I wish I still lived in Australia… back in 2009 I didn’t even know marshaling was possible (on a volunteer basis). Having gone to my very first Automotive Race as a spectator flying across the whole country to watch V8 Supercars around the Barbagallo Circuit in Perth, Western Australia I really thought it was the greatest job in the world. Well, it’s been almost a decade since then and with 15 countries of volunteering under my belt now, I can say nobody does it as well as the Australians, and their latest officials newsletter is a shining example of what should be done to communicate info with their volunteers:
I’ve highlighted and praised their previous newsletters before, to point out what other ASN’s should learn from… and it’s worth doing again this year! Because none of my other international Motorsport club communication looks like this (especially not domestic for that matter)… there’s really no reason why it shouldn’t. I mean come on, look how elegantly simple it is to drive the important points!
But in case it’s not obvious I’ll go ahead and break down the e-mail bit by bit to make it crystal clear how others can copy a successful communications formula.
Step 1: Have a brief introduction, state latest news, wish happy holidays… Boom! Done! Quick! Easy…
Step 2: Promote Training! Why would you not? It’s important!
Step 3: Communicate club policies, like my favorite… club’s Alcohol Policy! So far I’ve only heard my North American clubs advertised how shit-faced you can get by coming to their events. How Dumb? But it’s a thing…
I don’t agree with the idea of drinking and volunteering. I believe alcohol abuse has no place in Motorsport Volunteering, or the idea of providing a “Safety” service could be interpreted as a joke… but I know others will disagree. Well, having a proper Alcohol Policy is something all should agree on. Right?
Step 4: Motorsport Volunteering is not just Flagging or Recovery/Response. There are a multitude of groups of volunteers. It’s good to make everyone feel as an equal contributor to the club, and promote club members to consider trying different roles. That is easily done by spotlighting different roles in a newsletter. Boom!
Step 4: Additional updates…. there’s always plenty of general announcements and news.
Step 5: Spotlight some outstanding people that make the club possible… volunteers love praise. Give it to them!
Step 6: Photos! Everyone loves photos… and since we’re not allowed to take some, have photogs help members out by doing a professional shoot at each event, making those shots available to preserve individual marshals memories. Easy thing to do but often overlooked or scoffed at as unimportant. It is important!
And voila… simple recipe to great success.
I encourage ASN’s around the world to use this example from down under… Please!
If you think marshal invitations for Lone Star Le Mans & Petit Le Mans are early, you haven’t gotten an invite for 2017 yet… mine showed up a few days ago from Australia. The Bathurst 12 hour race is in February of 2017 but V8 Supercars or just Supercars are already recruiting!
Having done it twice, I highly recommend this event!
What is it; Bathurst 12h
When is it: February 3-5, 2017
Where is it:Mount Panorama Circuit, Bathurst, NSW, Australia
Who’s recruiting: Supercars
Who will be there: Australian GT + multiple international entries. Typical support races include production cars which are 1970’s style HQ Holden taxis, Northern Muscle Club from Australia bring their vintage Trans Am cars, etc.
How to get there? Fly into Sydney (SYD) and take the 4 hour drive to Bathurst. Public transport is possible with train connections in Lithgow, but I’d recommend hiring a car instead. Alternatively you can probably go on Flag Marshals of the World and bum a ride from a local… I’ve rented a car in 2013 and mooched a ride in 2016.
Where to stay? The cheapest place: Mt Panorama campground. The camping is shared with spectators but is pretty close to the Marshal Mustering tent, with convenient access to the track and stations. In the past I also used CouchSurfing to stay in the surrounding area. But camping is convenient (as much as I dislike it).
There’s much we could learn from CAMS: Confederation of Australian Motor Sport and I would hope all international ASN’s are taking note of the things this club is doing RIGHT.
The latest Officials Newsletter ticks all the right boxes for me:
First, there’s a call for action: Marshals Wanted!
I really applaud this national ASN reaching out to their entire membership base, including those of us who are overseas / international marshals and asking for help at a particular event. It is not below them to ask. They aren’t losing any face doing it. There are positions to be filled and they are doing the right thing seeking help from the obvious resource: their licensed members. Kudos!
Second, there’s information about Training!
Brilliant. CAMS is one of the few organizations that I’ve had the privilege of working with that push sophisticated and regular (constantly updated) training modules onto it’s membership base. How appropriate! There’s an organization that recognizes that things change in the Motorsport industry, the change is constant. And they make sure that the membership stays abreast of the all changes by offering standardized training from the national organization down to the individual clubs on the ground like those in the state of Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and others.
Third, the most convenient of training modules: e-Training!
One of the hardest things for any club to organize is to bring its membership together at a time and place for a particular event of significance like Training. Solution? Offer Online training! Simple, effective and convenient to both the organizers and the individuals taking advantage of the opportunity to brush up their skills from the comfort of their own home on their own terms (time/place/mood?).
This is why I like CAMS!
It’s not just because they have trained me from the very beginning of my marshaling career. But because they continue to offer me opportunities to further my career in this hobby by doing things right. And not a lot of ASN’s out there take the time or make the effort to keep their membership base engaged and wanting to participate more.
The last e-mail notice I got from my current local club was a reminder to pay my dues…
Much like the faux-Miata shopping trip in Singapore took me to a few dealerships on the island, my chauffeur for the day – James made a special effort to stop at Blue Mountains Mazda on our drive back to Sydney from Bathurst to check out some MX-5’s on the lot… and there were quite a few of them (though no NC’s unfortunately).
James’s mother Jean purchased her beautiful ND MX-5 from Cameron the owner of Blue Mountains Mazda and so James thought it would be the perfect opportunity for me to check out the place and meet Cameron. Just minutes after meeting him he offered me the keys to his personal ND for a test drive which I politely declined.
But the selection of Roadsters on the lot was far better than anything I’ve seen even here in the US, and I’ve got three Mazda dealerships within a 10 mile radius from home.
Here are some shots I took of the cars (along with the obligatory selfie):
There were a few cars in the garage getting prepped for delivery:
As well as this gem in the lot:
The NB SE model in Australia was the Mazdaspeed equivalent offered in the US which means it was powered by a factory turbo. Something Cameron said he was very fond of having raced this car with the MX-5 Club of NSW at various track rental events at Eastern Creek and others I’m sure.
This was such a great experience I forgot to ask how much does the new ND go for in Australia. They are lucky enough to have choice with both 1.5L and 2.0L engine options along with numerous trims for performance or comfort. James mentioned Jean’s car was in the $40,000 range which makes it more expensive than the US models but way cheaper than those sold in Singapore.
Australia and Sydney area in particular is a perfect place to own an MX-5 and I was lucky enough to spot a bunch of them on my visit there, including this beautiful white NC parked at Kingswood train station when I boarded my train back to Sydney CBD.
When I decided to volunteer for the Bathurst 12 hour again, it was hard to contain my excitement through every step of the process, from planning to finally travelling there. And I have to admit that everything went exactly as planned, which made the trip that much more perfect.
One of the highlights of being at Bathurst 12h was being able to make the short walk from the campsite in the middle of the track to the paddock area and the pits where all the exotic machinery was being prepped for practice the following day. If you’re a fan of all the amazing GT3 race cars like I am, it was an awesome sight to see: the Bentley’s, the McLaren’s, Ferrari’s and Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS’s, the Porsche’s and some oddities like MARC Cars Australia Ford’s and Mazda’s as well as the new Cayman GT4 and Daytona.
So without further ado, here are some shots:
Even the Safety Car and Course Cars were kitted up Benzes and Lexuses that you don’t normally see trackside.
I had such a blast checking out all the garages, which by the way stayed open to the general public throughout the event. Even some late nights as we were driving back from dinner in town we could see spectators checking out the mechanics hard at work on the cars. Driving along the main straight to get to the campsite was a rather unique experience you don’t get at other circuits.
Another year and another massive MX-5 Road Trip… this time to the South Pacific. I had the pleasure and privilege to visit the Mazda Roadster community in Australia, New Zealand and kinda sorta in Rarotonga, the Cook Islands.
In this post I will share my experience from this trip including the contact info for the local clubs in each country as well as a few rental facilities that have MX-5’s to rent (or hire) on your next trip to paradise that is the Cook Islands. As with my Southeast Asia MX-5 Road Trip last year I will break down this post into individual threads that cover each experience separately:
There’s no way I could possibly share all 500+ photos from this adventure but many of them are available for viewing on my facebook page. Some of the best shots are shared here with my commentary. I had such a blast on this trip I am extremely eager to start planning the next one.
So how did I go about arranging all the meets and events?
Simple. I researched the individual MX-5 groups and clubs through the Miata.net forum and Facebook.
In Australia I reached out to the MX-5 Club of New South Wales and specifically the Sydney Chapter which is a very active community of owners that meet up regularly for various club activities from dinners, cruises, racing and skidpads/drifting as well as major events like 50+ car meets and cruises around the country.
I met Jean Cook on my first day in Australia while traveling to Bathurst and just a few days later she embarked on a rather long journey down to Tasmania for a National MX-5 meet there that featured over 100 cars.
Special thanks to Jean Cook for giving me the opportunity to take some photos of her beautiful ND MX-5:
The next thanks I want to give is to Cameron from Blue Mountains Mazda who sold Jean her ND. Cameron was nice enough to show me around the dealership on my way back to Sydney from Bathurst, I even brought an Aussie spec brochure back home from this visit:
Huge thanks to Guy Cole for organizing the MX-5 cruise from Kirribilli to Balmoral where I got to meet the owners of at least 20 MX-5’s that showed up to this event. What a great experience that was. By the same token I would like to thank Chris Stacey for giving me a ride during the cruise in his beautiful red ND MX-5.
In New Zealand I reached out to the MX-5 Club of New Zealand through the Miata.net forum and facebook. Their club also has major events around the North and South Islands. The last get together at the Auckland area Mazda dealer saw over 50 MX-5’s show up.
For my little event only two owners came along for the ride: Ralph and Lloyd, with Lloyd organizing the whole trip for me including a nice sunset dinner cruise with a fellow MX-5 owner from the Auckland harbour.
Thank you Ralph and Lloyd!
In Rarotonga, Cook Islands I didn’t get a chance to actualy chat with any Miata owners. But I did source out a few places to rent one. Avis in Avarua apparently had a Green NC to rent but they wouldn’t let me see it before forking out $80/day to rent it. Too bad!
This was definitely a trip of a lifetime and I’m totally looking forward to more trips like this in the future…
Another trip of a lifetime is in the books! Although I shouldn’t call it “lifetime” because I know sooner or later I’ll be departing on other one. In fact with an amazing trip of a lifetime just a few months ago to Southeast Asia, I would call this the trip of the year, or at the very least trip of the month: February 2016!
This post will be a brief overview: a debrief, of the trip overall followed by a number of specific posts about the individual events I’ve marshaled, the experiences I had hanging out with the local MX5 clubs and catching some sun in some very exotic places as part of the vacation that tied this trip together. I had such a blast!
To start, I flew to Australia via Hawai’i. And unlike my first visit there a few years ago after Korean Grand Prix, I decided to get off the plane at Honolulu and actually spend the night in Waikiki Beach. The Polynesian theme for the rest of the trip truly began there. Besides enjoying an amazing sunset that I shared with a few folks at home via Facetime, I got to experience some of the local cuisine just outside of the touristy area. I loved it!
Of course an overnight stay in Paradise wasn’t enough, at all! But it was just a start to my South Pacific adventure. I’m kind of glad I broke the trip in half because some of these longer flights of 10+ hours have started getting to me, tiring me out completely. This time I was travelling with an extra handicap I hadn’t encountered on previous trips. I had a flare up of Gout Arthritis just a few days before leaving and my right foot was in terrible pain, something akin to walking on glass. The pain wouldn’t really go away for the entire trip but since I couldn’t do much about it I just learned to live with it.
Next stop: Sydney! The flight arrived in the early evening and after a quick clearance at Immigration I headed to the CBD to get some sleep before heading out for Bathurst early the next morning. Like Waikiki I decided to stay in a hostel near Central station for convenience and it worked out really well for me.
In the morning I managed to arrange a lift with someone from the MX-5 community in Sydney. It’s really nice to see how close the Miata community is to Motorsport and specifically marshaling. The lady who’s car I got to check out on my first day in Australia volunteers as a Steward while her son is a flag marshal, who was kind enough to let me tag along for the two hour drive to Mount Panorama. While I could have taken the train all the way to town, I found it far more interesting to have some company along the way. It was especially interesting when we were on the hunt for Meat Pies for lunch while passing through Lithgow. That’s where I spotted something I really wanted to see on my trip, a Miata trailer. The owner drove past us as we parked up near the bakery and while he was stopped on a red light I tried to snap a fuzzy shot of his car.
I will talk about my experiences at Bathurst 12 hour and Mount Panorama in a separate post but suffice to say it was an interesting experience. While it wasn’t my first visit there, it was definitely a little different from before. For the first time I camped right at the track. A fellow Aussie marshal Paul from Victoria was kind enough to supply me with a comfortable tent, some pillows and a sleeping bag, which helped a lot so I didn’t have to drag all that stuff with me. Not only that he was our designated driver taking a whole group of us out to dinner in town every night, which was fantastic. It was the first time I consistently stuffed my face with proper Australian food including roast lamb and a variety of other local pub dishes.
After the event I headed back to Sydney for a few more nights in a CBD hostel. I had a few things planned but the stay was way too short. Luckily I did manage to squeeze in a lunch at Bondi Beach which I was really looking forward to as well as a nice MX-5 cruise from Kirribilli to Balmoral Beach with a meeting spot just under the Sydney Harbour Bridge which was pretty spectacular. So many cars showed up! I was pleasantly surprised and very humbled to see so many owners give up their weeknight for a little cruise along the Northern Sydney suburbs for some fish and chips. Again I will write more about it later but I can’t express my gratitude enough to have had this opportunity!
Next stop: Auckland! A short hop and skip over the ditch (as they refer to the Tasman Sea) and I was in New Zealand. The flight arrived after midnight and I was off to my hostel in the CBD. Early next morning another MX-5 meetup awaited me, and after a short 4 hour sleep I was in a beautiful JDM-import Roadster heading to Papakura for my next adventure which I’ll describe in it’s own post. In a way it was another Fish & Chips run but this one lasted for over 300km visiting some scenic and twisty roads across the entire Northern Island from West (Waihu) to East (Coromandel Peninsula).
As if this incredible two car road trip (as I jumped out from one car to the other at every stop we made), couldn’t get any better – it did! The day ended on a boat in Auckland Harbour where we had a nice dinner joining another MX-5 owner while he and his family celebrated the mum’s birthday. This was my first time on the water on the North Island something I was putting away until later while living in Auckland and never actually following through with, until now. It was really amazing.
Believe it or not I actually got to marshal while in New Zealand. It was only a one day meeting for Auckland Car Club at Hampton Downs but I certainly got my money’s worth with plenty of spins and spills on Turn 2 where I was lucky enough to work. It was such a good pleasure to catch up with a bunch of people whom I started my marshaling with while living in New Zealand a few years ago. And it was nice to see the improvements done and are currently ongoing to Hampton Downs under Tony Quinn’s ownership.
Besides Hampton Downs, Anna Scott – who hosted me for the weekend, took me to Pukekohe Raceway Park and showed me the improvements done there after Aussie V8 Supercars moved to their event there from the streets of Hamilton. I had such an incredible time I’ll have to write more about it in another post.
Although I had already spent two weeks on the road which seemed to have gone by in a flash, I still had one more exotic stop on this incredible journey: Rarotonga in the Cook Islands! I was really looking forward to this visit because it was something I planned to do while living in New Zealand back in 2012. Now the dream came true. I didn’t know what to expect but the reality surprised me in a very pleasant way. The tiny island of Rarotonga was very clean, friendly and welcoming for my visit. The resort I booked (my first stay in a proper hotel on this trip after all the hostels in Hawaii, Sydney and Auckland I decided to splurge and pamper myself) was fantastic. I got to tour the island, sample some delicious Polynesian food and completely relax on the pristine beaches with baby blue water crashing over the corals just off shore. What an experience!
The trip home at the end of this vacation took me back through Auckland where I was a total zombie while shopping for souvenirs to take home. Luckily I was able to meet up with friends for lunch and dinner and that kept me awake long enough for some much needed sleep on my 11 hour flight back to LAX.
Huge thanks to all the people that helped me along on this trip. I couldn’t have done this without you!
All of my hobbies are bound to converge when I arrive in Australia in a few weeks. I love to travel, and I’m getting an opportunity to do so flying to Sydney via Hawaii. I love Motorsport and the Bathurst 12h race is giving me an excuse to go to Australia. I love local foodie experiences and there will be plenty of them at the track. And I love meeting other MX-5 owners, and to my surprise there’s a good number of them in Sydney area and NSW at large.
I was lucky to come across a post from the local MX-5 Club in NSW inviting it’s members to come out and enjoy a weekend of racing at Mount Panorama for the Bathurst 12h…. what a coincidence that I’ll be there? Now I could plan my schedule so my free time is spent chasing after the local Miata owners and making new friends!
If you are local to NSW and for some weird reason not a member of their community yet (what? come on… how could that be?) consider joining the group and making your way to Bathurst to watch some cool cars go racing as well as a big group of fellow MX-5 owners hang out together. I know I’m looking forward to this the most!
Well aint’ that something…. I got a birthday card e-mail from the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport, probably the nicest thing anyone in this marshaling hobby has done for me on an ASN level. Good on you CAMS, and Thank You!
We heard it’s your birthday this month…
To celebrate your birthday this month the CAMS Shop would like to offer you a special birthday offer: a 10% discount on all purchases over $20.
To redeem this offer, simply enter your own unique code: (want the code? ask me, I’ll share) at the shopping cart screen of the CAMS shop, before the 30th of September.
This code can only be used once, and cannot be used in conjunction with any other discounts or special offers. Stand 21 Club Series HANS Device and Stand 21 Posts also excluded.
From all of us here at CAMS, we wish you a very happy birthday.
The CAMS shop
Granted, this is a marketing e-mail, obviously encouraging me to buy stuff from the CAMS shop. And the offer of 10% off is a big deal, Aussies aren’t often as generous as America is with it’s frequent discounts. But I’m quite impressed with their effort to keep the organization relevant in my mind, they keep reminding me that CAMS exists even though they know that I’m an international member and that I live on the other side of the world.
My home ASN, the SCCA couldn’t give two fucks that I exist. No birthday wishes from them. No invitation to marshal local events at Lime Rock, NJMP or elsewhere (except the personal invite from Jessie to help out at Palmer Motorsports Park with the New England Region). Nope, nothing of the sort… except they’re quick to send repeated e-mails reminders when my fucking $95 annual membership (or $65 now that I’m with Guam region) is due. Greedy fucks! I’m sure I’ve offended them deeply by speaking out about the lack of training, sure I did. So the obvious solution is not to offer the fucking training, but to pretend that I don’t exist and that I am no longer welcome in their club, except of course for that time when the membership fees are due, they’re still very happy to take my money… ugh!
I wish I lived in Australia again… that was some of the best time of my life and you don’t even have to pay a membership fee to be a part of CAMS… imagine that!