Another “Balmore” Grand Prix is in the books… and I quickly went to re-read last year’s debrief to make sure I don’t repeat the same sentiment. This year the tale of Baltimore GP consists of two experiences. First Couch Surfing. Like last year I got very lucky with the hosts even though it wasn’t through traditional channels of requesting a place to stay. Instead I posted on Facebook in the CS Baltimore forum and got invited. Sweet! Second, the race itself. It was a crashfest! No nicer way to put it… a bunch of ‘amateurs’ it seems, as people were wrecking almost on purpose in both ALMS and Indycar feature racing that had more yellow flag / caution time than green / race time.
But it was good!
I was stationed at turn 3, the amazing hair pin that didn’t get nowhere near as much action as it did last year which seemed to have shifted mostly to turn 1, 4 and 9. But we did have a number of spins, debris, and even a car on fire during the Indycar race for which I waived our fire bottle at the driver through the hole in the fence we were behind, and he promptly stopped in front of us. Of course, he stopped on the other side of the track, and after another Indycar went between him and us at speed, he proceeded to watch the smoke billow out of the car instead of attempting to run for the fire extinguisher. Luckily the safety team were quick to respond, and all ended well.
I was not terribly impressed with the level of professionalism of the drivers this weekend. In the ALMS race, the Dyson car seemed to false start repeatedly which caused the first big wreck and contributed greatly to more full course caution the second time. Similarly, turn one shinanigans for Indycar saw four consecutive full course yellows after each attempted restart. What a joke!
On Sunday night I left Baltimore for Summit Point, and the final racing of the Labor Day weekend with the DC region SCCA. Absolutely nothing happened there, completely uneventful day… though since I was stationed at turn 3, I had to run to cars that pulled off in our shortcut area to see what the issue was… both cars lost power, which was OK… the exercise I got sprinting about 300 meters in each direction was great too. I enjoyed the leisurely road trip back to New Jersey and am looking forward to fly out for the Grand-Am weekend at Laguna Seca tomorrow.
Great start to the weekend at turns 3/3A. Started out as a yellow flagger for Indy, but quickly worked my way into blue flagging ALMS, my favorite! Looking forward to more of the same tomorrow on race day.
Happy Labor Day weekend ya’ll!
By the way, my CouchSurfing host is a mechanic and drifter that a few moons ago worked as crew ona Baltimore based Grand-Am Lexus team. He proudly showed me a 1:18 scale model of one of the cars!
While I normally post links to the very useful spotter guides designed by Andy Blackmore, there are series that he doesn’t cover. IndyCar is one of them, however Andy does link to the IndyCar spotter guides created by Ryan Long ( https://twitter.com/ryan_long_01 ) Those spotter guides are usually distributed free of charge at the various events like Baltimore GP, Detroit Belle Isle GP, or Long Beach GP, all events that I worked. However I learned they could also be downloaded directly from IZOD IndyCar Series web site at: IndyCar.com
So enjoy the download and share with your motorsport enthusiast friends!
The application process for the 2013 Baltimore Grand Prix is now open through the Washington DC Region SCCA web site: Click here! If you’re into the Indycar or better yet, American Le Mans Series, this is a must do for any marshals on the East Coast. I had an awesome time last year so will be looking forward to attending this year again.
I started the race on yellow flag for the Baltimore Sports Car Challenge presented by SRT, and as you can see from the video I didn’t have to wait long to start waiving it. What a clusterfuck! Having watched the race on www.alms.com web site, the TV coverage didn’t do the incident justice! Not even close. But the spectators in the VIP box behind our station did a fantastic job capturing the traffic jam that resembled the rest of Baltimore downtown when I arrived to collect my credentials on sign on. Judge for yourself:
Five wide on what otherwise is a three lane Pratt Street in Baltimore is insane! No other incident after in any of the support series including Indycar replicated the excitement. Ironically all of us on station 1 that morning were watching the big F1 crash at turn 1 of Belgian GP involving Alonso, Hamilton, Grosjean et al.
The backstory on the incident: during the traditional American LeMans fan pit walk prior to the race, some idiot spectator pulled the fire extinguisher pin on the #20 prototype setting it off. Even though he was arrested, and the team cleaned the car, obviously they missed a spot because the Dyson LMP1 clearly failed to turn sparking a chain reaction and a pile up.
What an awkwardly weird experience it was, the Baltimore Grand Prix. For whatever reason nothing seemed to click and I have a bit of sour taste in my mouth as a result even though it seems everything went smoothly, with fewer issues than I think I was afraid of running into… so let me explain. I was really looking forward to this event, having gone to Summit Point several times to make sure the Washington D.C. region of SCCA would take my application into serious consideration. They did. I was confident I’d find a convenient place to stay through Couch Surfing… I did. So what’s the problem?
Its hard to put my finger on it but I think it was a combination of things. For one, the communication about the event wasn’t too forthcoming. Details of the final meeting place for credentials collection was only e-mailed about a week before. While its not the end of the world it was making me antsy while planning things to do. Once I arrived in Baltimore, sign on process was a bit demoralizing. As always volunteer marshals got little in the way of appreciation while many temporary employees of the event got nice gear upfront which seemed unfair, though that’s how it was in Detroit GP and others from memory, still put me in an unappreciated mood.
Surfing during the event I wanted to be more social with my host so I came a day early and spend a few nights hanging out with her, but it was somewhat awkward. I must remember that just because people are polite offering a couch to crash on they are not automatically friends. That too put me in a weird mood though the location was absolutely perfect, literally walking distance from my station which ironically was located on the same street as my host!!!
For the event I was assigned track marshal role at turn 1, which is a fantastic opportunity regardless what track one goes to. However as I arrived on station it was clear that there wouldn’t be much response happening as we were nicely fenced in and going on a hot track was going to be unnecessary with all the paid IMSA and INDY official marshals. It was a bit of a downer so I made efforts to be nice to the blue flag guy so he can share his duties and thankfully he did, which totally made my day for the ALMS race.
During one of the morning meetings, the local Washington DC chief invited interested marshals to attend the MARRS club racing at Summit Point on Monday – Labor Day. Which I did and that was a fantastic experience as they were running on a skeleton crew and needed the help. The most interesting incident of the weekend actually happened at Summit Point on Monday where a driver of a Radical lost it and flipped the car after smashing it into a grassy embankment. He walked away from the incident, luckily.
Enjoy the pix on facebook:
PS. thinking more about my feelings post event I think much of my worries came from the fact that I’ve gained some weight. Not so noticeable on a racetrack where there is plenty of room to move around, but on a street circuit working from behind the fence it makes a big deal. Climbing through a small window opening in the fence is extremely difficult when you lack flexibility or weigh too much to pull yourself up the cage. I’m worried for Singapore GP
Motorsport Marshal, Miata Driver, Hot Wheels Collector