Getting a different perspective for PCA at NJMP

A little change of scenery this weekend. I was browsing through the job section of Craigslist a few weeks ago and came across a mechanic wanted ad for a local race shop. While I don’t qualify as a mechanic nor would I even be considered for such a job, the race shop was kind enough to invite me to one of their events to see how the team is run from the garages in the paddock, a different view I normally get while volunteering as a flagger. So for four days I played a “crew” member riding down to the track in their hauler, taking action shots with a borrowed SLR, helping out in the garage, running errands like getting race fuel in the Tonka truck or ordering lunches, etc. It was an interesting experience.

Out of the three cars HRD brought to NJMP for PCA, only one ended up being very competitive all weekend. One had a gremlin in the intake seeping air and did not race as intended, and another had an electrical issue during a race that resulted in a DNF. For the races I managed to borrow one of the actual crew member’s cameras and a pick-up truck to get around the perimeter of NJMP to take some action pictures from various turns (many that I have worked before and already knew how the cars looked thru there). As I was positioning myself between turns 1 and 2, I got confronted by one of the yellow-shirts, an overzealous security guard whom didn’t like me being there though I was doing nothing wrong… Very typical behaviour that resulted in me rushing to registration to get a Media vest with credentials… not a big deal, but I missed a good 20 minutes of the race which I should have used to take pictures. So in the words of Scott Dixon: “What a dick move!”

I did have a few surprising “recognition” moments that gave me a big boost to my ego… I recognized a few flaggers I’ve worked with before whom I made sure to say hello to over the weekend and make small chat. But what really excited me was (after having gotten an orange NJMP media vest and knowing full well that there was no point in driving around the track when I could go “trackside” to take pictures) I approached one of the corner workers at turn 9 to quickly check if he was OK with me being there – it was his station after all, and a polite thing to do… and he said: “Hey, you’re that flagger guy! I follow your blog…”  my reaction started with a smile from ear to ear. What a cool thing to hear! So thanks to him for being awesome and I’m really looking forward to meeting him or possibly working with him at Baltimore GP when I go back to my regularly scheduled volunteering next week. Similarly, while in the garages and the paddock, I really kept my distance from drivers. One: to avoid annoying them and two: to basically stay out of their way as they went through their rituals of prepping for the drive/race. Well, one of the pro-drivers hired to coach one of the team’s racers, came up to me to introduce himself with a mention: “Hey I know I’ve seen you at the track before, your face looks very familiar.” Way cool again!

But enough talk, check out some lucky shots I took over the weekend… out of 2,000+ pix only a few hundred actually look half decent, in focus and have the car centered nicely.

#05 Porsche Cayman S normally races in the Pirelli World Challenge Series, GTS class

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#39 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup is a former Rolex Series GT car now participating in PCA

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Team HRD works hard and plays hard at the end of the race day… with an equally competitive session of Go Karts at NJMP’s F1 track… got some great shots of them beating the competition (from the BMW Club having their own racing that weekend at NJMP’s Lightning track). Everyone had fun, but things were very competitive!

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#59 Porsche Boxter, piloted by an amateur driver that actually introduced himself to me

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Special thanks to Tivadar Heinlein for inviting me to join his Heinlein Racing Development team in the paddock, greatly appreciate the enthusiasm and the good times!