Tag Archives: Audi

Rolex 24 hours at Daytona the debrief

Endurance racing is my favorite form of Motorsport. This year’s Rolex 24 had the potential to be very special because in the middle of last season one of my Canadian colleagues put me in touch with an IMSA official and a prospect of a real job (even if it was on a part-time basis) to work events that I really love as a race official. I had my fingers and toes crossed even as December rolled around but the job did not materialize… The 2018 season though seemed to be off to an exciting start with lots of “new” cars/teams/drivers joining the series, so I scrambled to book my flights and went as a volunteer instead.

For the race I got my pit lane assignment directly across from folks whose team I was hoping to join. But instead of doing something important with a real impact on the competition, I spent five days trackside spectating. It was excellent entertainment being so close until the race rolled around when it became pretty obvious that much of the previous year will repeat itself and Cadillacs will dominate. The excitement wore off.

The most interesting racing was in the GT Daytona field so I paid special attention to that battle. In prototypes the lead car was several laps ahead of second place at one point. And in GT Le Mans Fords ran away with pace Corvette couldn’t match, they too were several laps ahead. It was sad to watch the BMW M8’s be so uncompetitive. And the Porsche RSR team didn’t seem to have it’s kamikaze pilots from last year. Oh well!

At the end of the race records were broken, champions were crowned, and Rolex watches handed out as prizes. Who cares though? The predictability of the outcome made things boring. Hey, at least the weather was good!

Luckily, the 24h wasn’t the only race of the weekend. I feel like I got my money’s worth going on this trip from the two support series. The Ferrari Challenge folks put on a grand battle, and with 40+ cars on the grid it was awesome to see the series alive and well after seeing it’s sorry state in Connecticut last time I volunteered for it at Lime Rock.

Similarly Continental Tire Challenge rocked! I loved the battles there in all the classes. Nice to see TC R cars slide in so well into the grid, though a little sad not to see Miatas in ST class.

So in conclusion it was a good trip for a good clean race. A bit disapointing because of lack of excitement but I departed satisfied. And since I’m having trouble finding paid work, it’s likely this event will be one of my last times volunteering until I get the means to afford it again in the future. Too bad I wasn’t good enough to be hired by the series so I could continue doing what I really like to do, but such is life…

Another Post Card from the Grand Prix of Monterey and the California 8 hour at Laguna Seca

I wanted to share a few pix from the actual flag points during the PWC and SRO weekend at Laguna Seca… so here it goes.

My goal was to work in pit lane for this event. I was introduced to someone who chiefs that specialty and that person never replied. So to not miss the event, I decided to volunteer as a flagger and instead of requesting a specific post to work (like I did in previous years, like Turn 8 Corkscrew or Turn 2 last year for this very event) I just asked to be put wherever they needed me. And lucky for me they needed me in some very cool place. I got to work for two days in the beginning at Turn 3 which was amazing… and for the last two days of racing at Turn 11 which took the cake!

1957 was an amazing year it turns out… Lime Rock was built in 1957 and are celebrating their 60th this year. So is Laguna Seca apparently, and even VIRginia International Raceway was built in ’57 except that track went on hiatus for a bunch of years recently.

View from Turn 3 towards Turn 2 above and Turn 4 below.

A super convenient station which allowed me to sneak out to do another paddock walk to take some pictures during lunch time on Thursday. My awesome coworker helped me out by grabbing lunch for me at the Social tent which was delicious… I wolfed it down before the practice resumed in the afternoon.

The only European team in attendance. Belgian WRT Audi which “almost” won this event if it didn’t take aggressive actions against another fast Audi that lead most of the race and spun out into the gravel going down several laps before it was pulled out.

Pretty car though…

The Audi R8 that lead most of the race… they also had their Daytona 24 hour IMSA car on display in the paddock. Lead most of the race but were overtaken by Magnus Racing Audi towards the end.

Winner winner, chicken dinner.

Mazda of course had a prominent display in the paddock including their Miata “halfie” street/race car. And the new RF fastback.

I did some shopping before coming to the track so I had plenty of snacks to much on during the weekend…

Oh look “CARS” stamped fishies…

It was cooler in the mornings but the temps went up during the day, and the sun was pretty brutal especially at Turn 11 where I was without any cover during race days.

San Francisco Region SCCA did a fantastic job as usual feeding us.

Though I didn’t win this t-shirt that I really wanted, my buddy Ron who did win for some crazy reason offered to me. I’m super grateful!

On Friday evening SRO had rolled out all it’s cars for a group photo…

A very small group of only 19 cars to race for the 8 hour endurance, most of which typically only race sprint 2 to 3 hour races with PWC. team WRT of course and MARC Cars Australia have more endurance racing experience with Spa 24 and Bathurst 12 hours under their respective belts (along with many others I’m sure).

Thank goodness I had a bunch of bandanas to cover up so I didn’t fry my face… on Sunday it turns out Fort Ord conducted a controlled burn which scared the crap out of a lot of fellow marshals. Especially people working pit lane when ash started raining down (near fuel rigs). Oops!

My buddy Adam who hosted me for the weekend and who also works for SCRAMP came to visit me at Turn 3 and Turn 11.

Monday morning it was a wrap… a wrap of my two week California getaway. Speaking of wraps, I love the cover Adam is using on his Miata, and should probably invest in one for my car. Fits like a glove.

We grabbed one final lunch at my favorite diner in Salinas that severs the freshest salad I’ve ever had: Elli’s (get it, like Ellis Island)

And I headed back to return my 2017 Hyunday Accent at Hertz Seaside before heading back to Monterey.

I’m used to seeing Canadian flags here in New York at most places, but in California obviously the Mexican flag is more prevalent.

Then caught a $2.50 bus ride to the MRY – Monterey Regional Airport just a few miles away from town… where Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was prominently on display encouraging people to visit.

It was such a fantastic trip. I would love to go back…

Grid Walk Post Card from Michelin GT Challenge Biscuitville Grand Prix IMSA at VIR

There was one car that caught my eye this race weekend at VIR: the burgundy red Acura NSX GT3 of Michael Shank Racing. I’m not a huge Honda fan or an NSX fan in general, I liked their patriotic Fourth of July liveries too, but this red wrap really stood out… and I found myself always checking up on that car… checking it out. I was lucky that since I got to work as pit fire marshal one of my responsibilities was the Acura pit box, and their hauler was parked directly across from their pit box in the paddock… so there were many glimpses of that car. But of course other cars shined bright, and while the Mazda Miata’s are showing their age, I was very happy to see them race and do fairly well over the weekend.

Lots of pix of course:

I love when they send out the ice cream lady up and down pit lane, all the crews from each pit box run to her to get cooled down lol

For a little while there exotica had taken over the GS class of IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge… now with both Mustang and Camaro in GT4 form however, they are back to dominating… beating Porsche’s, McLaren’s, et al.

My other favorite car of the weekend…. sadly it didn’t do so well either, just like the NSX

and a few uniform pix working with VIR Fire Rescue:

more to come soon…

Formula E Montréal e-Prix the debrief

It doesn’t happen often, but everything went right during the Formula E Montreal ePrix weekend. So I have nothing but praise to everyone involved in making this event a special one for me.

As I mentioned previously my friend Denis C. played a major role in helping me volunteer the event in the first place. I’m really grateful. The folks he introduced me to at GP3R were so super welcoming I was amazed with their warm hospitality. Thank you again to all involved.

I’m probably going to write too much about this so, I’ll try to focus on a few points I definitely should make. First and foremost, the event was better than the Formula 1 events I’ve done in the past. I don’t say that in a critical way to make myself uninvited from future F1 events, but instead to point out the good things any organization could do to promote participation in their events, and making marshals feel welcome so they are eager to come back.

As with the NYC ePrix event the communication about the venue and various organizational planning was excellent. There were frequent e-mails and information sharing via a closed social media format, and the information was super useful and necessary for all of us to arrive prepared and ready to do the work expected of us.

The organization was well prepared and fully staffed to tackle the issues that arose. They provided uniforms. Credentials. Lunches and drinks on a regular basis, that left nothing to be desired. It helped that the weather was perfect. There were no major incidents except for the Buemi crash that contributed to the excitement of the event. And there was plenty of downtime to explore the paddock and eVillage areas to satisfy even the most curious marshals with stuff to see and all the new technology. I really loved it!

My role for this event, like in NYC, was in pit lane. And that was an amazing location to be working. I felt super privileged and very lucky! We had action. We had lots of cars to look at. And it was awesome.

It seemed like the extent of our role was to whistle as the FIA requested in order to warn everyone, and I mean EVERYONE! about electric cars silently moving along the pit lane. But perhaps my favorite two stints were those of a lollipop boy working on the grid for the start of the two races. That was super cool!

I thought working at Start was as good as it gets, but maybe Pit Marshal is what I should focus all my efforts on for the future. It’s a bit more low key and the line of interested participants is not as long that desire to work this role. I like doing this job and Montreal was a major contributor to making that decision. I definitely want to do more Formula E events in the future too, and I’m hoping that maybe Hong Kong or Marrakech in Morocco may be in the cards.

Besides the Montreal ePrix next year, I need to find an opportunity to find a way to work the Grand Prix du Trois-Riviere’s in the future. The crew is fantastic and I want to be a part of it again!

Thanks so much for everyone that contributed to making my experience so excellent.

Post Card from the FIA Montréal e-Prix

Bonjour a tous!

If I had any doubt before about Formula E being my new favorite series, I can say for sure it rocks! and my participation at the Montréal e-Prix this weekend cemented that feeling!

Here’s the mega gallery of pix from this weekend:

Walked into a TV shoot on the streets of Montreal on my way to lunch… for whatever reason Team Jaguar took charge of promoting FE to Quebec

Registration with the GP3R folks running the show…

Friday at the track… first sight of cars

Saw a promo at the airport for these all-electric Taxi-cabs, featuring a Model Tesla X, so for the next few days my mission to spot one!

Office for the weekend in Pit Lane

I had the privilege of working the pits of Mitch Evans, a kiwi I got a chance to watch race in New Zealand where this young kiwi is from in the Toyota Racing Series during the New Zealand Grand Prix

The GP3R folks came out in force, and it looked like no expense was spared, they were well staffed, perfectly organized, and took good care of us Benevole’s

So not only is a large number of former Formula 1 drivers represent the current Formula E grid, many of the team staff come from F1, like this fella from Marrusia… remember them? Da, da!

Following many of the European FIA rules, our Pit Lane staff was fully decked out in brand new overalls.

I have to say working in Pit Lane is my new favorite spot! Constantly in front of cars, always something happening, I love it! So different than being on a flag point somewhere, bored out of your mind.

The backdrop of the Montreal, Ville-Marie was just gorgeous. Formula E got it so right holding the races downtown, instead of having people come to the race track, they bring the race track to the people. Love it!

The government of Montreal dumped a ton of money into this event, which of course resulted in some sour grapes from the locals, but I think everyone would agree they got their money’s worth!

First briefing with the FIA big boss about the safety features of the Formula E cars… love the fact he did the demo with an actual car!

The FE cars are all spec-SPARK cars with similar cues to an IndyCar made by Dallara, but more tastefully done, so that the front wing and rear bumpers don’t look so obnoxious.

Huge props to the GP3R organizers for getting the lunches soooo right, they were super tasty! Major thanks for that!

So unlike NYC, the garages/paddock was in a separate location. And part of me wishes they used this as pit lane, but the way they had it set up was perfect! The long pit lane proved to be an active spot for incidents of all sorts I got a chance to report.

The locals were quick to point out this fella did a great job taking pix of the marshals and posting them on his photography web site. Wish more media people would do that.

But until that happens we’ll be taking our own pix, and I have to say there was lots of great views to pose with. The temporary circuit was in a beautiful spot. I enjoyed being there.

Oh and quite a few anniversaries were happening this year… 150th anniversary of Canada, 375th of Montreal… there were fireworks several days over the bridge leading to Ile Notre Dame where Circuit Gilles Villenueve resides (that hosts Formula 1) but I was way too tired to actually watch them… could definitely hear them from my bed at the AirBnB I rented.

And there it is, I finally spotted the Tesla Model X taxi cab:

Didn’t realize this before but apparently Formula E has mascots… meet AC and DC

As if being in pit lane wasn’t close enough to the action, I think the highlight of the event for me was working the lollipop at the grid.

Another delicious lunch on race day…

Let’s Race!

While I’m sure all cities that host Formula E have some sort of electric car infrastructure, I’m looking forward to the day when the series races at it’s full potential… with remote recharging along bus lanes, etc… it’s nice to see this new technology being adapted.

More to come in my debrief later… stay tuned!

Post Card from the Northeast Grand Prix IMSA GT’s at Lime Rock

Greetings from Lime Rock!

Here’s some pix taken over the two day Northeast Grand Prix event:

Sahlen’s 6 hour at the Glen 2017 the debrief

As is usually the case, I started writing several looooong paragraphs took a deep breath and deleted them because many things I said there would get me in trouble. So instead I’ll just tone it down to this: I had a generally great experience this Independence Day/Fourth of July Weekend at Watkins Glen.

The Sahlen’s Six Hours at the Glen proved to be everything I expected it to be and then some. The weather could have put a damper (? not sure if that’s the right word here) on things but it didn’t. Tent stayed relatively dry. Racing was relatively good. And people I was hanging out with were super friendly. I would say I got the VIP treatment from RSI but that would imply that they somehow treated me better than they treat others, which isn’t accurate. I’m genuinely satisfied with the way everyone behaves at RSI that I come in contact with and for me that’s a huge plus, I appreciate the positive vibes and positive attitudes.

We did have a few massive smash ups that I personally got a chance to respond to. A driver left in a Medevac unit which nobody ever wants to see, several others ended up in the hospital also, and the race was red flagged. It was an incredible experience and one I will definitely learn from.

There were moments I really liked. Like all the star and stripe and patriotic liveries many cars were wearing. Some things I didn’t like… the weather – mainly. But also the performance of the Mazda prototype team which keeps playing this underdog role that they really don’t deserve anymore. It was nice to see one of the cars end up on the podium, but that happened only because so many cars didn’t finish, including the other Mazda prototype. So that’s that.

Favorite little car that was an actual underdog was this yellow NC:

It still uses NC1 tail lights… just like my car.

Interestingly enough the #25 car had a smashup this weekend running it’s traditional Freedom Autosport livery, and suddenly it re-emerged wearing #25 under Murillo Racing orange livery. Wish I had snapped a photo of it. But my station was too far to the grid so I had to boogey down in order to make the start of the race.

Here’s the previously mentioned 4th of July liveries I did manage to get a snap of:

And here’s a few cool NC Miata’s I ran across in town at Watkins Glen and at the track:

There was a convoy of about five of various vintage Miata’s parading around Watkins Glen on Wednesday that I waved to while driving in the opposite direction, but I’m not sure what club they were from or what group it was that organized that cruise… it would have been nice to join them but I saw nothing about this event posted online.

Back to the track..

I got to flag from Station 3 on Thursday which is at the top of the Esses. Station 4 on Friday which is the next station after the bridge leading up to the Bus Stop… and Station 9A at the exit of the Boot on Saturday and Sunday.

The major smash up I experienced was Porsche GT3 Cup behaving very NASCAR-like… in fact I had worked an event for NASCAR when we had an identical full-track-blockage incident on the same station. This one however was far scarier. One of the Porsche’s completely lost it’s front end… wheels, suspension, frunk… everything!

On GTD qualifying I had a weird experience with the two Lexuses. They had back to back, identical incidents within seconds of each other, where one vehicle recovered the spin with damage and the other planted it into the guard rail causing a small engine fire.

So all in all it was a pretty active weekend. Lots to see. Lots to do.

I loved it!

Thank you Watkins Glen, and I hope to see you next year.


Post Card from the Sebring 12 Hour

Super thankful for the opportunity to work this year’s Sebring 12 hour endurance in Florida because I had such an amazing time.

New experience for me working as a pit marshal… right in pit lane. It was super awesome. I was stationed right next to the Mazda VIP area, close to the Mazda Prototypes setup in the paddock, and just generally close to everything. I was sooo cool!

I’ll be sure to share a bunch of posts about the role as a pit marshal, and the Mazda stuff, but for now just a little preview of it all… as I’m super tired and it will take me a few days to get back to normal.

Stay tuned for more…

Cars & Coffee at Tice’s Corner in Woodcliff Lake New Jersey August 2016

It’s been hot and steamy over the past few days, including early this Sunday morning where a monthly C&C event took place at the usual meeting spot at Tice’s Corner. The variety of cars was neat with greater representation of the classics, especially a few things i haven’t seen before. (like the BMW Isetta 600, the two door version of the famous Bimmer… with two rows of seats).

Funny how with fewer cars you start to notice things that were definitely there before but didn’t pop out as much, like the BMW i8.

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The significance of so many classic and new BMW’s at these events is that BMW of North America is directly across the street from this shopping center on Chestnut Ridge Road in Woodcliff Lake.

Nürburgring 6 hour FIA (WEC) World Endurance Championship on the Grand Prix Circuit

Second weekend in Europe and another circuit in another country. From the Netherlands I took a train down to Germany. Amsterdam to Cologne in just a few hours, then onto the Nurburgring. Unlike the last two times I volunteered there, I got to work the Grand Prix circuit since WEC did not use the Nordschleife. And like the last weekend in Holland I got to work the last turn, which allowed me to prowl the grid before the start of the race.

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It was great to see all the cars, though Porsche was impossible to access, like a million people crowded Mark Webber… I could not squeeze through.

It was a great race!

And so were the support races. My favorite was the classic DTM, the old Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters, the old World Touring Car Championship cars, it was amazing!

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The whole Nurburgring experience, like every other time I’ve been there, were amazing. I cannot wait to go back!

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