Tag Archives: Daytona 24

It was Tough to be a Mazda Fan at Daytona 24 Hour this Race

I had high hopes for Mazda Motorsports DPi team this weekend. Team Joest showed so much potential at the Roar. And then 2017 repeated itself… deja vu all over again.

Right off the bat one of the cars had a hard time leaving the Le Mans style grid in pit lane. Remarkably IMSA allowed the car to retake its position on the sighting laps before the green flag started the race.  At one point (first full course yellow if I remember correctly) the car ended up in P1 briefly because it didn’t pit like the rest of the leading pack… but things fell apart quickly. I remember thinking, well at least it’s only tire failures which Mazda could easily blame on Continental Tire like Wayne Taylor Racing did, but long before the race ended there was an engine fire that took one of the cars out. Both would DNF from this year’s Rolex 24, much like last year.

What a shame!

The owners lounge in the fan zone  was similarly disappointing. I remember when they were generous… I remember collecting Mazda swag long before I bought my Miata. It encouraged me to develop enthusiasm for the brand. This year it was purely for show if you looked from the distance. Inside the fancy display you got some pictures on the walls with a nice Die-cast Model of the original Cosmo which you couldn’t even purchase. If you got a red wristband after registering as a Mazda owner, the lady behind the podium offered you a Mazda lanyard and a coffee mug. If you got a black wristband you only got a lanyard.

Why so stingy Mazda?

I hope with the money they saved on fans they could buy some better reliability. If that doesn’t work maybe their money is better spent slapping a Mazda sticker on a Cadillac powered Dallara like the Spirit of Daytona team… though their car failed to finish also, so clearly success isn’t guaranteed.

Hopefully things turn around in the future… It was obvious to see that Mazda Motorsport didn’t come to Daytona 24 to win it.

Rolex 24 at Daytona Spotter Guides by Andy Blackmore

Great news! Andy Blackmore has just released the 2018 IMSA Spotter Guides ahead of the Rolex 24 hour race at Daytona this weekend.

You may download the guides on Andy’s web site spotterguides.com or on official IMSA site, or do like me and get a printed booklet at the paddock in Daytona International Speedway. It’s a great collectable.

I’m writing about this while sitting at the gate in Newark Liberty International Airport about to board my flight to Florida to volunteer this awesome event.

Post Card from the Conti Paddock at the Roar before the 24 at Daytona

Sunday Fun Day… Finally things turned around for me. I finally got my preferred station assignment to work Turn 4, which meant I could visit the paddock and take in all the new stuff on display this season.

Apparently IMSA will be following SRO specifications for GT4 machinery. And there’s lots of it here: Mercedes-AMG GT4 and Audi R8 GT4 joining an established field of Aston Martin GT4, Porsche Cayman GT4, and Mustang GT4.

A whole new series previously previewed in a competing series last year with Pirelli World Challenge: the TCR cars. We had a number of Audi RS3 LMS and a single VW Golf GTi TCR.

Here’s the pix:

Oh yes, another new addition to the GS field BMW M4

Lots of German silver cars in this growing field previously dominated by Mustangs and Camaros.

How to get a job in Motorsport?

Seven years in this hobby, fifteen countries worked in on multiple crews from flagging to rescue services, to pits, grid and start/finish… and all that means absolutely nothing to people in HR at NASCAR/IMSA. How incredibly disappointing?

And so I’ve reached a point where the dilemma isn’t choosing which weekend to volunteer between IMSA and PWC or Trans Am or Indy… but whether I should find a new hobby because this one is getting way too expensive to continue, especially without any income. And yet I’m addicted to it. Another rejection for a paid gig, and I quickly signed up to volunteer for the Roar and Rolex 24 at Daytona. I’m looking forward to the 50+ car field… many new additions, new teams, new drivers. It’s exciting even when it’s not sustainable, ugh!

Ironically I’ll spend the Ukrainian Orthodox Christmas at the track instead of with family in New Jersey. Oh the choices we make…

The question remains: How the hell do you get a job in Motorsport?

In all this time, and at all these different venues, I’m been completely and hopelessly unsuccessful at achieving even the most modest goal.

We’ll see what 2018 brings. I’m still hopeful. But probably not for too long.

Happy Holidays Ya’ll!


photo credit: stolen from IMSA facebook page

Rolex 24 at Daytona 2017 the Debrief

Rolex 24 at Daytona is my first major event of the 2017 season. The race itself was the second trip to Florida this year because I decided to participate earlier in the month of January for the “Roar before the 24” pre-race which was super exciting. The difference for the race for me was my role: I worked as pit & grid marshal.

Pit & Grid is an exciting position which I had first experienced while in New Zealand working a V8 Supercars race on the streets of Hamilton before they moved it to the Pukekohe permanent circuit. It was fun because it was so different, and because of the general proximity I had to the cars. There we were warned to watch our toes because the V8’s drivers would totally run over us on their way to their grid position. For the Daytona 24 hour event our services were not needed on the grid, or in the pits for that matter. I worked on the cold side of things in the paddock, making sure cars could leave the garages and enter or exit pit lane without running over someone else’s toes. So our job was really to be a spectator marshal. And after serving in this role at Pocono Raceway last year for an IndyCar event with Team Pocono, a race that doens’t normally use marshals, it was a preview into a role I totally would love to work more often.

I have made a ton of other posts already showing off the photos I took during some ad hoc grid walks (runs) and the up-close-and-personal look at the Mazda DPi cars which I really wanted to do. Or the acute gout attack that I got post-race that I am still recovering from more than two weeks later. So I’m not going to babble on about that. But I want to reinforce just how much this race was enjoyable this year, partly because of my assignment I think. The amount of cars was great. The amount of brand new cars was fascinating. And the crowds of spectators that came out to celebrate this event was very much impressive. I loved every moment of it!

I think this experience will effect my desire to work IMSA events again this season… perhaps as soon as March with a return trip to Florida to work St. Pete Grand Prix and Sebring 12 hour.

So stay tuned….

 

I’m also eager to come up with another international trip for this season, my goal is to marshal in a country where I haven’t marshaled before. This would be the big #16 and as always Asia is at the top of my list, I’d love to do Macau Grand Prix for the first time. But also Azerbaijan with Baku Grand Prix isn’t out of the question. But perhaps Latin America will finally make a list. I’d love to go to Brasil to to a Grand Prix there… or even better one of their Supercars events. Stay tuned for sure.

Post Card from the Rolex 24 at Daytona Grid Walk

The 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona was a blast for me! I got to see all the cars up close and personal and spend a good chunk of the race in the paddock shooing people out of the way of speeding cars and crew that kept those cars going for the duration of the race.

Unlike previous times I volunteered to work pit & grid which for this event turned out to be more of a “crowd control” role in the paddock across the gate from pit lane… anytime cars left the track to go to the garages or returned to the track after a repair during the race I had work to do, making sure the spectators don’t get run over… or a car doesn’t lose time unnecessarily because of pedestrian traffic. That was fun!

Also unlike previous times where I would just barely get a chance to sneak into the paddock to take some pictures, I hardly took any even though I was in the paddock the entire time. I almost missed the grid walk because it was so busy before the race. But my boss was really cool and when the announcer called to clear the grid, I ran out there to snap some shots. My goal was to get the Mazda MRT24-P DPi’s which were a hell of a way down the Le Mans style pit lane past the GTD, GTLM and PC fields. I did manage to snag some shots of them, but because they started playing the national anthem I didn’t bother going all the way down to P1 spot to catch a photo of the Cadillacs. Touche…

Here’s the pix:

The variety of cars was absolutely outstanding… much like the previously mentioned fields in the Pirelli World Challenge… but of course this series also sports the uber quick prototypes. I have to admit besides the Mazda’s, the GT field was my favorite!

The variety:

  • Acura NSX GT3
  • Aston Martin Vantage GT3
  • Audi R8 LMS
  • BMW M6 GT3
  • Chevy Corvette C7.R
  • Ferrari 488 GT3
  • Ford GT
  • Lamborghini Huracan GT3
  • Lexus RC F GT3
  • Mercedes-AMG SLS GT3
  • Porsche 911 GT3 R and RSR

The PC field remained unchanged and to be honest those cars are getting old, I’d be OK not seeing them return the following season. The prototypes were dominated by Cadillac DPi’s which was pretty disappointing. Mazda’s DNF’s were super disappointing too. Though I was quite happy to see the Spirit of Daytona / Visit Florida P2 finish third. That was a fluke especially since that car started from the back of the prototype grid. I’m super happy though to have had this opportunity to see the cars so up close and personal. Best time at Rolex 24 ever for me.

Oh yeah… and I got to watch both the start and the finish from pit lane along with all the teams and official IMSA photographers.

Post Card from the BMW Endurance Challenge Grid Walk during Rolex 24

Greetings from Daytona International Speedway, my first event of 2017 season volunteering during Rolex 24 weekend. First up is the support race to the 24 hour enduro, which in itself has become somewhat of an enduro race… the BMW Endurance Challenge they called it where all of the familiar machinery from years past and some new additions raced on Friday for four hours, significantly longer then their previous 2 hour 45 minute events.

I was volunteering with the Pit & Grid CFR team which for this event was responsible for “crowd control” in the paddock. Being so close to the garages and pit lane was heaven, but unlike all the previous times I flagged this event and took a million pictures, I noticed that this weekend I hardly took any. In fact for the support race the only pix I took were during their grid walk just before the race.

Super happy to have had this opportunity, though a little bummed out that the Mazda MX-5’s didn’t do so well… anyway, here’s the photos I took in pit lane:

This series has turned into something quite exotic, much like their competitors Pirelli World Challenge… this year the McLaren GT4 joins the top “Gran Sport” class alongside the new Porsche Cayman GT4 that was added last year. It ain’t Mustangs vs. Camaros no more. I love what this series has turned into. Also love the fact they are still racing NC Miatas! Makes me feel like I have a fairly “current” model back home.

Marshal Radio: Episode 2 The Roar Before the 24 Debrief with Guest John Gamble talking IMSA, NASCAR & Watkins Glen

Exciting new episode now live… with a guest!


Marshal Radio – The Roar Before the 24 at Daytona International Speedway

Summary:

John Gamble and I worked the Roar Before the 24 at Daytona International Speedway, where he was my corner captain and took a load of pictures of me in pit lane while we tried to chase down the new Mazda DPi prototypes.

We really enjoyed watching the Cadillac DPi machines, all the new GT machinery including the Mercedes-AMG SLS, mid-engine Porsche 911 RSR, Acura NSX, Lexus IS-F, etc.

Besides Daytona we talked a lot about Watkins Glen International since this is where we first met and where we worked together for many years now.

John and his wife Jeree are not just Motorsport volunteers but big Racing fans as well. They travel a lot to follow the NASCAR racing series and many of it’s famous drivers.

I thoroughly enjoyed having this chat with John and hope I could do more in the future!

Miata Fiata Radio: Episode 2 the New Jersey to Florida Road Trip

A short and sweet episode talking about the recent New Jersey to Florida Road Trip I just took to volunteer for the Roar before the 24.


Miata Fiata Radio – Road Trip from New Jersey to Florida in January to Volunteer Roar before the 24 at Daytona

Summary:

The goal was to talk about the logistics of the road trip. The route I took was the longer of two options, instead of the more direct i95 along the Eastern Seaboard I took i81 instead. It added about 40 miles more to the trip, but I saved $40 or so in tolls (and a lot of frustration of sitting in traffic along all the major cities on that route, like Philly, Washington DC, Richmond, etc.)

Discounted gas cards are discussed. I purchased Sunoco, BP, Shell and Exxon Mobil cards to save on fuel and used the GasBuddy app’s map feature to see the cheaper stations ahead on my route. I played a game to calculate how far I could go and arrive at the station with the Low Fuel light lit up.

Foodie tour was mentioned. I said this trip was fueled by BBQ. I tried an amazing place in Rock Hill, SC called Dixie Pig and fell in love with their Pig Wings. And Due South BBQ in Christianburg, VA who had an amazing selection of BBQ sauces and some freebie bone bags for my fake beagle back home.

Things to watch out for. Checking tire pressure to avoid getting a flat or a blowout. Being careful with window chips, which I got… caught a rock to the windshield. Getting plenty of rest along the way so you don’t crash.

I completely forgot to talk about my Miata meet up in Jacksonville where a few First Coast Miata club folks came out to have dinner with me. Sorry about that.

Stay tuned for more!