If you think marshal invitations for Lone Star Le Mans & Petit Le Mans are early, you haven’t gotten an invite for 2017 yet… mine showed up a few days ago from Australia. The Bathurst 12 hour race is in February of 2017 but V8 Supercars or just Supercars are already recruiting!
Having done it twice, I highly recommend this event!
What is it; Bathurst 12h
When is it: February 3-5, 2017
Where is it:Mount Panorama Circuit, Bathurst, NSW, Australia
Who’s recruiting: Supercars
Who will be there: Australian GT + multiple international entries. Typical support races include production cars which are 1970’s style HQ Holden taxis, Northern Muscle Club from Australia bring their vintage Trans Am cars, etc.
How to get there? Fly into Sydney (SYD) and take the 4 hour drive to Bathurst. Public transport is possible with train connections in Lithgow, but I’d recommend hiring a car instead. Alternatively you can probably go on Flag Marshals of the World and bum a ride from a local… I’ve rented a car in 2013 and mooched a ride in 2016.
Where to stay? The cheapest place: Mt Panorama campground. The camping is shared with spectators but is pretty close to the Marshal Mustering tent, with convenient access to the track and stations. In the past I also used CouchSurfing to stay in the surrounding area. But camping is convenient (as much as I dislike it).
Hey remember that new Intercontinental GT Challenge series?
After volunteering Spa 24 hour in Belgium I’ve been obsessing about all things SRO, for a variety of reasons. One of the better ones being the quality of race cars participating in their events. This was true at Sepang 12 hour a few months ago, another event SRO decided to work together with SIC to put together and bring to the world. The SRO partnership with V8 Supercars, the new owners of Australian GT that runs the Bathurst 12 hour race around Mount Panorama was officially the season opener of the new series.
The event didn’t disappoint.
While the fields were smaller than the previous few years, the quality of racing improved in my opinion. There were fewer incidents including major ones at the top of the mountain like last year’s massive Nissan GT-R impact. The few incidents that did occur were relatively minor and many of them happened to happen right in front of me at Post 23, the very last corner before the main straight. I was so lucky to be assigned this spot, words can’t describe. The race set several records, including the fastest time for a GT3 car as well as the most laps done in 12 hours with fewer safety car periods compared to previous years.
Another lucky thing for me was the fact that a Kiwi driver took the victory in a Kiwi car: Shane Van Gisbergen driving the #59 McLaren. Coincidentally the next stop on my road trip was New Zealand.
The views from my post were absolutely awesome, both looking upstream and downstream. Though I did find myself having a lot of trouble with the Blue flag. More than once I managed to blue flag the wrong cars and that pissed me off, especially since I thought I knew these cars pretty well. Luckily we had the positioning tower directly across from us in pit lane, so after kicking myself with the first few mistakes I would glance over at the tower to see what order the cars should be running in and if the two were close enough I went ahead and blue flagged for the leaders.
The other disappointment wasn’t so much in the race as with the organizers. V8 Supercars decided not to allow the groups of owners holding a car show on the outside of the track to do a parade lap during the lunch break like they did in previous years. Instead they gave all the track time to a few Ferrari owners that for some unknown reasons thought they were race car drivers. I saw one guy wearing bright red racing gloves in his new Ferrari 488, while also wearing a short sleeve shirt. It was a bit upsetting to me personally because I was eagerly looking forward to jumping into one of the many MX-5’s that showed up to the event specifically with the understanding they were going to do a parade lap, a lap that never happened. Go figure!
Luckily there was a lot going on trackside to let me get over the missed opportunity of riding shotgun in an MX-5 around Mount Panorama. Besides a few spins and beached cars in our sand trap we had a few side to side, metal to metal contacts occur. As well as an exploded engine that happened just before the post as the car proceeded to cruise into our runoff. It was something else really, watching an old V8 Supercars Marlboro livery Holden Commodore blow an engine and a massive fireball coming around the car from the bottom of the front end. It was pretty amazing, something I haven’t seen happen so closely and vividly before.
The true highlight of the event for me was the people I had the pleasure of spending the time with. The team I was paired with at Post 23 was pretty amazing. Our post chief was really down to earth, positive and helpful. When I talked to him about my Gout flare up, he was very understanding. As was the rest of the team. Our communicator Dave runs a Mazda related web site called OZMazda which was cool. And a young girl from Queensland marshaling at Bathurst with her father who was posted at the next station gave me a hand with a bunch of incident reports I had to write as many of them happened on my watch while holding the radio in our rotation. Which by the way was actually an old American landline system using the same exact box we use at most street circuits including Long Beach, Baltimore and Belle Isle. The hum coming out of the headset was unmistakable.
Huge thanks to my friend Paul Kelly from Victoria for organizing my sleeping arrangements at Bathurst by not only providing a tent, sleeping bag and pillows, but also setting it all up for me and helping tear it down in the end. That was such a huge help! Also big thanks to Paul for driving me and the rest of our group to town every evening after track activities were over, all these delicious meals we had were thanks to his initiative to get us some real food (off track).
I got lucky on so many levels working this year’s Bathurst 12 hour. The weather was amazing, it started out a little cool but towards the end of the week I was frying in direct sunlight, it was literally burning thru my jeans. The post assignment was perfect. The team I worked with was super. And all the friends I got to catch up with over the four day visit really makes me miss the whole experience already, can’t wait to return to Australia again… hopefully next time I’ll get to do something completely new like one of the street races around Gold Coast… hmm!
When I decided to volunteer for the Bathurst 12 hour again, it was hard to contain my excitement through every step of the process, from planning to finally travelling there. And I have to admit that everything went exactly as planned, which made the trip that much more perfect.
One of the highlights of being at Bathurst 12h was being able to make the short walk from the campsite in the middle of the track to the paddock area and the pits where all the exotic machinery was being prepped for practice the following day. If you’re a fan of all the amazing GT3 race cars like I am, it was an awesome sight to see: the Bentley’s, the McLaren’s, Ferrari’s and Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS’s, the Porsche’s and some oddities like MARC Cars Australia Ford’s and Mazda’s as well as the new Cayman GT4 and Daytona.
So without further ado, here are some shots:
Even the Safety Car and Course Cars were kitted up Benzes and Lexuses that you don’t normally see trackside.
I had such a blast checking out all the garages, which by the way stayed open to the general public throughout the event. Even some late nights as we were driving back from dinner in town we could see spectators checking out the mechanics hard at work on the cars. Driving along the main straight to get to the campsite was a rather unique experience you don’t get at other circuits.
Another trip of a lifetime is in the books! Although I shouldn’t call it “lifetime” because I know sooner or later I’ll be departing on other one. In fact with an amazing trip of a lifetime just a few months ago to Southeast Asia, I would call this the trip of the year, or at the very least trip of the month: February 2016!
This post will be a brief overview: a debrief, of the trip overall followed by a number of specific posts about the individual events I’ve marshaled, the experiences I had hanging out with the local MX5 clubs and catching some sun in some very exotic places as part of the vacation that tied this trip together. I had such a blast!
To start, I flew to Australia via Hawai’i. And unlike my first visit there a few years ago after Korean Grand Prix, I decided to get off the plane at Honolulu and actually spend the night in Waikiki Beach. The Polynesian theme for the rest of the trip truly began there. Besides enjoying an amazing sunset that I shared with a few folks at home via Facetime, I got to experience some of the local cuisine just outside of the touristy area. I loved it!
Of course an overnight stay in Paradise wasn’t enough, at all! But it was just a start to my South Pacific adventure. I’m kind of glad I broke the trip in half because some of these longer flights of 10+ hours have started getting to me, tiring me out completely. This time I was travelling with an extra handicap I hadn’t encountered on previous trips. I had a flare up of Gout Arthritis just a few days before leaving and my right foot was in terrible pain, something akin to walking on glass. The pain wouldn’t really go away for the entire trip but since I couldn’t do much about it I just learned to live with it.
Next stop: Sydney! The flight arrived in the early evening and after a quick clearance at Immigration I headed to the CBD to get some sleep before heading out for Bathurst early the next morning. Like Waikiki I decided to stay in a hostel near Central station for convenience and it worked out really well for me.
In the morning I managed to arrange a lift with someone from the MX-5 community in Sydney. It’s really nice to see how close the Miata community is to Motorsport and specifically marshaling. The lady who’s car I got to check out on my first day in Australia volunteers as a Steward while her son is a flag marshal, who was kind enough to let me tag along for the two hour drive to Mount Panorama. While I could have taken the train all the way to town, I found it far more interesting to have some company along the way. It was especially interesting when we were on the hunt for Meat Pies for lunch while passing through Lithgow. That’s where I spotted something I really wanted to see on my trip, a Miata trailer. The owner drove past us as we parked up near the bakery and while he was stopped on a red light I tried to snap a fuzzy shot of his car.
I will talk about my experiences at Bathurst 12 hour and Mount Panorama in a separate post but suffice to say it was an interesting experience. While it wasn’t my first visit there, it was definitely a little different from before. For the first time I camped right at the track. A fellow Aussie marshal Paul from Victoria was kind enough to supply me with a comfortable tent, some pillows and a sleeping bag, which helped a lot so I didn’t have to drag all that stuff with me. Not only that he was our designated driver taking a whole group of us out to dinner in town every night, which was fantastic. It was the first time I consistently stuffed my face with proper Australian food including roast lamb and a variety of other local pub dishes.
After the event I headed back to Sydney for a few more nights in a CBD hostel. I had a few things planned but the stay was way too short. Luckily I did manage to squeeze in a lunch at Bondi Beach which I was really looking forward to as well as a nice MX-5 cruise from Kirribilli to Balmoral Beach with a meeting spot just under the Sydney Harbour Bridge which was pretty spectacular. So many cars showed up! I was pleasantly surprised and very humbled to see so many owners give up their weeknight for a little cruise along the Northern Sydney suburbs for some fish and chips. Again I will write more about it later but I can’t express my gratitude enough to have had this opportunity!
Next stop: Auckland! A short hop and skip over the ditch (as they refer to the Tasman Sea) and I was in New Zealand. The flight arrived after midnight and I was off to my hostel in the CBD. Early next morning another MX-5 meetup awaited me, and after a short 4 hour sleep I was in a beautiful JDM-import Roadster heading to Papakura for my next adventure which I’ll describe in it’s own post. In a way it was another Fish & Chips run but this one lasted for over 300km visiting some scenic and twisty roads across the entire Northern Island from West (Waihu) to East (Coromandel Peninsula).
As if this incredible two car road trip (as I jumped out from one car to the other at every stop we made), couldn’t get any better – it did! The day ended on a boat in Auckland Harbour where we had a nice dinner joining another MX-5 owner while he and his family celebrated the mum’s birthday. This was my first time on the water on the North Island something I was putting away until later while living in Auckland and never actually following through with, until now. It was really amazing.
Believe it or not I actually got to marshal while in New Zealand. It was only a one day meeting for Auckland Car Club at Hampton Downs but I certainly got my money’s worth with plenty of spins and spills on Turn 2 where I was lucky enough to work. It was such a good pleasure to catch up with a bunch of people whom I started my marshaling with while living in New Zealand a few years ago. And it was nice to see the improvements done and are currently ongoing to Hampton Downs under Tony Quinn’s ownership.
Besides Hampton Downs, Anna Scott – who hosted me for the weekend, took me to Pukekohe Raceway Park and showed me the improvements done there after Aussie V8 Supercars moved to their event there from the streets of Hamilton. I had such an incredible time I’ll have to write more about it in another post.
Although I had already spent two weeks on the road which seemed to have gone by in a flash, I still had one more exotic stop on this incredible journey: Rarotonga in the Cook Islands! I was really looking forward to this visit because it was something I planned to do while living in New Zealand back in 2012. Now the dream came true. I didn’t know what to expect but the reality surprised me in a very pleasant way. The tiny island of Rarotonga was very clean, friendly and welcoming for my visit. The resort I booked (my first stay in a proper hotel on this trip after all the hostels in Hawaii, Sydney and Auckland I decided to splurge and pamper myself) was fantastic. I got to tour the island, sample some delicious Polynesian food and completely relax on the pristine beaches with baby blue water crashing over the corals just off shore. What an experience!
The trip home at the end of this vacation took me back through Auckland where I was a total zombie while shopping for souvenirs to take home. Luckily I was able to meet up with friends for lunch and dinner and that kept me awake long enough for some much needed sleep on my 11 hour flight back to LAX.
Huge thanks to all the people that helped me along on this trip. I couldn’t have done this without you!
All of my hobbies are bound to converge when I arrive in Australia in a few weeks. I love to travel, and I’m getting an opportunity to do so flying to Sydney via Hawaii. I love Motorsport and the Bathurst 12h race is giving me an excuse to go to Australia. I love local foodie experiences and there will be plenty of them at the track. And I love meeting other MX-5 owners, and to my surprise there’s a good number of them in Sydney area and NSW at large.
I was lucky to come across a post from the local MX-5 Club in NSW inviting it’s members to come out and enjoy a weekend of racing at Mount Panorama for the Bathurst 12h…. what a coincidence that I’ll be there? Now I could plan my schedule so my free time is spent chasing after the local Miata owners and making new friends!
If you are local to NSW and for some weird reason not a member of their community yet (what? come on… how could that be?) consider joining the group and making your way to Bathurst to watch some cool cars go racing as well as a big group of fellow MX-5 owners hang out together. I know I’m looking forward to this the most!
Well aint’ that something…. I got a birthday card e-mail from the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport, probably the nicest thing anyone in this marshaling hobby has done for me on an ASN level. Good on you CAMS, and Thank You!
We heard it’s your birthday this month…
To celebrate your birthday this month the CAMS Shop would like to offer you a special birthday offer: a 10% discount on all purchases over $20.
To redeem this offer, simply enter your own unique code: (want the code? ask me, I’ll share) at the shopping cart screen of the CAMS shop, before the 30th of September.
This code can only be used once, and cannot be used in conjunction with any other discounts or special offers. Stand 21 Club Series HANS Device and Stand 21 Posts also excluded.
From all of us here at CAMS, we wish you a very happy birthday.
The CAMS shop
Granted, this is a marketing e-mail, obviously encouraging me to buy stuff from the CAMS shop. And the offer of 10% off is a big deal, Aussies aren’t often as generous as America is with it’s frequent discounts. But I’m quite impressed with their effort to keep the organization relevant in my mind, they keep reminding me that CAMS exists even though they know that I’m an international member and that I live on the other side of the world.
My home ASN, the SCCA couldn’t give two fucks that I exist. No birthday wishes from them. No invitation to marshal local events at Lime Rock, NJMP or elsewhere (except the personal invite from Jessie to help out at Palmer Motorsports Park with the New England Region). Nope, nothing of the sort… except they’re quick to send repeated e-mails reminders when my fucking $95 annual membership (or $65 now that I’m with Guam region) is due. Greedy fucks! I’m sure I’ve offended them deeply by speaking out about the lack of training, sure I did. So the obvious solution is not to offer the fucking training, but to pretend that I don’t exist and that I am no longer welcome in their club, except of course for that time when the membership fees are due, they’re still very happy to take my money… ugh!
I wish I lived in Australia again… that was some of the best time of my life and you don’t even have to pay a membership fee to be a part of CAMS… imagine that!
1st: I wish to express my gratitude to my buddy Joey in Singapore for designing the Marshal Cam patches which I have recently re-ordered to distribute to marshals that participate in my interviews about their volunteering experiences.
2nd: I will have both versions of the patch with me at the following events to distribute to marshals that wish to participate in my interviews:
WEC 6h of the Americas at COTA in September
Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in October
Sepang 12h – Malaysia in December
Bathurst 12h – Australia in February
Auckland Car Club – New Zealand in February
3rd: If I am not at an event near you and you’d really like to get a patch for your collection, you are welcome to buy one or many. Just get in touch about pricing and shipping charges and we could set up a package for you in no time.
The patches cost me $400 USD for 400 pieces. My break even point is to sell 100 patches at $4 USD apiece (or more at a cheaper price). Plus shipping and handling charges which killed me the last time I mailed out a ton of the original Marshal Cam patches, paying for everything out of my own pocket.
I am going through serious withdrawal right now, my last event was NASCAR at Watkins Glen in early August and it’s been a month without any volunteering whatsoever. So I’m eager to get back to the race track. I’m also very much looking forward to traveling again. Especially to my trip back to Southeast Asia!
For any of you on the list of stops above I’ll be sure to have patches with me if you’d like to meet over lunch or dinner and catch up about marshaling in your neck of the woods. I’m sure that besides my right hand drive Miata exploits in Bangkok, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur I’ll be hanging out with some marshal friends too.
Again, huge thanks to Joey in Singapore for designing these awesome patches, they look fantastic!
The original Red, White and Blue design resembles the American Interstate system sign. While the Green and Yellow design resembles the Australian Interstate system sign. They were designed specifically for my trip to Bathurst in February of next year, and I’m very much looking forward to that journey.
Stay tuned for more, and get in touch if you want one, or a bunch!
For all those times I bitched and moaned that my local club was doing it wrong by not offering training, allow me to point out a club that keeps doing it right time and again. I got an invite from CAMS to participate in one of their many training modules available around the country. What would it cost SCCA to scramble one of these e-mails together and blast it to all it’s marshaling members? Can’t be that much… right?
Anyway, look at this amazing e-mail I got:
Upcoming Officials Training Modules
More courses will be organised for 2015 around Australia and the course information will be updated on the website as it becomes available.For the most up to date information on courses that are available for you to attend, please visit theCAMS website
A full calendar of training courses can be found here
Bronze Scrutineer (Vermont) – Saturday/Sunday 11-12th July
CATO (Melbourne) – Wednesday 30th September
Stewards – See South Australia for Training event on the border (Mount Gambier)
My fingers are now crossed on both hands as I submitted my registration for the Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 hour race in February of 2016 taking place along the public street of Mount Panorama in New South Wales, Australia.
I registered, and you should too!
Why is this event so awesome?
Because… it is the biggest event on the Australian racing calendar. It is bigger than the recently popular Australian V8 Supercars races on the same circuit. It is bigger than Formula One in Melbourne. It’s huge!
I had the privilege to marshal the Bathurst 12h race at the start of the 2013 season and the event has only grown bigger since then. So I really look forward to coming back. Back then I marshaled on the very top of the mountain (above the famous Mount Panorama sign) but now have requested something closer to the paddock/pits area so I can wander on our off time to check out the amazing machinery on display, most of it from overseas. (New Zealand, Asia, Europe, US)
It’s never too early to start planning next year’s marshaling calendar. And I hope to do more endurance events in 2016 specifically return for the Bathurst 12h race at Mount Panorama, go back to Germany for the Nurburgring 24h and introduce a new event I haven’t done yet: the Dubai 24h season opener in the UAE.
I’ve come pretty close to volunteering at the Dubai Autodrome in December 2013 when I went there for the Gulf 12h at Yas Marina Circuit and a side trip to Bahrain for the 6h WEC event there. But it never materialized. This time I’m ready to add it to my calendar, and hopefully the organizers would be open to the idea of having me participate there.
Bathurst 12h is a familiar event because I’ve visited Mount Panorama quite frequently when I first lived in Australia in 2009 and have worked this very event back in 2013 as part of my two month long visit to Australia and New Zealand. It would be really nice to participate there again.
And as far as Nuerburgring goes, I can’t rant and rave more about it, it’s such a fantastic experience I wish I could participate in more events there.
This year I’m down to one event per month and I have to say it’s a reasonable strategy to manage with a weekend job that I’m holding currently. Next year I may cut down more events from my calendar just to make Dubai and Bathurst a possibility.
So stay tuned and if there are any suggestions please leave them in the comments below.