. At one point I was excited and a little bit worried we will have to take the whole front bumper off. But apparently there are 80+ fastening points one must remove, and I’m glad we didn’t have to resort to that. Nevertheless there were quite a few 8mm screws, 10mm screws and a bunch of plastic fasteners that had to be loosened to get to the horn.

Here’s some pix:

Bill bought the louder horn from Thompson Engineering. The kit came complete with the horn, several fuses, and all the mounting brackets, which was very easy to assemble. We made a trip to Lowe’s to pick up about 5 feet of quarter inch hose in order to route the air intake for the horn under the hood. Lots of zip ties were used to package everything nicely and it looked very factory in the end.

Beep beep!

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Trip Booked in October 2017

I’m really happy to say that the West Coast trip of 2017 has been booked. I had the privilege of participating in my first Miata’s at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca event last year followed by an exciting weekend of Pirelli World Challenge at the same facility, and this year I’m going to repeat the trip. Flights have been booked. Events registered for, the only thing left to do is find cheap accommodation.

It’s exciting!

First, I cashed in some airline miles to actually fly into Monterey (MRY) this time. No more flying to the Bay Area (SFO, OAK, SJC) and driving two hours. Instead I wanted to see the track from the air and there’s no better way than to fly into the Monterey Regional Airport which takes the final approach right over the circuit.

Second, I can’t wait to volunteer again with the organizers of Miata’s at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca event. It was such an amazing opportunity last year I couldn’t pass it up this year:  https://www.miatasatmazdaraceway.com/

Third, PWC is going to be a blast because of a potential race that may actually take place this year. I may sound a little skeptical because the SRO advertised a US round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge a year ago at COTA with a proposed 6 hour race, which never happened, and now the California 8 hour enduro is on schedule but suspiciously very little information is available about it. At the very least I think the PWC event will take place, and last year it was great fun to volunteer it. But as a fan of endurance racing I want to see this California 8 hour race happen. More importantly I love the concept of teams flying in their talent… race car drivers, engineers, crew and renting local vehicles to compete instead of flying all that machinery in with them (from Europe, Asia, Australia, etc.) The concept is cool, there are certainly plenty of PWC and IMSA teams that wouldn’t mind making some money from rentals in this way, but will it actually happen? We’ll wait and see.

I will have a few days of downtime between events, so my goal (besides finding cheap accommodation) is to find something to do from Monday to Wednesday in early October. I’ve done road trips up to San Francisco and down to Saint Luis Obispo last year. This time I’d like to do something different.

Can’t wait!

 

PS. as an avgeek I used some of my recently converted Virgin America miles to book a flight with Alaska Airways whom have absorbed VX… lucky for me, I’ll still get to fly Virgin’s A320’s.. and the routing I booked is a little crazy. I’ll do JFK-SFO on a VX A320, connecting to SFO-SAN on a VX A320, my first flight into San Diego, for absolutely no other reason than to connect to a puddle jumper Bombardier Q400 on Horizon Air to do SAN-MRY. It’s going to be fun arriving Monterey on a little propeller plane. On the way back I’ll fly United Express Canadair CRJ-200 MRY-LAX, connecting to a red-eye transcon Boeing 757 on LAX-EWR route. So many dots and lines for my flight map thanks to frequent flyer miles.

Post Race Photo Gallery from the Red Bull GRC in Atlantic City

The Red Bull Global Rallycross Atlantic City rounds 8 and 9 were everything they were cracked up to be and then some. It was my first time participating in a professional Rallycross event even though I have gotten a small taste of it at NJMP a few years ago with Rally America… but nothing could have really prepared me for what took place over the weekend. Not even Ken Block doing some Gymkhana at the opening round of V8 Supercars at Clipsal 500 in Australia, where I got to see him fling a similar Ford Focus WRC around a street course.

The sounds. The noise. The sights. The dust. The close racing. The banging and smashing of cars fighting for the same piece of tarmac. It was amazing. And I got to experience it from a very special spot where the asphalt turned into a sandy path around a 180 degree turn. It was fantastic and I’m a huge fan of GRC now.

But nobody really cares about my opinion of how cool marshaling is, people care about cars and racing, and celebrity drivers. So here’s some pix post-race. From parc ferme. The scrutineering. Post race inspection of the winning cars. Both of Supercars and Supercar Lites. It was amazing and I hope I get another chance to work this awesome event, wherever that may be!

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Special thanks to Chris for driving down to use my guest passes and to spectate, and of course take some pix for me after the race. Always nice to have a photographer on hand!

The rest of my pix were selfies. I got to work Turn 2 with awesome views of the Atlantic City skyline across the intercoastal waterway. The water got pretty busy on Sunday with a ton of boats, paddle boarders and jet skiers stopping by to watch the racing. Saturday though we had stormy and wet weather. At one point we were pulled off station because of lightning in the area.

Next day it was a different story, very sunny and dry… which of course meant massive dust clouds.

I found myself using two bandanas, both to protect my face and neck from sunburn but also to shield myself from getting sandblasted. I was only feet away from flying cars, going sideways into a corner.

Some of the dust clouds made it in on the inside of my glasses.

My area of responsibility…

They fed us well, and of course there was plenty of Red Bull on offer.

First TRUMP nuked Atlantic City, and now he’s working on a bigger picture… SAD!

On the way back North, Chris and I hit a local seafood place for some dinner… it was awful! The $15 ceviche appetizer turned out to be a plate full of cooked shrimp with some tostitos salsa in the middle. Ugh! That was probably the only downer of the weekend.

But I have nothing but praise for the Red Bull GRC event, and again I’d love to work another one of their races somewhere in the future!

Red Bull GRC Driver’s Parade on the famous Atlantic City Boardwalk

The coolest part of the whole Red Bull GRC Atlantic City weekend for me, was the driver’s parade along the Boardwalk.

Why was it so cool?

In my opinion any time the series takes it’s presence, the cars, the drivers, the ambiance out in the public and brings the show to the ordinary people… that I think is the best thing they can do to promote the sport. And I commend the Red Bull GRC folks for organizing their driver’s parade right in the heart of AC, the place where everybody goes… the Boardwalk!

Naturally, I took a million pix…

Team Red Bull Honda getting ready to leave the paddock on Bader Field for the driver’s parade on the Boardwalk.

I rushed out and found a nice parking spot a block from the Kennedy Plaza where the teams were to have an autograph session.

The Boardwalk to me brings a lot of memories. My family and I used to go to Atlantic City a lot. Especially in the summer time… back when my father had a mild gambling problem, and we all joined him to go out on the boardwalk for a slice of pizza, and some go-cart racing on the Steel pier. I got my first speeding ticket just outside of AC where the Parkway meets the Atlantic City Expressway. Good times… Although the current state of the city, and it’s major attraction is a bit sad. This place used to be packed, super crowded… and now, even the seagulls left (they used to swoop down and terrorize unsuspecting tourists, with food in their hands). But it is what it is. And I’m glad the Red Bull GRC is breathing a little life into this city. It’s worth pointing out that according to a local cop working security detail for this event, all casinos remain open except those that used to display TRUMP on their buildings. Go figure…

And then the crowds swooped in…

If the background looks familiar, you may have seen it on TV not that many moons ago… it was the venue for the Miss America pageant…

I love the fact that teams allowed spectators, especially kids, to climb in their cars and get a closer look. Get the fans involved!

There’s that 600+hp turbo east of an engine…

At most Motorsport events I focus so much on the venue and the racing I forget to check out the surrounding area. The main attraction of Atlantic City in the summer time of course is it’s beach… and while I didn’t get a chance to go for a swim, it was nice to at least walk by the water at sunset.

and take some selfies…

During the autograph session the first 100 patrons received weekend guest passes for the race along with other prizes from teams and the series. That was really neat! (and probably propped up the numbers in attendance for the weekend)

And as the sun set, it was time to get back to the paddock.

Fin