Whenever I travel to volunteer overseas most people enquire not about our American sports car or open wheel racing series… but instead about NASCAR. More often than not people ask about how they too could come to America and work a NASCAR event… and often times I have to give them the bad news that marshals (volunteers like us) aren’t actually used by the series on ovals.
I have worked NASCAR events on a road course for many years, in fact NASCAR at Watkins Glen International is one of my favorite trips Upstate New York year after year. I even go to the Motorsport Safety Seminar put on by NASCAR and Race Services, Inc. at Watkins Glen to get properly trained to work NASCAR events.
So imagine my surprise when reviewing my calendar for events I wish to participate in this season (2017) the majority of the events I wish to work are NASCAR events. How in the world?
Will I actually work all those events I have pencilled in?
Probably not, but wouldn’t it be cool?
I have begun a habit of making notes (memo’s) of events I wish to do in order to inspire myself to follow through with those plans. So I’ll list the events below in order to reflect back at a later time to see how many of those races I actually participated in:
April 1-2: Watkins Glen International – MSS (w/ RSI)
May 19-21: Canadian Tire Motorsport Park – Pinty’s Series – Can Am 200 (w/ MMS)
June 9-11: Pocono Raceway – Monster Enegery / Xfinity / ARCA – Pocono 400 (w/ Team Pocono)
July 28-30: Pocono Raceway – Monster Energy / Camping World Trucks / ARCA – Pennsylvania 400 (w/ Team Pocono)
August 3-6: Watkins Glen International – Monster Energy / Xfinity / K&N Pro East – Zippo 355 (w/ RSI)
August 11-13: Mid Ohio Sports Car Course – Xfinity Series – Mid Ohio 200 (w/ Lake Erie Communicators)
September 1-3: Canadian Tire Motorsport Park – Camping World Trucks / Pinty’s Series – Chevrolet Silverado 250 (w/ MMS)
September 16: New Jersey Motorsports Park – K&N Pro East – Just Drive 125 (w/ NJMP)
I’m very excited about the possibility of any of these events… we’ll see how many I can actually participate in…!
Every Road Trip presents an opportunity to try something new and delicious. My Motorsport Foodie Tours are a highlight of my volunteering career and this Spring Break trip to Florida was no exception… I discovered a new food I love: Watermelon Rind Pickles!
Ironically I was so busy stuffing my face with delicious seafood and the endless salad bar, I didn’t really take any close up shots of this tasty goodness…
The whole atmosphere of the dinner where this new food was sampled might have contributed to the pleasant experience. While staying in Daytona Beach my host John Gamble and I met up with our CFR flagging friend Captain Morgan who I had the privilege of working with the previous year both at St. Pete Grand Prix and Sebring 12 hour. He’s an amazing person and someone I really admire and truly respect. Even when our political views differ 😉
The restaurant, Aunt Catfish’s on the River is a really happening spot even on a weekly night for dinner. There was wait time to get a table. But we used the opportunity to get a mason jar or beer and shoot the breeze on the dock. It was pretty awesome and very relaxing.
Once inside, the main attraction is the unlimited salad bar. Both cold and hot versions, where you can help yourself to a serving of the Watermelon Rind Pickles… the first time I missed this altogether trying not to overload my plate with other delicious food. But at recommendation of Captain Morgan I went back and stocked up.
I didn’t take any close-up pix of the watermelon rind, but you can see the little green cubes in the picture above, all the way to the right of the plate… they are amazing!
I felt like licking the plate when dinner was done, it was so good!
But then Captain Morgan recommended desert:
I literally had to wobble out of the place… I was so full. But happy!
Thanks to Captain Morgan for introducing me to Watermelon Rind Pickles, so now I could promote the food to others. Do add it to your Foodie Tour experiences next time you visit Florida or South in general. You’ll probably love it too!
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…
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)
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…
First let me apologize for the poor audio quality for my guest John. I made a rookie mistake… since recording the last Miata Fiata Radio episode I forgot to adjust my Blue Yeti mic to adjust again from 360 degree area, instead it was turned directly towards me and John was sitting opposite me… Sorry!
That said, he’s a soft-spoken man and that’s how he generally sounds anyway… so turn your volume up and listen.
We talked about marshaling at Sebring 12 hour this year and how much we liked the new selection of prototypes especially in the new support series: Mazda Prototype Challenge and the LMP3 cars (which ironically aren’t Mazda powered at all).
We also talked briefly about the St. Pete Grand Prix where I volunteered. Barber Motorsports Park and VIR where I plan to volunteer soon. And Watkins Glen International where John and I will probably record another episode.
I’m really enjoying doing these episodes with John Gamble, big thanks to him and Jeree for letting me stay in their house while in Florida… I had based myself in Daytona Beach for both St. Pete and Sebring along with two Miata events in Jacksonville and Orlando.
I want to express my gratitude to the men and women I worked with over the past three consecutive Florida races, two of them back-to-back and especially our Chief of Pit & Grid Marshals Scott Lucas. Thank you sir!
What an incredible opportunity this has been. It’s definitely a first in my seven years of marshaling that I found a team that welcomed me as well as these folks. I am so grateful!
Needless to say I would love to be back and work with them again, and I hope they will extend more opportunities to me in the future.
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!
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!
First order of business on arrival to Florida was installing my new eBay lip spoiler from Taiwan.
I think it looks great, even though I think I botched the install a little bit… there are a few places I would like to adjust it, although to be honest it looks far better than I thought it would.
Who knew something so cool could only cost $20 bux?
First things first… a good hose down at a local Daytona car wash.
I first left it out in the sun for about 10 minutes so the spoiler softened in order to be bent to follow the shape and curvature of the trunk lid.
I wanted it to sit right on the very tip of the trunk, which posed a bit of an issue because as the lid curls up it creates an uneven area to which the flat bottom of the lip spoiler would have a hard time sticking. For this reason I think a tiny bit of the 3M adhesive on the back of the lip spoiler is somewhat exposed. But I think it’ll do just fine. We’ll see with time if it needs to be readjusted.
I used some painters tape to force the lip spoiler in place. It was probably not necessary as the 3M tape grabbed the trunk immediately and pretty vigorously.
I had some help installing it, so my approach was to start from left to right. I attached the center of the spoiler first, then had my friend hold the right side up away from the trunk, while I gently followed the curvature of the trunk to stick the spoiler to the left first. Then I returned to the center and went ahead to stick it to the right. I think I got the two sides to balance within 1mm (I think the left side sticks out 1mm more than the right side, but it isn’t noticeable) what is noticeable is on the very edge of the spoiler the right side seems a bit more exposed from the bottom on the right than the left.
It may sound confusing so I hope the pix will show what I mean:
I left the tape on for about an hour while we went to Ponce Inlet Beach, and then removed the tape to see how it looks:
This side especially shows how much it sticks out.
Took a little trip to the Daytona International Speedway for some more shots:
First impressions: I like it! I like it a lot. It’s subtle but has a presence
Would I recommend it?
Go and buy one, for the price and the quick shipping, it’s a mod you’ll appreciate and enjoy. And if you don’t like it, the losses are minimal.
I’ll post an update to see if it helps with stability or gas mileage on the highway. I doubt it, but with multiple trips coming up within Florida I should be able to notice differences. I got up to 38mpg on the drive down here, so I think it is already as good as it gets.