Tag Archives: Formula 1

Visit to Canepa Classic Cars & Motorsport Museum in Scotts Valley, California

What to do in Northern California between two fantastic events at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca? Visit the Bruce Canepa Classic Cars & Motorsports Museum in Scotts Valley near Santa Cruz of course…

Who’s Bruce Canepa?

I did not know before this trip, even though I’ve been to this part of California many times… but when it comes to Motorsport legends I’m still an obvious newb… Apparently Bruce was a car designer and a professional race car driver. But to me he’s a hero because of an amazing place he’s got in Scotts Valley that I was able to visit and enjoy for over an hour… roaming around gawking, and taking lots of pictures to share here.

The dealership downstairs has some gems. The free museum upstairs is fantastic and I had the whole place to myself when I visited on a weekday in late morning. And the garage area had some unique cars being worked on as well, which you can watch from a bird’s eye view without interfering with the mechanics.

What a place! Go visit now… if you can. I wish I knew about it sooner.

(I learned about it during the Miata’s dinner when people mentioned Canepa hosts regular Cars & Coffee events in this region of Cali)

Level 1: The Classic Car Dealership

Wanna buy a Porsche Carrera GT Prototype? apparently you can…

Level 2: Canepa Motorsports Museum

And my favorite Racing Porsche’s: the 962

And the other Porsche… the baby blue Gulf-Porsche

A Porsche powered Pikes Peak racer

Shop View

And even on my way out of the museum I couldn’t help but enjoy the scenery and take some more pix:

What an amazing place!

Seriously, if you live in California or are visiting the area near Monterey or San Francisco, do stop by and visit Canepa!

Great place to visit is nearby Santa Cruz too…

This is the fifth or sixth Holden badged Commodore I’ve been seeing on the roads in the US.

Oh and while I’m on the subject of visiting California be sure to hang out at In n Out… get an animal style fry with your double-double, and I’m a big fan of the shakes too, especially when you mix flavors.

Is SCCA Membership Still Worth Keeping to Volunteer as a Marshal?

Is SCCA still relevant in 2017 for those of us wanting to volunteer PRO events? Is it worth paying the membership fee to volunteer? Are there alternatives that don’t require this costly option?

Let’s find out…

For the past few years I’ve been seriously debating whether it’s worth it or not to renew my expensive SCCA membership. This year, as of March the price has gone up another $5 dollars. And this season SCCA PRO lost several series they used to sanction. Among the most notable are the Global MX-5 Cup which is now weirdly sanctioned by IndyCar and Pirelli World Challenge which is now sanctioned by USAC (among several other lesser “pro” series, including those on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder).

So why pay $70 bux a year to volunteer maybe one or two remaining SCCA PRO events that now only include Trans Am and Formula 4?

Doesn’t seem like it’s worth it.

In addition, a number of circuits now no longer require SCCA membership for volunteers to participate in their PRO events. Circuit of the Americas (COTA) has had this policy of welcoming non-SCCA members for several years now. Many of them flag for COTA as employees for track rentals and such. But many show up just for the big events and work directly with the more experienced SCCA members who complain how inexperienced those people are. Lime Rock Park is another example that recently changed it’s policy of requiring SCCA licensed marshals to work their events. Now only SCCA-equivalent training is required, but not necessarily a current license. In addition Lime Rock Park pays $50/day for participation. New Jersey Motorsports Park relies solely on employees to staff their events, however it is possible to “volunteer” some of the bigger races there. I’ve had experience where they let me volunteer and others where they actually paid me for my participation. The Moto America event at NJMP gets you a $300 check in the mail a few weeks later. I’ve already talked extensively about volunteering at Watkins Glen where SCCA membership isn’t required, but the local club that organizes marshals requires you to join them at $15/year fee, which I must add is very reasonable. USAC at Indianapolis Motor Speedway charges upwards of $30 per event to volunteer with them. A discount was offered for multiple events the last time I worked with them in 2013. Similarly ACIND in Montreal, Canada charges you $30 CDN to play with them for F1. Many Motorcycle events organized by Flagging by Faynisha pay you for participation, while the bike race at Laguna Seca requires you to pay to join the USARM club which only staffs bike events at Laguna Seca.

There are however events still, very old-school/old-fashioned, that will force you to join SCCA even if it’s the lesser $30/weekend license fee or whatever they call it. Central Florida Region is a stickler for those, ironically they have the most PRO events out there, especially early in the season when the big events don’t clash with any other.

I put together a list of 46 and 1 practice 2017 PRO Event on the Calendar, and my speculation on which of them require SCCA membership, as well as those that don’t…. I even listed those that by my experience either pay you for your participation or charge you a fee to play with them:

Date Event Name Series Location SCCA required? Marshal Organizer Participation?
Jan 6-8 Roar before the 24 IMSA Daytona YES CFR SCCA volunteer
Jan 26-29 Rolex 24 Daytona IMSA Daytona YES CFR SCCA volunteer
Mar 10-12 St. Pete GP IRL/PWC St. Pete YES CFR SCCA volunteer
Mar 15-18 Sebring 12 hour IMSA Sebring YES CFR SCCA volunteer
Apr 7-8 Long Beach GP IRL/IMSA/PWC Long Beach YES CalClub SCCA volunteer
Apr 23 GP of Alabama IRL Barber Mtsp NO Flagging by Faynisha get paid
Apr 21-23 MotoGP/Moto America MotoGP COTA NO COTA volunteer
Apr 27-30 PWC VIR PWC VIR NO VIR get paid
Apr 28-30 MotoAmerica Road Atlanta MotoAmerica Road Atlanta NO Flagging by Faynisha get paid
May 4-6 Sportscar Showdown IMSA COTA NO COTA/Lone Star SCCA volunteer
May 12-13 MotoAmerica VIR MotoAmerica VIR NO VIR get paid
May 13 Indycar GP IRL Indianapolis NO USAC pay to join
May 19-21 PWC CTMP PWC CTMP NO MMS Mosport volunteer
May 26-27 PWC Lime Rock PWC Lime Rock NO Lime Rock Park get paid
Jun 2-3 Detroit Belle Isle GP IMSA Detroit YES Detroit SCCA volunteer
Jun 2-4 MotoAmerica Road America MotoAmerica Road America MAYBE Road America volunteer
Jun 9-11 GP Canada F1 F1 Montreal NO ACIND pay to participate
Jun 10-11 Pocono 400 NASCAR Pocono NO Team Pocono volunteer
Jul 15-16 ePrix New York Formula E Brooklyn MAYBE NY SCCA/NJ SCCA volunteer
Jun 23-25 Kohler GP IRL/PWC Road America YES SCCA Road America volunteer
Jun 29-Jul 2 Sahlen’s 6 hour IMSA Watkins Glen NO RSI Watkins Glen pay to join
Jul 7-9 Sportscar GP IMSA CTMP NO MMS Mosport volunteer
Jul 7-9 MotoAmerica Laguna Seca MotoAmerica Laguna Seca NO USARM pay to join
Jul 16 Indy Toronto IRL Toronto NO MMS volunteer
Jul 21-22 Northeast GP IMSA Lime Rock NO Lime Rock Park get paid
Jul 28-30 Indy 200 Mid O IRL/PWC Mid Ohio YES Lake Erie Communicators volunteer
Jul 29-30 ePrix Montreal Formula E Montreal NO ACIND pay to participate
Jul 30 Pennsylvania 400 NASCAR Pocono NO Team Pocono volunteer
Aug 3-6 Road Race Showcase IMSA Road America YES SCCA Road America volunteer
Aug 5-6 Watkins Glen 355 NASCAR Watkins Glen NO RSI Watkins Glen pay to join
Aug 11-13 Utah PWC PWC Utah Mtsp NO Utah Mtsp employment
Aug 11-13 MotoAmerica Sonoma MotoAmerica Sonoma MAYBE Sonoma employment
Aug 12 Mid Ohio 200 NASCAR Mid Ohio YES Lake Erie Communicators volunteer
Aug 20 ABC Supply 500 IRL Pocono NO Team Pocono volunteer
Aug 25-27 GT Challenge IMSA VIR NO VIR get paid
Aug 25-27 MotoAmerica Pittsburg MotoAmerica Pittsburg MAYBE Pittsburg volunteer
Aug 27 Road America 180 NASCAR Road America YES SCCA Road America volunteer
Sep 1-3 PWC COTA PWC COTA NO COTA/Lone Star SCCA volunteer
Sep 3 IndyCar WGI IRL Watkins Glen NO RSI Watkins Glen pay to join
Sep 3 Chevy Silverado 250 NASCAR CTMP NO MMS Mosport volunteer
Sep 8-10 MotoAmerica NJMP MotoAmerica NJMP NO NJMP get paid
Sep 15-17 Sonoma GP IRL/PWC Sonoma NO Sonoma/SFR employment
Sep 15-17 MotoAmerica Barber MotoAmerica Barber Mtsp NO Flagging by Faynisha get paid
Sep 22-24 Monterey GP IMSA Laguna Seca YES SFR SCCA volunteer
Oct 4-7 Petit Le Mans IMSA Road Atlanta YES Atlanta SCCA volunteer
Oct 13-15 PWC Laguna Seca PWC Laguna Seca YES SFR SCCA volunteer
Oct 20-22 US GP F1 F1 COTA NO COTA/Lone Star SCCA volunteer

So this year, I went ahead and renewed my membership. I had $45 in worker credit that I didn’t want to go to waste. However, next year I’ll have to think long and hard to decide whether it’s worth it or not. There are plenty of events out there that I could put that money towards to still have fun volunteering.

I don’t plan on doing any CLUB events this year… though as always that may change.

Marshaling in Pain What it’s like to Get an Acute Gout Attack at the Track

In the past two weeks I had two acute gout attacks, one a few days before departing for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and second the morning after it finished. As lucky as I was that I didn’t have to marshal in the pain of this unfortunate disease, it has hit me before right smack in the middle of a major event and a few of them international at that.

What should one do when that happens?

Well the logical solution is to treat the problem. But what if you’re like me and don’t have medical insurance? My gout was self diagnosed and I have been treating it based on my own research and a few suggestions at various medical centers I visited during my race participation (abroad). The problem is a bit tough to handle, especially when one doesn’t have the money to treat it correctly.

Should a person quit marshaling when they have a disability?

I sure hope that’s things don’t get that bad for me. I would really hate to give up this hobby and more importantly give up eating the delicious food that typically trigger my gout attacks. But there’s got to be a reasonable solution.

Before I self-diagnosed my gout, I had a very painful attack at the British Grand Prix where I made it to the race medical center whom didn’t suggest there was a bigger problem other than confirming a less scary diagnosis that features the same symptoms: a twisted ankle (which was certainly plausible).

What’s worse the Brits didn’t even offer any medication or pain killers to help me deal with the excruciating pain I was experiencing until the second visit to the medical center on the final day of the event. Not only was my foot swollen, I could not sleep a wink for two nights because any kind of movement or even brushing my foot with the sleeping bag while camping would send shocks through the whole body, it was intense. I didn’t want to miss out on the race, even though I couldn’t contribute much to the actual marshaling aspect I got to watch from a shed on my post with ice on my foot to help relieve the swelling and some of the pain.

It took almost two weeks for the pain to go away, long after I returned home to New Jersey. But thinking back on this situation, I know exactly what triggered this gout attack… It was the delicious fish & chips meal I had at Milton Keynes after visiting the Red Bull F1 team offices before proceeding to Silverstone.

Earlier last year sushi triggered a strong gout attack before my trip to Australia and New Zealand. And once again I was marshaling in pain at the Bathurst 12 hour race on Mount Panorama. Luckily I was assigned a position which didn’t require climbing over a tall rail or a wall and one that was accessible by walking over smooth surfaces from our camping area near the paddock.

Even more recently I had a really painful acute gout attack in Germany during the WEC 6 hour of the Nurburgring after sampling delicious herring fish in Amsterdam. This time the pain was so strong I had to go to the medical center… twice. And the Germans doctor took really good care of me offering not only medication that helped relieve the pain and allow me to sleep at the camp site, but also offer meaningful medication which I have since started using at first signs of gout coming on.

The medicine I bought in Germany helped me get over the recent gout symptoms in just two days… unfortunately they came right back after the Daytona 24 event. But once I arrived home I started the treatment again and it’s working well. It’s a shame though that this keeps on happening.

I suspect I am not the only one that suffers from some sort of ailment when it comes to Motorsport and it would be very interesting to hear how other people are handling their medical issues while at a race track.

Do comment below with your opinions and advice.

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

by Circuit

by Country

Young Marshals Wanted!

 

Events Russ Marshaled

Circuits Russ Marshaled

Mazda MX-5: Miata vs. Ferrari F1 Car

If you ever wanted a side-by-side comparison of a street car, like a Miata vs. an F1 car like this plastic replica of a Ferrari Formula One car from a few years ago… here you have it!

It’s not always you get an opportunity to compare the two, the replicas usually grace dealership floors or various office buildings like the Ferrari North American headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey… but living in NJ I’d probably never actually drive my car into the showroom for comparison purposes so using the excuse of a Ferrari Challenge event at Lime Rock Park, we got a perfect setting before the loaded the car back on it’s transport to wherever it was going next…

ferrari-challenge-at-lime-rock-park-85

ferrari-challenge-at-lime-rock-park-84

ferrari-challenge-at-lime-rock-park-83

ferrari-challenge-at-lime-rock-park-82

ferrari-challenge-at-lime-rock-park-81

ferrari-challenge-at-lime-rock-park-80

ferrari-challenge-at-lime-rock-park-79

ferrari-challenge-at-lime-rock-park-78

ferrari-challenge-at-lime-rock-park-77

ferrari-challenge-at-lime-rock-park-76

ferrari-challenge-at-lime-rock-park-75

As you can clearly tell from these low budget old iPhone photos, the F1 car is clearly much bigger than the MX-5… like much bigger! I’m kind of impressed though with the outcome of this little photo shoot because my car was covered in an inch of dust here.

I think this was the highlight of the event for me, where I spent the rest of the time eating yesterday’s cold chinese noodles and sipping on Dr. Pepper with some exotic labeling scheme going on…

ferrari-challenge-at-lime-rock-park-74

ferrari-challenge-at-lime-rock-park-2

Come out and volunteer for Motorsport events folks… even when the events are boring you can make your own excitement whenever you find an opportunity!

COTA is Recruiting Marshals for Formula 1 USGP this October, Sign-up by Oct 19, 2016

Though I doubt I’ll be signing up myself, I’m excited to receive the invite so I could share it with others. For anyone interested in volunteering for the 2016 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas… now’s the time! (although you have until two days before the GP starts to sign up really…)

Here’s the e-mail I got from Sydney Davis Yagel:


Good evening,
I apologize if you’ve already received this email, but we wanted to make sure we didn’t leave out any of the past several years of experienced marshals.
We thank you for your past support of the United States Formula 1 Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas, and we are excited about this year’s event. Registration for returning marshals is now open and will be done online.
Volunteers will be emailed through MotorsportsReg.com for all communications, so please be sure to use a working email that you can check on a regular basis. Additional information, including a confirmation email from your specialty chief, finalized schedule details, and updates will be sent through this system.
AVAILABLE VOLUNTEER SPECIALTIES:
Flagging & Communications: operate yellow flag, blue flag, and radio communications
Intervention Marshals: assist with on-track incidents and manual labor operations, must be able to carry a 20 lb. fire bottle, run long distances, and feel comfortable on a hot track
Hospitality: behind-the-scenes volunteer helping with supply and lunch deliveries, registration/check-in, and more
Pit/Grid, Tech & Start are by invitation only. Your specialty chief will send you a password to access registration.
*Please note we have separated the F&C & Intervention Marshal specialties in to two separate options during registration. Please be sure to select the specialty you prefer. We will do our best to honor all requests, but understand we may need to shift people around.
PERKS OF VOLUNTEERING:
Dry camping and RV spots are available
Discounted hotel rates with shuttle to and from
Parking for those driving from other hotels and local residences
Three-day general admission guest pass for a friend or family member. You and your guest are welcome to attend the Taylor Swift concert on Saturday
Swag bag full of COTA gear
Some meals provided: breakfast and lunch each day, plus a few dinners.
SCHEDULE (all times are tentative and based on previous events, subject to change):
Please note that participation is required for all three event days. Thank you for your understanding and commitment.
Wednesday, October 19- POTENTIAL Registration for Intervention Marshals & Training
Thursday, October 20- Registration; Intervention Marshal Training during the morning & F&C Training during the afternoon; kick-off dinner
Friday, October 21 – HOT TRACK! – 8:00 am – 6:00 pm (morning meetings held 1-2 hours before hot track)
Saturday, October 22 – HOT TRACK! – 8:00 am – 5:00 pm (morning meetings held 1-2 hours before hot track)
Sunday, October 23 – HOT TRACK! – 8:00 am – 4:00 pm (morning meetings held 1-2 hours before hot track)
To apply to work this year’s event, please visit: http://msreg.com/F1USGP16-new
Should you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Thanks,
The Race Admin Team
Jeanie Caulfield, Bill Armitage, and Sydney Davis Yagel

Good luck folks!

PS. Major massive props to COTA for offering Intervention and F&C training on the Thursday leading up to the event. While some may dismiss it as Marshaling 101, I see it as an invaluable endeavor to get all these wonderful and completely different people from around the world to participate on the same wavelength throughout the event, considering none of the US-home based training includes F1 specific “stuff” … way to go COTA, I totally think it’s awesome!

What Should My 15th Country To Marshal Be?

As I’m soaking in the sunshine in South Beach, Miami admiring all these beautiful people from all over the world, I can’t help but wonder what should the Fifteenth country for me to marshal be?

It’s quite the anniversary and an accomplishment in my book, but it’s also frustrating to figure out what to do. The best course of action, so to speak.

So what are my options?

I’ll start with what I’d like my options to be, and it’s something I’ve written about before. And they are the most unlikely places that I’d really like to marshal but that haven’t allowed me to marshal there yet. And they include Macau and Japan. Macau or Macao would be amazing to experience the Guia Circuit (which I’ve visited as a tourist before) during the Macau Grand Prix where all sorts of Motorsport takes to the street course over the same weekend, including Open wheel cars, Touring cars, and Motorcycles. That would be fantastic, but unlikely because 1. I don’t speak Cantonese to work there, 2. I don’t live in Hong Kong or Macau and don’t have the appropriate work visa to volunteer and 3. I cannot make any of their training sessions to qualify as a local volunteer, and they’re not open to visiting marshals which is a shame. It’s a similar situation in Japan to volunteer for the SuperGT series at Suzuka for example for Pokka 1000 which I thought would be a really cool event. Main issue there is I don’t speak Japanese and none of the locals are keen to babysit a foreign marshal even though there are Japanese marshals that travel to other countries to volunteer, they don’t reciprocate.

I have considered reaching out to the Bahraini marshals to see if I could join them for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku. That seems like a destination that would be quite memorable to visit. But I don’t know how likely they are to accept me as a volunteer.

Recently I considered Mexico as a convenient place to go to next. I’ve worked with a number of Mexican officials at the Long Beach GP, the Canadian and US GP’s and other events in the US. But when I reached out to my Mexican contacts I was made to understand that it was “impossible” to volunteer in Mexico because they were oversubscribed on marshals as soon as their GP was announced. Bummer!

Perhaps Brazil would be a logical choice? Well, the only thing that has stopped me from going to Latin America so far is the outrageous VISA fees. I can’t imagine paying $160 or $180 dollars for a visa when I normally don’t spend that much on flights. So that’s not really at the top of my list thus far.

So the logical choices that I’m left with are the Netherlands or Austria which both host a series I am extremely interested in: DTM. I would love to do the German touring car series in either one of the countries because I’ve already made contacts with both organizers and have worked with plenty of Dutch and some Austrian marshals to know I would be able to manage my volunteering trip there quite easily and conveniently. But which one should I focus on?

That’s the dilemma I’m faced with before I walk a few steps to the amazingly warm waters of the Atlantic and float around for another hour enjoying the opportunity I jumped on to book a cheap flight. Note to self, I ought to sign up for the Miami ePrix to have a better excuse to come back to South Florida to marshal Formula E, although last year that opportunity seemed quite hush hush, because only select few were invited, treated well with hotels that the organizers provided and payment for their work, which is pretty unusual in US volunteering…. maybe that’s why I wasn’t invited?

Post-Race Praise for Jeanie Caulfield the Motorsport Operations Event Manager at COTA

I have major praise for Jeanie Caulfied the Motorsport Operations Event Manager with the Circuit of the Americas for a job well done at the Lone Star Le Mans this weekend.

In this blog post I would like to express my gratitude to Jeanie for the awesome work she has been doing, from a marshal’s point of view. That work is greatly appreciated because it makes a big difference for those of us that are visiting marshals. Those that don’t live in the Central Texas area and those investing significant amount of time and money to be able to volunteer the events that COTA puts on.

lone star le mans swag 1

I’ve had the privilege of meeting Jeanie on my very first trip to COTA for the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix in 2012. Since then, I’ve been back to Austin a number of times including several Formula 1 and a few WEC events. There were also a few that I almost participated in but things didn’t materialize on my end, most notably MotoGP this year, as well as Pirelli World Challenge and ALMS – American Le Mans that became the current version of IMSA TUSC series. And over the years I’ve learned that the most important person at COTA for the marshals is Jeanie. I made an earlier post praising Brent McNaul for his excellent work as a flag chief for the Lone Star Le Mans, but the majority of e-mails Brent forwarded onto the rest of us marshals actually came from Jeanie. So big thumbs up to her for the open communication channels and being a great person to seek information from about a particular event or the track itself.

I’ve been learning about Jeanie’s job(s) and the multiple hats she wears during a particular event purely from observation. I’ve seen her transport marshals to and from station during the F1 and WEC weekends. She is a great shuttle train driver, pulling several trailers behind a Ford Super Duty in true Texas style. She’s brought us a Kubota quad this weekend to make a quick getaway from station at the end of the day so we don’t impede scheduled track activity that didn’t require marshals. That was very thoughtful so we didn’t have to be stuck on track for another hour at the end of an already long day. Thanks for that!

The track services staff work directly with Jeanie and for anyone that likes food like I do, could appreciate her efforts in organizing lunches and drink runs to all the stations especially on hot days like this weekend. Track food is always a hit or miss. I’ve written posts about us volunteering for a soggy sandwich or how Singapore GP has the worst food I’ve ever had track side by offering Délifrance as the least-likely-to-spoil option in the heat of Southeast Asia (when distributed in the morning sign-on meeting and meant to last to the end of the day without refrigeration on station). But Jason’s Deli that COTA has been offering marshals for the past few years is quite tasty and the variety offers something for everyone. So thumbs up for taking care of us, when all of our attention is on the race cars on track!

I’ve even seen her ride around the ring road with the track services people delivering lunches and drinks with a water gun spraying unsuspecting marshals. So she’s got a great sense of humor to boot.

Jeanie has also been very creative in rewarding volunteer participation with excellent marshal swag. I think this weekend’s Lone Star Le Mans was her best work yet with a very stylish t-shirt design. A useful cooler bag with COTA branding. A participant patch customized to show the year of the event. And a neat poncho which we luckily didn’t have the need to use… but it made for a cool and useful keepsake.

lone star le mans t-shirt

lone star le mans swag 2

Besides being really good at her job she’s also a very pleasant person to talk with. She’s always friendly, polite and courteous and that’s important. Especially when arriving at the track at 5am and leaving after a double shift at 10 or 11pm like this weekend. I know I have a tendency of getting cranky especially when things don’t go my way, but Jeanie has a big smile on her face at the start of the day when you see her during the morning meeting, during lunch delivery or shift relief drop offs, or at the end of the day when we’re dropped off at the marshal tent. Thanks for always smiling!

Thank you very much Jeanie!

 

In true Austin style, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jeanie bring live music to the marshaling tent at a future event… some almost famous dude or a chick with a guitar playing a catchy tune at morning sign-on… yep! totally see that happening.

Best Foodie Experiences during Grand Prix of the Americas in New Jersey

How do you plan for a Formula 1 Grand Prix that has been on and off the official calendar for a few years now without any conceivable hope that it will actually ever happen? By scouting out decent foodie experiences in the area for the race that may just become the highlight of the F1 circus one year!

We all acknowledge that the NYC skyline will be the selling point of the race being staged on the New Jersey side of the Hudson river. And you can easily cross the bridge or one of the few tunnels to dine in the city, but that’s $14 bux in tolls alone not to mention the inevitably high parking bill. Even parking on the Jersey side and spending $10 on public transport to get somewhere isn’t the most convenient thing. So let’s focus on the best that New Jersey has to offer. And with my 20+ years living here in the Northeastern part of the state just minutes from where the race “would” one day take place, I’m sure I can recommend a few of my favorite places.

I decided not to do a Top 10 list because that isn’t descriptive enough. Not accurately anyway. Top 10 of what? If you like sushi but hate BBQ would my higher ranking of an American restaurant over a Japanese joint seem fair to you? Probably not. So I’d rather present my choices in a “Best-of” format. The best sushi option, best BBQ, best Thai, Mexican, Korean, etc.

So without any further delay, here are my favorite restaurants you should definitely check out when in town for the Grand Prix of the Americas at Port Imperial in Weehawken and West New York, NJ:

  • American:

Cubby’s BBQ – Hackensack, NJ cubbysbarbeque.com/ famous for their ribs, steak and burgers, my favorite is their house BBQ sauce and anything that goes with it. The ribs are pricey at $25 a rack but well worth it. The deluxe burgers come with a generous portion of fries which can be smothered in absolutely delicious gravy.

Seafood Gourmet – Maywood, NJ seafood-gourmet.com/ famous for their fresh seafood counter at the front and a tiny dining area in the back. My favorite is the New England Clam Chowder which they sell by the Quart. Not the cheapest seafood place but definitely the tastiest in the area.

White Manna – Hackensack, NJ wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Manna famous for their little burger sliders. Made in front of you while you wait in a cozy little diner, with seats surrounding the cooking area. The strong smell of onions whafting in the air. Authentically Jerzey place for sure. Have a bunch of them.

  • Colombian:

Pollo Mario Steak House & Seafood – Hackensack, NJ www.pollosmario.net/ this is a chain restaurant with another convenient location just about a mile from the proposed circuit on i495 in Union, NJ leading out of the Lincoln Tunnel/New York City. Amazing selection of grilled meats, fantastic rotisserie chicken and seafood served with traditional rice and beans. Yumm!

  • Cuban:

Casual Habana – Hackensack, NJ www.casualhabanacafe.com/ famous for its Ropa Vieja and the Cubanos and that’s what I tend to order. I’ve tried other items, but my favorite are the classics and they are absolutely delicious. Another store is opening in New Milford, NJ

  • Italian:

Cosmo’s Salumeria – Hackensack, NJ famous for his cold cuts, but the little deli gets crowded in the lunch time when everyone orders sandwiches to go. My favorite is the #2 Prosciutto with Mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar on crunchy Italian bread. Goes really well with a bottle of Stewart’s Root Beer which Cosmo sells.

Roman’s Pizza – New Milford, NJ www.romanpizzarestaurant.com/     I don’t like their pizza, but the Calzone’s and Strombolli are outstanding. Get they with the extra marinara sauce and grab a bottle of Boylan’s Creme Soda to wash it down. Excellent combination of amazing flavors.

  • Japanese:

Kumo Japanese Cuisine – Ridgewood, NJ kumo55.com/ famous for their three roll lunch specials when you pay cash. But even when dining in, the sushi is made to order, using very fresh ingredients and the taste is outstanding. Great decor inside and the green tea will warm up your soul while you wait.

  • Lebanese

Tabboule Fine Lebanese Cuisine – Ridgewood, NJ  www.tabboule.com/  I started going to this place because they participated in the Frequent Flyer dining program where I got miles for every dine, but unlike other places I keep coming back because the food is actually great. Fresh ingredients, made to order, a little pricey but very very good Middle Eastern food.

  • Malaysian:

Penang Malaysain & Thai Cuisine – Lodi, NJ this is a chain that specializes in Malaysian, Singaporean and Thai food, but despite being a chain it is outstanding. Food is a bit pricey but properly prepared and very authentic tasting. Portions are good and the selection is awesome.

  • Mexican:

Pancho’s Burritos – New Milford, NJ www.panchosburritosnj.com/ the most authentic of Mexican tasting places I’ve come across in New Jersey. A little pricey but the food is great. They use fresh ingredients, and fairly large portions. My favorites depend on the mood, but the tacos, burritos and chimichangas are really, really good. Get a bottle of Jarritos there too.

  • Spanish:

Segovia Steakhouse & Seafood – Moonachie, NJ www.segoviarestaurant.com/ we go to this restaurant to celebrate birthdays and special occasions with the family. The sit down atmosphere is excellent and their catering is awesome too when you feel like ordering a few trays to serve at your own house party. They do meat well. They do seafood well. The lobsters are outstanding. The little hot bread they serve at the start of the meal is outstanding. The sangria is outstanding. Like a lot!

Iberia Peninsula Restaurant – Newark, NJ www.iberiarestaurants.com/  we used to go to this place a lot more often when I studied in Newark. But they take advantage of the large Spanish and Portuguese population living in the Ironbound district of Newark to prepare outstanding Spanish and Iberian food. Their massive trays of mixed seafood with yellow rice is to die for. Highly recommend.

  • Thai:

Bangkok Garden – Hackensack, NJ www.bangkokgarden-nj.com/ the most authentic of anything from Thailand I have ever come across in New Jersey. The dining area is nicely decorated in traditional Thai decor but the food is simply outstanding. A little pricey but well worth it. My favorites are basic red curry dishes or Pad Thai. Their little egg rolls are really good, and the orange peel sauce is fantastic. They do spicy well.

  • Turkish

Lisa’s Mediterranean Cuisine – Ridgewood, NJ famous for it’s home cooked style dishes, this is an excellent restaurant to bring your friends and family and spend the evening together in the heart of the Village of Ridgewood. My favorite dish would have to be the lamb kebob served with the really fresh salad… all the dips that accompany various meat dishes are amazing!

 

If you agree or disagree with the choices above, or if there are some obvious options I missed, please do share your comments below.

I will do a separate post of my favorite foodie places in NYC later.

PS. this list will be periodically updated as new places appear and old places unfortunately go out of business (like one of my favorite local Brazilian Rodizio places)