All posts by Russ

Media from ALMS at Lime Rock

I was introduced to David Wilkes of RaceShotsResource at NJMP, the guy was really cool coordinating a video shoot for Rally America at the Lightning rallycross course. Well, the Kicker sponsored ambulance of Wilkes was present at Lime Rock Park this weekend, and he captured some decent shots of me in action:

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check out David Wilkes photos at: https://www.facebook.com/RaceShotsResource

Northeast Grand Prix – ALMS at Lime Rock Park

I had no idea what to expect with the American Le Mans Series running the Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut. I can’t say I get nervous anymore, even with Formula 1 now things are pretty calm and cool, but there was a bit of anxiety… if that’s the right word to use. Le Mans series of course is what I grew up watching in Ukraine as a child. From what I’ve heard before its a more advanced series than the Rolex Grand Am. The reality however was somewhat of mixed feelings.

In the end it was a relatively low key event. Sure it had the celebrity clout and the army of camera people following the action, but the field consisted of only 29 cars. Prototype 1 class or LMP1 only had 3 cars… similar fields for LMP2. The Prototype Challenge or LMPC was about on par speed-wise with the faster GT cars, so blue flagging was interesting but very exciting at that. Getting used to the classes made me guess a few times, but it worked out.

For Friday’s practice I was at station 8 or for the purpose of ALMS “the uphill” where a chicane was used at the bottom of the hill. To my surprise many of the GT and GTC class cars were actually pulling away from the LMPC cars that were nearly side by side with them at the bottom of the hill before the chicane. Luckily on raceday I was at “pit entry” which is Lime Rock station 12… or basically the main straight after the downhill. A station I worked before and a fantastic spot to blue flag from.

The race finished under double-yellow/caution as a Patrón Ferrari smashed into the tire wall at the bottom of the hill. So both days of the event I was at a corner that had lots of action. Great times, some excellent new contacts made like Maurice from the Netherlands and the owner of ORANGEMEN.NL web site… my future source for European marshalling opportunities I expect. Being at pit entry put me smack in the middle of the grid action and great photo ops with the grid girls. Next stop Mosport in Canada.  Stay tuned for more. Here are some pix:

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PS. almost forgot… got to push Patrick Dempsey’s LMP2 from main straight into the pit lane and down to tech inspection after the prototype ran out of fuel at the end of the race.

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Pro Photos courtesy of David Wilks: RaceShotsResource.com

Sahlen’s 6hr at the Glen, Rolex Grand Am

WOW! What a freaking weekend. Not only was it long… 4 days, 4 stations, and a 6 hour endurance race, my longest one yet. It was very intense and exciting! I love it.

I was a bit bummed out that I decided to follow Grand Am to Watkins Glen after flagging one of their races at NJMP, especially since ARCA was having a pro event there which paid corner workers for their help. But boy am I glad I came. Not only because ARCA at NJMP experienced a blackout due to the intense heat, but because Grand Am did not disappoint with the level of excitement and intensity.

I became a member of Race Services Incorporated since Watkins Glen doesn’t really use SCCA folks opting for their own special group of volunteers. And after visiting them a few weeks ago for the Porsche Club meeting I was amazed how quickly they trusted me to be on my own. Thursday I was solo at Station 9 at the entrance to the famous Boot. Friday I was at Station 5 the straight at the exit of the Esses, an excellent blue flagging station. Saturday I was corner captain at Station 3 which was supposed to be quiet, but with my fellow flagger getting sick, and several major impacts just before my station that I had to call in because Station 2 had no direct visual of the area thanks to the campers set up on the infield, it was amazing. For race day I was in my favorite location yet, at Station 17 just before the main straight for start/finish. The very last corner with me on blue flag was sweet!

I will definitely head back to the famous Watkins Glen International, it is all its cracked up to be, and then some.

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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.