Category Archives: Daytona International Speedway

Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Florida, USA

The Roar Before the Rolex 24 Hour the debrief

I have to say that booking flights this year instead of driving down to Florida was a brilliant idea… boy am I glad I did that. The night I was flying out to Orlando flights at Newark were beginning to get cancelled for the next day. After I arrived in Daytona, NYC was getting 12 inches of snow, a storm that already dumped a ton on Savannah, Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia. There was even snow in the panhandle of Florida. No snow in Daytona Beach for the weekend but it was absolutely freezing. I brought a ton of warm winter clothing but I was still freezing cold.

Anyway… main reason for signing up to volunter this event was to see the new cars for the 2018 season. There was a lot new. The Acuras of Team Penske were quite ugly to look at but fast right out of the box. The Cadillac Dallaras were predictably the quickest. Mazda was still predictably slow, even under Team Joest management.

I love the fact there were so many prototypes. Seems like more than I remember in previous years. The GT Daytona collection had amazing variety again. Very nice to see both BMW M6 and M8 side by side in naked carbon fiber form.

In Continental Tire series it was near to see the fleet of TCR cars. Volksvagen Golf GTi especially was impressive to watch as it spun a few times in the bus stop where I was flagging for a few days.

Mercedes and Audi GT4 cars were a surprise especially when I realized that the R8 was a V10!

I got a chance to flag from Turn 4 as well and worked Turn 3 on Monday for Ferrari Challenge which looked revived with the Ferrari 488 Evo spec racers.

It was a great weekend despite the cold. Looking forward to the Rolex 24 next week.

Post Card from Ferrari Challenge at Daytona Pre-24h Weekend Test Day

Great way to spend Monday at the race track. The temperature is warmest it has been for the whole week down in Florida. Today was in the 70’s and misty. But despite the light rain it was enjoyable flagging at Turn 3.

I thought Ferrari Challenge was dying out based on the low attendance at Line Rock, but this field was impressive.

Some pix:

Back to reality tomorrow… great trip to Daytona! Can’t wait to return in two weeks.

Favorite car wrap:

Roar Before the 24 Pit Lane Preview

This year’s Roar Before the Rolex 24 was much bigger than last years… why? My guess would be because of Fernando Alonso… and maybe a gaggle of other Formula 1 drivers, along with a whole fleet of new Prototype and GT cars on display.

I’m thrilled to have had an opportunity to visit the pit area for WeatherTech Sports Car Championship practice, and I can’t wait for the proper enduro at the end of the month. It will be fantastic.

Here’s a few pix:

The elusive Team Joest Mazda

Alonso!

Hold on…

Jackie Chan Racing

Keep holding…

Hopefully… with a little bit of luck… this will be my view for the Rolex 24 in pit out.

Also hoping the weather is like this, warm and sunny.

With no Miatas racing in IMSA any more, it’s nice to see an RF at the Team Joest garages.

Post Card from the Conti Paddock at the Roar before the 24 at Daytona

Sunday Fun Day… Finally things turned around for me. I finally got my preferred station assignment to work Turn 4, which meant I could visit the paddock and take in all the new stuff on display this season.

Apparently IMSA will be following SRO specifications for GT4 machinery. And there’s lots of it here: Mercedes-AMG GT4 and Audi R8 GT4 joining an established field of Aston Martin GT4, Porsche Cayman GT4, and Mustang GT4.

A whole new series previously previewed in a competing series last year with Pirelli World Challenge: the TCR cars. We had a number of Audi RS3 LMS and a single VW Golf GTi TCR.

Here’s the pix:

Oh yes, another new addition to the GS field BMW M4

Lots of German silver cars in this growing field previously dominated by Mustangs and Camaros.

Post Card from the 2018 Roar Before the 24 at Daytona International Speedway

Greetings from freezing-cold Daytona. Starting temps in the 30’s every morning has been brutal. Worse than previous year’s Roar. What makes this one even more miserable and disappointing is the fact I haven’t gotten a chance to work with my buddy John in Turn 4, instead I’m getting punished at Turn 7 for some reason. Very nice people working there but it’s not why I signed up to work this event.

Luckily John and i managed to get to the paddock Saturday evening during the dinner break. Most cars were torn down but I got a few good shots of the Penske Acuras.

Hopefully I’ll get a better opportunity to check out the Joest Mazda’s on the last day tomorrow, Sunday.

Lots of prototypes for this event with a healthy field of GT’ s as well. Lots of new stuff too!

The old Spirit of Daytona Multimatic LMP2

Jackie Chan Racing LMP2’s

New BMW M8 vs. Old M6

Fingers crossed for another paddock visit tomorrow, or the $300 bux spent on this trip was poured down the drain.

How to get a job in Motorsport?

Seven years in this hobby, fifteen countries worked in on multiple crews from flagging to rescue services, to pits, grid and start/finish… and all that means absolutely nothing to people in HR at NASCAR/IMSA. How incredibly disappointing?

And so I’ve reached a point where the dilemma isn’t choosing which weekend to volunteer between IMSA and PWC or Trans Am or Indy… but whether I should find a new hobby because this one is getting way too expensive to continue, especially without any income. And yet I’m addicted to it. Another rejection for a paid gig, and I quickly signed up to volunteer for the Roar and Rolex 24 at Daytona. I’m looking forward to the 50+ car field… many new additions, new teams, new drivers. It’s exciting even when it’s not sustainable, ugh!

Ironically I’ll spend the Ukrainian Orthodox Christmas at the track instead of with family in New Jersey. Oh the choices we make…

The question remains: How the hell do you get a job in Motorsport?

In all this time, and at all these different venues, I’m been completely and hopelessly unsuccessful at achieving even the most modest goal.

We’ll see what 2018 brings. I’m still hopeful. But probably not for too long.

Happy Holidays Ya’ll!


photo credit: stolen from IMSA facebook page

Historic Sportscar Racing Classic 24 hours of Daytona + Trans Am Season Finale the debrief

I remember coming across a picture of a Tic Tac livery Porsche 962 Group C car advertising an event at Daytona… didn’t take me long to decide I must participate. The event: Historic Sportscar Racing Classic 24 hours of Daytona presented by IMSA. Reading about it I thought there would be a million people there… after all everywhere I go people say that Historic events are the best, at Watkins Glen or Laguna Seca or even international events like Spa-Fracorchamps.

Reality though was a bit more low key. But lucky for me not only did I get to see the aforementioned Tic Tac livery Porsche 962. I got to see four of them altogether. I figured they’d do a few parade laps and take it easy for display purposes. In reality though each car was pushing their limits. Some I clocked at nearly 180mph from my post at Pit Out during the race. Wow!

I was always of the opinion that prototypes resembling production cars made the best race cars. The more recent Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR or CLK LM I got to see a few times now is one of my favorites. Similarly Porsche 911 GT1 and the McLaren F1 GTR are amazing. But the cars that preceded that era of racing were the Porsche 956 and 962 respectively and for me seeing them race was a true highlight of the visit to Daytona.

Even though this Rothmans livery Porsche didn’t actually race, it was neat to watch it during practice keep up with the competition. I was convinced this was the car I got to see sitting at Bruce Canepa museum in California a few weeks back, but it was actually a different chassis altogether.

I knew the Dyson team was a competitive Mazda prototype racers in American Le Mans Series, but it was neat to learn they had a history with Porsche Racing in IMSA GTP

The Hawaiian Tropic Fabcar didn’t roll out until race day and after seeing it I really took a liking to it. Compared to the Tic Tac livery car this was like comparing IndyCar to F1, but still it looked beautiful.

I was happy to see other interesting sports cars I haven’t seen before like the Sunoco livery Camaro and the Oldsmobile Aurora IMSA GT.

Overall it was an incredible week… Five days on track at Daytona and most of the time all by myself in Pit Out. What an amazing experience.

It’s ironic that I’m going to mention Trans Am almost as an afterthought, but that’s what it felt like they were at this event. Even though it was their season finale they definitely played a support role for the HSR. That didn’t stop them from having some aggressive racing on display and I truly enjoyed the experience.

Anyway…  race day especially was a real enduro. We only had three SCCA people on Pit Lane (possibly four but he was on the HSR radio) and those three were basically there for the full 30 hours of the race. Starting 7am Saturday for the morning meeting, and finishing Sunday 1pm’ish after that last race got totally mangled with incidents. I attempted to work the full race through for two of my previous Daytona 24 hours (modern IMSA races) but the closest I came was working 22 hours in 2013… somehow this time around I managed to do all 30! It did help that there were 45 minute races with 15 minutes between sessions that I could sit down, but still.

Getting to the event was a real enduro also. I elected to drive down because flights weren’t all that cheap, and a one-way Hertz rental from one of NYC’s airports was just $4.99 per day. I decided to book a car for two days so I could do a more leisurely drive. And my total came out to just over $13 dollars. As cheap as it seems though the fuel killed the deal. It cost me $71 in fuel for the little Nissan Versa I got. Plus another $49 for a hotel in South Carolina to get some rest. I picked my usual stop on the North/South Carolina border to get some fresh pig wings from Dixie Pig in Rock Hill… my favorite!

Spending the night in Charlotte area was neat because I got to see a ton of Miata’s driving around. There was one sitting by my motel at a gas station when I pulled in. And another must have been dining at a fast food place near the motel when I went to pick up my food. So I quickly posted on facebook to see if anyone would want to meet up. Obviously it was too late to do something that evening, but next day I headed out to a Miata specialist shop in Columbia, South Carolina to check out their NC Miata race cars and the garage. And while there got a message from a Miata owner in Savannah, Georgia to meet up for lunch there. Perfect!

The Savannah Miata mini-meet was kind of funny… I neglected to mention to my new friend that I’m driving a rental car, and he almost showed up in his minivan that is used for car pooling… but I’m glad he stopped home to swap into his gorgeous Miata. Love that color blue!

Great opportunity to meet a fellow Miata owner and to try a new place… never been to Zaxby’s before, and it wasn’t bad.

The rental car though was a solid piece of shit, the only saving grace was the fact I squeezed out over 40mpg out of it on the 1,100 mile road trip.

Wish I could bring a little palm tree home one day… or move to a state with palm trees… like say: Florida?

I think one of these days I’ll just move down there!

Speaking of Florida two of my First Coast Miata buddies came out to watch the races on Friday… but because our schedule was so hectic I didn’t get a chance to say Hello… luckily I did get an opportunity to take a shot of their cars coming back from lunch:

Some great folks from the First Coast Miata Club in Jacksonville, FL

And so in closing it was a super incredible weekend. Got a chance to see some awesome machinery going really fast. And some stuff you don’t normally see out and about…. like the Ferrari F40

…which looked almost common parked next to this amazing thing:

So yeah, can’t say enough good things about this trip!

HSR Classic 24 hour at Daytona in Pictures

For anyone that hasn’t considered coming out for an HSR event in your area… Do it! If you can come out for the Classic 24h at Daytona, definitely Do it!!!

Some of my favorites of the weekend:

BMW M1

Porsche 962 Tic Tac livery

Porsche 962 Leyton House livery

Oldsmobile Aurora IMSA GT

Jaguar XJR IMSA GTP and World Sportscar Championship Group C

Oreca Lista livery

Jaguar XJR

The ugliest car of the weekend… a some sort of train-face Lola

Chrysler Oreca

Porsche 962 Rothmans livery

Ford GT

The March that Adrien Newey tore up…

Sunoco Camaro my favorite livery

Porsche 962 Dyson Racing

Porsche 962 Hawaiian Tropic livery

What a fantastic entry list for a race weekend…

 

There’s Classic 12 hours of Sebring coming up around Thanksgiving!

Porsche 962 at the HSR Classic 24h of Daytona

The one car that sold me on the HSR Classic 24h of Daytona was the Tic Tac livery Porsche 962 1980’s era Group C car. I had just gotten a really close look at the Rothmans livery Porsche 962 a month earlier at the Bruce Canepa museum in California while volunteering at Laguna Seca, and couldn’t wait to see one go flat out on a track. The HSR historics race was a great opportunity for that. Little did I know there would be a whole fleet of them there. Including a Vern Schuppan Porsche 962CR street version:

I had no idea this thing even existed, and in fact when I first saw it I thought… wow someone made a kit car, but it’s real and it’s amazing!

The aforementioned Porsche 962C TicTac livery car was just one of many in a fleet of 962’s that showed up this weekend.

The Leyton House livery 962 was sweeping all the victories of the weekend. It was a nice comparison of the standard and a long-tail version of the cars side by side.

I didn’t realize but before racing Mazda’s in ALMS the Dyson Team from New York ran a Porsche 962 in Camel GT and/or IMSA GTP:

Another IMSA GTP entrant was this Hawaiian Tropic Livery 962:

And of course the previously mentioned factory team: Rothmans Porsche 962 that only ran a few test sessions but set out the race:

I hadn’t realized it but I have seen these Porsche 962’s run on track before… just a few years ago when I volunteered the Shannon’s Historics of Phillip Island in Australia there were two beautiful 962’s running there:

Huge thanks to my friend Ian Percival for these amazing shots.

For my future HSR events I’m hoping to see some other GT – prototypes that have a street version out there like the Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR or the Porsche 911 GT1 (and of course the McLaren F1 GTR) They sure leave a great impression!

Grid Walk Post Card from Group C cars at the HSR Classic 24h at Daytona

By far my most favorite memory from the HSR Classic 24h at Daytona was the Group C grid walk before the start of the race. What an incredible experience right in the heart of things.

Here’s some pix:

First race I worked all the way thru, not just the 24 hour, but also all the support races starting at 7am Saturday morning and finishing after 1pm on Sunday afternoon. Was well worth it!