Sahlen’s Six Hour at the Glen 2016 the debrief

I’ve been doing the Sahlen’s Six Hour at the Glen since Grand Am ran the series in 2012, each year it’s different. This year was my best one yet. So many things went right. So many things made me happy, I can’t rant and rave enough about the experience… but I’ll try.

First things first. This was a four day event. Four pretty long and grueling days. I totally lucked out with my station assignments thanks to RSI boss Jim Wilbur. No I didn’t get to work Start, but for pro events where official IMSA starter does all the work anyway, I don’t really miss it. Instead I got to work Turn 6 in the Boot on Thursday, Turn 5A in the Bus Stop on Friday, Turn 1A on Saturday and Turn 1 on Sunday. Is it possible to get better assignments than these? I don’t think so.

As far as incidents went we didn’t have too many. I think of myself as the anti-magnet because whenever I work a station nothing happens and the next day things go to hell in a basket there real quick. But I wouldn’t complain about that. I do always tell the people I work with that if something is going to happen I would prefer for it to happen in front of us so at the very least we have the opportunity to learn from the incident. Things happened in a real big way on Friday when a Lamborghini Huracan smashed the wall while braking for the Bus Stop… the car did a 360 sending debris flying everywhere, the left rear wheel assembly ended up landing in the duck pond. And as soon as the car stopped it lit on fire. The driver walked away OK but I was most impressed with how the IMSA Porsche SUV driving safety crew put out the relatively large fire using just the car’s internal extinguisher system. That was really cool!

For the rest of the days I was limited to watching cars go 4 off in our corner or at the most spin. Which was OK… I wasn’t too happy to see the #55 spin at Turn 1 on race day because I was hoping the Le Mans heritage livery car would do well, but predictably the Daytona Prototypes won and that was a bit of a bummer for the otherwise good weekend. But what are gonna do?

I’m thrilled that RSI has been open to the idea of letting SCCA marshals from other places volunteer. I got to work with folks I had worked with a few weeks earlier at Detroit Grand Prix visiting Upstate New York from Michigan. Ron came to satisfy his bucket list quest form California. There was someone from Maryland, another lady from Ontario. It was very well staffed. The IMSA folks were very happy with the quality of calls on the radio, until of course the very last day when a few people fumbled their calls. It doesn’t take much to make a mistake though, I’ve done quite a few working comms on Thursday and Friday. But it was good practice.

The highlight of my trip of course was seeing all the Mazda stuff. Mazda as a company and Mazda Motorsports as a participant committed in a big way to their product during the visit to Watkins Glen. There was significant presence not just with the Mazda Owner’s Lounge in the infield, but also the Test Drive display on the outside of Turn 1. I kind of wished I had more time to take a new ND Miata for a spin around the old Watkins Glen Grand Prix street circuit. Drive past Seneca Lodge and all… But it didn’t happen.

I did get to meet a ton of Mazda people though. And we were lucky enough to stumble onto the Team photo shoot in progress on Day 1. I remember hearing someone from the team saying that despite the photos being released the next day he was sure they were already on Facebook. I posted mine at that moment. I figured if they wanted to keep this stuff secret they would undoubtedly shooo us off or even call security for assistance but nobody said a peep.

I got a ton of swag from Mazda… mostly lanyards I plan to take with me to Europe for the MX-5 Miata Euro Trip (Holland, Germany, Belgium and France). But while working I noticed photographers wearing a very cool Le Mans heritage lanyard… I had to have it. And to make a long story short I approached one of the Mazda big wigs at their paddock area and the guy took it off his neck and gave it to me just because I volunteer as a corner worker. I thought that was bloody tops! Nobody else in that paddock would give you the shirt of their backs, so to speak, but this dude did, and I thank him for it! Furthermore, one of the photographers I asked about it on Thursday made it a point to go and find me on Sunday just to give me another one. I thought that was really cool, and gave him a million thanks too! What a pleasant experience all around.

After nine weekends in a row at various race tracks and two trips to WGI back to back I am ready to take a little break from racing now.

Of course my next trip is just a week away going to Europe to marshal my 15th country (the Netherlands), work the GP circuit at Nurburgring and do another year at Spa-Francorchamps for Spa 24h. I can hardly wait, actually!

Woo Hoo….

 

PS. speaking of Europe, I was fortunate enough to see and watch the original 1991 Le Mans 24h winning Mazda 787B go around Circuit de la Sarthe during the 2013 Le Mans 24h race (where I was for the first time) and the current SpeedSource interpretation, while inspired by the original is nothing really like it… But it’s nice to see.

mazda 787b at circuit de la sarthe le mans 2013 france 1

mazda 787b at circuit de la sarthe le mans 2013 france 2

mazda 787b at circuit de la sarthe le mans 2013 france 3

mazda 787b at circuit de la sarthe le mans 2013 france 4

mazda 787b at circuit de la sarthe le mans 2013 france 5

mazda 787b at circuit de la sarthe le mans 2013 france 7

mazda 787b at circuit de la sarthe le mans 2013 france 8

I especially like to see this line: Never Give Up!  I will one day apply that principle to my job search!

mazda 787b at circuit de la sarthe le mans 2013 france 6

Compared to:

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 34

sahlen's six hour at the glen 2016 paddock walk 20