Tag Archives: Daytona

Marshaling NASCAR

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:

Completed Events:

April 1-2: Watkins Glen International – MSS (w/ RSI)

 May 19-21: Canadian Tire Motorsport Park – Pinty’s Series – Can Am 200 (w/ MMS)

 

Future Events:

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…!

Thank You Scott Lucas and the Pit Crew for the VIP Treatment at Daytona 24, St. Pete GP & Sebring 12

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.

What a great bunch of people to volunteer with!

I can’t say enough good things… except:

Thank you for Daytona 24 hour!

Thank you for St. Pete Grand Prix

And thank you very much for Sebring 12 hour!

See you next time….

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!

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 Day 1 at the Rolex 24 at Daytona working in the Paddock

Greetings from Daytona Beach, Florida my second visit here in two weeks, this time for the actual race: the Rolex 24 at Daytona the IMSA 2017 season opener.

This time my role has changed. Not flagging this year somewhere on the inner road course, instead I’m in the paddock working as “spectator marshal” making sure VIP’s and competitors/teams don’t crash into each other. Instead of flags I’m using the whistle a lot.

So far I’m loving this role!

some pix:

The weather was perfect today, even got a little dunburn. It is supposed to dip into the freezing territory starting tomorrow. But we’ll manage… stay tuned for more.

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)

Get Closer to the Action! Become a Motorsport Marshal Volunteer!

Russ found a new hobby in 2011: Motorsport volunteering.

Since then he has worked in 15 different countries and for all sorts of racing from Formula 1 to MotoGP.

Russ likes to encourage others to volunteer also.

Get in touch with Russ to find out how.

 

 

some shortcuts:

How to Become a Marshal?

by Series

by Event

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Young Marshals Wanted!

 

Events Russ Marshaled

Circuits Russ Marshaled

Roar Before the 24 at Daytona International Speedway the debrief

This was my first Roar before the 24 at Daytona Int’l Speedway.

For a motorsport event this was an interesting one because officially there wasn’t actually any racing taking place, it was all practice sessions over a three day period. The reason for my participation is my desire to check out several of the brand new race cars making their debut this IMSA racing season. Among them of course is the Mazda DPi car. As well as the Cadillac DPi’s, and the Nissan Ligiers, and the Oreca’s and Riley’s. As well as Acura NSX GT3’s, the Lexus IS-F RC-F GT3’s (I previously referred to the Lexus as IS-F it’s actually RC-F), the new mid-engined Porsche 911 RSR GTE’s, Mercedes-AMG SLS GT3’s finally debuting in America. McLaren 570S GT4’s debuting in the support series alongside Porsche Cayman GT4’s.

This post will be all the good, the bad and the ugly opinions.

The good.

Lots of cars in attendance. I’m very pleased with the Acura’s, the Lexus, Mercedes-AMG, Porsche’s, Mazda and Cadillac DPi’s and the LMP2’s from Oreca, Ligier and Riley. All those cars… it was great to see them on track shaking things down.

I’m really glad I got a few opportunities to take some pictures. It was important to me to have some good memories I can share with friends, and I call it mission accomplished. It was very good to work with my friend John all weekend, who took some awesome pix for me also. He let me crash at his house and even let me catch a ride to the track with him every day. Definitely appreciate that! CFR SCCA was excellent. We received $25 Gas Cards for every day of participation and $50 hotel credit (IOU’s) for future CFR events. (Which I think I may actually cash in during Sebring or St. Pete)

Also really happy to run into other flag marshals that drive Miatas

The bad.

Weather was cold. Like stupid cold. I was prepared to a degree… since I drove my Miata down I loaded it up with multiple pairs of clothes. I had 4 white t-shirts, 3 white hoodies, 2 pairs of white pants, 1 white jacket, 1 non-white jacket, and a whole bunch of undershirts…. not to mention a few bandanas which came very useful to block the arctic wind from hitting my face. But it was still stupid cold! I was thinking I could handle 59F in the evening and 65F during the day. We dropped down to 35F on Sunday, and had most of the day raining on Saturday with the temperatures dropping. The wind was especially killer!

This was how bundled up I was, and still cold:

That said, Friday… the first day of the event was T-shirt weather. I think it was in the high 70’s and I got a nice sunburn on my face!

There was a lot of opportunities to take some awesome shots of race cars while Media vans were shooting their official photos on track (while we were off-duty) unfortunately our station was way too far from the track to get a decent shot.

The ugly.

I like most BMW Art Cars… except this year’s. I think this year’s model with the polka-dots on the front, and roof is stupid! The word “FAST” on driver’s side and an actual picture of that race car stickered on the passenger door is just dumb…. I don’t understand the attraction other than the stupidity of it and for that reason I find it very ugly!

The other ugly news during the event was another shooting in FLL – Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport in Florida… one of my favorite airports to fly into when going to Miami and South Florida. That was not good news… in fact that was ugly news, and it ran right under the news about the Roar before the 24 in the paper:

For an event that I thought I would never do again, I would totally do this again. Both the Roar before the 24 and the Daytona 24h race.

It was a blast!

Good people though made this experience possible for me.

Post Card from the Roar Before the 24 at Daytona International Speedway

Did not think I’d go back to Daytona, until I saw all the entries for the 2017 IMSA season… wow! The new DPi programs are in full effect. There are several GTE and GT3 machines with new manufacturers. I had to be here. Not once but twice… Not just for the 24 hour race at the end of January… but the Roar before the 24 in the beginning of the month.

Here are some pix from Turn 4, working with my good friend John Gamble:

Pretty impressive line up in the GT field:

  • Aston Martin Vantage (GTD)
  • Acura NSX (GTD)
  • BMW M6 (GTLM & GTD)
  • Corvette C7.R (GTLM)
  • Ferrari 488 (GTLM & GTD)
  • Ford GT (GTLM)
  • Lamborghini Huracan GT3 (GTD)
  • Lexus IS-F (GTD)
  • Mercedes-AMG SLS (GTD)
  • Porsche 911 GT3 R (GTD)
  • Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GTLM)

The prototype field is also expanded with new Cadillac DPi replacing the familiar Corvette Daytona Prototypes. Mazda has a new skin, but a very similar engine sound to the old Lola. Lots of Orecas, a few Ligier Nissans, etc.

In the Continental Tire support group the McLaren GT4 is really balancing out the Porsche Cayman GT4 dominance.

More pix from the pit walk:

And some shots from Station 4:

And a delicious pizza dinner with the Gambles Friday night:

Looking forward to the rest of the weekend even if Saturday is supposed to be very wet…. more to come!

Daytona 24h Marshal Spotter Guide 2017

Update January 15, 2017:

Andy Blackmore Design (spotterguides.com)  shared the news that  IMSA (imsa.com) have started adding individual team car liveries onto the official web site. So for you marshals planning to participate in the event, start studying those cars:

(click on each picture to go to the team’s page on the IMSA web site)

Prototypes:

Prototype Challenge:

GT Le Mans:

GT Daytona:

 

Post-Race Update, cars that changed/updated liveries from (correct one shown above, previous one shown below)

 

Download the official spotter guide from Andy Blackmore Design on January 24, 2017 when it officially becomes available for release:


This post will be updated as information becomes more available closer to the event, which is due to take place January 28, 2017

I thought I’d never do Daytona again based on the fiasco last time turned into… but never say never. I am seriously considering the trip down for 2017 season opener of the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Series championship because of all the new machinery that is going to take part in this event.

As I’m sure everyone else is, I am eagerly awaiting the official Andy Blackmore spotter guide for this event to know exactly who will take part, but until then I will use this post to speculate on the entries as well as share news of those that have already been announced.

This season will see a brand new prototype platform, the DPi, or Daytona Prototype international. The future of what was the merger between Daytona Prototypes of the Grand Am series and the Le Mans Prototype (LMP2) of the American Le Mans era. And the future is very sexy!

Mazda was the first to unveil their DPi… and it is the main reason I’d like to volunteer this event. I want to see this car in person!

Mazda Unveils New Prototype Race Car at Los Angeles Auto Show

Cadillac was next with their DP-V.R

http://media.cadillac.com/media/us/en/cadillac/news.detail.html/content/Pages/news/us/en/2016/dec/1201-dpr-vr-race-car.html

ESM Tequila Patron Team and their Nissan DPi

ESM Nissan Onroak DPi Revealed; Testing Begins

But it’s not just prototypes that are an exciting addition to the multi-class racing program that is IMSA. Several new GT programs look very exciting also. Including entries from Acura and Lexus, as well as the addition of Mercedes-Benz, McLaren, and other existing programs that are just now finding their way to IMSA.

Acura Announces Dual PWC & IMSA NSX GT3 Programme

 

This is all pretty exciting news!

I’m so excited I’m contemplating driving down to Florida again next year for this thing. Not once but twice. The Roar before the 24. And the Daytona 24 hour race. In 2016 I drove down to Florida twice. First time in my own Miata for the St. Pete & Sebring pairing and later just for fun in a VW Bug rental. And to be honest I’m really looking forward to do this trip again.

Stay tuned for updates.