Category Archives: Watkins Glen International

Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen, New York, USA

Most Un-NASCAR-Like Race at Watkins Glen the debrief

Greetings from the Glen! It’s NASCAR weekend and while the camp sites and the grand stands were all completely full (sold out some claimed) it was hard to believe that these were NASCAR races… Why? Because every driver, in each of the three series racing this weekend drove so professionally. It was a little hard to believe. I mean I don’t know much about NASCAR but if there’s one thing I’ve heard and seen talked about the series before is all it’s crashes. And there weren’t many. I saw a few nose to tail bumps, a couple of side to side contacts. A few spins. But that’s it. No major crashes. Hell, no minor crashes either. It was great to watch! Really spectacular racing with drivers in control of their cars ignoring the stereotypes. This was also the weekend that had the potential of seeing one of the first Monster Energy Cup events in the rain… and while the weather on Saturday had the potential for wet stuff, it really dissipated by Sunday and we had a picture perfect race.

I loved this weekend! I had such a blast.

First, huge thanks to RSI for the awesome station assignments again. I am super fortunate and blessed to get the views I was getting and for that I’m grateful!

Station 5A views, at Turn 5 exit of the Bus Stop

Station 2, at Turn 2 bottom of the Esses.

Both turns had a lot of potential for huge incidents. But instead we saw good clean racing. And that was neat!

I was super happy I got to hang out with some close friends over the weekend. Hit Watkins Glen downtown for some dinners. Enjoy the NASCAR atmosphere at the local pubs where drivers apparently served as bar tenders and free swag was given out. I was lucky to bring some of that swag home. That’s always a plus (not that I need any more swag).

Lucky for me, my buddy Chris from New Jersey came up to use my guest pass so I had an excuse to visit the infield for the first time (ever I think) during a NASCAR weekend. It was great to see sooo many people enjoying themselves. Checking out the displays, buying NASCAR gear, and having fun!

I loved the ambiance of it all.

And so another race in the books. This was probably the most clean NASCAR event I’ve ever worked. Which is a huge positive! I’m especially happy that for the Monster Energy Cup Series there was no Green/White/Checker routine everyone is so used to.

Thanks to NASCAR for putting on a great show. Thanks to Watkins Glen for being such an awesome facility. And thanks to RSI for making my volunteering enjoyable there!

See you next year.

Post Card from the Infield of NASCAR at Watkins Glen

So of all the years I’ve been doing NASCAR at Watkins Glen this was a first for me… Being able to check out the infield and all (some) of the insanity (cool shit!) it has to offer!

I was fortunate my friends from New Jersey came for the race, using one of my guest passes and purchasing a general admission ticket at the gate. It was interesting to hear their input on the very first NASCAR experience they had. But more importantly for me I got a chance to show them around a little bit during the downtime we had between qualifying and the race.

This was soooo cool!

I didn’t realize this before but NASCAR does an excellent job of keeping us (the marshals) away from their cars. This was a great opportunity to come very close to the replica/cutaways.

Not your typical Toyota Camry… it’s funny we’re used to call carbon fiber debris on track… with these cars its a bit more fiberglass instead, although 6 inch duct hoses seemed to be the culprit this time. And it’s nice to see them using some carbon fiber in the cabin finally… in an otherwise rudimentary/basic race car set up.

The State of New York / Tourism of NY sponsored the event.

Judging by the huge attendance, all grand stands were completely full, and thanks to the chamber of commerce for the excellent weather I’m know the State of New York got their money’s worth… I certainly did!

Post Card from NASCAR at Watkins Glen

Howdy Ya’ll!

A truly excellent weekend was spent at Watkins Glen for this year’s NASCAR – Monster Energy Cup, Xfinity Series and K&N Series East.

Here’s some pix:

Day 1 at Station 5A in Turn 5 – exit of the Bus Stop

Favorite car of the day: #6 Sunoco K&N Series East Toyota Camry

Runner up favorite car… this Toyopet sponsored old body that almost won the race.

Day 2 and 3, moved to Station 2 in Turn 2 start of the Esses.

Fantastic view, even closer to the track!

Preview of my next event in Atlantic City, New Jersey

Monster came thru big time, visiting the RSI campground and giving out tons of freebie drinks to the marshals. Thanks Monster!

I like how close US and Canada is at this event, with plenty of Canadian marshals (and many fans) represented, as well as Canadian anthem being sung before each of the races.

Had such a wonderful time working with Barb an awesome marshal.

Hey! I’ve seen this car before… had Photographer credentials.

This fella almost ran over my tent backing that thing up… Ugh!

Awesome sunny day for race day on Sunday! And it was one of the most un-NASCAR-like races I’ve ever seen at the Glen!

Even in town everyone was enjoying the NASCAR spirit… visited Bleachers for dinner whom were very #2 Brand K-ski themed, giving out free Miller Lite’s and I even got lucky with a giveaway hat.

More to come in a debrief…

NASCAR Spotter Guide for I<3NY 355 at Watkins Glen

I love spotter guides! I’ve posted many releases from Andy Blackmore for various sports car racing series he does so professionally. But a few recent trips to Formula E as a volunteer made me realize just how critical spotter guides are for someone that knows little about a particular series, and it really frustrated me that nothing was available on the official web site, and only a few options existed from amateurs created for previous season’s events.

NASCAR is one of those series I know little about… there’s a ton of cars in each of the Monster Energy and Xfinity Series I’m about to embark on this weekend, and I’m happy to say that NASCAR.com has a Paint Scheme Preview – Spotter Guide posted on their web site, here it is for those interested: ┬áhttps://galleries.nascar.com/gallery/1356/paint-scheme-preview-watkins-glen#/0

Monster Energy Cup Series:

photo credit: nascar.com
photo credit: nascar.com
photo credit: nascar.com
photo credit: nascar.com
photo credit: nascar.com
photo credit: nascar.com
photo credit: nascar.com
photo credit: nascar.com
photo credit: nascar.com
photo credit: nascar.com
photo credit: nascar.com
photo credit: nascar.com

 

Xfinity Series:

photo credit: nascar.com
photo credit: nascar.com
photo credit: nascar.com
photo credit: nascar.com
photo credit: nascar.com

A few interesting observations… real NASCAR fans know the cars they follow because typically they have favorite drivers, and therefore know everything about him… I don’t. But I do enjoy checking out the cool looking paint jobs. My favorite of these series that were released yesterday is the SUNENERGY car… why? Because it reminds me a lot of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 in IMSA.

I’ll share some pix from the event soonly…

Sahlen’s 6 hour at the Glen 2017 the debrief

As is usually the case, I started writing several looooong paragraphs took a deep breath and deleted them because many things I said there would get me in trouble. So instead I’ll just tone it down to this: I had a generally great experience this Independence Day/Fourth of July Weekend at Watkins Glen.

The Sahlen’s Six Hours at the Glen proved to be everything I expected it to be and then some. The weather could have put a damper (? not sure if that’s the right word here) on things but it didn’t. Tent stayed relatively dry. Racing was relatively good. And people I was hanging out with were super friendly. I would say I got the VIP treatment from RSI but that would imply that they somehow treated me better than they treat others, which isn’t accurate. I’m genuinely satisfied with the way everyone behaves at RSI that I come in contact with and for me that’s a huge plus, I appreciate the positive vibes and positive attitudes.

We did have a few massive smash ups that I personally got a chance to respond to. A driver left in a Medevac unit which nobody ever wants to see, several others ended up in the hospital also, and the race was red flagged. It was an incredible experience and one I will definitely learn from.

There were moments I really liked. Like all the star and stripe and patriotic liveries many cars were wearing. Some things I didn’t like… the weather – mainly. But also the performance of the Mazda prototype team which keeps playing this underdog role that they really don’t deserve anymore. It was nice to see one of the cars end up on the podium, but that happened only because so many cars didn’t finish, including the other Mazda prototype. So that’s that.

Favorite little car that was an actual underdog was this yellow NC:

It still uses NC1 tail lights… just like my car.

Interestingly enough the #25 car had a smashup this weekend running it’s traditional Freedom Autosport livery, and suddenly it re-emerged wearing #25 under Murillo Racing orange livery. Wish I had snapped a photo of it. But my station was too far to the grid so I had to boogey down in order to make the start of the race.

Here’s the previously mentioned 4th of July liveries I did manage to get a snap of:

And here’s a few cool NC Miata’s I ran across in town at Watkins Glen and at the track:

There was a convoy of about five of various vintage Miata’s parading around Watkins Glen on Wednesday that I waved to while driving in the opposite direction, but I’m not sure what club they were from or what group it was that organized that cruise… it would have been nice to join them but I saw nothing about this event posted online.

Back to the track..

I got to flag from Station 3 on Thursday which is at the top of the Esses. Station 4 on Friday which is the next station after the bridge leading up to the Bus Stop… and Station 9A at the exit of the Boot on Saturday and Sunday.

The major smash up I experienced was Porsche GT3 Cup behaving very NASCAR-like… in fact I had worked an event for NASCAR when we had an identical full-track-blockage incident on the same station. This one however was far scarier. One of the Porsche’s completely lost it’s front end… wheels, suspension, frunk… everything!

On GTD qualifying I had a weird experience with the two Lexuses. They had back to back, identical incidents within seconds of each other, where one vehicle recovered the spin with damage and the other planted it into the guard rail causing a small engine fire.

So all in all it was a pretty active weekend. Lots to see. Lots to do.

I loved it!

Thank you Watkins Glen, and I hope to see you next year.

 

Post Card from the Sahlen’s 6 hour at the Glen Grid Walk

I got pretty excited about this event because there was an RSI e-mail sent to all the persons that hadn’t worked an event at Watkins Glen this year (which I have not) stating that as form of punishment instead of flagging on regular stations we’ll be required to work in the paddock… SWEET! I thought, that’s like the best punishment ever… but alas, I was put on station all four days of the event. And as luck would have it the station (9A – exit of the boot) was just close enough to take a sneak peak at the Grid, but not really long enough to take many pictures. In fact for the Conti race I only got as far as the very last car on the grid, and then had to run back to get to my post in time for the start of the race (and buy lunch on the way back so I could wolf it down during the sighting lap)… it’s like that time I bitched about Lime Rock where you got one of two options during lunch either take pix of cars or eat lunch, but not both… well this was the same scenario. But I got to have my cake and eat it too… check out all the awesome pix I took for my private collection:

I lied, I snuck a shot or the second-to-last car on the grid too…

How I wished I would have worked paddock for this event ­čśë

After the first day of racing on Saturday, we went in town for some tasty seafood dinner at the Marina… what a view!

looked like someone took a chunk out of my fish before it got to my table… hmmmm!?

And of course nice to spy a Niseko Miata in the parking lot.

Next morning back to station, sadly couldn’t drive trackside to get to it but was able to cross the actual track at Turn 5… going counter.

Same story on Race Day! We were technically not allowed to leave station because it wasn’t fair to every other marshal on other stations. But I was busting to use the bathroom and I had to buy lunch, so off to the paddock area I went, which was right next to the Grid… so I snuck in real quick:

As usual the grid was very crowded… and whatdyakno… there were other flaggers there taking pictures like me. But also lots and lots of kids which is really awesome to see. The Prototype area was super crowded but the GT field, especially GTD was nearly empty, and in my view it had the most variety. Acura, Audi, BMW, Lamborghini, Lexus, Mercedes-AMG, Porsche, holly-cow is that field awesome!

Also lucky for me Mazda qualified like shit… taking the very last spots on the Prototype grid… which meant I could get some shots without a bunch of people crowding two inches from the cars.

and back to my post I ran… (taking more pictures on the go)

the parking area was interesting too, not just the grid…

Oh look a True Red Miata:

a debrief coming soon…

Post Card from the Sahlen’s 6 hour at the Glen Paddock

Greetings from the Independence Day Weekend at Watkins Glen… The Sahlen’s 6 hour at the Glen paddock filled up slowly. I arrived Wednesday afternoon, went for a wonder around the paddock and only saw some Porsche GT3 Cup, Lamborghini Super Trofeo Huracan’s and LMP3/Mazda Prototype Challenge cars unloaded. But as the weekend went on and more trailers moved in there was a lot to look at. Especially all those cars with patriotic wraps on them…

some pix:

I hate camping, especially with the threat of severe weather, luckily my tent only took on a little bit of water.

This 911 put on quite a smoke show when I approached… got oil?

I love the fact they mixed the US and Canadian series for this weekend. It had some crazy side affects due to a crash that I got to witness on their Race 1 but still nice to see a 40 car field of GT3’s.

The weirdest thing for me with these pace cars was that a Porsche started the Platinum group during the GT3 race, but an Audi started the Gold group… couldn’t they source another 911 somewhere?

At least the Mazda started their Prototype Challenge races.

…and it’s a pretty RF model with Global MX-5 Cup wheels!

Anybody wanna buy a Norma LMP3?

My usual cruise to Jerlando’s in Montour Falls for some faux-Italian:

New sign: Welcome to Watkins Glen!

Top of the Esses selfie, day one working solo.

And as the paddock filled in, more IMSA stuff to check out:

Love that bucket of fries I got a chance to lunch on one of the days…

more to follow…

Sahlen’s Six Hour at the Glen Spotter Guides by Andy Blackmore

Don’t know about all ya’ll but I’ll be spending this Forth of July Upstate New York, volunteering yet another Sahlen’s Six Hour at the Glen… you know the race weekend is near because Andy Blackmore has released a whole series of new spotter guides for this event. And because IMSA is pretty awesome, there are spotter guides commissioned for nearly every series racing!

So go to SpotterGuides.com or IMSA.com and download them:

What can you download?

  • WeatherTech Sports Car Championship spotter guide
  • Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge spotter guide
  • Porsche GT3 Cup North America spotter guide
  • Porsche GT3 Cup Canada spotter guide
  • Lamborghini Super Trofeo spotter guide

OR… do what I do, and stop by one of the many info booth’s at Watkins Glen International and pick up a spotter guide as a souvenir to take home… those are my favorite!

links:

http://www.imsa.com/

https://www.facebook.com/SpotterGuides/

2017 Official IMSA Spotter Guide

 

Track Familiarization during RSI MSS at WGI

Track Familiarization module is a beautiful thing. It’s an opportunity for flag marshals to drive the track at speed and see what the driver’s see (at a higher rate of speed). And I must say with all the things to consider and the visual information you take in while driving the track, the flag station is but a tiny spec that you fly by. That’s why flagging, especially displaying yellow flag in a dangerous situation requires apeshit effort because just dangling a piece of yellow cloth out there won’t get anyone’s attention. I thought that was the biggest lesson to be learned today.

And even though I have absolutely no intention of doing any driving, I learned I had no future as a race car driver long ago, and that marshaling is the closest I ever want to get (it is expensive enough for me and I could barely afford volunteering). Driving on track today totally made my day. What an awesome adrenaline rush!

We staged in the Winner’s Circle before taking to the track, so it’s a great opportunity as any to take some pretty Miata pix:

This lip spoiler is really growing on me…

Oh hey! Another B-spec Mazda.

Heading up the Esses

Going into the Bus Stop

Heading down into the Boot

The final turn

The Starter Stand, looks like you can reach out and touch it, but while working up there the cars seem quite far down

Turn 1

The Shoot

Pit In

Thank you WGI. Thank you RSI. And thanks to the NASCAR folks for a wonderful weekend at a beautiful race track!

New WGI signage on NY 414

Watkins Glen Motorsport Safety Seminar by NASCAR

The 2017 Watkins Glen Motorsport Safety Seminar is in the books, and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to participate.

Training is crucial in this highly dangerous hobby that we choose to do, and not a lot of places provide it on a regular basis. Certainly none is offered by the SCCA in the New York City metropolitan area, but five hour drive north at Watkins Glen International, RSI and NASCAR put a very thorough and educational program together every year to both teach the newbies and refresh the skills of the old hands that attend. There were newbies for all specialties, from flaggers to fire fighters. And there were plenty of old hands who wanted to handle a fire extinguisher which we seldom get a chance to do with “on the job” training. The fire rescue folks had about half a dozen cars they got to cut up with the jaws of life, AMKUS tool – the official tool of NASCAR. People from Pocono Raceway helped with the training and rescue folks came from as far as Calabogie Canada to receive this training. It was essential and awesome at the same time. I really enjoyed it!

This is a two day event. Day 1 it snowed… not much when I arrived, but there were icebergs and fresh snow on the ground at the track.

It was also freezing!

The beauty of this training, whether for fire fighters or us flaggers, many of the things taught were meant not just for the track, but everyday life. Street cars were used for extrication practice to show how they ought to be cut correctly… whether for road accident or track accident (for track and club days, non-pro events). similarly caged cars were cut to practice specifically race car extrications.

I cashed in a favor and CouchSurfed in downtown Watkins Glen.

My host invited me to check out their neighbors barn bar… it was pretty awesome. Always nice to nibble on venison sausages and beer! These are real NASCAR fans… “So who’s your driver?”

Day two was significantly warmer. We got to shoot the extinguishers:

Same cut-away car from two years ago, but it works well!

That’s me.

Not sure what this fella was up to.

Chief really knew his shit, and presented it in understandable manner.

The wind was coming in from the front, blowing the extinguisher powder back at us. So some adjustment in positioning was required.

Everyone had a go… I went last.

By the time I got the bottle there was barely enough pressure to reach the fire.

So I sprayed, and I sprayed, and I sprayed… and I have a feeling one of the fire fighters cut the propane so the flame went out on its own.

But boy was it fun just doing it. Pulling the trigger. The excitement of fighting a fire. Better to do it under these circumstances and knowing what to expect than during a racing event when a car pulls up on fire and you’re the closet one with a bottle there. It’s nice to know what to expect from it once you’ve called for help.

Thank you RSI. Thank you WGI. Thank you NASCAR!