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Historic Sportscar Racing Classic 24 hours of Daytona + Trans Am Season Finale the debrief

I remember coming across a picture of a Tic Tac livery Porsche 962 Group C car advertising an event at Daytona… didn’t take me long to decide I must participate. The event: Historic Sportscar Racing Classic 24 hours of Daytona presented by IMSA. Reading about it I thought there would be a million people there… after all everywhere I go people say that Historic events are the best, at Watkins Glen or Laguna Seca or even international events like Spa-Fracorchamps.

Reality though was a bit more low key. But lucky for me not only did I get to see the aforementioned Tic Tac livery Porsche 962. I got to see four of them altogether. I figured they’d do a few parade laps and take it easy for display purposes. In reality though each car was pushing their limits. Some I clocked at nearly 180mph from my post at Pit Out during the race. Wow!

I was always of the opinion that prototypes resembling production cars made the best race cars. The more recent Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR or CLK LM I got to see a few times now is one of my favorites. Similarly Porsche 911 GT1 and the McLaren F1 GTR are amazing. But the cars that preceded that era of racing were the Porsche 956 and 962 respectively and for me seeing them race was a true highlight of the visit to Daytona.

Even though this Rothmans livery Porsche didn’t actually race, it was neat to watch it during practice keep up with the competition. I was convinced this was the car I got to see sitting at Bruce Canepa museum in California a few weeks back, but it was actually a different chassis altogether.

I knew the Dyson team was a competitive Mazda prototype racers in American Le Mans Series, but it was neat to learn they had a history with Porsche Racing in IMSA GTP

The Hawaiian Tropic Fabcar didn’t roll out until race day and after seeing it I really took a liking to it. Compared to the Tic Tac livery car this was like comparing IndyCar to F1, but still it looked beautiful.

I was happy to see other interesting sports cars I haven’t seen before like the Sunoco livery Camaro and the Oldsmobile Aurora IMSA GT.

Overall it was an incredible week… Five days on track at Daytona and most of the time all by myself in Pit Out. What an amazing experience.

It’s ironic that I’m going to mention Trans Am almost as an afterthought, but that’s what it felt like they were at this event. Even though it was their season finale they definitely played a support role for the HSR. That didn’t stop them from having some aggressive racing on display and I truly enjoyed the experience.

Anyway…  race day especially was a real enduro. We only had three SCCA people on Pit Lane (possibly four but he was on the HSR radio) and those three were basically there for the full 30 hours of the race. Starting 7am Saturday for the morning meeting, and finishing Sunday 1pm’ish after that last race got totally mangled with incidents. I attempted to work the full race through for two of my previous Daytona 24 hours (modern IMSA races) but the closest I came was working 22 hours in 2013… somehow this time around I managed to do all 30! It did help that there were 45 minute races with 15 minutes between sessions that I could sit down, but still.

Getting to the event was a real enduro also. I elected to drive down because flights weren’t all that cheap, and a one-way Hertz rental from one of NYC’s airports was just $4.99 per day. I decided to book a car for two days so I could do a more leisurely drive. And my total came out to just over $13 dollars. As cheap as it seems though the fuel killed the deal. It cost me $71 in fuel for the little Nissan Versa I got. Plus another $49 for a hotel in South Carolina to get some rest. I picked my usual stop on the North/South Carolina border to get some fresh pig wings from Dixie Pig in Rock Hill… my favorite!

Spending the night in Charlotte area was neat because I got to see a ton of Miata’s driving around. There was one sitting by my motel at a gas station when I pulled in. And another must have been dining at a fast food place near the motel when I went to pick up my food. So I quickly posted on facebook to see if anyone would want to meet up. Obviously it was too late to do something that evening, but next day I headed out to a Miata specialist shop in Columbia, South Carolina to check out their NC Miata race cars and the garage. And while there got a message from a Miata owner in Savannah, Georgia to meet up for lunch there. Perfect!

The Savannah Miata mini-meet was kind of funny… I neglected to mention to my new friend that I’m driving a rental car, and he almost showed up in his minivan that is used for car pooling… but I’m glad he stopped home to swap into his gorgeous Miata. Love that color blue!

Great opportunity to meet a fellow Miata owner and to try a new place… never been to Zaxby’s before, and it wasn’t bad.

The rental car though was a solid piece of shit, the only saving grace was the fact I squeezed out over 40mpg out of it on the 1,100 mile road trip.

Wish I could bring a little palm tree home one day… or move to a state with palm trees… like say: Florida?

I think one of these days I’ll just move down there!

Speaking of Florida two of my First Coast Miata buddies came out to watch the races on Friday… but because our schedule was so hectic I didn’t get a chance to say Hello… luckily I did get an opportunity to take a shot of their cars coming back from lunch:

Some great folks from the First Coast Miata Club in Jacksonville, FL

And so in closing it was a super incredible weekend. Got a chance to see some awesome machinery going really fast. And some stuff you don’t normally see out and about…. like the Ferrari F40

…which looked almost common parked next to this amazing thing:

So yeah, can’t say enough good things about this trip!

Mazda MX-5: 3,500 Mile Spring Break Road Trip South in a Miata, from New Jersey to Florida

Second New Jersey to Florida Road Trip is now in the books. This trip in March over Spring Break was my second year in a row volunteering for St. Pete GP and Sebring 12 hour. It was also my second drive down to Florida this year (first one being for the Roar before the 24). All in all I put 3,440 miles on the car. Burned 102 gallons of 93/Premium fuel. Spent $268 dollars on gas using BP, ExxonMobil and Sunoco gas cards (which with the 7% discount that I paid for them, I actually only spent $250 on fuel). Averaged 34mpg which was an improvement of 1mpg over last year, and got my best fuel economy yet with 38mpg’s over two consecutive fuel ups on the drive down… Yay! I noticed gas prices were almost a dollar per gallon more than last year… And in all I did about 500 miles more since I based myself in Daytona Beach during this trip and took multiple drives out of the Daytona area for various events, from a Miata meet in Jacksonville, to St. Pete GP in the Tampa Bay area, to Sebring in Lake Placid area, and to Orlando Miata meet much like last year. It was a fantastic trip!

Interesting option of No-Ethanol fuel in South Carolina…

Hit a 60k milestone on this Road Trip

When leaving for the trip I couldn’t sleep the night before so instead of tossing and turning I jumped in the car at 1am and headed down. The night drive was great because there was hardly anyone else on the road, which meant I could take it nice and slow. Driving in the 60’s rather than 70’s the gas mileage improved tremendously… so averaging 36mpg vs. 31mpg meant that on the 3 tanks that it took to get to Florida from New Jersey I extended my range by 150 miles! Or basically had to refuel less often.

Much like last year I used the Gas Buddy App to check fuel prices to strategise my drive. Virginia and South Carolina had the lowest gas prices for premium fuel. While Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia and even Florida were the priciest. The most I paid for gas was $2.86 in Florida and the least was $2.39 both in South Carolina and Virginia. There’s a Sunoco I really like in St. George, South Carolina that always has low prices and a few BP’s in the stretch of i81/i66 where for some reason the prices for premium gas are 50 cents less per gallon than anywhere else in Virginia. (Greenville area)

I want to live in a place that has Palm Trees!

My first order of business when arriving in Daytona was mounting my eBay lip spoiler… which turned out really great. Not sure if this thing contributed to my great gas mileage, but I’m glad that it certainly didn’t hurt!

I decided to get to Florida a day early because of some severe weather moving into the Northeast, which worked out really well because it allowed me an opportunity to “discover” Daytona more than I’ve done in the past while volunteering there. So I visited a race team based in Holly Hill, a few miles from the Speedway: BSI Racing.

Next day I was off to St. Pete… I left early enough so I can volunteer for the half day in the afternoon right after registration.

This year’s PWC racing was outstanding! IndyCar wasn’t so bad either and I especially enjoyed it from my new position in pit lane.

I CouchSurfed while in St. Pete and my host was awesome. Just a few blocks north of the track which getting there early in the morning was a breeze. Literally took me less than 10 minutes to drive down, and that’s because I had to stop at a few traffic lights.

Got some real IndyCar goodies for my Miata in pit lane… the official Firestone tire caps… No idea what team they came from but I picked up a bunch to give out as souvenirs when I travel. They sure are a lot lighter than the bag of NASCAR lug nuts I took to Australia and NZ.

Mailed my Miata buddies in Southeast Asia some #MRTI goodies from St. Pete GP.

I headed back to Daytona Beach right after the race, and the next morning left on a scenic drive along A1A towards Jax Beaches, on my Minorcan Clam Chowder foodie tour. I’m in love with my newly discovered attraction of St. Augustine (America’s oldest city!) the scenery was great and the food was delicious.

Lots of Spanish influence in this area, including the Minorcan Clam Chowder… Minorca of course is the smallest of the three Spanish Islands in the Mediterranean with the larger ones being the much better known Majorca as in Palma de Majorca and Ibiza.

I ran into a Lancia – Martini Racing photoshoot while on the trip where a Brit photographer basically booted me from taking pix:

From there I rushed to join the First Coast Miata club at their monthly meeting at yet another seafood place.

Was so good to see my friend Arved there who inspired me to buy the eBay lip spoiler to begin with. It’s nice to go to Miata events like this because they inspire you to do mods to your car.

Next day I was off to Sebring!

Lots of Mazda’s there. Absolutely awesome event. I had a blast working in pit lane there. One of my best experiences of Sebring yet!

Right after the race I headed back to Daytona Beach… but much like last year returned to the Orlando area for an Orlando Roadsters monthly meet at Tijuana Flats in Winter Park (near University of Central Florida). For a Monday night meet it was a big one, about 30 cars showed up over the course of the event… it was super enjoyable!

And so my time in Florida came to a close… the two weeks flew quick, I would really want to come back and stay for good. Staying in Daytona Beach area was very cool because I got to hang out with a few marshaling buddies I really respect, including visiting some fine dining establishments with them…

Florida is really the best place to go for fresh seafood…

On the drive home I stopped at my favorite South Carolina BBQ place in Rock Hill called Dixie Pig to pick up a couple of orders of their famous Pig Wings in parm & garlic sauce. Brought it all the way home to share with my parents and nephew… they loved it too!

I’ll be doing another one of these Southern trips next month hopefully with another two week volunteering tour of Barber Motorsports Park for IndyCar and VIR for PWC. Stay tuned…

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.

Mazda MX-5: Kiwi Day Trip from Orlando to Daytona Beach and Daytona International Speedway

What do you do when a marshal friend visiting from New Zealand wants to get out of the Disney bubble and go exploring Orlando? Forget Orlando, you take her to Daytona Beach, Florida instead!

I was trying hard to decide what to show my kiwi friend around Orlando. Did a little research and the only things that came up were theme parks: Disney, Universal, Busch Gardens. Pfffff! Luckily, Daytona Beach is only an hour’s drive towards the Atlantic coast. And that’s exactly what we did.

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It’s not like there’s a whole lot to do in Daytona either, but the first stop on our trip was to check out the Daytona International Speedway. Not sure how much my friend was into NASCAR before coming to America but an iconic race track is a race track, and therefore definitely worth a visit. No matter how much I tried I wasn’t really able to sneak her into the lesser touristy bits of the track I was able to experience while volunteering. The money making machine at the Speedway is configured in a very efficient way to separate you from your money. But what we got to see was plenty. I even took the opportunity to take some beauty shots of the Miazda with the track… because: why not?

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The plan was to hit the beach after the track visit and I reached out to some American marshals that call Daytona Beach home to see if they’d join us for lunch, luckily they did and picked an awesome place to do it in Ponce Inlet.

Of all the times I’ve been coming to Daytona I never experienced this dining gem: Racing’s North Turn. I knew the history of NASCAR at Daytona and how initially they raced on the Beach, but I never knew there was a place like this restaurant still standing. What an awesome experience that was for me. And the food was good to boot! The clam chowder I had was excellent.

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The ambiance was great inside and out. Plenty of racing memorabilia on the walls and as part of the dining experience (like the fuel jug drink cups). And best part you can see the beach from the tables.

Afterwards we took a leisurely drive towards the light house and I jumped out to take some more pics of the car with the beach in the background. It was possible to drive the car on the beach but I figured that’s an experience I’ll save for next time.

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Back at the restaurant I noticed even the crosswalk was checkered flag theme:

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On our way out of town back to Orlando we picked up some Steak ‘n Shake milkshakes and made another pass by Daytona International Speedway where the sun was just in the right place for some more beauty shots:

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I noticed my cup was starting to leak and while I wiped two or three drops of the cup holder I dropped the damn cup… attempted to catch it mid-air with a swift karate chop which instead broke it and sent goops of milkshake flying all over my door, including the mesh around the door speaker… that wasn’t fun at all. I tried to wipe it but the damn thing went into the holes instead. As funny as it was I couldn’t wait to clean the milk out before it started to reek… the story will continue in the next thread from our visit to the Orlando Roadsters Get together at Miata’s and More shop in Longwood, FL

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I had a blast visiting Daytona Beach in the Miata, driving around with the top down and sharing the experience with my kiwi friend. Would love to do that again in the future!


PS. the best question of the day coming from a marshal friend who taught me how to use flags in New Zealand back in 2012 was: “Hey, what’s the Blue flag with the Yellow stripe?” lol