Tag Archives: Global MX-5 Cup

Post Card from the PWC, SRO, Global MX-5 Cup & Porsche GT3 Trophy Paddock at Laguna Seca

If the title suggests this was a busy event… you best believe it was! Four days of non stop action… which was a complete and total difference compared to last year where PWC ran it’s season finale alone without any support groups.

What was particularly different this year was the debut of the SRO created Intercontinental GT Challenge stop on American soil. An endurance race that joins the calendar this year along the crown jewel of SRO events: Spa 24 hours. As well as the other two races Stefan Ratel hitched his wagon to: Bathurst 12 hour in Australia  and Sepang 12 hour in Malaysia. The California 8 hour is an event they came up from scratch while the other Intercontinental GT Challenge stops have been established forever… some even before SRO got invovled with them.

To me California 8 hour was the main attraction to come out west and volunteer… But there were other surprises. While the Pirelli World Challenge top group: GT/GTA/GTC and GTS classes already ran their season finale the previous month in Sonoma. The lower classes: TC and TCA/TCB were going to have their finale here at Laguna Seca… and for all those pint size racing cars World Challenge came up with a spiffy title: Grand Prix of Monterey! Wow…

But wait there’s more! Global MX-5 Cup had run their season finale a few weeks ago while playing a support role for the IMSA event at Laguna Seca. But they decided to hold a truly Global MX-5 Cup race inviting some European and Japanese drivers to participate alongside their American counterparts. While the purse for winning the event was big, not that many cars signed up to race. But even with the lack of participation their field was larger than that of the main event, California 8 hour.

The best represented group of the weekend was the Porsche GT3 Cup Trophy Series. I completely confused myself thinking these were the West Coast version of our IMSA GT3 Cup… but I was wrong. While some teams/cars participate in both series, the GT3 Cup Trophy isn’t run by IMSA and is a far different series using a whole variety of cars. There were brand new GT3 911’s… some older versions of the car. And a bunch of GT4 spec Caymans too. Cars were distinguished by their windshield banners and the color of their headlights.

So now that I got all that out of the way, here’s a ton of pix I took while roaming around the paddock on Wednesday, the day before the event started:

Laguna Seca is going Hollywood! Last year they added the Hollywood-style “CORKSCREW” sign on the hill overlooking the track. This year the new addition is a Mazda 787B Le Mans winning car cutout at the entry to the track from Route 68/A Road. Which is also joined by a Yamaha Superbike…  it’s cool!

First thing you see arriving at the paddock is the Long Road Racing setup with their Global MX-5 Cup cars… and Enzo!

Lots of MX-5 Cup cars at the event… some raced in the Global MX-5 Cup while others represented the TCA field in Pirelli World Challenge. Easy to tell them apart… the convertible tops were MX-5 Cup series while the hard tops were PWC.

One team brought a souvenir from the season finale that ran with IMSA at Laguna Seca in September

Car looks pretty rough!

Much like the IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car series, PWC TC class still run NC Miata’s… though they are modified with a 2.5L engine and a big wang in the back.

One of two Japanese-driven cars in the event…

The TCB Mazda2’s used to be competitive, but it seems to me the BoP has balanced all the performance out of them. This #08 was the first car to be lapped. (multiple times, too)

The rest of the Mazda2’s ran slightly better, but not much. Certainly no match for the Honda Fit’s in TCB.

The new TOYOBARU Scion FRS GT86 smoked the competition. Won both races… and then got disqualified for some reason. Miata which came in second both times assumed the victories afterwards.

Porsche’s were second best represented cars for the weekend, after the Miata of course. While in TC class I counted 11 BMW M235i’s

The California 8 hour field was ultra thin… 19 cars total!

The Coyote 5.0L V8 powered Mazda3’s by MARC Cars Australia had two 3’s on the road… two different shades of red. One left hand drive and one right hand drive. Because of attrition both cars finished the race in top 10… ahead of all GT4 cars.

The only European SRO team to show up… Team WRT from Belgium.

The Acura team looked fast and very promising but after a few hours nobody could keep the pace of the Audi R8 LMS.

The TCR cars did especially well in the TC race

I was easily distracted walking around the paddock… this Audi especially caught my eye:

I suspect I’ll get an opportunity to watch it race on track this year…

It looks like the IMSA series, but the Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy is an independent west coast version racing similar cars.

When I finished taking pictures of cars, climbed up the hill to take some selfies with the Corkscrew.

I had some Mexican food on the way over to the track… and after spending a productive day there, I craved Mexican again… so I gave another restaurant a try in Seaside after the first place in Salinas. And then watched the sun set over the Pacific.

It was a great day!

 

Post Card from PWC Grand Prix of Lime Rock

Greetings from an amazing first day of the PWC at LRP.

I love this track.

I love this series.

I love this assignment.

This is my first time since last year working as a back-up starer for a pro event (or for any event period) and it just so happens that last year it was PWC at LRP as well.

Despite the wet weather and the alternating mist and light rain, the racing has been especially good. Only the PWC series are present though they are broken up in bits to make more racing happen. There’s the Sprint X headliner featuring GT (Pro-Pro), GTA (Pro-Am), GT Cup (Am-Am) and GTS (up and coming Pro’s)… the TC group grew so big with all the new BMW 235M’s that they get to race on their own… I think I counted over 30 cars, and it’s especially nice to see the familiar yellow Turner cars #95 & #96 re-join the series. TCA and TCB round out the support races with a pretty large field as well. Really neat to see this racing up close from the Starter stand. I love it! Didn’t take many pix, but the few I did I’d like to share:

And so my day went absolutely perfectly… I truly enjoy working Start and my PWC series colleagues were awesome to me. Despite the rain I thought the racing was very good. No stupid crashes. It was very competitive, very tight and mostly clean with minor incidents here and there (only a few full course cautions)… so I’m grateful for that. Lime Rock Park fed us at the end of the day and I was happy to spy a bunch of Mazda’s at the track including a Miata parade early in the morning and a few Mazdaspeed 3’s and 6’s in the camping area.

I decided not to tent it in the wet, and instead opted for the 2 hour and 100 mile trek home… which was fine in the evening, but I’m sure tomorrow morning I’ll be regretting it. Oh well… looking forward to another great day at the track!

Post Card from Alabama Grand Prix and MX-5 Cup Season Opener at Barber

Greetings from one of the prettiest racetracks in the United Sates!

I took advantage of an amazing opportunity again to work with Flagging by Faynisha crew for the Honda INDY Grand Prix of Alabama where the Global  MX-5 Cup is making it’s season debut under a brand new sanctioning body: IndyCar…

Why the fuck would MX-5 Cup switch to IndyCar is beyond me. I don’t see any connection whatsoever other than playing a support role during events like these. But MX-5 Cup had already played a support role under it’s previous sanctioning body: SCCA Pro… so I don’t see what justified this move. Similarly, I am dumbfounded why IndyCar out of all the other “sports car” sanctioning bodies like IMSA which would have been a more natural choice, or even USAC.

But anyway, 2017 season is underway. The cars haven’t really changed. Most of the liveries are exactly the same as last year’s, the only thing different is the IndyCar sticker on the front and rear bumpers.

I arrived Barber on Thursday knowing there would be a promoter’s day in full swing, so I quickly registered and rushed to the paddock to take some shots of the Miatas:

Lovely statues adorn most of the circuit!

And there’s those IndyCar stickers…

And a few shots of my NC after two day and over a thousand mile road trip to get down here from New Jersey:

I really can’t recommend this facility enough to anyone I meat. Well worth the visit and especially for a race weekend like this one!

Why Is Everyone Ditching SCCA Pro Racing? First Global MX-5 Cup in Favor of IndyCar and Now Pirelli World Challenge to USAC

For those of you reading this blog post looking for some in-depth analysis or insider information as to why everyone is ditching SCCA Pro racing, go look elsewhere. This post will express my opinion on the matter which is just that, an opinion. It is based on my personal experience of a mere marshal volunteering for both series mentioned in the title and the three sanctioning bodies involved. My treatment as a volunteer could and definitely may be different than that of other volunteers so take the opinion at face value.

That said… and the many frustrating posts I’ve made over the past few years, I can’t say I am surprised that SCCA is being ditched. I have had plenty of personal experience of maltreatment by assholes within the club to which I pay/paid a hefty membership fee for all these years. Perhaps I’m not the only one that thinks this sort of treatment isn’t acceptable and there are other options.

What am I talking about?

Today PWC leadership made an announcement at the Performance Racing Industry Show in Indianapolis, Indiana that after 27 years of being sanctioned by SCCA Pro (a body that created the PWC series) it will now be sanctioned by USAC – the arch-rival of Sports Car Club of America from way back in the day. USAC is United States Auto Club which I’m sure people reading this blog would be familiar with because I’ve had many kind things to say about them from my experience marshaling at Indianapolis Motor Speedway which is staffed by USAC volunteers (not SCCA).  For more info about this story check out this Racer Magazine article:  racer.com/more/viewpoints/item/137087-insight-the-state-of-pirelli-world-challenge

Speaking of Indy, about a month ago the leadership of Global MX-5 Cup, which also had been sanctioned by SCCA Pro for the past 11 years, announced their move to IndyCar sanctioning. Read all about that story here in this Racer Magazine article:  racer.com/scca-home/mazda-mx-5-cup/item/136029-pruett-indycar-s-new-mazda-matrix

IndyCar of course is the famous American dumbed-down version of Formula 1. IndyCar, like NASCAR has in recent years build up a ladder system to feature various lower support series at their events. They call it the Mazda Road to Indy or MRTI for short. Even though Mazda doesn’t actually race in the big leagues with IndyCar where Chevy and Honda engine powered Dallara chasis compete. Instead Mazda provides pretty much all the engines for the lower series including Indy Lights, the Formula 2000 and 1600 series and Pro Mazda series. Not quite sure exactly how those series differ from similar SCCA club F1600 and F2000 series, but they are very similar save for the sanctioning bodies. The Mazda connection made sense for IndyCar’s sanctioning of the Global MX-5 Cup, even though that is the only non-open wheel series they sanction (I think). USAC sanctioning something as big-time as PWC though is a stretch, especially since the only thing I’m aware of USAC sanctioning previously are dirt racers throughout the MidWest.

But I guess we’ll see how that will go.

Good news is that PWC will open TCA class to the Global MX-5 Cup, which already features previous gen NC MX-5 Cup cars. Now we’ll get a mix of NC’s and ND’s… good variety!

I was getting excited this year volunteering for Pirelli World Challenge because of Stefan Ratel’s involvement with this American series. He is famous for the Blancpain Sprint and Endurance Series in Europe as well as the Intercontinental GT Challenge which he was going to bring to America after big success in Asia (Sepang 12h) and Australia (Bathurst 12h) and of course their crown jewel event, the Spa 24h in Belgium (at one of my favorite circuits: Spa-Francorchamps). Maybe with PWC moving to USAC the SRO will have more say in the way things are done in US, which I assume would have created tensions with SCCA… (because of course everything creates tensions with SCCA, speaking from personal experience here). I hope to see the series succeed under USAC.

Besides the IndyCar and USAC sanctioning bodies, the two series are actually run by WC Vision for PWC and Andersen Promotions for the Global MX-5 Cup… so I’m not sure how much input either IndyCar or USAC will have on either. But I’m sure at the very least both MX-5 Cup and PWC will probably continue to prop up IndyCar events in the future (as they have already done in the past)… which is a good thing! The only thing different for me volunteering will be the fact that I will not earn SCCA worker credit for volunteering those big weekend events now. Oh well!

Who’s left to ditch next? Will Trans Am jump ship too?

2017 will be quite interesting.

Hopefully there will be enough change in the future that won’t require me to pay $60 to Topeka for SCCA membership. Then again USAC charges $30 per event at Indy, or a discounted rate for multiple events. This business of shaking down volunteers for the privilege of volunteering is just wrong to me. I still think that it should be like the rest of the world, a small nominal fee to cover supplies like plastic membership cards and postage to mail them to the members every year. Anything more is a rip off. Maybe after losing a few more series they’ll come to their senses. Or maybe they’ll become even more greedy… who knows?

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UPDATE December 12, 2016; Formula Race Promotions (FRP) whom run Formula Atlantic, Formula 2000 and Formula 1600 have announced that they’ve ditched SCCA as well in favor of USAC.  atlanticchampionshipseries.com/news/972-usac-to-sanction-atlantic-f2000-f1600-championships.html

Seems like only Formula 4 remains under SCCA Pro sanctioning body, which makes absolutely no sense considering F4 is a European FIA rules/spec series (which had a real hard time starting up in the US this year). We’ll see if they stick around…

New Track, New Role! Working GT Challenge at VIR as Pit Fire Marshal

Another enjoyable experience working a new role as a Pit Fire Marshal at Virginia International Raceway for IMSA GT Challenge.

I was pretty excited to take advantage of an opportunity that presented itself to work a track where I had previously only been rejected to work as a flagger… I had a slight concern how I’d fit in among all the other “real” fire fighters on pit lane, as they typically are in places like Pocono where I worked last weekend as spectator marshal roaming the pit lane during IndyCar race and making sure VIP’s don’t get in the way of the teams working.

This time around I had to wear a red fire suit, nomex balaclava, a helmet, boots, etc. The full kit! It was stinken hot, but I enjoyed it more than any of my recent flagging experiences including the one day I spend on flags at VIR for this same event.

Pit Fire is a position I would definitely like to do again. It was awesome!

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The calm before the storm… when the Monsoon hit we had to take shelter in the Turner tent because everything else was getting washed out with heavy rain and lightning. The paddock was 2 inches deep under water… my shoes got wet which quickly resulted in blisters forming from walking… one of the track radios got a little wet and stopped working. But other than that I think we weathered the storm pretty well.

Next day it was just sun shine and lovely!

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Pit Boss thought I’d get a kick out of working the winner’s circle, victory lane… after the two winning cars (one for each class) just spent nearly 3 hours going flat out around the 3+ mile circuit, the chances of something sparking up were there… and luckily I was standing there with a fire bottle… keeping out of the reach of cameras to not end up on TV unnecessarily. It was great!

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Can’t wait to do this again! (somewhere)

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Woo Hoo! I got to Flag at VIRginia International Raceway Leading into the Oak Tree Turn

I’m going to chalk this one up as an accomplishment. It’s been a while since I had my mind set on volunteering one of the big pro events at VIR… but lo and behold none of the contacts I reached out to were willing to help… in fact, people told me it was impossible to flag here unless you get a job with the track. And so I gave up on the idea.

Until of course I saw a Mazda Motorsport facebook post promoting the event and my desire to marshal here sparked up again.

I reached out to my “friends” in SCCA who as expected gave me the typical response: “Impossible!” It pissed me off to no end that the club I’m a part of and pay annual dues for does nothing to help. And by club I mean high ranking local club members like flag chiefs who wouldn’t lift a finger to help, but who are selfishly boasting that they are working this event because in addition to their role at SCCA they are also employed at the track… Gee good for them! I was hoping for a little bit of help but apparently there’s politics involved why VIR doesn’t rely on general SCCA membership. Except of course those that are SCCA and work for the track directly. Whatever!

I remembered the IMSA race control folks advertising the idea of working some of their other events at various IMSA races I’ve done earlier this year. So I jumped on the opportunity to reach out to them. And just as quickly I got an official response (my mail was forwarded onto the track) from VIR saying all positions were filled.

It wasn’t until someone from RSI, the club that staffs marshals for Watkins Glen International, posted about openings that still required staffing one week away from the race, that I got my chance to participate by reaching out. Once I was in, I was in… it was VIP treatment from then on. I had no trouble signing in, picking up my credentials, I even got the Paddock parking pass which came in very useful for my pre-race picture snapping during the promoter test day. It was fantastic. And it was at that time I learned they still needed more flaggers, and that’s what I’d be doing on Friday.

Great!

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I really enjoyed the flagging experience at VIR. The stations that I had seen and personally experienced were nice gazebo’s providing some much needed shade on a stinken hot southern summer day. They were elevated and provided excellent view from flag post to flag post. I was amazed with all the elevation changes around the track, and how many drivers found the turns challenging. We had quite a few spins I had to put a flag out for, and even a light impact.

It was great! I would love to have another opportunity to flag here again… but my favorite part was being in pit lane for the rest of the weekend… I’ll talk about it more in the next post, but will share some pix from day one, here:

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Nice camping area near the north paddock, with a good shower and some trees providing much needed shade. I’m so glad the new tent held up under the monsoon we had on Saturday.

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I already shared the Global MX-5 Cup car pix, but there were also several NC MX-5’s racing in Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.

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And some of my favorite shots above pit entry, looking from the second story above the pit garages.

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Post Card from Global MX-5 Cup Round at VIR: Virginia Int’l Raceway

My plans for this weekend were to check out the Millionth Miata Tour visiting the East Coast… my options were to go to Wayne, NJ for the NYC stop of the tour where the car would visit Wayne Mazda dealership or if that failed I could go to the Philadelphia stop where the tour would visit Easton Mazda in Pennsylvania…. I blew my chance! But instead I go to marshal the Global MX-5 Cup round at VIR – Virginia International Raceway (my first visit there!)

I came across a facebook post from Mazda Motorsports inviting owners to come join the Mazda Corral at VIR for the MX-5 Cup weekend and I figured I’d sign up… then I learned this was in support of the IMSA weekend and suddenly I knew it would be an uphill battle to even consider this event… I was convinced I’d be signing the Millionth Miata instead. But the stars aligned just right and there I was both flagging and playing pit fire marshal for the races. Freaking amazing!

Here’s some pix from the paddock from the day I arrived at VIR:

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And some action shots:

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It was an excellent weekend to go MX-5 Racing!

Post Card from Michelin GT Challenge at VIRginia International Raceway

I’m not sure if there’s an event in the US I wanted to do more than the IMSA race at VIR… now I’ve gone and done it!

And I’m really proud of the opportunity I had to participate in this amazing event at a really fantastic facility. I went from being treated like a reject to feeling like a VIP with the snap of the fingers. And I loved every minute of my experience there, including the full paddock access upon my arrival on Thursday, where I took a million pix of the various spec racers as well as the feature event machines.

Enjoy!

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And of course lots of Miata stuff!

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This was a weekend full of spec racers, from the Global MX-5 Cup to the Porsche GT3 Cup USA to Blancpain Lamborghini Super Trofeo.

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more to follow…

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!

Global Mazda MX-5 Cup Race at Watkins Glen International May 2016

Once I saw the schedule for the brand spanking new Global Mazda MX-5 Cup I quickly signed up to marshal it. Immediately following the debut at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca last week, the Series tracked across the country to Upstate New York for their second race of the season at Watkins Glen playing a support role to the NARRA and Trans Am series.

I’ve been a huge fan of the Playboy MX-5 Cup which I credit with the reason for my buying an NC Miata of my own. Since I’ve been using my car as a marshaling rig to travel to various circuits including Watkins Glen International, Thompson Speedway in New England and even a trip down to Florida for St. Pete GP and Sebring 12 hour earlier this year where I visited Long Road Racing on the way home in North Carolina. The reason I mention LRR is because they make all the cars (hand built) that participate in this Global MX-5 Cup series and those parallel ones that happen around the world. Who’d thunk it?

The new Global MX-5 Cup cars are incredible and the field is huge pushing over 40 cars on the grid which almost guarantees incidents and accidents. Thanks also to the rain that blessed us this weekend there was a ton of cars that crashed including a major smash-up right under the start stand when the green flag was thrown. I was super privileged to work as a Starter this weekend and was amazed to see all the cars on pit lane staging for their race. I also got to work turn 7 where the cars were taking the fairly sharp turn at over 60mph which seems incredible to me.

Enough talking and here’s some photos from the paddock walk I did on Thursday as the cars were unloaded… the hardest part was selecting the pictures to share as I took hundreds of them…

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The first car I saw was plain vanilla… body in white.

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But the rest were like Skittles, all colors of the rainbow!

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Check facebook for more pictures from this event. Amazing event!!!

I loved it!

PS. Even the Pace Car was a new ND MX-5 Miata:

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Mazda Road to 24 – #MRT24