All posts by Russ

Porsche Club of America at Watkins Glen

Club events have got to be my least favorite volunteering experiences because they tend to be pretty boring. Granted its not always the case but more often than not its the case. This time I was on my first visit to the Glen. I joined RSI – Race Services Incorporated in order to volunteer the 6hr endurance Rolex Grand Am race, but before I could be considered I had to audition. This was the only weekend I had open to go to Watkins Glen.

I used the opportunity to CouchSurf again and found an amazing host whom I hung out with part of the weekend. There was a neat cardboard regatta held at Seneca Lake of which she was a part so it was very much fun in that respect.

I am however looking forward to the actual race which is just around the corner.

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F1 Grand Prix du Canada au Montréal

I did not go to Canada to volunteer, because even that is considered working and will result in a lengthy search of your vehicle at the border followed by a thorough interrogation. Leaving your marshal gear in the trunk is probably the strongest case against you but its not illegal to go watch the race while staying with friends in Montreal, and I had a blast watching the race up close… my third F1 GP this season.

Now thanks to the aforementioned friends I was able to have a wonderful time hanging out with all the international marshals Thursday evening at Hurley’s Pub on Rue Crescent. Will Buxton made an appearance and raffled off a bunch of stuff including my donation of a Mark Webber photo book I picked up at the Australian GP. An enjoyable evening.

Friday, the only day when it rained, I found myself closest to turn 8. Saturday was the most interesting at turn 14 above the infamous wall of champions and Sunday at the quiet turn 4A though on a hot and sunny day it was perfect there in the shade. Now if I were to volunteer there as my Canadian twin-cousin did, I’d enjoy the experience greatly because unlike other F1 events in Canada everything goes through rotation. Each of the three days teams get moved around from turn to turn so you are never stuck at one position for the entire weekend. Teams themselves rotate also, so even though one might find themselves on one international team, the members rotate to different turns based on some assignment criteria. Furthermore, within the team marshals rotate through various roles. For example one may be on comms for a support race, switch to yellow or blue flag during another race, go on recovery for F1 to be activated for a debris run, and so on. All roles were absolutely fantastic and give you an unprecedented experience you won’t get anywhere else.

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So Canada, merci! See you again next year

Chevrolet Belle Isle Grand Prix in Detroit

I’ve been blessed with good luck the past few months because even after realizing I had missed registration by several weeks I was graciously accepted to participate in the Belle Isle Detroit Grand Prix. It was a great deal of fun not just for the racing, but specifically because of the type of series represented in the races as well as an opportunity for me to do some flying which I absolutely love.

The pieces slowly fell into place after I got my acceptance e-mail. As luck would have it an email from Southwest Airways followed with a neat 35% discount coupon and the dates of travel I selected were actually the cheapest in that week! A quick e-mail to a Michigan buddy that I haven’t seen since Woodward Dream Cruise many years ago took care of the accommodation and some hocus pocus with Hertz allowed me to have a rental for the duration of my stay in Detroit for a fraction of what it normally costs. I love when things just happen right.

Upon arrival things continued smoothly, got a nice Chevy Sonic to test drive for a few days, collected my credentials, got some new SCCA patches, etc. Friday’s practice was wet but with my New Zealand wet weather gear I was fully prepared. Saturday was perhaps the best day, sunny and warm and Grand Am kicked ass. It was the main attraction for me and as far as I was concerned that was the feature race, though I realized later that IndyCar was meant to trump it. But it didn’t. On race day Sunday track started falling apart especially after the World Challenger cars had their way with it (and boy did they rip it apart, I and my fellow flaggies were pelted with tiny rocks from the asphalt all weekend) that wasn’t much fun getting hit in the face all the time.

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Meeting some new marshals was one of the highlights of my trip, especially the internationals from Canada. But hanging out with my friends was even better. The day after the races I had an opportunity to finally visit the Henry Ford museum, it was neat. Shortly after I drove across the tunnel into Canada to take a closer look at Windsor, Ontario and had an excellent time. Quick flight home, had my father do a tune up on the Impala and now I’m all ready for Montreal. Here we go!

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It rained a lot, so here’s the obligatory wet weather gear pic.

Trans Am at Lime Rock

My fourth event in just a month how awesome. This Memorial Day weekend I’m at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut for their Trans Am series of racing. Ironically no racing on Sunday for a number of reasons including a small church nearby objecting to noise. So for the longest time there hasn’t been any racing on Sunday, and this year no racing on Monday either even though it has been traditionally a host to events as a public holiday. Tough times?

The weekend started awkwardly, my first time working with other Northern New Jersey SCCA members and the first reaction to my participation was “How did you get into this?” continued with “we don’t let our members in major events for at least three years.” Pretty harsh ain’t it? Reminded me why I didn’t get involved at home sooner, thank goodness I’m good enough for Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.

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Once the racing was under way it was an absolute blast. Lime Rock nestled in a mountainous region between New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut is the greenest track I’ve ever been to. It was absolutely excellent. While the track is short and narrow there was plenty of action at both station 2 and 10 where I was positioned for the two days as a flag marshal… err corner worker. All in all it was a great success and I’m looking forward to returning there regularly. I also used an opportunity to make some new friends through CouchSurfing so it will be a very meaningful trip next time I go.

Stay tuned for Detroit’s Belle Isle Grand Prix next week.

Rally America rallycross at NJMP

At last I got an opportunity to participate in rallycross. New Jersey Motorsports Park hosted Rally America and its field of rally cars everything from old Dodge Neon to a Ford Mustang and of course a few Mitsubishi Evo Lancer’s and Subaru WRX’s.

The fields were quite small, with two to five cars per heat. But it was exciting to watch. I guess we got lucky because the wind was in our favor, but the photographers closer to the turn were getting nice clouds of dust every time the cars went by.

The day before rallycross I got to work the Bertil Roos racing school class on NJMP Lightning track. As boring as it was to watch, apparently the perks of participating are some seat time behind the wheel of their racing cars. An incentive that would be attractive to some, but kind of useless for me. Oh well… next event is Trans Am at Lime Rock Park.

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Travel plans for the Detroit Belle Isle GP

I love when pieces fall into place. On my few recent road trips I noticed that trusty Impala has been running a bit warm, so naturally the 1,300 mile round trip to Detroit was a bit of a worry. Well not any more.

Thanks to a nice 35% off select last minute flights from Southwest Airlines and a generous $30 discount on weekend rentals from Hertz, I’ve made alternate plans that should take the worry out of this 12 hour each way journey. Plus as an airline enthusiast I get to put two more dots on a map with visits to Chicago’s Midway and Baltimore airports enroute.

A good source for travel deals that I often rely on is FlyerTalk.com

Rolex Grand Am at New Jersey Motorsports Park

I think I just attended the pinnacle of motorsport venues at my local track, the Rolex Grand Am series at New Jersey Motorsports Park. What a fantastic event, I can’t even begin to describe what a blast I had.

As luck would have it, one of my many e-mails to various SCCA members put me in contact with some Millville locals who just happen to be very much involved with operations at NJMP. Not only did they invite me to spend the weekend at their house but they very much took me under their wing for the event itself. I even had the luck to make station captain – an honor though not something I wanted to do yet when there were so many corner marshals with careers spanning a longer period of time than I’ve been alive.

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Nevertheless the racing itself was top notch. Many incidents, many cars and a lot of fun watching the action from the best seat in the house: on track.

BFGoodrich SCCA Super Tour

SCCA’s DLB Racing web site: http://www.dlbracing.com/ listed this event as the first possible option to register once I arrived back in New Jersey. And I did. I’ve been to Summit Point Motorsport Park in West Virginia before as a spectator for the Cannonball One Lap of America tour, but this time was my first attempt working there, and I had a blast.

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The event was well organized and I learned a lot from my team mates at Sector 5. There was much to learn as SCCA rules seem to differ from International rules in SG or NZ. For one we did not have a green flag on point, instead there was a black one. None of the flags were waived, except in case the track was blocked. And all marshals rotated through various positions on point from blue flag to communications, even fire/rescue positions on the other side of the track stationed with a fire extinguisher. It was then I got a bit nervous I hadn’t memorized the hand signals yet.

Regardless it was an amazing experience and I certainly will be back. It was also a great trip to CouchSurf. I spent the night across the border in Virginia only 8 miles away from the track with a wonderful couple that treated me to dinner and a great conversation. As usual it was a good opportunity to source some cheaper goods, like cigarettes for my dad which were more than half the price per carton compared to New Jersey. And fuel was cheaper in Virginia compared to West Virginia.

Next event is in Milville, New Jersey at the New Jersey Motorsport Park.