Tag Archives: Ferrari Challenge

Post Card from Ferrari Challenge at Daytona Pre-24h Weekend Test Day

Great way to spend Monday at the race track. The temperature is warmest it has been for the whole week down in Florida. Today was in the 70’s and misty. But despite the light rain it was enjoyable flagging at Turn 3.

I thought Ferrari Challenge was dying out based on the low attendance at Line Rock, but this field was impressive.

Some pix:

Back to reality tomorrow… great trip to Daytona! Can’t wait to return in two weeks.

Favorite car wrap:

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

IMSA Ferrari Challenge at Lime Rock Park the debrief

I don’t know what it is but every time I come to Lime Rock to volunteer an event there’s always something impeding my performance. This time around I got sick as a dog the day before with a head cold and flu like symptoms and it only got worse during the course of the weekend. Being sick probably affected my opinion of the event, but I’ll go ahead and share what I thought, both the good and the bad.

The good… I really enjoyed working with the people I was paired with over the two day period. I loved the assignments I got, both stations: Turn 7 (downhill) on Friday and Turn 6 (west bend) on Saturday were stations I haven’t worked in forever, so it was a new perspective. And my partners who both said were novices even though they probably worked more “years” as marshals than I have, really embraced my help (or at least that’s how they came across) which created a really pleasant atmosphere that I enjoyed. I thought I was helping by sharing what I know, and encouraged the folks to build confidence even if they made a mistake. That was cool! I am thankful for that opportunity.

As far as the racing goes it was a great day to be a Ferrari fan because there were lots of Ferrari’s to be enjoyed.

I really like(d) Ferrari Challenge. They were such an exciting event especially when they played a support role to events like Formula 1 in Montreal, Canada or at the US Grand Prix. They were such an enjoyable regional event too, because I got to see them race as a support to Formula One in Singapore and Le Mans 24 hours in France. In fact it was the Ukrainian team that won the support race during my very first LM 24h and I was massively happy to hear the Ukrainian anthem playing in the distance. That was really neat.

The bad…  It seems to me Ferrari Challenge went from heroes to zeroes in a space of a few years. The current Ferrari Challenge event at Lime Rock felt more like a Ferrari North America track rental, a private event rather than a Pro-Race / IMSA sanctioned weekend.

When did Ferrari Challenge become the bastard child of IMSA?

I don’t understand this at all… watching the weekend unfold it was pretty disappointing to see the sorry state of the series. Which probably has a lot to do with Ferrari involvement and the direction of the program from top down. And equally as much the popularity of other series like Porsche GT3 Cup and Lamborghini Super Trofeo.


“I’d rather be fishing” on the winning car of one of the classes sums up the event best… seems like lots of racers would rather do something else, that’s why the car fields in the actual races were between seven (7!!!) and low teens… not much to look at. And I get the part that this is a marketing tag line, but even the teammate’s Bass Pro Shops sponsored Ferrari was half-assed. I’ve seen spec Miatas with better wrap jobs than this 458C that seems like it was slapped together in a hurry, with bubbles and creases still clearly visible under the wrap. Not cool…


It wasn’t just the Ferrari Challenge that was disappointing. Much like the Driver Education sessions during the Ferrari Club of America / IndyCar weekend at Watkins Glen, the lapping portion of the event was lame. The Ferrari Esperienza session which used the same 458C that the Challenge racers use only had one car circulating in it’s 20 minute sessions, at one point another similar car joined but it disappeared as quickly as it appeared. That sucked. There was a LaFerrari session which I think many people, myself included were quite interested in, that didn’t happen at all. I could be wrong but I didn’t see any LaFerrari’s at Lime Rock at all this weekend. What the hell? The LaFerrari was used as a cover photo on Facebook to check in for this event… false marketing, is it?




The plastic F1 replica was a cool touch though. I took full advantage by taking some snaps of it at various stages of that car’s display. It was fun to see it being pushed around sideways (perpendicular to the way the wheels were facing) to get the car lined up in a way that the red shirts wanted it. I even staged a little photo shoot with my Miazda for shits and giggles… didn’t realize the car was that much bigger than my Miata.


So it is what it is. The final verdict for this weekend is it felt like a Cars & Coffee get together with a few cars running around on track making noise…. except you had to pay $55 bux as a spectator to come and see these cars for yourself. The spectator attendance was good albeit low, I was happy to see all the little kids who raided the team’s spent tires stash and took them as souvenirs. Some were playing by rolling the tire down hill, others used it as chairs to watch the racing. I love seeing little kids at the race track… with low attendance numbers everywhere it’s nice to feel that Motorsport has a future.

The car show portion of the event is what really salvaged the experience for me. Despite the LaFerrari’s absence I was super happy to see the F40 next to an F50 next to an Enzo. What a great show! Lots of red cars, a few bright yellows and bright blues to break the monotony of silvers and black cars. There was a lot to look at in the small space that is the Lime Rock paddock.






I never knew Ferrari made a Citroen-esque car:



For me though this was a one time event, I don’t think I would enjoy doing it again in the future. But that’s just me.

And then when leaving I noticed the whole road leading to the main entrance of Lime Rock lined with yellow “No Racing on Sunday” banners… WTF! Hard for me to understand people’s mentality that buy a house next to the race track and then complain about the noise.


Let’s Support the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas

A lot of sad news is coming out of Texas about the state of affairs at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin. Speculation this morning that Formula 1 may drop the venue now that Texas will not foot the bill for the event in the future. The pretty disastrous 2015 running of the United States F1 Grand Prix which was mostly rained out. And of course subsequent storm damage, pictures which have been circulating around the Internet for a while now, but were officially posted on the COTA web site to point out the damage… see here: http://www.circuitoftheamericas.com/storm who knows if the pictures will stay up, so I just wanted to share a few here:

circuit of the americas main grandstand damage
photo courtesy of circuitoftheamericas.com
circuit of the americas double decker bus cota
photo courtesy of circuitoftheamericas.com
circuit of the americas flooding
photo courtesy of circuitoftheamericas.com
circuit of the americas tunnel 1 flooding
photo courtesy of circuitoftheamericas.com
circuit of the americas tunnel 2 wall collapse
photo courtesy of circuitoftheamericas.com
circuit of the americas storm damage tunnel 2
photo courtesy of circuitoftheamericas.com

The picture above of the Tunnel 2 is especially scary because it is essentially the evacuation site for the marshals, which we practiced getting to in an expedited fashion during one of the events specifically in situations of severe weather, life threatening weather like what the pictures of the aftermath depict.

While I chose not to participate in this year’s F1 Grand Prix at COTA I did volunteer there for the WEC/IMSA: Lone Star Le Mans races. I have gone there for two consecutive years to volunteer Formula 1. And I would have been there again for MotoGP had they responded to my inquiry sooner. I have a very special place for COTA in my heart for a variety of reasons. Not least because I find it to be the best circuit the US currently has to offer to the world. Yes, I acknowledge that there are other amazing tracks like Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in California, Watkins Glen International in Upstate New York and Road Atlanta in Georgia. But COTA is the newest and most advanced circuit US has. It is the most impressive facility we currently have on a world stage, and in its current state it’s worth supporting!

I understand there have been a change in management because of the less than desired outcomes of recent events. The prospect of losing F1 could snowball in larger problems that could send COTA in the direction of what happened to Miller Motorsports Park in Utah. Mother nature hasn’t been cooperative this year, that was a big hit. But as American Motorsport volunteers and fans we ought to support this place because many more “good” things will come out of COTA in the future. I firmly believe it!

I really hope the Circuit of the Americas receives the support it deserves in the 2016 racing season…. whether it is for Pirelli World Challenge (PWC), IMSA Weathertech United SportsCar Series, World Endurance Championship (WEC), MotoGP, Formula 1 (F1) and all the other smaller track rentals that occur there. I have faith!

Registration open for 2014 Canadian Grand Prix

Registration call for marshals wishing to volunteer the 2014 Canadian Grand Prix taking place this June at the beautiful Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Quebec is now open and you are encouraged to sign up! Canadian GP is a fantastic event, one of my favorites in fact… with great action on track, beautiful host city to explore, and amazing food to taste… like the local delicacy: “poutine”!

The application process is handled via e-mail and I’m happy to recommend anyone interested. Just send me a facebook message and I’ll refer you to the right person.

Be advised however that the event is taking a serious stance against photo taking when cars are on track, for which I have personally gotten in trouble for at past events. So please take the warnings seriously.

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve web site: http://www.circuitgillesvilleneuve.ca/

United States F1 Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas, Austin, TX

As with any other motorsport weekend, this one went by too quickly. But what a great weekend it was. I usually get excited about events as they’re in progress and then looking back think perhaps I was overly enthusiastic. This wasn’t the case at all at COTA as I was mad as hell from the moment I saw my station assignment and the location of the digi board. I was spewing mad that the track in the US was much like the track in Singapore, or the track in Canada, or elsewhere I worked where there is so much talk about Safety but so little of it is actually put in practice when it comes to the marshals. And this was precisely the case at turn 12 at the Circuit of the Americas. The light board was in a perfect spot, but there was no hole in the fence for the operator to see the oncoming traffic! I had no vision of what was flying my way at the fastest point of the track, and therefore as a result had little chance or hope to actually do any blue flagging. What a shame?!

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Now at that point people would say: “Well focus on yellow flag” … Sure being near the apex of the turn, it was easy to see through the fence. But what about all this “Safety” talk… if I have my back to the traffic and someone comes crashing into the fence Dario Franchitti style – I am toast!  So “safety” as you can see was not a major concern at COTA for F1.

It wasn’t just me who wasn’t given much consideration. The one and only retirement during the actual race occurred just meters away from where I was standing and the good folks responding to the mangled car had no clue what to do when they got to it. The intervention marshals, the flat bed driver, the Manitou operator, all did their own thing and none contributed to each other’s safety. Its easy to criticise in hindsight but I wouldn’t be saying a word if any of us in the US actually got some fucking training for this! For example, the marshals responding to the car should stay behind the ARMCO as much as possible before entering hot track to respond to the incident, our guys ran out on the track and were running with their backs to traffic for a good 100 meters. The flat bed driver arrived on scene and parked past the stricken vehicle, not before it to protect the marshals responding. (sure he would have been in the way of the Manitou once it finally showed up two laps later, but the driver could have stayed in the truck and moved it when the Manitou made it on scene). The hooker had no clue where to thread the strap to connect the vehicle to the Manitou. And finally when all the people on foot near the vehicle being lifted thought it would go on the flat bed that had been waiting all this time, the Manitou driver proceeded to reverse with the vehicle dangling in the air because none of the marshals there were stabilizing it. I was across track behind the fence cringing at the potential accident that was waiting to happen over a multitude of scenarios that could have gone terribly wrong. We got lucky…. But we cannot depend on luck alone for Safety!

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Now that I got that off my chest, there were a number of very positive events that took place that made this race weekend one of the most pleasant ones I worked all year. And once again the people I worked with were a great contributing factor to my happiness. For starters no one on the team projected the negative vibe of being better than anyone else. We all had our levels of experience and I think each respected that notion. The post chief was kind enough to share his duties which I thought was unique, especially when it was my turn at the helm and I  had some Ferrari debris to pick up under safety car conditions. That was a rush as always, and the crowd cheering resulted in a constant thought running across my mind: “don’t trip and fall on your face… don’t trip and fall on your face.” Similarly the boss allowed me to adjust the digi board location to my liking, which was quite helpful… though again without a hole in the fence it was very difficult to see anything. I did manage to rig a somewhat tolerable set-up that included a rear-view mirror, though I was not impressed with my blue flag because it was still very difficult to see and I didn’t want to use the flag incorrectly. I did get the blue flagging out of my system when I was on actual manual flags for the Historics race, that was fun!

Hanging out in Ausin and San Antonio before it was better than any of the previous times I had visited Texas. Things went well all around, from car rental, to hotel, to CouchSurfing. In fact I spent a great deal of time hanging out with my hosts, even got a chance to introduce some marshal buddies with the CS’ers which was a great experience. Food was sublime, with all the Tex Mex, BBQ, biscuits and gravy, and other local cuisines that made the whole trip memorable. I had a great time and feel good about it.

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us f1 cota food

Texas BBQ at Salt Lick outside of town…. finger lickin’ good!

Bonjour Montréal! Postcard from the Canadian GP

After another secondary secutrity check and search of my car, I’m back in Quebéc for the Canadian F1 Grand Prix. This event I am working the light panel. The station line up include: turn 4 Friday, turn 9B on Saturday, and turn 14 on Sunday. Yes! The Wall of Champions turn 14.

It will be an exciting weekend, though it rained today and may again rain tomorrow.
Not happy that I did not get to do the pit walk as promissed and the fact I tore my rain pants that split down the middle as I tried to climb the wall to get to station, ugh!

Got to check out the media center which was cool.

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bonjour quebec

Rolex 24 Daytona debrief

With the live “post card” tweets from the track it seems like I’ve given this particular race, the Rolex 24 hours of Daytona a lot of attention. Yet, as an opening event of the 2013 season it fully deserves it. As my first 24 hour endurance race, and a very eventful race as well, it deserves it even more.

So what did I like about this event so much? Well, first it was at an incredible track. My mom told my dentist I went to a racing event in Florida and her first comment was: “Dayonta?” … sure its not the same event she’s probably thinking of, but hell close enough. Second, it was interesting to see how I could handle such a long endurance race, and to my amazement I held up pretty well. Like the last 6 hour race for Grand-Am at Watkins Glen, with only two of us on station or the ten hours of Petit LeMans at Road Atlanta with six of us on station, it seems these endurance races don’t draw “too many” marshals. Ironically there’s almost always many more marshals for local SCCA events on each station than for these Pro-Events. And somehow we manage. Nobody forced me to work double or triple shift, but with so few people it made sense to stay on.

Time went by quickly particularly because we were in a direct impact zone for any car coming out of turn 4 and getting a wheel caught on the sand beyond the rumble strip. Four cars smashed directly into the station over a two day period I was there. Six in total over the Rolex 24 weekend. That doesn’t normally happen, but I’m glad we escaped unscathed.

Navigating my way thru Florida was fun. I always wanted to live there and after visiting Orlando and Daytona Beach (as well as a side trip to Cocoa Beach) I can totally see myself doing that in the future. Couch Surfing also came through with excellent accommodation near the track and near the airport, so I couldn’t be happier with that.

daytona 24 debris

daytona 24 souvenir

daytona 24

daytona 24 a

daytona 24 local paper

daytona 24 crash APR

Photo courtesy of APR: http://www.onehotlap.com/2013/01/are-pro-drivers-eternal-optimists.html

Ironically, unlike at other events here we were encouraged to take pictures. And wouldn’t you know it that instead of the hundreds of shots I normally take, I only had a few. Luckily my buddy Tim Stoll took a bunch high-quality professional shots that he was kind enough to share, so check them out: http://www.flickr.com/photos/91832184@N04/

Next year’s Daytona is a must!

F1 Grand Prix du Canada au Montréal

I did not go to Canada to volunteer, because even that is considered working and will result in a lengthy search of your vehicle at the border followed by a thorough interrogation. Leaving your marshal gear in the trunk is probably the strongest case against you but its not illegal to go watch the race while staying with friends in Montreal, and I had a blast watching the race up close… my third F1 GP this season.

Now thanks to the aforementioned friends I was able to have a wonderful time hanging out with all the international marshals Thursday evening at Hurley’s Pub on Rue Crescent. Will Buxton made an appearance and raffled off a bunch of stuff including my donation of a Mark Webber photo book I picked up at the Australian GP. An enjoyable evening.

Friday, the only day when it rained, I found myself closest to turn 8. Saturday was the most interesting at turn 14 above the infamous wall of champions and Sunday at the quiet turn 4A though on a hot and sunny day it was perfect there in the shade. Now if I were to volunteer there as my Canadian twin-cousin did, I’d enjoy the experience greatly because unlike other F1 events in Canada everything goes through rotation. Each of the three days teams get moved around from turn to turn so you are never stuck at one position for the entire weekend. Teams themselves rotate also, so even though one might find themselves on one international team, the members rotate to different turns based on some assignment criteria. Furthermore, within the team marshals rotate through various roles. For example one may be on comms for a support race, switch to yellow or blue flag during another race, go on recovery for F1 to be activated for a debris run, and so on. All roles were absolutely fantastic and give you an unprecedented experience you won’t get anywhere else.

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So Canada, merci! See you again next year