The two week road trip to California and Texas went off without a glitch, I got to volunteer for two amazing racing series, all while sticking to a shoestring budget.
First, the American Le Mans series at Mazda Laguna Seca was one of the most amazing experiences ever, especially since I got to work the famous Corkscrew turn. I was stationed atop turn 8 leading into the Corkscrew which meant I had plenty of opportunity to blue flag, especially the fast approaching Prototypes and equally exciting GT class. While we had no major incidents, there were a number of spins and some tight passes, few spraying us with gravel as the cars went extra close to the station.
Second, the V8Supercars at the Circuit of the Americas was the inaugural weekend for the Australian series making its debut in the US. I was stationed at turn 19 one of the last corners before chequered flag and we had a ton of great passing happening. Got to call in a hard impact with fire for one of the support races, where one Porsche GT3 Cup got rammed by another setting it in flames. Got to finally visit the Austin 360 tower overlooking the whole of COTA.
Excellent two weeks that I wished wouldn’t end so quickly.
Some costs involved since everyone always asks… flights from Newark, NJ to San Jose, CA; San Francisco, CA to Austin, TX and back to Newark, NJ were approximately 20k Southwest points plus $15 tax… five car rentals, three in California costing $31 for the first day Ford Fiesta at Thrifty SJC, $70 for 4 days in a Kia Rio at Hertz SJC; $47 for the last day in a Ford Focus at Thrifty SJC (would have been $26 if I didn’t pay extra to drop it off at SFO). $89 for the first two days in Austin for a Nissan Versa followed by $70 for four days in a VW Passat at Hertz HLE. Cost me more for car rentals than I anticipated, but it was a necessary evil.
PS. CALTEX road trip not to be confused with CALTEX petroleum common in Asia Pacific
Posted in Circuit of the Americas Austin, Laguna Seca, USA
Tagged ALMS, American Le Mans Series, Austin, Australian V8 Supercars, CA, California, Circuit of the Americas Austin, Laguna Seca, Mazda Laguna Seca, Monterey, Texas, TX, V8supercars
Being a latecommer to this hobby has its drawbacks, by the time I come up with an idea someone is already doing it. Take for example my friend Chris – the ‘Superbunny’ and his hat mounted GoPro camera. While I have been debating whether or not I could reasonably do it, he showed me today that it can be done and the results are awesome. Chris showed me some raw footage from Sebring, Long Beach and Petit Le Mans.
Amazing flagging, and track marshal footage for training
The look of even an older GoPro video is amazing, watching the footage has a feel of a video game which could be a perfect tool to shoot training videos with like we used in classroom modules in Singapore. Still photos are also possible and look far better than what I take with my phone while keeping your hands free.
The V8′s races today were uneventful but fun, blue flag got a fantastic workout for World Challenge. Snuck in on station wearing orange making it easier for my Aussie friends to spot me on TV. Looking forward to more!
I’m seriously impressed and somewhat jealous of my buddy Jessie Lynn from Sponsoraflagger.com for achieving great success with her t-shirt project. Having had a chance to hang out over dinner today post V8′s practice at Cota, and infinety teasing her about the number of t-shirt sales it took to get her there, I am very proud of her and all she has accomplished in such a short time frame.
Jessie from sponsoraflagger.com
While I have been failing miserably trying to seek deals in Asia or the Pacific to get something going, she has gone out and done a smart thing. While in contrast my greed to get things done cheaply to reap bigger rewards got me nowhere.
Inaugural V8Supercars weekend in Texas
World Challenge AMG SLS sporting Jessie’s stickers
I am most impressed with Jessie’s ability to run her web site stickers on race cars for major events like this weekend, where all I’ve done is merely sneak in to pose with the damn cars. Much can be learned from this example… and I should do something sooner rather than later. I can’t deny however that I am just having the time of my life being a participating spectator…
Greetings from COTA here for the Aussie V8′s
Beautiful Texas weather, sunny and very hot.
Getting to the paddock was an adventure, SCCA said we could while track security had other ideas. I managed to sneak in while Jessie Lynn had to get a ticket.
I snapped some great pix on pit lane shared on facebook. Looking forward to this weekend.
My first Laguna Seca experience was simply outstanding. Got to play at the corkscrew standing mere feet away from the speeding cars, lots of spins, and plenty of flagging.
Got to also meet some friends and make new ones.
Looking forward to my return in September just before Singapore.
Woo Hoo, I’m working the Corkscrew at Laguna Seca for ALMS Monterey.
Lots of blue flag… I’m excited!
On my way home from the Phillipines earlier this year Raziff and Russell surprised me at Changi Airport by taking me out to a quick dinner I organized. And after sharing my experiences from the seven back to back races in Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia, Raziff asked for a little write up… which he just published to the 1,200 Singapore GP marshals volunteering for the 2013 season. Massive thanks to Raziff for the shout-out!
Looking forward to the Singapore trip this September… not just for the GP, but for the amazing food of Southeast Asia and another R&R visit to Malaysia and Thailand.
I was a bit on the fence about going to Summit Point for the SCCA Majors this weekend, not so much because I didn’t want to go, but more so because of my limited transportation options at the moment (too many broken cars in the driveway). But I bit the bullet and said screw it, jumped in the Jeep and went… thanks to a little encouragement from my buddy Tim and a timely reminder from another friend Richard.
The drive down was quite excellent actually, since I was babying the Jeep I stuck to the speed limit, well… actually 60mph which was well below the speed limit south of the Mason Dixon line. Got great gas mileage and arrived at the track just in time for registration. Another beautiful part about using the Jeep, with the rear seats folded down, it was my camping spot for the weekend, and with a bunch of blankets and pillows – a comfortable one at that. But enough about the car and the road trip. The racing was COOL!
This being a National event, some of the best regional drivers came out to put the pedal to the metal. They didn’t disappoint. The racing was remarkably clean, but you’d expect it to be considering pretty much all the competitors own their own vehicles and causing a spectacular crash is a big hit on the wallet. Though we did have several good crashes at my station. Everyone walked away but tempers flared. Had to whistle and yell at one driver at the top of my lungs because he kept on coming close to the track’s edge after he was crashed out signalling profanities at the driver that caused the incident.
My station for the weekend was a bird cage between turns 3 and 5. A fantastic blue flagging spot that was advertised as a great black flag station, though we only used the meatball once. I’m glad I got to switch my station assignments with my buddy Tim, because the original station I was assigned to was quite crowded and relied on a busy rotation focusing a lot on working safety rather than flagging. Instead I had a great conversation with an experienced corner worker from the Nelson’s Ledges track region, that had a lot of funny stories to share.
Camping at the track also meant hanging out with all the corner workers after the racing, and having CouchSurfed before every time I visited Summit Point, its an experienced I got for the first time. Tim was sporting his cool new Sponsor A Flagger t-shirt from Jessie, and we got to walk around the paddock chatting up various competitors which was all very down to earth. All in all, a great weekend!
With a lot of speculation up in the air lately I am really looking forward to the possibility of volunteering for my first Formula 1 Grand Prix of Thailand… or perhaps the Red Bull Thai Grand Prix -Krating Daeng GP. Whatever they decide to call it for 2015 I want to be there!
I’ve been to Thailand quite a few times now, mainly visiting the island of Phuket but also Koh Phi Phi, Krabi and Bangkok. While I don’t travel as a sex tourist or even a party tourist, I do enjoy the beautiful tropical beaches, the exotic food and generally laid back atmosphere. So what better way to spend a Grand Prix than volunteering in this amazing and exotic country? (in the chaos of Bangkok?) I just hope it one day becomes a reality. Thailand is known for its very strict foreigner labor laws, etc. but I’m sure when there’s a will, there would be a way to do the volunteering legally, perhaps with the help of Singapore GP.
Keeping fingers crossed Thai GP becomes a reality for me!
Sometimes I wish I lived closer to a racetrack, or at least paid better attention of when things are happening. Friday night noticed a post about an endurance race happening at NJMP, early Saturday morning headed out there to volunteer for the race! Sweet!
Of course having arrived unregistered I had to pay at the gate, $15+NJ tax admission, which was reimbursed at the registration meeting. Weird how they make you pay for volunteering especially for such a lowly attended event, but boy was it great. I have become quite fond of any endurance races, and this 12 hour 44 car entry race was excellent even when half the field were Mazda Miata’s and the other half was older Bimmers.
Didn’t take many photos at this race, but below is one of my favorites:
A little bit of weirdness for this race. Was initially stationed at turn 11, which I have worked before and is quite an interesting turn but you’re very much isolated from the world being on the inside of the track. But for some reason moved to turn 2 which was also action packed working with a very pleasant gentleman I’ve worked with before at Lime Rock, so I was quite happy. The other weird thing had to do with race cars… after blowing an engine first one car and then another entered the race from the paddock replacing the stricken car. I’ve never seen endurance races feature replacement cars before. All in all it was an excellent day and I’m looking forward to coming back next year: http://www.thedevilinthedark.com/