Ferrari Club of America Guesting IndyCar at Watkins Glen International

I’d be first to admit that I’m not the biggest fan of IndyCar racing. It’s a spec racing series using the same Dallara chasis on the same Firstone tires with the same aging drivers that have been behind the same wheel in this series for more than ten years (many of them) enriching their retirement funds. Whatever! But it was a good opportunity to make another trip to Watkins Glen International Upstate New York and watch some exciting action. Well most of it.

The IndyCars were very fast, I was much impressed. I was especially happy with how quickly they went around the corners, cars were stuck like glue and there was minimal braking or downshifting. That was cool. But the weekend was full of three extremes. Since Ferrari Club of America had the track booked first, their Driver Education took precedence over everything else. As far as they were concerned they were the feature event. And it was bloody boring, for the most part. In most sessions, and around most corners no passing was allowed. So despite having some wonderful Italian machinery, they followed each other at snail’s pace. What I didn’t particularly like was the fact that Ferrari Club of American seemed to open this event to just about anybody with money to run on track, which resulted in a few Miata’s, a bunch of Fiats, some Porsche’s and Lambo’s and a few BMW’s, putzing around on track. I like Miata’s, but I really don’t want to see them on track at a “Ferrari” weekend.

When IndyCar finally took to the track it was fun. But the series officials clipped our wings as marshals a little bit and that was also disappointing. The new rules Indy implemented call for no Yellow flag for any car going off track that is still making forward motion. That’s pretty unnatural and very much unsafe in situations where a car goes off around a blind corner and may re-enter slowly in front of a fast moving car behind it that wouldn’t have a chance to see it at speed. I understand the rules were changed to prevent drivers from getting penalized but even some drivers were bitching about the rules not being applied universally. One complained that a Yellow flag came out when he spun and quickly continued all the while making forward progress…. What the fuck? Are you kidding me! You spin, you cause a flag. Simple! Don’t want to be penalized then don’t fucking spin! I think this stupid rule is going to end badly when someone does something stupid, where a marshal will hesitate to put a Yellow out not to penalize the idiot, resulting in another car collecting the offender at speed. I just hope nobody gets hurt before they come to their senses and let marshals flag consistently displaying a Yellow flag in a situation that calls for it. Car being four wheels off track – one of them.

One thing that kind of puts me off IndyCar is the design of the actual race car, this weekend we saw an addition of airplane style winglets to the front wings of some cars including the winner of the race Scott Dixon… as anything else with these Dallara’s the design seems crazy and way over the top:

indycar at watkins glen during ferrari club of america labor day weekend

Anyway. It was really nice to see RSI welcome some seasoned SCCA guest flaggers for this event. I was surprised just how few showed up, but those that did were probably the best flaggers out there. That was very cool and propped up the numbers of the local marshals nicely. I was very proud of the RSI folks for following the protocols to the T, which was extremely impressive and not how typical pro events go where there’s a lot of fumbling on the radio net. And the event had quite a few incidents which were also handled very nicely so my hat is off to the good folks at RSI!

This was my sixth Indy event this season which is in stark contrast to last year where I didn’t do any of them. I think in the future I’ll be more selective of which events I choose to do, and when it comes to Indy I’ll probably decide based on whomever the support event may be. I felt I tricked myself a little bit believing Ferrari Club of America was something like Ferrari Challenge… it isn’t. It was also my fifth or sixth time at Watkins Glen International this season which was pretty unusual. But with the car performing nicely, the five hour drive was quite enjoyable and I’m looking forward to more trips there. The only thing that got me this time was the weather. It was unbelievably cold during the night and despite the temps being in the 80’s during the day apparently, I never really warmed up after freezing overnight…. and I thought I was prepared with blankets and such while camping. I really don’t like camping.

But I love racing and camping is the only thing I could afford right now. A few more events this season and it’s over. It’s been a good year!

indycar grand prix at the glen 4

PS. If I could make a tiny request to Ferrari Club of America for next time, please have more cars like this:

ferrari club of america at watkins glen 1

ferrari club of america at watkins glen 2

ferrari club of america at watkins glen 3