Tag Archives: Georgia

Mazda MX-5: 2,500 mile Road Trip Down South For Some Racing, Foodie Sampling and Exploring

So the last two weeks were spend exploring the Southeast again… I used the opportunity to volunteer two fantastic events in Alabama and Virginia to be a little bit of a tourist, a foodie, Miata Fiata fan, and of course a road tripper.

pre-trip inspection bright and early at WAWA… well actually I forgot to check my tire pressure, so I stopped by to get it all leveled out. For whatever reason the tire pressures were all over the place in each tire.

The trip included stopovers in Knoxville, Tennessee; Birmingham, Alabama; Atlanta, Georgia; and Danville, Virginia (Milton, North Carolina really).

I volunteered two massive events: working as a flagger for the Alabama Grand Prix at the beautiful Barber Motorsports Park and as fire rescue crew for PWC Grand Prix of VIR at the awesome VIRginia International Raceway.

Along the way I did a bunch of Miata Fiata stuff about which I wrote some previous posts, read about it here:

My Motorsport posts included:

But in this post I’d like to wrap up and talk about the actual road trip part… after all I put nearly 2,500 miles on my Miata. Burned more than 60 gallons of fuel and spent over $160 bux doing it. I was lucky to average in the high 36mpg’s at one point hitting over 38mpg’s which is fantastic! And it was all trouble free… which is the best part!

I sampled a lot of good food along the way. Some fairly average food, and some I tried to skimp out on… like Chick-fil-a for breakfast many times… or the Steak ‘n Shake visits thanks to a discounted gift card I bought… $50 card for like $20 bux!

In many ways this Road Trip was a continuation of my drive to Texas in Wes’s Crown Vic… in fact I used that drive as a dry run to see what I should expect taking my own car to Alabama. I knew I would have a great time in Knoxville, TN because I stopped for lunch there before. This time I had booked a hotel in the Knox to stay overnight after a 700+ mile journey there from New Jersey. I googled some BBQ places to eat, went to pick up my order at Archer’s which came highly rated… and wasn’t all that impressed with the ambiance of the facility when I got my box to go. On the way to the gas station to fill up before returning to the hotel, I noticed a much more happening BBQ joint just a block away called Full Service BBQ… and there I was faced with a dilemma… do I stop by there and buy another dish? I had already picked up a fairly large box that was more than enough for me to have for dinner… or do I keep going and regret not visiting this busy place? I decided to come and visit… and to my surprise not only did they have everything I wanted (a mix plate of their ribs, pulled pork, sausage and brisket) but it was also smelling and tasting really good. So as usual I got way too much food. But boy was it fantastic! I left the box of Archers to bring with me the next day to Alabama, and had it for dinner there the next day instead.

Nice Drive-Thru

Excellent food… Archer’s was great too in it’s own right, but Full Service had them beat with the ambiance of the place, and the big crowd of people eating there when I stopped by.

After a nice rest, I was off again for another 400 miles or so to my final destination. And I don’t know why but Alabama sure feels like “Sweet Home” even though I don’t consider myself Southern at all.

So of course the first order of business upon arrival in Birmingham was to go register at the track and take some pix of all those IndyCar sanctioned Global MX-5 Cup car Miata’s.

And straight after I went into town to meet up with my wonderful CouchSurfing hosts that welcomed me with great Southern hospitality going above and beyond what hosts typically do.

Perhaps my favorite activity with my generous hosts was sharing some amazing food with them. They fed me every night I stayed there, but one night I treated everyone to some Soul Food from Niki’s West… including two types of Catfish with all the fixins’

After a truly wonderful time in ‘Bama it was time to work my way back North to the next weekend’s events in Virginia. But since I had a few days to kill I visited Sakshik (my fellow Miata Fiata buddy) who now lives in Decatur, Georgia where he’s off to Law School.

The few days we spend there could be accurately characterized as a foodie tour! We had a somewhat disappointing experience getting Fried Chicken and Waffles on my first day there… unfortunately the place I went to last year closed (without telling Google, we arrived to find windows boarded up)… plan B turned out to be very snooty with a long wait time… and place C butchered the Waffle by making dough out of some cheddar mix that tasted awful. But our luck changed the next day when we went for BBQ and the following day when we did Indian food.

Probably the highlight of my visit… besides hanging out with Sakshik, checking out Mazmart parts store, visiting both Mazda and Fiat dealerships and recording an episode with Daniel on our podcast; was visiting World of Coca Cola which I had been planning to do for the longest time but never had a chance (until now!)

My favorite part of the whole visit to the World of Coke was the “Tasting” room featuring soda pop from around the world… divided by continents and featuring some drinks I’ve tried in their home countries like Fanta, Crush, Inca Cola, etc.

Funny part is, I actually own some Coca Cola clothing, my favorites though were t-shirts from around the world with Coke in cyrillic for the Russian market or in Mandarin for the Chinese market.

After spending several hours in downtown Atlanta and almost getting sick on all the drinks I sampled at the Coke museum, we hit up a cool Indian place to sample something different. Sakshik lives in a part of town where lots of Emory University students live so it by definition is very diverse. And the Indian restaurant we went to was a good representation of this diversity. The food was excellent!

And of course Sakshik coming from India meant he knew what to order and how to eat the food properly. I enjoyed that experience!

And finally the time flew by super quick, and the rest of the road trip to Virginia came bright and early on Thursday morning.

The food I had in Danville, VA just outside of the track I tried before. Unfortunately most of the time I ordered late and got way too much, so I didn’t enjoy it as I really should have. I went to Mayflower for some seafood on the first night. And Checkered Pig BBQ on my last night at VIR. Of the two the BBQ was best… though having worked with a fella from Roxboro, NC he recommended a much better option on the North Carolina side of the border for my next trip.

VIRginia International Raceway is extremely impressive, I think one of the best race tracks there are in the United States!

And so the trip came to a close way too fast. But to slow it down a little I took a rather scenic drive back to the Interstate through Virgnia… at one point going parallel to the famous Blue Ridge Parkway… US 501 was excellent zig zagging along a mountain on a rainy morning… reminded me a lot of Skyline Drive or what I remember of it from my last visit to Shenandoah.

It’s always kind of cool exploring rural areas of various states along with suburbia to see what’s it like… spotted plenty of Miata’s along my way!

Can’t wait for my next Road Trip… and if I’m lucky it will be another Grand Prix Road Trip like this two week trip I just did. Stay tuned…

Miata Fiata Shopping in Atlanta, Georgia

My goal was to be a tourist today while staying in Atlanta. I’ve been wanting to visit the World of Coca Cola ever since the first time I came to the capital of Georgia but never had enough time to do it… logged onto their web site to buy a ticket and was promptly informed that World of Coke was closed due to a private event today, boo hoo…. so plan B was to go shopping for a Miata/Fiata instead… My buddy Sakshik who’s hosting me for this layover lives nearby to two dealerships almost next to each other: Landmark Fiat of Atlanta and Jim Ellis Mazda of Atlanta, so I swung up there to take some pix.

I’ve heard of Jim Ellis before because they have a very reasonably priced Mazda OEM parts store online… the only issue is I never bought from them because the shipping typically kills any deals. But I was eager to check them out.

First stop was Landmark Fiat…. which isn’t branded as such. It’s just a Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep dealership that is surrounded by Fiats… much like that last dealership I visited in Winchester, Virginia that had two white Abarth Fiata’s upfront.

Here’s some pix:

The white Abarth 124 Spider must be the most popular option. All three Fiat 124 Spiders on the lot however were Automatics also.

This gray seems to be a very popular Fiata color.

This being a Chrysler/Dodge dealership there was some serious performance on display, like this row of SRT Chargers and Hellcats:

Kind of weird seeing customers bring their Fiat 500 Abarth’s for service at a Dodge dealer…

But they’re obviously selling them here too.

And there’s a 124 spider I got to sit in to try for size, It fits!

Next stop, Jim Ellis Mazda of Atlanta:

As soon as I pulled up I was swarmed by salesmen greeting me. Very different situation from the Dodge/Chrysler/Fiat dealer where nobody came up to me during my whole stay there taking pix.

The RF’s were the only 2017 model Miata’s on the lot it seems, all of the soft top ND’s were 2016’s apparently. One of the salesmen that came up to me inside the dealership said they were selling really well

A customer Copper Red Mica NC in for service…

I really want to get one of these Copper Red Mica CX-7 SUV’s for my mom to replace her aging Ford Exploder:

Funny how FCA isn’t selling their Alfa-Romeo’s through the Dodge dealer, opting instead to sell Giulia’s via their Maserati franchise.

Voila!

So if you’re in the Hotlanta area, of which I’m already jealous because you have the perfect Miata weather year round here, and you’re shopping for a Miata or Fiata, check out the dealerships on the Northeast side of town. There’s quite a selection to choose from!

Miata Fiata Radio: Catching up with Sakshik Episode on a Road Trip from Birmingham, AL to Atlanta, GA

Great news, Sakshik is back on the Miata Fiata Podcast!

He was kind enough to let me crash at his new place in Atlanta on my Southern Road Trip, travelling from Birmingham, Alabama today to Atlanta Georgia and continuing onto Virginia International Raceway later on this week.

While in Atlanta, Sakshik and I hit up some Mazda related places like his favorite parts place: MAZMART. And then off we went to sample true southern food at a fried chicken and waffles restaurant. I highly recommended a place I went to last year on my Alabama Grand Prix road trip, we got there and the windows on the restaurant were shuttered… apparently it closed. We went to the next place Google recommended a mile away and instead of soul food it was very snooty looking… so we went to recommendation #3 which turned out to be pretty crappy. But oh well…

Check out the episode where Sakshik and I catch up on our Miata hobby and be sure to tune in later in the week as we interview another Miata fan/enthusiast/racer in the Atlanta area.

 


Miata Fiata Radio – Catching up with Sakshik Episode, Southern Road Trip from Birmingham, Alabama to Atlanta, Georgia; Mazmart and Local Cars & Coffee

Feedback welcome!

It was great to check out Sakshik’s other car, a Mazda3… it really inspires me to keep searching for that Mazda SUV I want to get for my mom. Soon I hope!

MotoAmerica Volunteers Needed for Round #2 at Road Atlanta

MotoAmerica wants you to volunteer!

It’s great to see them actively recruiting, I’ve gotten several invitations over the past few days that I wanted to share with the readers here… I totally think that you should sign up especially if you like motorcycles! It’s a mind blowing experience.


 

Volunteers Needed for Road Atlanta April 27th – 30th

photo credit: MotoAmerica

MotoAmerica is looking for a few good men. And women. MotoAmerica is seeking volunteers who want to assist the series and be a part of the action that is the 2017 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Championship.

“Those who volunteer their time to MotoAmerica races add to the safe and efficient running of our events,” said MotoAmerica Race Operations Manager Niccole Cox. “Like MotoGP and World Superbike, we use volunteers to help our staff, our volunteers are a great group of people who are passionate about motorcycle racing in the US. We always try to have a little fun with our Volunteer BBQ with a star rider each round, where the volunteers get to break bread and have some very candid conversations with our stars. The riders very much enjoy being able to meet the people who donate their time to our events, and it lead to some great conversations that most fans will never see. Our volunteers get closer to the racing action than any other fans, and learn what it takes to put on such a large event. The program continues to grow each year, and we are thrilled at the progress and the impact it has made on our organization”

MotoAmerica will provide training, free camping options, guest and parking passes, plus lunch on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at each event. At stand alone events, MotoAmerica Volunteers will also be treated to a Saturday night BBQ with MotoAmerica staff and the opportunity to talk with one of the racers, up close and personal!

Positions are available for all specialties for Road Atlanta

Here is a brief description of those positions:
• F&C(Flag and Communications) marshal: communicates track conditions to riders by way of flags and to Race Control with radios.
• Track marshal: provides on track support with motorcycle recovery in the event of a crash or mechanical failure.
• Tire marshal: assists tire-control coordinator in paddock, hot pit, and grid to ensure competitors follow tire-allocation regulations.
• Technical control: supports technical director to certify racing motorcycles conform to rulebook.
• Hospitality Staff: helps ensure MotoAmerica hospitality area is stocked and greets guests as they enter to verify admittance
• Grid marshal: assists chief steward help riders follow practice and qualifying procedures and make sure their motorcycles are positioned correctly on the grid for race starts
• Signage/Podium: assist with signage set up on track and with podium presentations

To volunteer for click here.


Again I would strongly encourage Motorsport marshals and enthusiasts to sign up for this event because it is simply spectacular. No experience is necessary and in fact Flagging by Faynisha does an excellent job of training you leading up to the big races.

Poking around the MotorsportReg web site I noticed that MotoAmerica is recruiting volunteers for a lot of tracks where it has become almost impossible to play at without being employed by the track. This is excellent opportunity to visit the facility as an insider, specifically for places like Barber Motorsports Park, VIR, Sonoma or Utah Motorsports Complex. Click here for additional information:

http://www.motorsportreg.com/orgs/motoamerica/volunteers

I wish I had the means to travel, I would totally volunteer every round of this amazing series.

Give it a try folks!

Petit Le Mans Marshal Invitation, Road Atlanta September 27 – October 1, 2016

Just got two invites for the most important races of the year (I think) on the American Racing Calendar. I’ll make two posts to share the invites with anyone who could be interested. My advice, do both!

Petit Le Mans is one of the coolest events there is on US soil. It is season finale of the IMSA  WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the final round of the North American Endurance Cup and the circuit couldn’t be better: Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia.

Interested in volunteering?

I say do it!

What is it; Petit Le Mans

When is it: September 27 – October 1, 2016

Where is it: Road Atlanta, Braselton, Georgia

Who’s recruiting: Atlanta Region SCCA

Who will be there: Five Race Groups!

  • IMSA WeatherTech Series (DP & LMP2, GTLM, GTD)
  • IMSA Continental Tire Series (GS & ST)
  • IMSA Lamborghini Super Trofeo
  • IMSA Mazda Prototype Lites
  • SCCA-PRO Global MX-5 Cup

How to get there? Fly into Atlanta which may be pricey. Other airports within a reasonable drive distance are Savannah, Georgia which is what I’ve done a few years ago. Charlotte, NC may be cheaper or even Nashville, TN but then the drive is loooong.

Where to stay?  The cheapest place: Road Atlanta campground. You will drive in and out every morning as the Mustering Marshal tent is outside of the main gate. But that process is fairly painless.

I would highly recommend this event!

I’ve worked every Petit since 2012, this year may be the first time I do miss it, but I would go again in the heartbeat if I still can’t find a job by late September… my fingers are crossed that I’ll be working for a living, but if not I’ll find a way to come to this event!

To sign up go to the Atlanta Region SCCA web site and follow a link to  MotorsportReg looking for the Petit Le Mans volunteer opportunities. Though officially the event starts Thursday, September 28, it is common practice to volunteer the promoter test day taking place Wednesday, September 27. So plan on spending a week in Georgia!

Good Luck!

Have Fun!

Mazda MX-5: 3,000+ Mile Spring Break Road Trip South in a Miata, from New Jersey to Florida

Question: “Is Mazda MX-5 Miata a good Road Trip car?”

Answer: Yes, absolutely!

I have found first hand how good my little red sports car was for the little Spring Break Road Trip down the Eastern seaboard from NJ to Florida. My goal was to marshal the Grand Prix of St. Pete and Sebring 12 hour, but what I ended up doing was much more than that. I got to visit several more circuits including Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, FL and Roebling Road in Savannah, Georgia. And I got to enjoy a ton of foodie experiences along the way, which is probably the best way to make a long trip in a Miata really comfortable. The trick is making sufficient stops along the way to not get tired or bored of the drive.

I also kept a little game going trying to play with my fuel mileage and finding most reasonable fuel prices along the way. I relied on an app called Gas Buddy which helped a lot considering the spread for fuel prices for 91-93 octane Premium fuel was vast, from $1.90 in the Northern States to $3,00/gallon in Southern states. I’ve found out that even from the same brand gas station, not all fuels were performing comparatively. I got better gas mileage sometimes from Speedway gas stations than I did from BP, Exxon or Sunoco.

Although not very scientific I created this spreadsheet of all 15 of my fill ups, including price paid, amount of fuel used, and MPG #’s:

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south to florida fuel strategy and gas mileage

But enough about strategy the key attraction for me was sightseeing

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south central florida region scca at sebring

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south to florida sebring international raceway

Sebring was the farthest point South I’ve driven my MX-5 Miata yet, I always wanted to get a shot of the car with the track. Daytona International Speedway was another, I’m happy to accomplish both!

mazda mx-5 day trip to daytona international speedway 2

On the drive back I had some time to kill since my plan was to spend the night in South Carolina at a fellow marshal’s home (who wouldn’t get out of work until about 5’ish which gave me plenty of time to be a tourist while driving up). So I visited Roebling Road in Savannah, GA on the drive up.

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south to florida roebling road savannah georgia

And that was as far as racetracks went on the trip. I did drive right past Darlington Motor Speedway (and Raceway, and Dragway) but that was around 5 o’clock in the morning and way too dark to take pictures anyway.

The rest of the trip was devoted to general sightseeing. Every time I’m in that part of Georgia I love visiting Savannah and Tybee Island.

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south tybee island savannah georgia

And believe it or not, I have yet to take a single picture of me in my car until now, I offered to take a photo for some tourists at the sign and they returned the favor for me to take this shot :

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south tybee island savannah georgia russ

Of course the main reason to visit Tybee Island is for it’s incredible seafood at The Crab Shack, which is exactly what I did.

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south tybee island savannah georgia crab shack

The food wasn’t particularly cheap, and the portions were kind of small, but you couldn’t beat the experience of freshness. Worth it!

Food therefore was a major theme on my Road Trip, and an integral part of keeping me entertained and enthusiastic about the drive (read: not bored!).

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south to florida watering hole sebring

On our very first night in Sebring, Nancy Digh organized a nice marshal welcoming party at the Cowpokes Watering Hole in Sebring. I had a fantastic Brisket Bacon Burger there.

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south to florida watering hole sebring brisket burger

But my favorite meal at Sebring (besides what the spectators fed us at turn 13) was at the Palm Diner trying their seafood belly buster:

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south to florida palm diner belly buster

My most favorite meal in Florida thought was in Lake Worth while Couchsurfing. My host took me to a little hole-in-a-wall place called Cherry Pocket Steak & Seafood where I had an awesome meal.

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south to florida cherry pocket steak & seafood fish

The appetizer was really my favorite. We had gator bites while sitting on a patio looking over a lake looking directly at a small alligator sunning itself out of the water. The salad that came with it had the most awesome strawberry flavored sauce, finger licking good!

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south to florida cherry pocket steak & seafood gator bites

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south to florida airboats and seaplanes

Only in Florida where you can arrive at the restaurant by car, seaplane or air boat.

Driving further north my buddy Ben took me to Redbone Alley  serving an amazing dish of Grits and Catfish… very southern!

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south grits and catfish florence south carolina

Even chain food in North Carolina was delicious, Bojangle’s famous biscuit and gravy, cajun chicken and sweet tea were sooooo good!

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south biscuit and gravy cajun chicken sweet tea bojangles

Virginia and Pennsylvania welcomed me with an even faster fast-food option right at the gas station: Sheetz and their delicious sliderz and chicken strips tossed in Dr.Pepper BBQ sauce… Yum!

Long story short, the Road Trip in a Miata becomes not just bearable but extremely enjoyable when you take your time and enjoy the sites, try the local foods and enjoy yourself when you can.

After making it home I went ahead and swapped my Winter BFG’s that now have about 4.5k miles on them for Summer BFG’s with 0 miles on them and am looking forward to taking another Road Trip soon…. stay tuned!

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south wheel swap winter for summer

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south wheel swap winter for summer bfg

Postcard from 2015 Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta Presented by Mazda and Interrupted by Joaquin

All ya’ll ain’t gonna believe what happened. Well, maybe you will, but here’s my little preview of the “season finale” at Road Atlanta during the 2015 Petit Le Mans presented by Mazda (the presented by Mazda bit is obviously a joke, while accurate, it was repetitively used by the flag chief in a NASCAR-style shout-out to the sponsors). I like Mazda even though their booth babe tricked me into taking a survey without actually giving me the hat I was promised for my participation. So screw Mazda! or at least the people they outsourced the marketing duties to during the event.

2015 petit le mans mazda owner's lounge

On a positive note, when Corvette Racing advertises a FREE t-shirt for completing their survey, they actually give you a t-shirt… get it Mazda?

2015 petit le mans mazda owner's lounge 1

I will make a few posts about each of the topics I wanted to share from Petit Le Mans, but this entry will act like a snapshot of things to come accompanied by some teaser pictures.

This year’s Petit Le Mans was wet… so wet it was cut short, thanks to Hurricane Joaquin stirring shit up in the Atlantic. But I was well prepared. I had a great station assignment that I actually requested, and as luck would have it, I stayed pretty dry throughout this soaker of a week(end).

hurricane joaquin
credit: borrowed from Facebook

The saddest part of the trip was catching a glimpse of the MX-5 Cup graveyard near the Skip Barber facility at Road Atlanta. I took some pix, they aren’t pretty:

skip barber mx-5 cup miata graveyard road atlanta

skip barber mx-5 cup miata graveyard road atlanta 1

The action on track cheered me up a bit. I was close to the action and close to the pits, which means I was super close to cars. I love being this close to cars! Like this close:

2015 petit le mans continental tire sports car challenge

This is the view from station, with flags in the foreground.

2015 petit le mans pit lane lamborghini super trofeo blancpain

mazda mx-5 cup during petit le mans 2015 miatas galore

I got a chance to meet up with some great people that fed me well. I love southern BBQ. I couldn’t get enough of it! I’m also glad to see some European friends that I last met in Belgium during Spa 24h.

2015 petit le mans marshal dinner with teddy racing

I had some fun in my rental vehicle which I probably overpaid for, just like the flight, and like the cost of the way to get to the flight… I flew out of Philly International the day after Pope Francis left town. But the rental was worth every penny in the flood that literally took over the camp site. I was dry. I was comfortable. And I was happy! I even got a chance to sit in the truck during the red flag period of the race, with the heat on full blast pointed at my sox… shoes off, getting some much needed rest and warmth from the heater and IMSA radio called by John Hindy from Radio Le Mans thru the car’s stereo!

2015 petit le mans red flag

Yep… I got to park on the pit lane for the main event!

petit le mans 2015 rental car and camping vehicle

All in all an excellent weekend. There were some people that went out of their way to sort of shut me down and rain on my parade, and I wasn’t really in a position to ignore them, but shit like that happens. I was just happy that the good moments outnumbered the bad.

2015 petit le mans grid walk 7

I don’t hate Teddy!

PS. I got to win another “Mazda” hat during the marshal party! So thanks but no thanks Mazda booth! But I’m happy I got to take some pix with an ND Miata, both the safety cars and the display models.

2015 petit le mans presented by mazda marshal swag

2015 petit le mans grid walk 2

I also got a chance to sign the nose on the #60 Ligier P2 prototype, they didn’t win and crashed often… but a GTLM car won. A Porsche… which I suspect was done for publicity, both for IMSA and for Porsche in their North American headquarters home of Georgia. Hmm…

Post Card from Road Atlanta, Petit Le Mans 10h TUSC 2014 Season Finale

Only one word can describe this entire trip: Perfect!

Absolutely, positively perfect trip to Road Atlanta to volunteer at Petit Le Mans, the 10h TUSC season finale. Let me tell you why, and if you get a sense that I’m just tripping over myself with joy after a fucking miserable start to the year with Daytona and Sebring, you’d be correct in getting that sense, I’m as happy about this trip as I could ever be. Loved it, absolutely loved every minute of it!

So lets start at the beginning. The flight was cheap. The destination was unique. I picked Savannah flying JetBlue because it was really cheap, like few hundred dollars cheaper than flying direct into Atlanta. Why did that make me happy? Because a day after I booked my trip, JetBlue offered 20% discount, and I was able to call back and re-book at the even cheaper rate with no questions asked. And that made me really happy. The car rental too was cheap. I typically monitor the prices and rebook constantly to get the best deal. Well I got a steal of a deal, because the price dropped by half from the first time I booked to the one I actually kept. And I got a ridiculous amount of miles for my rental with Southwest, which means I’m within range of getting a free flight next time I fly a short hop. How can I not be super excited about that? FlyerTalk would be proud of me. And when I arrived at Savannah to pick up my car, I got a brand spanking new Nissan Note with 500 miles on the clock. I was the first to roll that car over 1,000 miles and got 37.2 mpg doing it on my little Road Trip, which just made me super happy.

Arriving at Road Atlanta I was welcomed by my fellow volunteer Robert who hosted me in a very comfortable pop-up camper. Much better experience than camping on the ground in a tent, that’s for sure. Especially with the rain and cold weather that inevitably rolled in. But no rain could piss on my parade, I was constantly surprised with positive experiences and was just glowing with excitement.

turn 5 road atlanta petit le mans 2014

My first day marshaling I got to work with the legendary Willy Perez as my captain at Turn 5. What a blast that was. Fantastic blue flag opportunities all day, three unique views by rotating from 5 Flags downhill and 5A uphill. And I got to interview Willy for #MarshalCam , incredible!

For the remainder of the weekend I was bumped to Turn 1 again with Nancy. I was besides myself. I got an opportunity to work Turn 1 last year for race day only and had nearly 10 hours of blue flag there, how lucky for me to end up there the whole weekend? Very lucky! I loved it so much because Turn 1 is amazing at Road  Atlanta. You’re right at the exit of the pit lane, with perfect view of everything going on there. Walking distance to the paddock, so I got great photos roaming around during my off time. I must remember to request Turn 1 at other tracks because it had such a positive effect on my overall well-being and happiness volunteering this weekend. As luck would have it though, for race day I saw an even better opportunity to flag at Alpha which precedes Turn 1, is on the main straight just after the Starter stand, but an even better post for blue flag. I agreed to work 10 hours there without relief, so I would not compete with anyone else from Turn 1 for blue flag (there were 8 on station), but Starter sent people every hour to partner with me, so we shared the blue flag duties. It was incredible. I want to do Start in the future so to watch them work was a great learning experience. Although at the end of the event Nancy criticized me for blue flagging on restarts which I thought I was well within my rights to do. Nancy was super cool giving me a #MarshalCam interview also, so I’m forever grateful to her and others on station that participated also.  You can see my station (Alpha) right over my shoulder from these grid walk photos:

petit le mans grid 2014

Love the new aero package on the DeltaWing:

deltawing petit le mans 2014The fun didn’t stop at the track, during the worker dinner and party on Friday night I got super lucky with the prize drawing winning some much desired Mazda and Mazdaspeed swag:

mazda mazdaspeed swag petit le mansNow I have some hats to wear when I finally buy my Miata MX-5 and a t-shirt sized for my future girlfriend (size S) wink wink…

If you think I’m going to stop ranting and raving about Petit Le Mans and Road Atlanta here you’d be wrong… The event was fun, but post event touristy stuff was even more fun! I got a perfect opportunity to have a very nice breakfast with Tim & Heather, Robert and Brendan at an Atlanta suburb Waffle House. Laughter never stopped, and we got more Waffle House edition #MashalCam interviews done there. Freaking awesome!

But that was not the end. Five hour drive later back to Savannah I was hosted by a really friendly and welcoming lady who besides CouchSurfing also had some paying AirBnB guests. The fun continued there exchanging stories, and even sharing some sightseeing and foodie experiences with a young lady from Portland that we spend the next two days together roaming around Tybee Island, Hilton Head, SC and downtown Savannah being tourists. I won’t bore you with details of all the fun we had, but just drop some of my favorite photos below:

seafood feast at crab shack tybee island

Seafood sampler at the Crab Shack on Tybee Island, GA

chicken and waffle savannah

Chicken and Waffles at Loc’s in Savannah, GA

bbq savannah

BBQ sampler: ribs, chicken and pulled pork. Savannah, GA

You can hate me later after you stop salivating. I tried so many good and delicious dishes from various BBQ meats, to Seafood samplers, Crab Cakes and Conch Fritters, Chicken and Waffles, Grits and Hashbrowns, Biscuits and Gravy…

Oh man… I just want to go back already!