I was really hoping to share a spotter guide from the Pirelli World Challenge Championship round #1 starting tomorrow but it doesn’t seem to be ready yet. So touche… but IndyCar, the headlining series of the St. Pete Grand Prix have released their spotter guide and it’s available for download here: http://www.gpstpete.com/ and here: http://bit.ly/2mG1zqh
I’m not all that partial to IndyCar and part of the reason is the stale nature of the cars themselves… I don’t think the design changed much forever… neither have the paint jobs. Most of the teams have sported the same stickers for a few years now, so there’s that.
But since I am very interested in PWC, I’m just going to describe some of the stuff I’m really looking forward to seeing tomorrow in the paddock:
Panoz Avezzano GT is making a debut, and so is Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R which looks pretty mean from the pics I’ve seen so far.
The St. Pete GP round will only see GT, GTA and GTS cars race, which is some of the best sports cars out there (no Miatas though)
The 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona was a blast for me! I got to see all the cars up close and personal and spend a good chunk of the race in the paddock shooing people out of the way of speeding cars and crew that kept those cars going for the duration of the race.
Unlike previous times I volunteered to work pit & grid which for this event turned out to be more of a “crowd control” role in the paddock across the gate from pit lane… anytime cars left the track to go to the garages or returned to the track after a repair during the race I had work to do, making sure the spectators don’t get run over… or a car doesn’t lose time unnecessarily because of pedestrian traffic. That was fun!
Also unlike previous times where I would just barely get a chance to sneak into the paddock to take some pictures, I hardly took any even though I was in the paddock the entire time. I almost missed the grid walk because it was so busy before the race. But my boss was really cool and when the announcer called to clear the grid, I ran out there to snap some shots. My goal was to get the Mazda MRT24-P DPi’s which were a hell of a way down the Le Mans style pit lane past the GTD, GTLM and PC fields. I did manage to snag some shots of them, but because they started playing the national anthem I didn’t bother going all the way down to P1 spot to catch a photo of the Cadillacs. Touche…
Here’s the pix:
The variety of cars was absolutely outstanding… much like the previously mentioned fields in the Pirelli World Challenge… but of course this series also sports the uber quick prototypes. I have to admit besides the Mazda’s, the GT field was my favorite!
Acura NSX GT3
Aston Martin Vantage GT3
Audi R8 LMS
BMW M6 GT3
Chevy Corvette C7.R
Ferrari 488 GT3
Lamborghini Huracan GT3
Lexus RC F GT3
Mercedes-AMG SLS GT3
Porsche 911 GT3 R and RSR
The PC field remained unchanged and to be honest those cars are getting old, I’d be OK not seeing them return the following season. The prototypes were dominated by Cadillac DPi’s which was pretty disappointing. Mazda’s DNF’s were super disappointing too. Though I was quite happy to see the Spirit of Daytona / Visit Florida P2 finish third. That was a fluke especially since that car started from the back of the prototype grid. I’m super happy though to have had this opportunity to see the cars so up close and personal. Best time at Rolex 24 ever for me.
Oh yeah… and I got to watch both the start and the finish from pit lane along with all the teams and official IMSA photographers.
Today went by in a flash… I was fortunate enough to work my first Pro-weekend as a backup starter at Lime Rock Park for the Pirelli World Challenge event dubbed the Grand Prix of Lime Rock.
I didn’t even think it’d be possible, but sure enough Andy Smith the flag chief for this weekend granted my wishes to work closer to the paddock so I could sneak out for lunch to take some pictures of the cars without having to choose between doing that and eating lunch. It doesn’t get better than working start. From my previous experience at the Glen I figured there would be a team of Starters and I would have a very small role to play monitoring the radio while the “pro’s” do the work. I was wrong. It was me and only one other person: the official PWC Starter… a guy from California that does many of the official starts for PWC travelling around the country with the series. That was pretty cool… I didn’t expect it at all. Besides working comms on the backup net, the official starter had me put out the white flag for any vehicle leaving pit lane during the practice sessions. The reasoning being that cars flying at speed would know about a slower car entering Turn 1. For the races the starter handed me the while flag to wave on the final lap just before he threw the checker. That was really neat too. I got to call every Green flag that was thrown as well, first and last cars to take the checkered, and a variety of incidents along the front straight… so for someone who was going to just monitor the flagger net and relay messages to the official starter, I sure did have a lot of exciting work… I loved it!
Being on start also gave me the opportunity to wander the paddock before the event and during lunch… below I will share some photos:
At the end of the day we got a good worker feed… nice warm food:
A nice Lime Rock Park sweatshirt, although not suitable for today’s 90F weather, but very nice nonetheless:
And I got to check out a whole lot of Mazda’s everywhere:
It was such a brilliant experience I cannot wait to get back to the track tomorrow and do this all over again! So much Fun!
PS. This weekend was supposed to feature the US debut of FIA Formula 4 sanctioned by the SCCA Pro and to be raced around the US. Unfortunately that race series got bumped to another weekend at New Jersey Motorsports Park and in their place we got all the amazing TC and TCA class Miata’s…. I felt really happy with that!
One of the coolest things I did at Spa 24 hour was the grid walk. The experience allowed me to take a shit ton of pictures of cars up close which meant I didn’t bother trying to use the phone at any other time which has historically gotten me in a lot of trouble for sneaking a shot here and there.
I had such a blast and took so many shots I would love to share them here for everyone else to enjoy. The weather was a bit soggy which was great because all the cars came out in perfect focus with no shadows. And there’s something inherently beautiful about cars that have good contrast against the background. So here we go:
Huge thanks to my Belgian friend Pol for all the awesome photos!
Two huge thumbs up for the SRO, the Spa 24h organizers and Spa-Francorchamps circuit for allowing marshals like me to have fun!
Most race tracks out there want racing fans to come to the circuit to check out the beautiful machinery racing there. Not Spa 24h. At 4pm on the Wednesday leading up to the big endurance race a number of race cars leave Spa-Francorchamps under their own steam to drive a few kilometers to the center of Spa along roads lined with spectators taking pictures and admiring the incredible GT3 machinery. Instead of having people come to the track, Spa 24h organizers bring the cars to the people and the city center gets pretty crowded as a result.
I was one of the spectators in the center of Spa eagerly awaiting the arrival of the race cars. My friend Pol and I had just arrived from Flanders and this was going to be the first glimpse of the race cars I’d get for this event. Spa was abuzz with excited people like me. We sat down at one of the outdoor bars for an ice cold Kriek beer surrounded by race fans, members of the crew from various teams, and even drivers. It became obvious we were surrounded by drivers when a fan with a thick stack of pictures of race cars started walking around asking for autographs from young kids wearing team t-shirts.
I asked Pol to snap a few shots of me with the famous background, and then the cars rolled in, parked and the huge crowd of people quickly started swarming them with their cameras clicking away.
Big thumbs up to the SRO, the RACB and Spa for doing this parade!
What’s really cool about this spotter guide is that it illustrates like a million cars due to participate in the 24 hour race around the Nordschleife and I will be a very happy camper blue flagging the crap out of most of those cars to facilitate the faster cars making it through the turn on the bridge in Adenau and up the hill past post #120 quickly and safely.
Unlike other endurance races like the 24h of Le Mans, N24h has many more classes of cars racing than just the 3 major types within WEC with a possible new class introduced soon including: (P1HY, P1, P2, (P3?), GT-Pro, GTPro-Am). The most interesting cars to me will be the SP9’s which are the FIA GT3 equivalent, and the SP10’s which are the SRO GT4 equivalent. But basically there are four classes (VLN Production, VLN Special, Group H (historic) and Cup classes) that are further broken down based on engine and fuel capacity. Read up on the classes on the VLN web site which is the sanctioning body that organizes this race weekend: http://www.vln.de/en/info/spectators/division-into-classes.html
Last year I was very keen to see the Lexus LF-A cars race as well as the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3, BMW Z4 GT3, Audi R8 LMS, Aston Martin Vantage GT3, Porsche GT3 R, Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3, Audi TT RS and Seat Leon Supercopa.
This year I’m looking forward to seeing those above as well as the Bentley Continental GT3, and Scuderia Cameron Glickenhouse SCG003C. I’m surprised that the McLarens decided not to return.
and a bunch of other cars. I genuinely cannot wait to be trackside!
Oh and as far as WTCC goes, only 4 different cars including Honda Civic, Citroën C-Elysée, Lada Sport Vesta and a Chevy Cruze. I don’t anticipate there to be much lapping in this support race, but I am excited to finally see them in the flesh.
So my first marshalling event at Mount Panorama for the LiquiMoly 12 hours of Bathurst went exceptionally well. There were some hicups, like for example: having arrived with a bit of a cold/flu bug, some jetleg and pure exhaustion from 14-16 hour days on my feet, I was not in top form at all. Besides being sick I had a wardrobe malfunction when my brand new Sketchers melted off their soles on the first day I wore them. I’m sure I should write a letter to someone for that. But in terms of racing it was a fantastic event at a fantastic track.
I was stationed at flag point #11 for the weekend, which is on the Brock Skyline just before the “Dippah” which is a fast and curvy way down the mountain. For a short time I went to help out on flag point #13 directly below us to let the guys go on break, but where we were it was an excellent spot for blue flag and to watch the race overall, as you can very clearly see all the way down the mountain including the main straight and the paddock area.
We had no major incidents throughout the weekend though the station before and the station after us had a few visitors. I managed to snag some pics of cars going past us on my break, which was a nice thing encouraged by the local sector chief (something they normally advise you against, the usual no camera/picture taking routine).
Would love to be back for another event here! Though this time without the cold/flu!