My third consecutive Florida event comes to a close, rounding up an excellent run with Central Florida Region working as a pit marshal.
A lot to talk about this event, many pictures to share in addition to the individual posts I’ve already made from this event, so bear with me and hopefully I don’t leave any details out.
First things first, I can’t say enough how fantastic it was to work on the Pit Marshal crew. What a rush and a privilege it was to be there. Completely different atmosphere and experience to Turns 13 and 15 that I worked at my past Sebring events.
That said the days were extremely long, with the shortest being just under 12 hours and the longest being something like 15 or 16 hours, it was thoroughly exhausting.
But there was lots to see and I was in the prime location to see it. There was lots of downtime also, and a crew that encouraged me to take breaks which was really nice. Even the club allowed us to take pictures as long as we don’t offer them for sale in the end, so the atmosphere was extremely welcoming and positive.
I couldn’t believe just how close I could be to cars and teams, working closely with the IMSA officials, doing whatever overflow work they threw our way. It was simply awesome.
My position in Pit In. The concern was cars coming out of the paddock and jumping out on pit lane, our job was to make sure we gave them a clear lane, or held them up if another car was coming into pit lane from the track, at speed. There were times when teams brought out cars way early ahead of their practice sessions, which was neat because I could snap a shot or two before we were on duty.
This is the Pit Out post. Compared to Pit In, it was far more relaxing. Less work to do, and a far less crowded spot overall. No spectators to deal with. No speeding cars competing for the same real estate. The Sebring weekend started out super cold, temps were in the upper 30’s in the morning, which was a shocker compared to St. Pete GP the previous week. But luckily I was prepared having left a bag full of clothes in Florida after the freezing times at Daytona 24h and the Roar before the 24.
One of the IMSA guys allowed me to go on the grid some time before the practice session started to get some close-ups o the Mazda RT24-P
At the end of the session, there was significant downtime… and an opportunity for a few shots of cars exiting to the paddock.
Some shots from the Porsche GT3 Cup
Notice the visible design difference between the First generation 991 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car and the Second gen models… The lower grill design was \…./ like this on the 1st gen, and /…..\ like so on the 2nd gen. The running lights and tail lights are also different.
Since our bathrooms for Pit Out were on the end of the paddock, on my break I wondered down to see some of the set ups there.
A lovely Mazda MX-5 RF outside the Mazda Motorsports rigs, unfortunately team Mazda were very stingy this time with their swag. There was no Mazda Owners Lounge at this race, and the few people I asked said that Mazda is taking a different direction now, without going into detail.
Has Mazda pulled back on their previously generous owner appreciation efforts? No more hats, t-shirts, etc. for those Mazda fans rooting for the Mazda DPi?
It was a bit weird, to say the least… the only Mazda swag I did manage to snag came from the lower Mazda racing series in the Mazda Prototype Challenge running the old IMSA Lites cars and the not-Mazda engined 5 liter V8 LMP3 cars.
Mazda RT24-P performance was sad to watch this event. The #70 car brought out our first caution of the race plowing into the tire wall at Turn 17… but all LMP2 cars struggled including the other DPi cars based on the LMP2 like the #2 and #22 Nissan Nismo Patron cars. The #52 Oreca and even the Multimatic sister car of the Mazda’s, the #90 Visit Florida car spend a lot of time in the garages during the race. They really should consider renaming the series Cadillac Sports Car Championship.
The other disappointing thing came from CFR and their pitiful attempts at food services. Some of it absolutely sucked. I can’t believe I ate ham for three days in a row, same meat masked with different bread each time, but essentially the same thing over and over. The worst was a serving of some mystery soup that hardened by the time it was served. I wanted to give it a chance, but a few spoonfuls later I realized the chemical taste wasn’t going to do my body any good, and like the rest of the people on my team threw it away…. luckily though the Patron VIP Suites nearby were very generous with their leftovers and threw the crew at turn 17 a bone, bringing tray fulls of delicious gourmet food, from steak to fish, to pasta and sausages… we pigged out on the good stuff!
Why can’t CFR hire the same catering crew?
Is it the money? Come on, put my hefty $95 annual membership fee to a better use, eh?…
Thank you Patron for your generous scraps! For such long days on track good food sure made it more enjoyable to participate.
And by long days I really mean very long days… from dawn to dusk and beyond, with night practices and eventually the night race.
I was so tired most of the time I crashed as soon as I got to the camp site… luckily again I have my tent that lives in Florida now, with a comfy sleeping bag, an air mattress and an extra comforter so despite the cold I managed to sleep like a baby every night. The next day started the same as it finished, with more beautiful race cars roaring on track.
I had enough downtime to wander down to turn 17 as the grid was popullating for the Conti race.
Oh look… Miata!
Oh look… more delicious food from Patron!
Park Ferme, and the Dekra scruitineering set up near Turn 17.
Friday night dinner with the CFR was a bit low key… not much in a way of swag, but I got a good keepsake, a CFR Race Official hat! And of course some much desired Mazda lanyards.
And so another race in the books… thanks to all that made this one a memorable one for me. I totally appreciate the opportunity!