Tag Archives: Endurance Racing

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.

 

 

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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.

 

Sebring 12h 2016 Debrief

This year’s Sebring 12 hour was one of my most enjoyable events I’ve done recently. So many things went right I couldn’t believe my luck and certainly took it all in with pleasure.

Sebring was the second stop on my trip to Florida following the GP of St. Pete. I wasn’t in a particular rush to drive down to Sebring as the weather in St. Petersburg was amazing and me and my CouchSurfing host went to the beach enjoying the sun. But after arriving and setting up my tent (I dread camping whenever I have to) it wasn’t half bad. I was surrounded by friends and we took advantage of the opportunity to spend time together, go out for some drinks and dinners and generally have a good time.

The weather cooperated nicely for the start of the event right until race day. But even then I was very much prepared having packed all my weather gear and having a few pairs of shoes to change into in case it got to that point, luckily I stayed very dry. I’m also happy they red flagged the race for lightning because I definitely saw a few bolts connecting, looking out from our station towards the airport.

So all in all a great time. My corner captain Larry Joseph Morgan or Captain Morgan for short, was really amazing. I enjoy his management style and working with him and the whole team was a breeze, natural and enjoyable. Nobody was budding heads, nobody arguing, things went smoothly and efficiently. Like they should.

I had a few opportunities to make it down to the paddock and even check out the pits during the IMSA feature group’s practice session, which was amazing. One of the Mazda crew invited me to take a closer look and take some shots of the Mazda LMP2 pit stop… I truly enjoyed that opportunity. I’ll definitely keep Sebring on my to-do list for the future. In the meantime, enjoy the pix:

sebring 12h 2016 turn 13 blue and yellow flags

Turn 13 while pretty straight forward was quite challenging for a number of race groups, especially the Porsche GT3 Cup, we had a number of cars spin, slide off and bury it into the tire wall.

sebring 12h 2016 turn 13 don't feed the monkeys

Some interesting signage from previous year’s race, which we modified slightly:

sebring 12h 2016 turn 13 monkey sign modified

sebring 12h 2016 turn 13 feed the monkeys

And luckily the spectators camping besides our station were happy to oblige. We got fed by multiple groups of spectators which was especially awesome. Some delicious food to be sure. The BBQ pork and ribs were especially appetizing.

sebring 12h 2016 turn 13 spectators feeding marshals bbq

sebring 12h 2016 turn 13 spectator bbq

sebring 12h 2016 turn 13 amazing food

Certainly beat the lunches we were provided by track services.

sebring 12h 2016 turn 13 scca number signaling cheatsheet

The SCCA number signaling system which I had confused in a bad way for St. Pete by switching where the location for #1 and #3 signals are. Luckily Nancy Digh corrected me (but I still found myself struggling to remember it when it counted).

sebring 12h 2016 turn 13 flooded apex rain storm lightning

The race got a little dicey with water collecting in our apex, but NASCAR did a great job blowing it off the track.

sebring 12h 2016 turn 13 flooded apex rain storm lightning ford gtlm

Best part was checking out the paddock:

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk mazda lmp2 paddock

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk mazda lmp2 1 paddock

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk patron esm lmp2

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk ferrari 488 gtd

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk ford gtlm 1 paddock

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk ford gtlm paddock

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk corvette c7r gtlm

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk bmw m6 gtd paddock

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk bmw m6 gtlm  paddock

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk bmw historics paddock

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk skip barber miata

The dummy grid for the support races:  (lots of Miazda’s!)

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk false grid miata freedom autosport

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk false grid miata trumpf

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk false grid miata

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk gt3 cup porsche 911

HSR group brought some neat cars like ex-DTM Audi, and a fire-breathing Porsche turbo:

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk historics audi a4 dtm

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk historics porsche turbo

Of course checking out pit lane during practice was incredible:

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk deltawing elan

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk ford gtlm

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk ferrari 458 and pc

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk lamborghini huracan chevy corvette c7r

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk mazda lmp2

This year’s Sebring 12 hour was a blast, to be sure!

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk sebring

Postcard from the Sebring 12 hour 2016

What a difference one person makes!

This year’s Sebring 12 hour was quite an experience for me, a very different one from the last disaster I had in Florida all thanks to my post chief: Captain Morgan.

Things went right from the get go, and I’m very happy with that.

Weather was cooperating most of the time and when it turned bad I was prepared so everything worked out pretty well. The racing was good, I was in good company, the spectators fed us most of the time. What could I possibly complain about? I have nothing but praise!

I even managed to get over to Turn 1 to watch the start of the race and do the pit walk leading up to it. More to come soon, enjoy!

sebring 12h 2016 pit walk 2

sebring 12h 2016 pit walk 3

sebring 12h 2016 pit walk 1

sebring 12h 2016 pit walk 3-4

sebring 12h 2016 pit walk 4

sebring 12h 2016 pit walk 4-5

sebring 12h 2016 pit walk 7

And a few shots from Turn 13 where I was based for the weekend:

sebring 12h 2016 pit walk 6

sebring 12h 2016 pit walk 5

What an excellent event! Wish more were like it 🙂

Planning a Return to Southeast Asia for the Sepang 12 hour

It has been nearly two years since my last trip to Southeast Asia, and I really miss the place! So while browsing online articles about racing I noticed a schedule change for the Sepang 12 hour event, which I’ve yet to do. Not only that, the SRO of the Blancpain Endurance Series has become involved in promoting the event. And judging by the success of the amazing Spa 24 hour race I recently returned from I think it would give a much needed boost to the GT race in Asia.

So I’m going to sign up as a marshal.

For one getting out of the NYC area in December is an awesome thing just to get away from the snow and cold weather. And there’s no better place to go than Southeast Asia. I miss the food. I miss the people. And I do miss the racing at the Sepang International Circuit.

I will also use this opportunity to plan a side trip to either Singapore or Thailand, or both. It would be great to lounge on a beach for a few days and stuff myself with amazing cuisine.

But the racing will be wonderful also. The news reports from earlier this year suggested that the recently re-structured Asian Le Mans Series which I’ve done in December of 2013 would be held just a week after the SRO Sepang 12h event, but more recent articles suggest the dates have been changed to either November of this year or January of next year. Either way, if there is something interesting happening immediately before or immediately after the Sepang 12h race I’d love to spend another weekend in the region.

It is worth noting that the Sepang 12h this year will fall on the same dates as the Gulf 12h at the Abu Dhabi Circuit in UAE. I’ve done the Gulf 12h two years ago before flying to Sepang for the Asian Le Mans Sereies 3h race, and it was a spectacular event on an amazing circuit. Hopefully both events will see good participation among the global and regional teams. I suspect that some Aussies would choose Sepang over Yas Marina, and possibly more Asian teams would participate there, while European participation would be diluted among both, I think. Either way, it’s nice to have options!

sepang-12-hours-sro

This news has gotten me really excited. And I can’t wait to plan the trip out using frequent flyer miles I must scramble together from different programs because I don’t have enough in any individual one of them at this point (most were used for the trip to Australia Pacific in February). So stay tuned for more!

Spa 24h Blancpain GT at Spa-Francorchamps the Debrief

Have you ever done an event for the first time but felt like you’ve been there a million times? My first Spa 24h at Spa-Francorchamps felt that way. I was full of confidence, had a sense of familiarity with things and most of the events that took place felt predictable. Maybe I had done my homework in advance, or maybe it was just a natural place for me to get quickly acclimatized and integrate into the flow of things with the local Belgian marshals on Team 31.

spa-francorchamps radillion spa24h 1

We were based on station 4 for the weekend. The home pod was at 4B and it was a place where we initially started flagging on Thursday, but the visibility was much better from 4A which was about 100 meters down track towards the famous Radillion at the top of Eau Rouge. The flagging from that point was perfect, and yet another 50 meters down towards Radillion was the track marshal station 4, as it was written on the rail in permanent marker. This spot was the launching point for marshals doing recoveries on track after a crash at Radillion, a place where I watched Pol respond to a wrecked Lamborghini Huracan in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo support race, and later during the 24 hour Mike and Jelle responded to a crashed Ferrari 458 Italia in the middle of the night.

spa-francorchamps radillion spa24h 2

The position of our post, while close walking distance to the famous Radillion was a world apart in that we were more sheltered from the huge crowd of spectators that flocked to the Radillion. And yet, we could see the turn (at least the very top of it) perfectly. Which means the marshal team at Radillion got all the action, we got to spectate it and wave the occasional Green flag, or display the SC board. For me personally it was a fantastic station because it was ideal for Blue flag. Cars don’t generally pass through Radillion, but they get positioned nicely to make passes right after it, which is where we were. In addition, the pit exit blend line was just before our station, so for this reason we got to display plenty of Blue flag for cars coming out of the Pits. I was in Blue flag heaven!

spa-francorchamps radillion spa24h 3

I have to say I was super happy with my station assignment because in addition to the wonderful opportunity to use the Blue flag, we were also very close distance to the paddock, and ultimately to the grid walk which was one of the more fantastic things I experienced that weekend. But enough talk about how lucky I got, let me share some tidbits about marshaling at Spa.

spa-francorchamps ditigal light panel controler flaging system

Having worked with Belgian marshals before the learning curve to adjust to the way things were done at their home track wasn’t long. The neat thing I found on station was the digi board controller which unlike many others I used around the world was fully touch screen. It was cool and challenging at the same time, because for anyone having experienced how frustrating an iPhone could be sometimes I had the same issues using this system. The scariest moment came during one of the night practices where I pushed the Blue button and watched cars came slowing down like there was something happening behind me. I quickly looked back and noticed that the Debris / Lack of Adhesion flag was displaying, which was not the button I thought I pushed. So I immediately corrected myself and everything was back to normal, but it made me think that obviously whomever designed the system didn’t get much useful marshal input because this seems like a pretty silly design flaw. I mean you’ve got to account for marshals with fat fingers, right? Though I assumed pressing the button on an angle confused the system.

The unique thing about working Spa 24h from my experience was seeing how the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium (RACB) assigned stations by teams. I was on Marshal Team 31 which most of the time either work together on the same track, or break up events over the same weekend and have part of the team work at Spa-Francorchamps and another at Zolder. Long story short, the team was assigned the turn. Throughout the four day weekend of the event, different members rotated into and out of working shifts based on their availability. Some were only available for race day, while others were able to work two days. I was super happy to be able to work all of the days we were needed as Pol managed to get vacation the week of the event.

The thing that surprised me the most about watching Belgian marshals work is how they just jump out on track when an incident happens… no delay whatsoever reporting to and asking Race Control for permission to go trackside. As soon as a car bounced into the tire wall at the top of Radillion the marshals behind the tire walk climbed over towards the stricken car, helped get the driver out, and waited for the wrecker to pull around the tire wall to drag the car off the track. Even at the incident that happened at our turn, Pol responded to a crashed Lamborghini Huracan, got the driver out and then assisted in getting the car straightened out and onto the flat bed truck once it showed up. Things seemed to go really quickly and smoothly and we didn’t have huge safety car periods or full course yellows like I’ve become accustomed to with some of the domestic series in the US.

spa-francorchamps radillion spa24h 5 turn

spa-francorchamps radillion spa24h 5

The other thing that surprised me was the close proximity of the marshal campsite to the track. We had some of the best views there are at Spa-Francorchamps just feet from our tents and campers. Just look at the picture above. With the elevated views you could see a huge part of the track all the way down to the paddock. The ring road going through the campsite was open to spectators to pass through and at times it was pretty crowded with people watching the race right from the road, which made driving to and from station a bit slow. But it was cool nonetheless. Spa provided very modern bathrooms and shower facilities, so I was very comfortable marshaling this event with all the creature comforts imaginable. Being able to quickly access the track meant we left several times to go into town and enjoy our foodie experiences which I’ve already covered in a separate post.

spa-francorchamps radillion spa24h 6

The most familiar experience for me was having the predictable amount of rain cause havoc during the race. We had a wet race. Very wet at times. I got lucky in a sense that it didn’t rain for a few days leading up to race day which meant I got to experience both extremes of the weather at Spa. Having watched the /Drive video with Leo Parente and John Hindy from Radio Le Mans interview talking about this situation, I was thrilled that I got to live it. During the race itself we had so many Safety Car (SC) periods in the opening hours that I think they resorted to using to Full Course Yellows (FCY) to balance out the number of caution periods. At one point we even upgraded from FCY to SC when it was determined rail repair had to be made after a single car incident into the barrier. There were a lot of caution periods, and some spectacular crashes, many of which we were able to see from our post looking down at Radillion.

All in all, I am really thrilled with this whole experience and cannot wait to return to Spa-Francorchamps for another amazing event. Everything went perfectly on this trip. From the few hours I got to sightsee in Rome, to the excellent culinary experiences eating delicious local food and drinking tasty cherry beer. To the trip home via Helsinki sampling their famous Salmon at the airport, and then spending a night in Chicago while sightseeing around the Loop area downtown and stuffing my face with more delicious food like the Chicago deep dish pizza and hot dogs. I mean, it was perfect!

I’d highly recommend for anyone to do what I did, and I hope this post and all the pictures encourage people to at least consider it!