Tag Archives: American Le Mans Series

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

Did not think I’d go back to Daytona, until I saw all the entries for the 2017 IMSA season… wow! The new DPi programs are in full effect. There are several GTE and GT3 machines with new manufacturers. I had to be here. Not once but twice… Not just for the 24 hour race at the end of January… but the Roar before the 24 in the beginning of the month.

Here are some pix from Turn 4, working with my good friend John Gamble:

Pretty impressive line up in the GT field:

  • Aston Martin Vantage (GTD)
  • Acura NSX (GTD)
  • BMW M6 (GTLM & GTD)
  • Corvette C7.R (GTLM)
  • Ferrari 488 (GTLM & GTD)
  • Ford GT (GTLM)
  • Lamborghini Huracan GT3 (GTD)
  • Lexus IS-F (GTD)
  • Mercedes-AMG SLS (GTD)
  • Porsche 911 GT3 R (GTD)
  • Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GTLM)

The prototype field is also expanded with new Cadillac DPi replacing the familiar Corvette Daytona Prototypes. Mazda has a new skin, but a very similar engine sound to the old Lola. Lots of Orecas, a few Ligier Nissans, etc.

In the Continental Tire support group the McLaren GT4 is really balancing out the Porsche Cayman GT4 dominance.

More pix from the pit walk:

And some shots from Station 4:

And a delicious pizza dinner with the Gambles Friday night:

Looking forward to the rest of the weekend even if Saturday is supposed to be very wet…. more to come!

San Francisco Region Needs Marshals for IMSA at Laguna Seca

I just received an invite from the flag chiefs at the San Francisco Region of the SCCA to volunteer for IMSA Tudor United SportsCar Championship at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on May 1-3, 2015

I wish I could go, believe me… but hopefully sharing this information here would encourage others to sign up.

Laguna Seca is an amazing facility, and as a visiting marshal a few years ago they allowed me to work their most famous corner: the Corkscrew… twice! I worked both the American Le Mans Series round at Laguna Seca and Grand-Am round a few months later. It was an absolute blast and I am forever grateful to the good folks at San Fran region for their warm hospitality.

As a visiting marshal you may be slightly surprised at the way things are done with SFR. For example some of the traditional hand signals are quite different in California. As far as marshal roles go, you’ll find teams of flaggers and teams of communicators that are separate and are organized by separate chiefs, but work together over the weekend. You may rotate through all the flagging roles but will not be expected to handle the radio during that rotation. In some cases you may be the only person on station working the radio and flags at the same time. I loved that bit when I worked at the bottom of the Corkscrew for my last event there.

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If you are going to take my advice and go to California for this wonderful event… than make a trip out of it! What I mean by that, factor in some sightseeing time like I did. Go check out Big Sur on your leisurely drive along the PCH – Pacific Coast Highway. Experience the local cuisine. Stay in Monterey! Visit Salinas for some authentic Mexican cuisine. Enjoy San Francisco if that’s the way you fly in, or Oakland or San Jose. You won’t be disappointed. I guarantee it.

Most importantly enjoy yourself at the track. You’ll be amazed at the views you get just driving around the perimeter of the circuit. The incredible elevation changes. I mean it’s the whole package. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in my view is one of the top circuits in America. Volunteering an IMSA event there is probably one of the most exciting volunteering opportunities there are, in the whole of North America. Truly!

The sign up link is here:

Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix

More info about the event:  www.mazdaraceway.com/continental-tire-monterey-grand-prix

SF Region web site: sites.google.com/site/sfrcorners/

Jim Swintal Motorsports | jimswintal.com

Many of the marshals reading this blog already know Jim. If you’ve volunteered any of the major events in the US including Formula 1, IndyCar, IMSA Tudor United SportsCar or American Le Mans Series before that, you’ve heard him on the radio from Race Control. Some may remember Jim from his chief starter days with Champ Car / CART, as this Motorsport.com article captions he was “CART’s most visible official outside of CEO…” But besides being an accomplished marshal he’s also an amazing artist with a focus on motorsports and that’s what I wanted to share with everyone reading this regardless where you are in the world.

Check out that art work:

jim swintal motorsports poster 1Notice the attention to detail on this Laguna Seca “Corkscrew” print, with the detailed portrayal of the marshals working the turn.

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You can buy copies of his paintings as Lithographs and Posters, or Giclées Prints that are very reasonably priced through his web site:

http://www.jimswintal.com/

 

Of all the personalities I’ve met in this hobby, I have genuine admiration and respect for Jim. I really look up to him as a cool, calm and collected voice on a network when all hell is breaking loose or we’re dying of boredom on the track. And though we’ve never really communicated directly, he seems really down to earth at all the events that I’ve had the pleasure of working with him, from races at Laguna Seca in California to COTA in Texas and Sebring in Florida.

Baltimore Grand Prix ALMS & Indycar

Another “Balmore” Grand Prix is in the books… and I quickly went to re-read last year’s debrief to make sure I don’t repeat the same sentiment. This year the tale of Baltimore GP consists of two experiences. First Couch Surfing. Like last year I got very lucky with the hosts even though it wasn’t through traditional channels of requesting a place to stay. Instead I posted on Facebook in the CS Baltimore forum and got invited. Sweet! Second, the race itself. It was a crashfest! No nicer way to put it… a bunch of ‘amateurs’ it seems, as people were wrecking almost on purpose in both ALMS and Indycar feature racing that had more yellow flag / caution time than green / race time.

But it was good!

I was stationed at turn 3, the amazing hair pin that didn’t get nowhere near as much action as it did last year which seemed to have shifted mostly to turn 1, 4 and 9. But we did have a number of spins, debris, and even a car on fire during the Indycar race for which I waived our fire bottle at the driver through the hole in the fence we were behind, and he promptly stopped in front of us. Of course, he stopped on the other side of the track, and after another Indycar went between him and us at speed, he proceeded to watch the smoke billow out of the car instead of attempting to run for the fire extinguisher. Luckily the safety team were quick to respond, and all ended well.

I was not terribly impressed with the level of professionalism of the drivers this weekend. In the ALMS race, the Dyson car seemed to false start repeatedly which caused the first big wreck and contributed greatly to more full course caution the second time. Similarly, turn one shinanigans for Indycar saw four consecutive full course yellows after each attempted restart. What a joke!

On Sunday night I left Baltimore for Summit Point, and the final racing of the Labor Day weekend with the DC region SCCA. Absolutely nothing happened there, completely uneventful day… though since I was stationed at turn 3, I had to run to cars that pulled off in our shortcut area to see what the issue was… both cars lost power, which was OK… the exercise I got sprinting about 300 meters in each direction was great too. I enjoyed the leisurely road trip back to New Jersey and am looking forward to fly out for the Grand-Am weekend at Laguna Seca tomorrow.

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Postcard from the Baltimore GP

Great start to the weekend at turns 3/3A. Started out as a yellow flagger for Indy, but quickly worked my way into blue flagging ALMS, my favorite! Looking forward to more of the same tomorrow on race day.

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Happy Labor Day weekend ya’ll!

By the way, my CouchSurfing host is a mechanic and drifter that a few moons ago worked as crew ona Baltimore based Grand-Am Lexus team. He proudly showed me a 1:18 scale model of one of the cars!

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Media from SportsCar Grand Prix at Mosport

One of the many things that made the weekend at the SportsCar Grand Prix of Mosport very special was not just eating copious amounts of tasty poutine (always stick to local cuisines when I travel) but also having someone to take a few shots of me in action. My friend Will’s father, a racer in his own right, and a guest of mine this weekend along with Will, took some amazing photos of me blue flagging at turn 4. Notice how the blue flag station at Mosport is separate from the hard station which is cross track. I had an incident marshal to keep me company for the race, who would also warn me if the main station went yellow, so I wouldn’t blue flag anyone into an active incident. Great place to flag!

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One of many traffic jams leading downhill into turn 5

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SportsCar Grand Prix of Mosport debrief

What an incredible event! The ALMS Grand Prix of Mosport at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park was my second year in a row participating with MMS – Motorsport Marshalling Services crew from Ontario, Canada there. And although the racing itself was probably less exciting than it was last year, I had a far better time participating this year. And this is why: friends!

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I had signed up to volunteer Toronto Indy to optimize my time spent in Canada. As usual going into Ontario was a breeze which is always refreshing. I got super lucky to be hosted for the Toronto Indy by CouchSurfing friends that I first met in Korea during the F1 event there last year. The Indy race was OK, I was assigned a wonderful corner, but I didn’t really work it except for one day when I kind of got to play at the crash zone. Long story short, the true reason I went up to Canada was ALMS. This was my fourth time participating in the series this year, and they’re only up to five races so far, not bad!       The only one I missed was Sebring because it was the same weekend as Australian GP.

So heading to Bowmanville for ALMS at Mosport, I was again hosted by a wonderful CouchSurfer who let me use her house for a few days between the races where I had absolutely nothing to do but eat poutine for lunch and surf the web. That worked out really well. What was also nice is the fact she got a new pet, a nice beagle named Kip that sounds exactly like my Maxi Max. For the actual ALMS race I crashed in the marshal camping area using Frank and Judy’s pop up, which was very nice of them to let me use. I had worked with these awesome Canadians for the past two Montreal F1 races, as well as the ALMS last year and Toronto Indy a week prior. Great people!

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Once the race weekend rolled around, some more new friends showed up from the States, specifically a trio of Detroit marshals whom I have invited to blog on this web site. I feel silly confessing I was wrong by making semi-sarcastic comments on my facebook about Canada being predictable. Of course I didn’t get selected to work the paid test day for ALMS weekend, but I was encouraged to volunteer which is what I came to do in the first place. And of course I wouldn’t get to blue flag because that’s a speciality typically reserved for the locals, but I was wrong on both accounts. I got some gas money for working the test day and was the designated blue flagger for the entire ALMS weekend. Which was beyond fantastic, special thanks to Richard and Barbara Dobbs of MMS whom I had the pleasure of working Detroit GP together with, whom I’m sure made this all happen for me. Thank you!

The weather over the weekend went from extreme heat to extreme rain, to moderate cold. Racing was good, but not very spectacular. And I was very much busy the entire time blue flagging. Happy beyond belief! Wish more race weekends were like this one. My CouchSurfer friends were also recruited to try their hand working the Start/Finish stand with Judy, which is awesome… they came out to the race to spectate and we spend a lot of quality time together hanging out, including a quick trip for more poutine, my last meal before heading home to New Jersey.

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CouchSurfers Will & Holly, my recent recruits to marshal at Mosport doing Start/Finish

New Media from ALMS Northeast GP 2012

It wasn’t that this year’s Northeast GP was bad, it wasn’t… the constant and lengthy battle in the P1 prototype field, the P2, LMPC, GT and GTC was exciting… the problem was there was only two true contenders in P1… and two true contenders in P2… and only a few in GTC, etc. But even that wasn’t the problem… My problem was again with me managing my expectations. I got extremely lucky with my experiences last year, stuff that doesn’t always happen… and despite the fact I worked the weekend with my bestest flagging friends, shit just didn’t happen like it did last year! And I just found pix to prove it, enjoy!

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media alms northeast gp

Photo credit to Chris Raftis: www.flickr.com/photos/gargos/sets/72157634203956491

Of course in 2013 there were a lot more factors that affected my feelings. My goal is always to stay positive no matter how realistic/pessimistic my posts sound. Do read my original post about the 2012 Northeast GP…