Category Archives: Singapore

Mazda MX-5: Miata Shopping in Singapore while on Southeast Asia MX-5 Miata Road Trip

back to: Southeast Asia Miata Road Trip Overview

f-thailandBangkok MX-5 Owners Meet-up

f-thailandThailand MX-5 Road Trip to the Laos Border

f-singaporeSingapore MX-5 Owners Meet-up

f-singaporeMX-5 Miata Shopping in Singapore

f-malaysiaKuala Lumpur MX-5 Owners Meet-up

f-malaysiaMalaysia MX-5 Owners Cruise to Petronas Towers


Normally my time spent in Singapore revolves around foodie experiences, but this time I did something completely new that I’ve never done while visiting the tiny island state: I went car shopping! Naturally I wasn’t actually going to buy a car while on my 24 hour visit, but since my friend and I had some time to kill between lunch and dinner, we decided to hit the dealerships to kick some tires of new and used ND Mazda MX-5’s and Roadsters.

I’ve passed a whole row of dealership a million times while in Singapore as the East-West MRT line goes directly above them, but never set foot inside until now. And it was a really neat experience.

We first went to check out a Mazda dealer with a new Singapore-spec ND MX-5 in stock:

2015 singapore mx-5 miata road trip shopping for a miata 5

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The dealership is like any other in the US, except that all the cars are locked including this gem that I went ahead and posed with. Why? Probably has something to do with the sticker price.

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Oh yeah! You read that right… $166k for a stick shift, and $169 for the auto. That’s not a mistake. Car ownership in Singapore is pricey. It’s important to understand that the majority of that price goes to the COE – or Certificate of Entitlement that you buy for a period of 10 years at which point you are expected to scrap the vehicle, unless of course you buy another COE and pay for annual inspections. Singapore is a crowded city and the high prices help with congestion, though you wouldn’t notice it after being stuck in many traffic jams. Of course after spending a small fortune on a car, many continue to dump more money into it by modifying and customizing the crap out of it to their liking.

The dealership also had some cars that not only we don’t have in the US but ones I didn’t know Mazda made… like these two minivans:

2015 singapore mx-5 miata road trip shopping for a miata 7

Mazda 8 and a Mazda Biante… whatever that is.

2015 singapore mx-5 miata road trip shopping for a miata 6

After we finished gawking at the new cars, my buddy Joey whom I was going to marshal with in Malaysia a few days later got in touch, he works for a dealership on the other side of town near Changi, and after a brief chat we decided to go and visit him at work to see more new and used cars for sale.

Unlike American or Australian dealerships, Singapore has to make due with the little space they have. So one dealership complex we visited was a five or six story parking lot, with various dealers sharing space on each floor. So we went hunting for a pre-owned Mazda Miata there.

singapore car shopping toyota alphard

singapore car shopping toyota veilside

While living in Asia I was very fond of the futuristic looking minivans from Toyota called Alphard and Veilside. The Veilside was a sporty version of the Alphard if I were to describe the two. The latest models seem to resemble something from the Transformers movie.

singapore car shopping toyota harier

singapore car shopping toyota mark X

The Toyota Harrier was the Japanese domestic version of the Lexus RX until of course Toyota killed off the model and started selling Lexus directly to the Japanese market. The cheaper version was so popular they decided to reintroduce it, but now the two look quite different. The white sedan is a Toyota Mark X model, just like the one used in the Hangover 2 movie in the Bangkok scenes. Neat car!

singapore car shopping honda s2000 front

singapore car shopping honda s2000 side

singapore car shopping honda s2000

And then we stumbled upon this beauty… what looks to be a heavily modified Honda S2000 Type S… shame it’s going to be scrapped.

And finally, a JDM market ND Mazda Roadster:

2015 singapore mx-5 miata road trip shopping for a miata 9a

2015 singapore mx-5 miata road trip shopping for a miata 8

2015 singapore mx-5 miata road trip shopping for a miata 10

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With a price tag north of $100k SGD… nice!

So happy to have had this opportunity to check out some cars for sale in Singapore. It was quite an experience to say the least. I can’t even imagine how the locals could justify paying prices that they do, but hey! when you make money you spend money… so it’s all good!

2015 singapore mx-5 miata road trip shopping for a miata 9

Mazda MX-5: Singapore Miata Owner Meet-Up, Southeast Asia MX-5 Miata Road Trip

back to: Southeast Asia Miata Road Trip Overview

f-thailandBangkok MX-5 Owners Meet-up

f-thailandThailand MX-5 Road Trip to the Laos Border

f-singaporeSingapore MX-5 Owners Meet-up

f-singaporeMX-5 Miata Shopping in Singapore

f-malaysiaKuala Lumpur MX-5 Owners Meet-up

f-malaysiaMalaysia MX-5 Owners Cruise to Petronas Towers


Singapore was the second stop on my Southeast Asia MX-5 Miata Road Trip and one I was really looking forward to. I used to live in Singapore back in 2011. It is where I picked up my marshaling hobby, and a place I love to come back to for their amazing food, excellent weather and great friends. Now I added another dimension to my trip: meeting with Mazda MX-5 Miata owners!

I knew it would be pretty difficult organizing a meeting during a work week, and especially during a work day as Singaporeans take their jobs very seriously and work some ridiculously long hours, but I was lucky enough that one owner was able to meet me around lunch time. My goal before visiting Singapore was to take some shots of a Miata with the Aston-Martin body kit and one that had a touch screen Stereo system installed because that’s what I’d like to do on my car. And what do you know? Woon, the owner of a beautiful 2008 GT PRHT with an Aston body kit and a touch screen was able to meet me. Sweet!

There’s not too many places in Singapore to stop on a street and do a photo shoot so our initial meeting was in the parking lot of Novena Square near to where I stay while visiting friends in town. Woon found a secluded area and I went nuts with my picture taking.

2015 singapore mx-5 miata road trip 1

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The car is pretty heavily modified inside and out. Custom seats. Custom dash, nicely done in suede material that’s soft to the touch. Custom hood with louvers and functional heat extraction slots. Sway bars. Big brakes. And it all must be scrapped in two years time to comply with Singapore’s strict 10 year COE rules. More about that later.

I wanted to take some day time shots so Woon was kind enough to drive out to the street where we continued the shoot.

2015 singapore mx-5 miata road trip 14

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Though originally Blue, the car is sporting a nice White wrap that makes perfect sense for the hot climate of Singapore. In fact I think that’s one of the things I’d really like to do to my car to preserve the paint better from the effects of the sun as well as small scratches.

I was incredibly thankful for the opportunity to meet a Singapore MX-5 owner, and especially a car that ticked all the boxes for my prerequisites or wish list so to speak.

Mazda MX-5: 500+ Photo Road Trip – Southeast Asia Visiting Miata Owners in Thailand, Singapore & Malaysia

In just the first year of ownership of my Miata, I had taken it on a number of Road Trips around the Northeast, including a few trips Upstate New York, several to New England and a few smaller trips down the Jersey Shore. Now, I have embarked on my biggest Road Trip yet to Southeast Asia. Of course I didn’t bring my car along with me but it was a proper Miata Road Trip to be sure.

I had an opportunity to visit MX-5 Miata / Roadster owners in 3 countries: Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia. Besides meeting people and sharing delicious local foodie experiences with them I also had a chance to ride along and drive some cars around Bangkok, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur and have returned from the trip with a phone full of pictures and videos from an adventure of a lifetime.

I would like to share these experiences in a few posts which I will outline below:

Southeast Asia Miata Road Trip Overview

f-thailandBangkok MX-5 Owners Meet-up

f-thailandThailand MX-5 Road Trip to the Laos Border

f-singaporeSingapore MX-5 Owners Meet-up

f-singaporeMX-5 Miata Shopping in Singapore

f-malaysiaKuala Lumpur MX-5 Owners Meet-up

f-malaysiaMalaysia MX-5 Owners Cruise to Petronas Towers


There’s no way I could possibly share all 500+ photos from this amazing adventure so I would encourage the interested readers to look up my Mazda MX-5 Miata Road Trip facebook page and see many more photos shared on there for your Liking.

This would probably be a good place to give a little background about the trip and how it all came together. So to start, I needed an excuse to go to region in the first place. And I was lucky enough to be invited to a friend’s wedding in Bangkok. I was even luckier when I discovered that Sepang International Circuit was hosting an event a week after the wedding, and not just any event, one of my favorite events at present, the Sepang 12 hours endurance race featuring amazing GT3, GTC and GT4 machinery from around the world.

Once I had the trip planned I explored the Miata angle. I had attempted to organize something for my previous two trips to Europe this year visiting Germany for the Nurburgring 24h race in May and Belgium for the Spa 24h in July but nothing really materialized so I was optimistically cautious about managing my expectations for Southeast Asia… I was however very pleasantly surprised and humbled by the amount of MX-5 owners that actually came out to meet me and how friendly they all were.

I relied on a variety of facebook groups to get the meet-ups set up and more or less organized. I was very lucky to find so many active groups including the Miata Club of Thailand, Miata Club Singapore, MX-5 Malaysia Community and Miata & MX-5 SEA (Southeast Asia) Region page. In each community I also tried to seek one contact person to rely on for communication once I was on the ground. On this trip I didn’t bother getting local SIM cards in each country so I completely relied on WiFi where I could find it, and having a local contact really helped to keep things running smoothly. I will write more about my contacts in each individual post later on, but suffice to say I am extremely grateful to each and every one of them for the warm hospitality they had offered me, the experiences they had treated me to, and the amazing friendship they extended to a stranger with a similar interest (MX-5!).

Looking back at my cheesy posts and even more cheesy photos, like the one below, I’m amazed people took me seriously enough to meet with, especially in such big numbers. It was totally unexpected.

2015 southeast asia mx-5 miata roadster road trip

But I’m so glad they did because I’m sure the friendships made on this trip will last. And while I have been to Southeast Asia many times before and was even lucky enough to live there on a short working holiday stint, this was a completely new experience for me, and one I was very much surprised by. It was meant to be a trip for a wedding and a race to marshal and instead the Miata aspect completely took over as a theme throughout the journey.

I would highly recommend this experience to any Miata owners or even Car Enthusiasts in general (wherever you live in the world) to try on your travels. You would get an adrenaline rush like no other!

Special Thanks to:

2015 thailand mx-5 miata roadster road trip 3

Tanet, my Thailand fixer and a lucky owner of several generations of MX-5’s including this beautiful 2008 NC GT PRHT that I got to ride in on a five hour Road Trip to the northern border with Laos (including 1 hour behind the wheel). An amazingly friendly and generous fellow to whom I’m incredibly thankful!

2015 singapore mx-5 miata road trip 18

Woon, my Singapore fixer and the only owner I got to meet while briefly visiting the tiny island state in a middle of a busy workweek. Woon met me on his lunch break and was kind enough to show me his car (2008 NC GT)  including the amazing interior with an Audio system I’d like to install in my car. He was also kind enough to take me for a short drive which was awesome. So thankful for the opportunity!

2015 malaysia mx-5 miata road trip kuala lumpur 8

David and Martin, my fixers in Malaysia. While David was kind enough to drive me around in his beautiful 2008 NC GT PRHT, on our way to dinner and an amazing photo shoot by the Petronas Twin Towers. Martin kept me abreast of all the plans being made while I was busy running around Thailand and Singapore, sadly I didn’t actually get an opportunity to meet Martin or his car which was recently converted from Automatic to Manual transmission and painted a beautiful Brown color not typically found on a Miata. I’m really thankful to David for spending the time with me and being an awesome host and to Martin for helping with the planning.

2015 malaysia mx-5 miata road trip singapore roadster 1

2015 malaysia mx-5 miata road trip kuala lumpur 17

And finally Wei-Ming and Stephanie, a “Miata couple” that met because of the car, they each own an NA Miata (I’m so jealous!). Wei-Ming and I almost met-up in Singapore but unfortunately I ran out of time and had to rush to the airport. But he and Stephanie were kind enough to meet me in KL after the races before I rushed back to the airport again to fly home. What an amazing opportunity! I’m grateful to them for the meeting, the delicious dinner they treated me to and some cool SG MX-5 stickers I will proudly display on my car.

MX-5 Miata Road Trip

I launched a new Facebook Page for my favorite pastime: MX-5 Miata Road Trip’s: www.facebook.com/MiataRoadTrip

I’ve been blogging quite frequently about the trips I’ve taken in my NC Miata, mainly to get to a race track Upstate New York or up to New England. But that hobby is about to take me internationally, with a trip to Southeast Asia booked in early December 2015 and another to the Pacific in February 2016. I’m making it a priority to meet up with any and all MX-5 owners I can on the road. Hence the MX-5 International Road Trip.

I’m hoping that the facebook page would allow me to make new connections as well as to share some pictures from my meetups without mixing the content with my Motorsport hobby that I also blog about frequently: Marshal Cam (#MarshalCam) as well as the Foodie Tours that I enjoy very much and also blog about separately. I have a feeling people visit this site for each of the things that interest them most and perhaps not all of them want the Marshaling, Foodie Tours and Miata stuff mixed.

For the International trips, except of course for my future drive up to Canada, I won’t be taking my car. So my goal is to meet other owners and take as many pictures and videos of their cars as they would let me. I am also planning on perhaps renting a few MX-5’s and sharing those experiences in the blog and on the facebook page as well. I think it would be pretty awesome to read and based on a few searches I did thus far, there’s nothing like it out there (except one kiwi page from a few years ago that promoted MX5 Roadtrip’s – it was hard to find perhaps because of “roadtrip” used as one word).

So hopefully this works!

Go ahead and like the page to have all that content pop up on your Facebook feed automatically. www.facebook.com/MiataRoadTrip

mx-5 rmiata oad trip

Where Can I Rent the New ND MX-5 Miata?

With several trips coming up in the near future, I’m curious to learn where is it possible to rent the new Mazda MX-5 Miata for a few days of driving?

It might sound like such a simple idea but save for a few “MX-5 rental” exclusive places like those in New Zealand or the UK, I haven’t really come across many major rental car chains advertising the new ND Miata in their fleets. I’ve read about the possibility of renting a track spec Miata for the big Mazda MX-5 get together at Laguna Seca in California, which is neat. I’ve also seen plenty of other track rental Miatas like those pictures I posted from Flatout Racing at Thompson Speedway, but nothing from Hertz or Avis, Budget, National, Europecar, Sixt, etc.

Why?

I would really be interested in considering a Miata rental while, say in the Cook Islands. One of the TripAdvisor reviews mentioned a tourist talking about their green MX-5 convertible hire in Rarotonga. How cool would that be. How expensive would it be? The rates posted on the Kiwi MX-5 Hire Car web site on the North Island of New Zealand were in the $50+/day which is crazy expensive. On the other side of the spectrum, South Florida is where I regularly rent cars for $10-$20/day and while searching for my own Miata have come across a number of cars on eBay with “Fleet” designation on their car history report. But when it comes to rental car companies, I can’t say I’ve seen any MX-5’s as rentals in a sea of Chevy Camaro’s, Ford Mustang’s and of course the Ferrari and Lamborghini exotics that you can easily find on every corner of South Beach. Who’s got the Miata’s?

Would love to find out more about this…

Buy a #MarshalCam Patch. American or Australian Versions. Or Both!

A few things to accomplish in this post:

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!

bangkok kuala lumpur singapore road tirp mx-5 miata mazda

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!

marshal cam patches america australia usa

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!

#MarshalCam

Mazda MX-5: International Road Trip to Bangkok, Thailand; Singapore; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Shanghai, China

My trip to Southeast Asia in December just got a whole lot more interesting. In the past I’ve always gone to the region for the racing – have marshaled in both Singapore and Malaysia many times. I’ve always loved going there for the amazing food. The beautiful landscapes, the beaches, the architecture, etc. But this trip will take on another dimension: Mazda Miata’s!

I’ve made contact with a few clubs in the region and the response has been amazing. I’m so looking forward to this trip!

bangkok kuala lumpur singapore road tirp mx-5 miata mazda

For anyone interested in checking out the local Car Culture or the Car Scene, or the Miata Community check out the following clubs:

miata club of thailand

f-thailandMiata-Thai Club:

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/miatathai

web site: http://www.miata-thai.net/

 

miata club singapore miata sg

f-singaporeMiata Club Singapore: 

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/5736449818/

f-malaysiaMX-5 Malaysia Club:

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mx5my

web site: http://www.mx5my.com/

mx-5 malaysia sea sepang circuit

My goal on this trip is: to meet up with as many local MX-5 owners as possible. It will be pretty exciting because the cars are RHD (right hand drive) and while very similar to mine, are quite different. (Except of course for the Shanghai MX-5’s which should be identical). Besides the obvious difference of where the steering wheel is located, I’m sure to see quite a lot of modifications people do to their cars in Asia. One of the more intriguing things I’ve seen on the forums above so far is the Aston Martin Miata look:

aston martin miata mx-5 thailand
photo credit: Decha Apiromdej

Obviously quite popular in both Thailand and Singapore

aston martin miata mx-5 singapore
photo credit: Woon Ming

Besides the modded cars there’s also special sights to check out, like the Chang International Circuit in Buri Ram or Bira International Circuit in Pattaya, Thailand:

chang international circuit destination of speed miata mx-5
photo credit: Tanet Zoom

I’m not sure if time will permit to actually visit any of the circuits besides Sepang International Circuit where I’ll be volunteering for Sepang 12h but it would be nice if something like that materialized.

My schedule will be as follows:


 

f-thailandBangkok, Thailand: Wed, Dec 2 to Sun, Dec 6

f-singaporeSingapore: Mon, Dec 7 to Tue, Dec 8

f-malaysiaKuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Tue, Dec 8 to Sun, Dec 13

f-chinaShanghai, China: Mon, Dec 14


 

While in Bangkok I’ll be free most of the time except for Sat, Dec 5 when I’ll attend a wedding. I should be flying out to Singapore at like 2am Monday morning which will give me almost two full days there. I’ll arrive Kuala Lumpur Subang airport around 6pm on Tue, Dec 8 and stay in the city until Thur, Dec 10 at which point I’ll probably make my way to the Sepang International Circuit for the weekend of racing. And then leave straight from the track to the airport for my 2am flight to Shanghai Monday morning. While the other cities in Southeast Asia I have visited many times and know my way to get around, Shanghai will be my very first visit. I will also only have about an 8 hour layover which realistically means I’ll have a whole of 4 or 5 hours free to roam the city. Pretty busy schedule if things go as planned!

Stay tuned for updates about this trip… and if you are reading this from any of the destinations on my trip and want to meet up, please get in touch via facebook, twitter or by replying to this post.

Cheers!

Flights Booked to a Wedding in Bangkok and Sepang 12h Piggybacked on That Trip

Just a few days ago I was day dreaming how nice it would be to go back to Southeast Asia after almost two years of being away, and I found a perfect excuse to commit to it: my FlyerTalker friend Brian is marrying a beautiful Thai girl in Bangkok a week before Sepang 12h.

Score!

This is going to be such an amazing journey I can’t find words.

This is also the first time I’ve paid for a flight to Southeast Asia, all of my previous trips, and there were plenty of them, were booked using frequent flyer miles. But with two Euro Trips this year and a trip to the Pacific next year I’ve blown through my frequent flyer / loyalty program budgets, on most airlines.

Luckily “The Flight Deal” facebook group alerted me to a reasonable deal on United Airlines to fly between Newark, NJ and Bangkok for just $684 bux. I figured getting from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur shouldn’t be too pricey but just for giggles I checked open jaw flights arriving Bangkok on this deal and leaving from KL, the price was only $27 bux difference which is less than what a low-cost airline would charge on that route, so I booked directly with United EWR-NRT-BKK and KUL-NRT-EWR for the trip back. The stop over in Tokyo introduces a new airline and a new aircraft I haven’t flown before: ANA Airlines and the Beoing 787 Dreamliner. Very cool!

great circle mapper ewr-nrt-bkk kul-nrt-ewr
original route: EWR-NRT-BKK and KUL-NRT-EWR  | map courtesy of Great Circle Mapper: http://www.gcmap.com/

UPDATE (8/16): by the time I got home from work other (cheaper) options opened up. So I cancelled my booking, since it was within the 24 hour period that a customer is able to change his/her mind, and re-booked my flight to go ANA from JFK-NRT-BKK and then Shanghai Air from KUL-PVG my first visit to Shanghai. I will have a 9 hour layover there and fly United back to Newark PVG-EWR. All in all pretty happy with the ability to visit three of Asia’s most amazing cities: Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai for $707! Of course I’ll be sure to add Singapore to the mix with one of the low-cost carriers.


great circle mapper jfk-nrt-bkk kul-pvg-ewr
new route: JFK-NRT-BKK and KUL-PVG-EWR | map courtesy of Great Circle Mapper: http://www.gcmap.com/

Now I’m left to determine what to do in Bangkok for about four days before the wedding, find my way down to Kuala Lumpur the week after, and squeeze a side trip into Singapore for a day or two. Easy!

I’m amazed with all the low-cost airline options that are now available on the route from BKK to KUL/SIN. Air Asia and Thai Air Asia fly it. Jetstar Asia, Tigerair, and Scoot from Singapore fly it. Indonesian airline Lion Air (probably operating as Malindo Air) and Thai Lion Air fly it. And the prices are reasonable from Don Mueng Airport DMK which is a new airport for me, I’ve never used it when in Bangkok. On the legacy front there’s Bangkok Air which is an option. But most interestingly Malaysian Airlines have decent flights for cheap because of their battered reputation, I just may give them a go.

So I’m just thrilled with this development, even though I have no idea how I’m going to fork out all this money especially with flights to Texas for WEC and Georgia for Petit Le Mans area already booked, as well as the Dubai 24h trip planned, and the Pacific trip booked and paid for. I’ll have to work extra hard this summer just to stay afloat.

I’ve also posted on the Miata.net forums if any of the local MX-5 owners in Thailand, Malaysia or Singapore would like to meet up. I’d be so interested in checking out and possibly test driving a right hand drive Miata.

Stay tuned for more updates on this and other trips!

thailand

I love Southeast Asia…

Motorsport Tourism: Exotic Car Rentals for $7/min in Singapore

During my last trip to Singapore for the Grand Prix I got chauffeured around  in a beautifully modded and meticulously maintained Mitsubishi Evo, complete with a custom paint job, sweet looking rims and a massive exhaust that makes you feel like you’re going fast even though we never went above the speed limit (I don’t think).

singapore mitsubishi evo

That was a thrill!  I’m sure most other Motorsport enthusiasts travelling to Singapore for the race, especially those with deeper pockets wouldn’t mind shelling out some cash for a similar experience, perhaps in an exotic car. Singapore is full of them, and now you can book one on Uber.

My buddy David forwarded this e-mail to me from Uber Singapore announcing their exotics rental:

uber singapore exotics

Cool beans, right?

Yea, sure! Though, compare the Uber service to the company that actually offers the rides for them: Dream Drive

dream drive singapore motorsport tourism

Dream Drive advertise a 30 minute package for $468 SGD when you drive yourself (they spend 15 minute on the introduction to the car and you get 30 minutes of solid driving of that car, presumably with someone riding shot gun keeping you in line and making sure you stick to the service agreement). You get a 20% discount if you allow them to drive you, which is about $375 SGD. Or for the sake of our comparison, it is $35 less than ($200 flag down fee + $7x30min) what Uber advertises. Decent deal, until of course you factor in rush hour and surge pricing, as well as all the other clean and dirty tricks Uber usually resorts to that allow it to be in the news, constantly. Not to mention the fact that you cannot pre-book your shiny yellow Lambo via Uber before you arrive in Singapore and have to rely on the app on location (basically, at the mercy of availability).

I’m quite happy to see this service being offered despite some of the flaws I see with the concept, because it promotes Motorsport Tourism and I’m all for people enjoying themselves when they travel to watch the races out there, be it Singapore or anywhere else. And I hope that the educated consumer actually pre-books their exotic ride if it really means that much to them (compared to a spur of the moment decision where obviously your Uber app will be potentially most helpful to separate you from your money). And since Uber generally charges 25% of the total ride charge for their service, it’s a good benchmark when selling my consulting services. Though I’m sure I could do it for less. Thanks Uber!

PS. the best way to enjoy the car culture in Singapore is over a delicious local meal:

singapore foodie tour grand prix

Who provides the best Marshal uniform for an Event?

In my recent chat with a representative of the marshal club at the Red Bull Ring in Austria I discovered a few things… 1) there’s no camping at the track and hotel rooms nearby are really hard to come by during the F1 weekend so the club relies mainly on marshals that live nearby (i.e. visiting marshals would have a harder time finding accommodation during F1 than say DTM weekend) and 2) the circuit provides those fancy looking Red Bull logo blue and white overalls to the marshals that participate in their events. That’s really cool!

Why is it cool?

Well, as a visiting marshal you could travel to an event lighter, and travelling lighter makes your travels easier and more convenient (less bags to check when flying, less crap to pull around when you navigate a public transport system in another country, less luggage to worry about when storing stuff during an event, etc.) So in this post I would like to run down through a list of places you could volunteer where the uniform will be provided, and more importantly which places offer the best uniforms out there. Obviously this post is very subjective.

One of the most recognizable uniforms a marshal could wear anywhere is the 24h of Le Mans overalls that are provided by the ACO and are yours to keep after volunteering the event.

le mans 3

Fantastic deal right? Yes, certainly. Although slightly problematic for those of us that are overweight or that are fat like me. You see the ACO issued overalls look beautiful, and for a fashion forward country like France it is very fitting. But I have a hard time fitting into mine. Primarily because the crotch area is a bit painful with the seam riding way up into my scrotum. I don’t know if that’s by design or not, but it’s less than comfortable. Similarly I can’t raise my arms wearing these in either of the pairs I got. Design flaw or I’m not proportioned correctly for them, I don’t know. But damn do they look good! And more importantly we are FREE to keep them after the event, which has been fantastic wearing them in Germany for the Nurburgring 24h and in Portugal for the Maxi Endurance 32h… painful but beautiful 🙂

Closer to home, Circuit of the Americas has one of the better looking designs out there made by the same company that provides racing suits to the drivers: OMP Sport. And even though the overalls aren’t without their critics (there was one incident last year where someone complained so much about using the blue suits for WEC race that COTA caved in and required people to bring their own white uniforms for the event, which sucked!) I love those smurf suits! What’s not to love? The overalls are properly proportioned and run slightly on the larger size giving you good freedom of movement. The sleeves and pant legs have an elastic band that keeps the uniform in place without being too loose. There are plenty of pockets and the zipper works perfectly.

us gp 8

The “Speedway” brand blue overalls issued by USAC at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have many of the same properties of the pricier OMP suits from COTA but they work similarly well. Even when “some” critics don’t like them, I like them a lot.

grand am indy 1

YAS Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi issues a similar style (possibly same material weight) overall for their events. The famously grey colored suits with the embroidered logo on the back, sleeves and front pocket are quite useful and yet they have their critics too for being too warm in the heat of the desert. But when I volunteered for the Gulf 12 hour in December a few years ago, they were absolutely perfect!

yas

What I liked most about them was the freedom of movement. There was plenty of extra space so the pant part didn’t ride up my crotch, I could raise my hands above my head without pulling the pants into my crotch, pockets were great, etc.

In New Zealand, the Chicane brand uniform is of a very similar design and works absolutely perfectly for the marshals wearing them. Notice the giant pocket for the radio on one side of the chest.

new zealand hampton downs 1

Although it’s important to note that not all visiting marshals get the fancy Chicane uniforms from The Motorsport Club. I was really lucky to try on a few different sets, both for my recovery work the one weekend I rode around in an FIV car, and another time I snuck away from my grid marshal duties to get a ride along in the Chase vehicle with the rest of the fire marshals working that role:

new zealand hamilton v8s

The most generous allocation of overalls you get is in Singapore for the GP. You are provided with 3 sets for the 4 day weekend, where the first day is really just a systems test or a full dressed rehearsal. The Singapore overalls are your standard orange worker overalls you can buy for $30 bux on ebay with loose fitting wrist and pant openings. Each overalls is collected by the post chief at the end of the work day. Sadly you don’t get to keep them.

johor circuit sgp

The SGP issued overalls are loose fitting, light (I believe either 100% cotton or mostly cotton blend) and have great pockets, especially on the side of the legs. They also feature a reflective band around the elbows and below the knees. Similar style overalls are issued in Malaysia for events at the Sepang Circuit, though they don’t have the reflective stripe. A separate “Marshal” reflective vest is issued for night events there:

sepang circuit reflective boards

Interestingly enough for night events Sepang Circuit uses reflective boards instead of flashing lights (F1 style) though a yellow flashing lights at strategic locations around the track are obviously common. The blue reflective board is very effective at night, so long as the station is in direct headlight angle to the cars on the track.

South Korea, Australia, and Bahrain also issue standard orange work overalls to both their own and visiting marshals for a particular event.

korean gp 5

In Korea, like Singapore marshal roles are color coded, where Orange is the standard color for flag & track marshals, Red is for fire crews and Green is for Medics. However unlike Singapore, in Korea, Bahrain, Australia and Malaysia you only receive one set of overalls for the entire weekend, no matter how hot and how likely to sweat you are in the sweltering heat of that country.

So which uniforms were best, and where?

It’s not easy to say or pick one over another. Certainly most uniforms I have been issued with made perfect sense for the country where they were issued. The light uniforms of Singapore, Malaysia and Australia made sense there. The heavier material uniforms in the US also made sense here though like I mentioned people criticized such choices on a hot summer’s day in Texas when some events are ultimately run. Many Americans and Brits would be vocal proponents of bringing your own uniform to events where you volunteer. But personally I love the diversity of wearing the “track’s” uniform for a particular event, especially when travelling.

For more information on what circuits provide uniforms to their marshals do check out my Marshal Spotter Guide page: Motorsport Marshal Spotter Guide and blog entry.

I would love to hear about what other tracks are doing around the world for their marshals, so please share your experiences below. Keep in mind the information I shared above was only current at the time when I volunteered at a specific track, that information may change with time.

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