Tag Archives: Club Racing

Visiting Panic Motorsports in Columbia, South Carolina

For my last event of 2017 Racing Season I signed up to volunteer the HSR Classic 24 Hours of Daytona “presented by IMSA”… cheapest way to get to Florida it seemed was to drive down on one of the Hertz one-way rentals for $4.99 per day and fly back. So I did, and of course the goal along the way was to stop at Dixie Pig in Rock Hill, South Carolina for their amazing pig wings, but after seeing all the Miata’s driving around the area I figured there’s got to be a shop somewhere locally specializing in these little cars.

So I paid a visit to Panic Motorsports in Columbia, South Carolina

Very interesting place with a lot of cool projects going on. And since people always post on facebook looking for Miata car parts, I snuck a few shots of their Miata graveyard for the bone pickers out there… Need parts? Call Panic Motorsports… some pix:

This Mazdaspeed is for sale!

Miata knock-offs…

Thanks for the license plate cover!

See you at the races…

NER SCCA Club Racing at Lime Rock on Father’s Day Weekend

Thanks to Jamie Dzencelowcz the chief starter for inviting me to work on the start stand for this NER Club Racing event at Lime Rock over Father’s Day weekend.

For some odd reason everyone I met was very surprised to see me there, which was odd… my guess the rumor mill is churning based on something I said at some point or something someone else said about me. But frankly I don’t give a shit. I paid my dues this year, I’m perfectly allowed to be at any SCCA event. That said it was a very much welcoming atmosphere at the track. I wanted to get more experience working start, and I got precisely that. I was glad to find out that the Driver’s will put on a paddock crawl again. And they did a fantastic job. And the quality of racing was good too. We had a mixed bag of weather. It rained one day and was fine the next. We had plenty of incidents of bodywork flying off various cars on the front straight. So that was good to see too, some action.

Most importantly though I had a blast doing what I like. I especially enjoyed doing lap charts for the bigger groups. It’s basically recording the position of every car as they crossed the start finish line every lap. As a blue flagger it’s something that I’ve always done in my head anyway, keeping track of the leaders and the backmarkers so that I could blue flag them on the appropriate laps. But now there’s an official record on the Start stand. That was amazing. And I was somewhat impressed with myself that I managed to memorize the look of a lot of cars from a distance. Something I struggled with during PWC weekend where I made a few mistakes pointing out the wrong cars even though I always thought I had knew those cars very well already.

As always it’s super neat to see cars from bird’s eye view, especially the winners when they come in to pick up little checkered flags to do their victory laps.

Love the Brasil colors on this E46 M3

Fathers Day Weekend SCCA Club Racing at Lime Rock

To be honest I’ve given up on Club Racing this season… But since I still hold a valid SCCA license and my friend Jamie offered to let me work on the Starter stand with him, I jumped on the opportunity!

Boy am I glad I did.

I came for the Miata’s, but stayed for all the variety that was there.

The various Spec Miata fields were huge… I liked the battles going on from my vantage point. And since there were four of us on the Start stand I got to rotate into every position available for a few sessions at a time… so I got to Start and Chequer races. I got to work as a backup. I got to do lap charts. And finally, got to do comms. It was neat to say the least and much needed practice I wanted to have as I did make mistakes a few weeks ago at Lime Rock working the PWC race as a backup starter.

But anyway. For the NA and NB Miata fans there was a lot to love. I only spotted one NC there. Briefly thinking a few Honda S2000’s were Miata’s as they were under car covers… Ooops! They sure do have similar dimensions and it’s especially hard to tell when you can only see wheels, and both Mazda and Honda tend to use the same Enkei wheels.

Anyway, here’s some pix of my favorite cars this weekend:

This fella raced one of the SAC NC Miata Cup Cars during PWC.

Love the paint job on this Formula Vee…

Surprised how flashy some cars looked wearing sponsors on their liveries…

Woo Hoo… NC Miata!

Not a Miata!

But it’s wearing a +5HP sticker…

This thing kicked ass in the rain, winning one race.

Stock vs. Non-Stock S2000’s… probably my favorite looking race car at the track… wonder why they created a class that eliminates the windshield of a car…?

This thing too had a very dramatic last lap, front straight, chequered flag finish… dash to the win!

Several young female racers, which is awesome to see on such grassroots level of Motorsport.

I’ll be back for more tomorrow… Saturday = Race Day!

Thank You New England Region Drivers For a Delicious Paddock Crawl at Lime Rock Park

For the second year in a row now the New England Region SCCA drivers have put on quite a feast for the volunteers and fellow drivers on Friday night after track activities came to a close.

It’s a nice touch… this gives the drivers an opportunity to show their appreciation for the workers and I wanted to do my part to show my appreciation for a job well done. Thank you very much! It’s certainly appreciated.

I only spent a little time pigging out before driving home to Jersey for the night, but I must say the BBQ ribs one fella had were outstanding. Last years’ favorites: margarita slushie people with a side of tacos and the Dinosaur RX-7 folks with their assortment of sausages and meatballs also did a fantastic job. And there was someone with a tasty strawberry and whip cream desert. Full, tasty, meal… hit the spot after a long day at a wet track.

Thanks again to all the NER Drivers!

22 lbs of ribs gone in a matter or minutes… finger lickin’ good!

Una Frozen Margarita por favor… Gracias!

Soooooo tasty!

Oh look I spy Stevie!

Gotta say it looks way different with those massive Mustang wheels!

One of the more social socials I’ve been to at a track lately.

Thanks NER!

Visiting BSI Racing in Daytona Beach, Florida

Took advantage of the opportunity of being in Daytona Beach to visit a Miata race team… BSI Racing in Holly Hill, Florida.

I’ve seen BSI race (and win) at a bunch of SCCA Club Racing events, but never knew they were so close to Daytona… so glad I got a chance to check out their operation. Wish they were hiring so I could move down here myself!

Some pix:

I love seeing all the Miatas on the road in this part of Florida, definitely more than what I remember seeing on my trips to Miami.

I really need to move to a place that has palm trees growing outside!

Loving the way that spoiler looks!

Why No “Sim Flagging” in Sim Racing on iRacing?

I always wondered, with the popularity of Sim Racing among Motorsport fans and race car drivers of all skill levels (from amateur to Formula 1), and visibility of video games like iRacing at many American and international events, why don’t the series/clubs incorporate the “Marshal” role into the experience?

iRacing bills itself as “the most authentic racing experience…”

At first glace I would agree… Yep! looks realistic as fuck. But there’s something missing, isn’t there?

No marshals… I see fans. But where’s the flaggers?

And that is a missed opportunity. The way I see it, not only would video game designers/programmers/marketing companies coax more users to their already popular products, but they would serve a very useful purpose too by incorporating this role into the games. For the drivers, whether professional or amateur, it would feel more realistic because you’d have the human factor in there… another real person who could do something with a flag. This would be far more real-world than a pre-programmed computer role that follows real rules instead of a human that interpret what they see and make decisions based on their common sense, which may not necessarily be consistent among all participants. The implications of having an actual human flagger represented in the game could change outcomes of races, as they do in real life.

But most importantly to me, this sim flagging could be used as training material for real Motorsport volunteers that want to get more involved in the sport but have limited access to a race track. If you only do one event a year, like say Singapore Grand Prix, I think it would be most helpful to practice on a simulator at your own leisure or through organised iRacing events, to bring your skills up before the actual F1 GP. The value of Sim Flagging would be tremendous. Besides training I think it would be a useful recruitment tool to get the young (and young at heart) video game players who didn’t know it was possible to volunteer to try the real thing. Everyone wants to be a Race Car Driver, but not everyone playing video games may be able to follow through with this dream. When it comes to Flagging, a much greater percentage of Motorsport enthusiasts that play video games could actually make the transition to real life events. Volunteering is cheaper than racing. It’s (theoretically) less dangerous, and it’s just as enjoyable  to be on the race track looking at race cars, up close and personal.

I think this is worth pursuing!

PS. a disclaimer… I personally don’t play video games. But if there was a Simulator to practice flagging, especially learning new concepts like Code 60… or Slow Zones in Le Mans. I would totally embrace the idea myself, and I’m sure others would too.

How about it iRacing?

(or others)

Post Card from SCCA Majors at the Glen

This weekend had the potential to go to shit but I’m so glad it didn’t and everything went as smoothly as possible turning into quite an enjoyable few days at an iconic track flagging awesome race cars.

The reason I signed up for this event was because I was anticipating a few interesting Miata’s to be racing this weekend. Cars that actually didn’t turn up. Specifically, I saw on the MotorsportReg registration page several NC (third generation) MX-5 race cars, ones without a front windshield and a huge roll cage sticking out over the area where the driver sits. None of the NC’s of this type showed up. There were however several NA’s and NB’s racing in this spec so I got to see at least some Miata’s as well as BMW Z3 and a few other cars, but not what I was hoping for.

Having worked Start for an SCCA event at Lime Rock the weekend before I figured I’d be slick about it, and since the Glen Region SCCA was recruiting marshals through MotorsportReg, I signed up that way (instead of going through RSI like I normally would to work at WGI) ticking off Start as my desired role. But I don’t think anyone at the Glen Region paid any attention to what I actually signed up for, because I didn’t make it anywhere near the Starter stand.

Luckily for me though the assignments I got were kick-ass! Jim Wheeler the new flag chief of the Glen Region did an awesome job. I was very satisfied with what I got considering there were at least 6 starters on the starter stand this weekend. So competing with all of them would have been far less fun… plus at least all of my station assignments had shade over the gazebo we worked from, so it worked out in my favor. I got to work Station 7B (which is in the boot and is a black flag station) for Friday, Station 6 which is at the entry to the Book on Saturday and Station 3 which is at the top of the Esses for Race Day on Sunday.

I’m as happy as could be!  (got good station assignments, had awesome coworkers for the weekend, enjoyed the company off track, and there was great variety of cars in huge fields racing).

Here’s some pix:

scca majors at the glen 0

View from the Top of the Esses, new Turn #3

scca majors at the glen 3

scca majors at the glen 4

scca majors at the glen 5

scca majors at the glen 6

scca majors at the glen 7

scca majors at the glen 8

scca majors at the glen 9

scca majors at the glen 10

scca majors at the glen 11

scca majors at the glen 12

scca majors at the glen 13

scca majors at the glen 14

scca majors at the glen 15

scca majors at the glen 16

scca majors at the glen 17

scca majors at the glen 18

scca majors at the glen 19

scca majors at the glen 20

The Spec Miata Post-Race:

scca majors at the glen 2

scca majors at the glen 21

scca majors at the glen 22

scca majors at the glen 23

scca majors at the glen 24

scca majors at the glen 25

scca majors at the glen 26

scca majors at the glen 27

scca majors at the glen 28

scca majors at the glen 1

scca majors at the glen 29

scca majors at the glen 30

More to come later…

NER @ LRP presented by Thompson Speedway

My 7th weekend in a row spent at a race track, unlike the previous 6 which were each at a different track (Palmer, Watkins Glen, Mosport, Lime Rock, Detroit, NJMP) I’ve started repeating tracks… much like the previous visit to Lime Rock where I worked as a backup starter for the Pirelli World Challenge, this time I got to wave all the flags in the Starter rotation for NER SCCA club racing.

The weekend went by perfectly. Excellent weather. Excellent company. I was very happy to work with Jamie again. And I’m really happy to be trained by Peter Watson the chief starter of the Northern New Jersey Region who has been awesome in showing me how things should be done. I truly enjoy learning from him because things are done naturally, everything makes perfect sense, and when I make a mistake Peter corrects me right away, which helps tremendously, I really do appreciate immediate feedback. My weekend was truly enjoyable and I’m actually really happy doing these Club Races, something I didn’t like so much in the past.

ner at lime rock scca club racing 1

ner scca miata race car

ner at lime rock scca club racing 50

I was also very happy with the amount of cars we had racing. As usual the fields of Miata’s were very impressive. They kicked my ass while I was lap charting because any time a group of four or more would blow past the starter stand together, it would knock me off my rhythm doing charts, and I’d miss everything behind that group. But with more practice I was really getting the hang of it. When I was on point I did make the mistake of blue flagging the leaders… Oops! But that only encouraged the little Miata at the front to push harder, the much more racy-looking Honda S-2000 behind it looked like it would snatch the lead, but it didn’t. That same Honda was probably my favorite looking car of the weekend, sadly I didn’t get a shot of it. But it was basically Yellow #17 S2000 without a front windshield. I signed up to marshal at Watkins Glen next weekend for an SCCA event just because I looked on MotorsportReg.com and saw a similar Miata without a windshield that will be racing there. Good enough for me… can’t wait!

ner at lime rock scca club racing 19

ner at lime rock scca club racing 21

ner at lime rock scca club racing 11

ner at lime rock scca club racing 9

While heading to the track I noticed a weird noise coming out from the front of my Miata, especially when making a right turn at speed like getting onto the highway or taking an exit ramp… we spoke with Jessie about it and she suggested it may be a bearing that’s going bad, which after the super crazy pot holes in Detroit I could totally believe… One of the mechanics on the RX-7 team in the paddock volunteered to have a look… jacked my car up, had a close inspection and said nothing looks out of place and he’d have full confidence driving the car as it is. But of course I’m being all paranoid about what it could possibly be. And with two trips to WGI (500 miles apiece in the next two weeks) I am a bit worried.

ner at lime rock scca club racing 47

ner at lime rock scca club racing 48

I guess we’ll find out.

I had a lovely weekend, got enough TIPs from NER to convert them into a $25 Shell gift card so the weekend basically paid for itself. Which made me happy! I can’t wait to work with this club again.

ner track incentive plan

ner scca track incentive program gas card

In honor of it being the Le Mans weekend, I had my fries with mayo:

honor le mans 24h french fries with mayo

Never thought I’d say this but even the camping was fun. My new Coleman 4 person tent worked perfectly.

ner at lime rock scca club racing 41

ner at lime rock scca club racing 42

Wish I would have known I could set up closer to the paddock, though it worked out really well camping at the usual spot under the pines (top of the hill) because there was no moisture on the tent when it was time to break it down Saturday morning. Fun times!

Mazda MX-5 Cup Car in SCCA Club Racing

One of the cars that caught my eye early on upon arriving at Palmer Motorsports Park was a brand spanking new Mazda MX-5 Cup Car from Long Road Racing (the place I got to visit in North Carolina on my road trip back home from Florida in March).

While I knew the cars were sold as a package to anyone willing to shell out $55k (+/-). I didn’t quite comprehend the possibility of someone getting one to flog it in SCCA Club Racing… in a field of mostly NA and NB gen Miatas… Who’d do that?

Gregory Pecora apparently would. I didn’t get a chance to meet him until the end of the race day while walking back to race control from Turn 1 where I was stationed, and he was conveniently set up in the paddock directly in front of my point so I can see the car all day. But why let facts get in a way of a good story, the whole weekend I was speculating what was going on with that vehicle… you see most of the day Friday, during practice and the first race or two, Gregory was pretty consistent slotting himself between two NA Miatas somewhere in the middle of the pack. I was confused. Shouldn’t the ND be faster than the NA’s? Is he running some sort of a restrictor or a handicap to balance the performance of the vehicle?

On race day Saturday the speculation got worse! Gregory came out on the formation lap while the track was mostly wet. Made it as far as Jessie’s station at Turn 5 pulled over and let the field by him starting the race if not dead last pretty close to it. Then he spun it at Turn 4 on the first green flag lap where I had perfect vision of the incident watching from Turn 1. He pitted and retired from the race. For the second race he circulated around for formation, started the race and retired after first lap again… What the hell was going on?

Things improved quite a lot later in the day when the rain stopped. Gregory started form the back of the field and relatively quickly moved up a number of positions. It was exciting to watch! The leader of the race in car #37 / Flatout Motorsports NB MX-5 Miata, had been dominating all weekend as the driver “double-dipped” and raced in almost every race group (except for open wheeler’s and SRF’s), finished first at least four or five times during the day, in the race with the ND, the #37 car managed to lap him before taking a checkered flag, but then I look across in the paddock and the folks in Gregory’s entourage are happily displaying the little checkered flag winners get for taking the top step on the podium in their class. Had he won that race? Apparently so… I was confused!

I will be first to admit I have no idea how the SCCA Club Racing classes work, even in a group of identical Miatas most cars have several classes stickered on them typically with lines through the ones they don’t want to represent in a particular race. But I thought both #121 ND and the #37 NB that lapped it for an overall win were both in STU… maybe there were sub classes in the same group? Not sure… but it was nice to see the ND win.

I went over to the paddock to ask Gregory for permission to take some shots of his car and he explained to me the reason for early retirements in the morning were because he did not have rain tires for the car…. D’oh!!!  Of course that’d make perfect sense… and it would explain why he suddenly picked up speed on slicks in the dry! He also said he set the lap record first time out in his class, that’s pretty impressive also! I congratulated him and snapped a few shots:

mazda mx-5 cup car scca club racing stu class 1

mazda mx-5 cup car scca club racing stu class 2

mazda mx-5 cup car scca club racing stu class 3

mazda mx-5 cup car scca club racing stu class 4

mazda mx-5 cup car scca club racing stu class 5

mazda mx-5 cup car scca club racing stu class 6

mazda mx-5 cup car scca club racing stu class 7

mazda mx-5 cup car scca club racing stu class 8

mazda mx-5 cup car scca club racing stu class 9

mazda mx-5 cup car scca club racing stu class 10

mazda mx-5 cup car scca club racing stu class 11

mazda mx-5 cup car scca club racing stu class 12

Gregory reminded me to give a shout out to Long Road Racing when sharing these pix. He was very appreciative of the outfit saying that he had spoken with them earlier in the day as they were providing technical advice to him for the race. How cool?! So for all you up and coming racers, the choice to get started… go out and buy yourself a jalopy that you can painstakingly convert from street car into a race car or go to LRR and for a fixed amount get a brand spanking new MX-5 Cup Car that comes with all the racing and safety equipment standard, along with tech advice on race day via your phone or internet connection.

In my naive view, it was the best looking car of all the Miatas on track this weekend. Very happy to see one racing on the Club level.

Thank You Jessie Honigs for the VIP Treatment at an NER SCCA event at Thompson Speedway

The best way to end a racing season in the US is to go to an event where Jessie Lynne Honings is the Assistant Flag Chief and be her VIP guest!

I had such an amazing time again hanging out with Jessie at Thompson Speedway I wanted to share this note of my gratitude and appreciation to her for being so amazing.

I wasn’t event planning on marshaling any club events this year thanks to some thickheaded people that I had the misfortune of interacting with before, but certainly Jessie turned things around for me and it was really enjoyable experience to go to Thompson Speedway Motorsport Park in the Northeast corner of Connecticut just south of the Massachusetts border and flag some excellent Mazda MX-5 Miata racing along with a lot of other groups.

thompson speedway start finish stand

Not only that, more than two years since “expressing” my interest in working the Start Stand, Jessie saw to it that I finally got the opportunity to wave the checkered flag. What a rush and thrill that was, and I am absolutely convinced that is what I want to do in the future as the next step in my marshaling hobby.

So thank you Jessie for being awesome!

Can’t wait for more…