Tag Archives: France

Dreamliner Euro Trip 2019

Its been a while since I chose a flight to book specifucally based on the airliner that flies that route. For my upcomming trip to Europe I will be going slightly out of my way (and way out of my way on the return) just to fly Boeing’s Dreamliner across the Atlantic.

It won’t be my first time flying this bird. I was booked on it twice already. First time using United Airline miles to fly partner ANA to Tokyo, but that flight suffered equipment change and I got to ride an old 777 instead. And a Scoot Air short hop between Bangkok and Singapore which was so late at night and so short I don’t remember much from that experience. Much like my previous experiences hunting after booking Airbus A380 international flights I’m very much looking forward to a longer Dreamliner experience. On my way to Paris I will have to take a positioning flight to Chicago. And returning from Munich I will overshoot home by flying to Dallas and then take an Airbus A321 flight home.

Between France and Germany I plan to rely on European fast train options, but IF stars align I would snag a cheap short flight in a heartbeat.

Wish I didn’t let my Air France miles expire I had almost 10k sitting dormant at one point, but disapointingly I discovered that the only way to keep them was by flying, partner earnings (like dining and shopping) did not help.

I will share more info on my plans for this Euro Trip later. It has been an exciting experience already just trying to secure the reward booking from AA. I was just over 1k miles short for redemption, it took me more than ten trips to various local restaurants for lunch to prop up my points balance via AAdvantage Dining… so glad those kind of options are out there.

more to come soon….

PS. I will be so pissed if my flight experiences equipment change again or if Dreamliners get grounded again for some reason this September.

Update 1: May 13 American emailed me a flight change notice changing my domestic outbound flight from 1:30pm departure giving me a comfortable 4 hour connection time at Chicago O’hare to a 4:30pm departure giving me a sweaty 48 minute connection time which would most certainly mean I would have to run across the airport just to make my flight. Quick call to AA and I was back on a different 1:30pm departure… looks like AA changed flight #’s on the route and adjusted flight times slightly, which triggered the goof!

Mazda MX-5: L’Auvergne a Paris Dinner with MX5France.com Miata Owners and Midnight Sightseeing Tour of the City of Lights

My most epic Mazda MX-5 Miata Road Trip took place this July in conjunction with my Motorsport Euro Trip to volunteer a few races in Western Europe. Fourth and Final stop on my trip was in France, a visit to Paris to have dinner with MX5France.com forum members.

European MX-5 Miata Road Trip Overview:

f-netherlandsPost Card from the Dutch MX-5 Miata Road Trip

f-netherlandsAmsterdam to IJmuiden Miata Road Trip

f-germanyPost Card from the German MX-5 Miata Road Trip

f-germanyCologne to Dusseldorf Miata Road Trip

f-germanyNordschleife, Nurburgring Miata Road Trip 

f-belgiumPost Card from the Belgian MX-5 Miata Road Trip

f-belgiumLiege MX-5 Miata Road Trip

f-francePost Card from the French MX-5 Miata Road Trip

f-franceParis by Night Miata Road Trip

 

Paris was the very last stop on my three week Euro Trip and one I was probably looking forward to the most. The reason? MX5France.com forum members were most responsive to my invite to hang out with fellow Miata owners. One of the members there: Mike (the former president of the club) decided to organize the whole meet for me. He picked an awesome place: Auto Passion Cafe and we were set to have a great time, until someone busted our bubble by enlightening us that the restaurant is closed for the whole month of July and most of August for their summer vacation.

Not to worry Mike picked another amazing place: L’Auvergne a Paris. This place was especially special to me because I have family living in Auvergne: Clermont-Ferrand and Volvic. The place is also home to Michelin and lots of racing and Motorsport. The restaurant was full of Motorsport memorabilia, tons of model cars, wheels, plaques, helmets, and pictures. I loved the ambiance!

Besides the decor the restaurant was a real Paris hangout. No tourists here, lots of locals. And many of the MX-5 folks showed up after work with their significant others. We had almost a dozen people come for dinner and share their Mazda experiences. Some members were worried about coming as their English wasn’t great, and I speak hardly any French. But we had an amazing time nonetheless.

Of all the people that showed up I only managed to take pix of two cars. A beautiful NC2 and an NB that Mike brought.

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paris france mazda mx-5 miata road trip dinner sightseeing 1

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The best way to see the city of Paris is in a Roadster convertible!

paris france mazda mx-5 miata road trip dinner sightseeing 2

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paris france mazda mx-5 miata road trip dinner sightseeing 8

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A prix fixe three course menu: (absolutely delicious!)

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Sightseeing tour of Paris by night:

france mx-5 meetup in paris 13

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paris france mazda mx-5 miata road trip dinner sightseeing 10

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An interesting license plate from the Reunion Islands.

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The trip… both to Paris, France and Europe as a whole finished just like it started. Mike and I were cruising central Paris well into the night, arriving at the hotel around 1am (with an alarm set for 4am to rush back to the airport to fly home to the US). I was super grateful for the opportunity and absolutely amazed that so many people chose to come out and meet up with me, show me around, share delicious food and insightful conversations. Thank you one and all!

Mazda MX-5: Euro Trip Awesome Miata Meet-Ups: Amsterdam, Netherlands; Köln, Germany; Liège, Belgium; and Paris France

European MX-5 Miata Road Trip Overview:

f-netherlandsPost Card from the Dutch MX-5 Miata Road Trip

f-netherlandsAmsterdam to IJmuiden Miata Road Trip

f-germanyPost Card from the German MX-5 Miata Road Trip

f-germanyCologne to Dusseldorf Miata Road Trip

f-germanyNordschleife, Nurburgring Miata Road Trip 

f-belgiumPost Card from the Belgian MX-5 Miata Road Trip

f-belgiumLiege MX-5 Miata Road Trip

f-francePost Card from the French MX-5 Miata Road Trip

f-franceParis by Night Miata Road Trip


 

What an incredibly fantastic Mazda MX-5 Miata Euro Trip I had over the past month visiting a few countries and meeting owners in almost every city I went to. I can’t rave and rant enough about it. Incredible experience that I would highly recommend to anyone!

This post will highlight a few post cards I shared from the road and will be followed by a more detailed write up after I return from NASCAR at Watkins Glen this weekend.

Enjoy the pix!

Amsterdam & IJmuiden, Netherlands

dutch mx-5 road trip 1

Thank you Vincent from The Hague for giving me a tour and an amazing Dutch lunch right by the waterfront!

Köln, Hürth, & Düsseldorf, Germany

german mx5 visit 9

Thank you David and Andre for showing me around Cologne area and for the dinner at Dusseldorf it was amazing. The stop and I.L. Motorsprot was pretty awesome also.

Nürburgring, Germany

nurburgring wec 18

Big thanks to Maggie for finding me at the Nürburgring and giving me my first ride in an NB Miata as we headed to dinner.

Liège, Wallonia, Belgium

belgian mx5 miata 17

Huge thanks to Phil for giving me quite an amazing tour of Liège and Wallonia Province around Belgium. What a great experience.

Paris, France

france mx-5 meetup in paris 5

Huge thanks to Mike in France for organizing an amazing dinner with a dozen of his fellow MX-5 France Club members and for giving me an incredible tour of Paris by night showing all the big sights like the Eifel Tower, the Louvre, the Arc de Triumphe and Notre Dam!

A super trip all around paired with incredible racing at Zandvoort for DTM, the Nurburgring Grand Prix circuit for WEC 6 hour and Spa 24 at Spa-Francorchamp. I loved every minute of it!

Post Card from France MX-5 Miata Road Trip Sightseeing Paris by Night

My EuroTrip concluded with the biggest MX-5 owner get together of the whole journey. The France MX-5 club was most receptive to my invitation to meet and boy did they come out in numbers. Though I was a bit afraid people would come after work and instead of bringing their car they’d just hop on the Metro (which is what kind of happened) I was lucky enough to take some snaps of the cars that I managed to see on this meet up… more to come soon:

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A lovely NC2 PRHT on the streets of Paris, and then everyone else showed up for dinner. Including the owner of this gorgeous NB who parked right in front of the restaurant.

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Notice the exotic license plates from Reunion Islands… a small French possession between Madagascar and Mauritus south of the Seychelles.

After dinner we had an awesome cruise sightseeing Paris by night. Not too much traffic around midnight, and after the rain going with the top down in the convertible was very refreshing!

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Big thanks to Mike for organizing the dinner and taking me around on this excellent cruise showing me all the sights like the Eifel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dam and Arc de Triomphe. Thanks to MX-5 France Club for being so amazingly welcoming also!

Feature on 100×100 Racing Spanish (not just language, but actually based in Spain) Motorsport Portal

While I was away flagging Long Beach Grand Prix in California a Spanish language article popped up on the internet featuring my exploits around the world along with a translated version of the interview by my buddy Julio Castrejón who runs the Motorsport portal 100×100 Racing. Things got fairly busy and I almost forgot to share the news of this article on my blog, but here it is. I’m very much thrilled and excited to see the article! I am very fortunate to have Julio as a friend and a colleague, particularly one I look up to having worked with him for several 24h of Le Mans races. I’m humbled to get the recognition but at the same time very proud to support the idea of marshal interviews to encourage Motorsport enthusiasts around the world to take the next step and become Motorsport volunteers and try their hand at Motorsport marshaling!

Check out the article here:  http://www.100x100racing.com/archivos/1889

100x100racing

web site: http://www.100x100racing.com/

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/100x100Racing/

twitter: https://twitter.com/100x100Racing

 

IF the name Julio Castrejón sounds familiar, it should be, he’s contributed to this blog with a bunch of articles in both English and Spanish a few years ago. He was also a very devoted supporter of my MarshalCam.com #MarshalCam project with several videos that we shot together at Le Mans 24 hours in France (both in English and Spanish). Julio is also fluent in French (and probably a bunch of other languages). He’s been a very involved figure in European Motorsports with marshaling being just a small part of his duties. He’s quite an impressive person and I’m incredibly jealous of him, especially his latest job working the Dakar Rally in Latin America.

Go check out the article and be sure to follow 100×100 Racing on all of their social media pages.

Gracias Julio!

Mazda MX-5: Euro Trip Invitation to hang out with Miata Owners in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and France

Hey European MX-5 Miata owners, let’s meet up for a cup of coffee!

I don’t even drink coffee, but I’m happy to buy a cup for any local MX-5 Miata owners that come out and meet me on my next trip to Europe where I’ll be marshaling DTM at Zandvoort, WEC 6 hour at the N-ring and Spa 24 hour in Belgium.

mx5 miata road trip european union dutch german belgian french euro trip

I will be visiting Amsterdam on my way to Zandvoort and it would be amazing if some Dutch MX-5 owners came out to say hello. I know there’s a ton of them out there, and I’ll be posting this invite on the MX5-Club.NL facebook group. It might actually be pretty reasonable to organize a small event near Amsterdam as it is convenient for folks to come out to town and for me to use public transport to meet them.

The next step in Germany may be a little more difficult. I failed miserably to meet up with MX-5 owners on my last two trips to Nurburgring even though I saw a ton of Miatas driving around. But I won’t stop trying to organize something. So if anyone lives near Adenau or plans to visit WEC 6h race on the Grand Prix circuit, let me upgrade the cup of coffee to a stein of beer to entice you! I will post this invite on MX-5 miata eunos Roadster community page.

I’ve also failed to organize something on my last few trips to Brussels when marshaling in Belgium, but I know there is an MX-5 community there and I want to meet up with them! So whomever is available in Brussels, Liege or even Spa please get in touch. If coffee isn’t your think I’ll be happy to spring for Kriek or another beer variety. I will be posting this invite on the Ma Miata MX5 Belgium Liège facebook community page and Miata MX-5 Roadster Club Automobiles and Parts  page.

european mx5 miata road trip netherlands germany belgium france euro trip

And finally I’ll be flying home via Paris, France which would be great opportunity to meet up with another MX-5 community in Europe. Of course I don’t speak the language for any one of the places I’m visiting, no dutch, flemish, french or german, but that hasn’t stopped me from organizing these things before in Asia or the Pacific. I will be posting this invite on the Club MX5 France page.

I am really excited about this opportunity and am hoping people will respond to my invites.


My schedule in Europe is as follows: (UPDATED July 8, 2016)

f-netherlands July 13 & 14: staying in Amsterdam

f-netherlands July 15 to 17: marshaling at Zandvoort for DTM

f-netherlands July 18 to 19:staying in Amsterdam

f-germany July 20 to 21: staying in Cologne

f-germany July 21 to 24: marshaling at Nurburgring for WEC

f-belgium July 25 to 27: staying in Brussels

f-belgium July 27 to 31: marshaling at Spa-Francorchamps for Spa 24h

f-belgium August 1: staying in Brussels

f-france August 2: staying in Paris, meet-up at Auto Passion Cafe


So, are you available to hang out on any of these days? Please get in touch! My goal is to meet up and take some MX-5/Miata pictures for this blog. I’ve done similar meet-ups in Asia and the Pacific so feel free to look around this web site for an idea of why I want to meet.

I hope people do in fact come out! Please get in touch via facebook.

mazda european mx-5 cup of coffee invitation amsterdam brussels liege nurburg paris

PS. I’ll be traveling on a super tight budget using public transport and CouchSurfing along the way… which means I won’t be terribly mobile, but if there are MX-5 owners out of major cities which are easy to get to, I’ll be sure to research ways of getting there for this.

Please use #GlobalMX5CupOfCoffee & #EuropeanMX5CupOfCoffee hashtags to promote these meet ups on social media! Feel free to share this invite with everyone! Some more links to local MX-5 clubs:

http://www.mx5-club.nl/

http://www.mx-5.de/

http://www.mx-5.be/

https://www.mx5france.com/

http://mx5-club-koeln.de/

2015 Le Mans 24h Spotter Guide by Andy Blackmore available for download

Andy Blackmore has made the 2015 Le Mans 24h spotter guide available for download well ahead of the event for those of you attending, watching remotely or marshaling the event to get familiarized with.

Andy’s spotter guides are my absolutely favorite, and even though I won’t be attending the event, I can’t help but recommend others to check out his work for themselves:

spotterguides.com andy blackmore le mans 24h 2015

The level of detail is outstanding as usual, and here’s the breakdown what all that information means:

andy blackmore spotter guide nissan nismo gt-r le mans 24h 2015

 

Click the images above or visit Andy’s SpotterGuides.com for download directly: http://www.spotterguides.com/portfolio/15lm/

Thank you Andy for a job well done!

 

Changes coming to Le Mans 24h Signaleurs & Commissaires

Le Mans 24h is like the Stig on Top Gear

Some say… Ah, nevermind.

You don’t choose to work Le Mans… Le Mans chooses you!

OK, enough. It is important to know that changes are coming to the way marshals are assigned to the various posts around the track, primarily the way the marshal posts are set up around the track. Apparently, gone are the days of crossing the track just to get to your station. Starting this year, the posts will be set up in such a way that would allow marshals to take their positions without crossing the hot track during the 24 hour race (an activity that was particularly exciting, especially at poste 106 bis where I was stationed because of the way the track crossings were executed, especially at night). That said, my old post #106 (or 10.6 km from Start line) is no more, it’s now Sector 28 to be controlled by one post chief on Driver’s Left and another on Driver’s Right.

So no more hot track crossing unless there is an incident.

In addition to that, there will be less response to incidents. The marshals will be primarily concerned with flagging an incident while rescue crews in vehicles will respond to them. This is again a bit of a departure from the way things were done, and more closely resembles what happens at the Tudor United SportsCar Series races in the US, and to some degree what has been done at the Nurburgring 24h event for ages. Hot pulls. Rescue truck response, etc. Is this a good thing? I don’t know. It took me by complete surprise for example when I responded to my first big Le Mans crash in 2012 along with my American partner. We pushed one car out back on track, but the second one was too mangled to continue. Both I and my partner were convinced that vehicle intervention would be needed as we were powerless to push the car to safety. But we were wrong. As our colleagues watching the race on TV in the marshal campground during their time off started rushing to our aid, soon there was no place for me to put my hands to help push the car. But push the car they did, for a good 100 meters to a cutout in the fence, where the vehicle remained until the end of the race. That was amazing! But apparently that is no more.

The ACO sent out a detailed description of the changes and the new station assignments that I won’t be sharing in this post. But for whomever is interested in the event I urge you to sign up now! Especially with the front engined and front wheel drive Nissan GT-R LMP1 car making it’s debut, and the 25th anniversary of McLaren taking to the track during the exhibition activities, 2015 would be an excellent year to participate. Sadly I won’t be there, but you have fun!

Some photos from my last two years at Le Mans:

le mans 1

Le Mans 24, France 2013
Le Mans 24, France 2013

Which European Endurance Race Do I Pick?

It’s never too early to start planning events for next year, and even though there are a few major events still left for me to do this year, I’m contemplating the plan of action for the future.

I’m having a really hard time deciding which weekend in Europe to choose, the options are: Nurburgring 24h, Le Mans 24h and Spa 24h. Each event is a month apart with N24h taking place in the middle of May, LM24h in the middle of June and Spa 24h at the end of July. All three events are in the heart of European summer and travel to Europe will be quite pricey. But having done Le Mans a few times, Nurburgring for the first time and visiting Spa in transit, I’d love to volunteer all three events. Which one would you choose?

The way things are going now, I’m fairly sure that whatever event I choose for next year will be the highlight of the year for me. I will explain why. Marshaling in the US has deteriorated into pathetic and depressing experience. There is still no training, and little desire from the powers that be to implement universal training for everyone to work well together, regardless of what each participant’s personal experience is. We bicker and argue over the way things should be done with no meaningful outcome resulting from those heated discussions. No one is focused on a common goal of bettering the role of marshaling for the masses. Instead people push their own agendas. It is laughable that some idiot decided to pursue the issue of COTA issued blue nomex suits as being a problem. Whether fit, comfort or color, whatever the hell the problem was it didn’t particularly please a moron that reached out to COTA and now we must bring our own whites to the event. While this may make sense for some locals it is terribly inconvenient for those of us traveling having to lug more baggage. But it is also an issue of looking professional at the track. With a track issued overall everyone looks the same and therefore professional. By bringing your own whites, the marshaling body will resemble a group of amateurs sporting 50+ shades of white, some wearing jeans and t-shirts while others may throw some orange into the mix and it will really look like COTA scraped the bottom of the barrel just to man the staff for the event. Totally uncool!

While I am bottling that frustration before heading out to the actual event, I’m curious to see what people think I should do next year. I would love to do Le Mans again, but Spa seems like an equally amazing venue that I haven’t experienced yet. And Nurburgring actually pays marshals for participation so that could significantly offset my travel costs.

Share your thoughts please.

nurburgring 5

2014 le mans 2

Nurburgring 24h is 14-17 May 2015

Le Mans 24h is 10-14 June 2015

Spa 24h is 24-26 July, 2015

 

Media from 24h of Le Mans

Huge… absolutely massive thanks to my good buddy Julio, the Spanish marshal at Le Mans, who very generously snapped a few awesome shots while we were acting as spectators at Le Mans 2014. I had the pleasure of working on the Spanish team again at poste 106 and these guys treated me absolutely and genuinely well.

I would love an opportunity to work with Julio and his friends again and again whether at Le Mans or Spa 24h in the future.

But without any further ado, here are the pix:

2014 le mans 1

2014 le mans 2

2014 le mans 3

2014 le mans

2014 le mans 4

2014 le mans 5

2014 le mans 6

As you can see in the photos this year was definitely the year of the Porsche. So many classics on display. So many amazing cars I only wished I saw in action when they were racing similar Mercedes and BMW prototypes. We even got a private tour of the Porsche garage as a few of Julios mates work as engineers for the team. Fantastic experience for sure! Thanks again Julio….