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)
Is there a better spot to be at a race track than one so close you can look the drivers in the eye?
I don’t think so.
I got lucky at Laguna Seca this weekend, because the powers that be allowed me to stay for the duration of the event (all four days) at the amazing Turn 2 hairpin and I loved every minute of it.
I had requested a “first or last” turn when registering thinking I could sneak away during our downtime to take some grid pictures of all the different classes… the GT/GTA/GT-Cup; Spring X: GT/GTA/GT-Cup and GTS, or GTS class by itself or the TC/TCA/TCB event featuring all the Miatas… but that wasn’t practical at Turn 2. So instead I took advantage of the downtime (offduty when pix were taken) and snapped a few close ups as the cars were leaving pit lane on their first sighting lap.
and some other cars:
The Touring Car class was all Mustangs and Camaros just a few years ago, and now it’s become real exotic with the entry of KTM Xbows, Maserati Gran Turismo, Aston Martins, Porsche Caymans, Ginettas and Sin R1’s.
Also it’s been a long while since I saw a Flying Lizzard Porsche sporting their classic livery:
Fantastic post to work at Turn 2 and I could highly recommend others request it. I think it’s much better than the Corkscrew.
Greetings from sunny Southern California! Los Angeles, Long Beach and the home of the Grand Prix of Long Beach along the streets of downtown and the beautiful waterfront.
My station was at Turn 8, on Pine Ave between Bay St and Seashore Drive directly across from the Long Beach convention center and along the row of restaurants which turned out to be very handy when the Cal Club provided lunches started losing their appeal.
This time around the station assignment was a little less pretty than my stint at Turn 2/3 a few years ago next to the beautiful fountain featuring a roundabout with a dolphin that made it’s way on TV every time the cars went by. Although sitting at Islands Burger Joint for lunch on Sunday and watching the replay of the PWC race, the track still looks magnificent. Definitely hues of Singapore here stateside.
We were lucky enough to have a bunch of incidents to deal with. Many cars smashed upon exit of our turn somehow magically managing to miss the tire wall. Several McLarens crashed, including the Gaisco Red Dragon which was basically written off for the weekend. The K-Pax black McLaren with a baby blue roof crashed twice. Once bouncing off the tire wall and second time being put into the wall by a passing Porsche 911 which wrote that car off too, the rescue guys had a hard time towing it. Speaking of rescue guys we had a major fuck up during the celebrity race where one of the rescue guys was sent flying over the hood of a crashing car. No good!
I will do a more detailed debrief later, but for now enjoy some pix:
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!
To say I’m super excited about my next race would be an understatement. I’m simply thrilled. Next week I’m off to Belgium to marshal my first Spa 24 hour event at the world famous Belgian circuit Spa-Francorchamps. So in preparation for the trip I’d like to share some information about the event to help me get prepped for the race. Sadly Andy Blackmore hasn’t come up with a handy spotter guide for this race, and the only one I’ve found so far is from 2013 on DailySportsCar.comhttp://www.dailysportscar.com/Uploads/BES/2013/SPA/BES_Spa_Francorchamps_Spotter_Guide.pdf 2013 coincidentally was the last year that Team Ukraine Racing with Ferrari participated in this event with their #123 Ferrari 458 Italia pictured above.
IF ANYONE HAS A SPOTTER GUIDE PLEASE SHARE A LINK HERE
The official Blancpain Endurance Series Spa 24 hour entry list can be found here: http://www.24hoursofspa.com/entry-list and it includes some of the finest and most exotic European GT3 machinery (all 60+ of them) including:
Oh and there will also be great entertainment besides all the events on track. Martin Solveig will be the headlining DJ for Saturday night’s concert according to the official event poster, found here: http://www.24hoursofspa.com/posters
And so with that, I don’t know what I should look forward to more. The concert? The different racing? All the exotics on track going flat out? Or maybe an amazing marshal post… there’s so many options:
Courbe Paul Frere
I think I would just be happy being there!
The trip over will take me via Rome, Italy on Alitalia so I’ll get to have some pizza in the motherland. And then fly home again on Finnair via Helsinki, through Chicago.
I’m so looking forward to this trip, I just can’t wait to be there!
A little history. I have visited Spa-Francorchamps in the French part of Belgium and Zolder in the Flemish/Dutch part of Belgium on my 2013 road trip from Le Mans 24h to Nurburgring 24h with Pol. Pol has been an amazing organizer for all of my European events and I thank him from the bottom of my heart for all the help. Belgium will be my 14th country to marshal, and Spa-Francorchamps 30+ track, which is absolutely positively awesome. I love Belgium!
There’s no place in the world like the N-ring in Germany. The amazing Nordschleife!This was my second trip volunteering in Deutschland and it was the best one yet. I will share a few posts about my N-ring experience this being a very brief overview of things that took place over the four day weekend there.
I was once again on my favorite part of the circuit, working Post 120 on the border of Adenau and Breidsheid Ex-Mühle working with our German hosts on a Belgian team with my friend Pol. Once again we had an excellent time on track and off, with the familiar restaurants easy walk from our camping area.
But there were a lot of different things this year too. For one, WTCC – World Touring Car Championship played a support role for the 24h race, which was great. What a smart thing to do for the organizers, instead of competing for the same racing fans like last year where Pol and I visited Spa-Francochamps where WTCC was set to race on the same weekend as the 24h race on the Nordschleife, they organized the event together this year, and I think it was a successful endeavor. Although the 3 lap WTCC races seemed quite short, from a spectators perspective… at 20km per lap I’m sure it was business as usual for the drivers.
The pig was cool… for sure! I’ve never had anything like that before.
We were super close to all the action, and as usual spend an excellent time visiting the paddock area with full access to the garages and the fine machinery racing over the weekend.
The weather this year was excellent. While it was cloudy and at times rainy it was very pleasant and contributed to cleaner racing I think. Far fewer incidents this year compared to last year. And as a result our post received less visitors with problems. The most notable one was the green Bentley Continental GT3 getting dragged off the track with major front end damage. But after getting trucked back to the garage it rejoined the race after the repair.
All in all I am extremely happy with this trip. It has been a great journey across four countries including a quick visit to Finland on the flight over, a few nights in Brussels in Belgium which is one of my favorite places to visit in Europe, a quick stop in Holland to buy some cakes for our group dinner at the Nurburgring and of course Germany. I would really love to go back next year and would recommend the event to anybody that’s interested in racing.
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.