Tag Archives: Grand Prix Road Trip

Mazda MX-5: Mini Meet with First Coast Miata Club in Jacksonville, FL

Really happy to meet up with a friend in the First Coast Miata Club of Florida… even more happy that he invited a bunch of his friends to join us for dinner on my one thousand mile road trip from home in New Jersey to Daytona Beach, Florida.

Here are some pix from that awesome meet up at Metro Diner in San Marco which is in the south area of Jax (Jacksonville):

Love the way these stickers look on the ND

The folks in the club highly recommended the chicken & waffles or the fried chicken and mash potato dish, in case anyone is interested… Stay tuned for more posts from my Florida Road Trip

Mazda MX-5: 1,500+ Mile Road Trip from New Jersey to Detroit, Michigan

1,758 mile Road Trip to be exact in my 2007 MX-5 Miata GT PRHT.

In all I burned 53.445 gallons and spent $157.81 dollars doing it. Average fuel price turned out to be $2.93/gal for 93 Premium gas which I bought from several brand name stations including Exxon, Mobil, Shell, BP and Sunoco. I used the GasBuddy app to hunt for cheaper prices which typically worked, except in Detroit, and was also inaccurate for Sunoco stations because Premium there is 91 and I was looking for Ultra 93 which is about 10 cents/gal pricier. The situation in Detroit pissed me off because fuel prices went up by 60 cents/gal the day I arrived. The price hike was so sudden that I was the first person reporting the prices on GasBuddy and even the app was asking me if I was correct because it seemed high to them. I estimate that I spent between $10 and $13 more on fuel in Michigan than I had planned to based on my research. Prices went up from $2.69 – $2.89 which I thought was normal to $3.09 – $3.29 which is what I actually paid there. In all, the cheapest gas on the trip was in New Jersey at $2.459/gal for Sunoco Ulta 93 and the most expensive was in Michigan at $3.299/gal at Mobil for Supreme+ 93.

Sadly after I had put about $20 in the tank at Mobil because the low fuel light was already on, I noticed the Speedway across the street was still at $2.89/gal for premium. Unfortunately I had already used up all of my Speedway gas cards and only had Exxon-Mobil, Shell, BP and Sunoco at my disposal. Because I bought the gas cards at a 10% discount I wanted to use them up instead of paying for cash out of pocket… thinking back at this point I should have gone to Speedway.

I did not bother calculating individual gas mileages when I filled up because I tended not to top off the tank (especially at the Detroit prices) so instead I am calculating the total to be 33MPG or 1,758.6 miles traveled divided by 53.445 gallons burned = 32.90. I was really happy that several times I got way more than I typically get out of a full tank of gas because the trip meter went well past the 300 mile mark. For example arriving in Detroit I was at 350 miles on the trip when the low fuel light came on. Similarly I was at 330 miles heading back home in Pennsylvania when I got the low fuel light… Ironically when I arrived at the Du Bois, PA Exxon where gas was 25 cents/gal cheaper than everywhere else in the area, they had run out of their Premium fuel, the only thing available was Regular, so I left.

I noticed on this trip that the car felt peppier with Sunoco Ultra 93 than any other fuel, so I think I’ll be using that option when available from now on. I also noticed that where the roads were flatter like Ohio and Michigan, the mileage was stretched out beyond what I normally experience. On the trip back the mileage dropped significantly once I hit the Appalachian Mountains in Pennsylvania.

That’s all I’m going to say about the gas mileage.

My next and biggest complaint of the whole trip is with the state of the roads, especially in Michigan. Holly Fucking Batman are the roads bad. As soon as you drive into Michigan from Ohio on Interstate 75 you better brace yourself for impact. The concrete road had multiple cracks, uneven levels and massive pot holes that as much as I tried I couldn’t avoid. Worst were the ones that I didn’t see until it was too late and hit so hard my teeth clinched. Driving around suburban Detroit was even worse. My GPS had sent me up Mound Road onto Metropolitan Parkway and both of those roads are absolute SHIT! Its such a shame that Chrysler, GM and Ford all have plants or offices and numerous suppliers in that general area and neither one of them give two fucks about the condition of the roads they drive on. Why bother with proving grounds when you can send cars around the neighborhood and destroy the shit out of them? I was so grossly disappointed and upset with this situation I can’t express it in words. Clearly some work is being done. The construction along Van Dyke / Michigan Rt 53 has improved that road tremendously, but it doesn’t matter when 90% of the roads are great, that last 10% that does damage to your car leaves a big impression. I have to say I’ll never drive my Miata to Michigan again, that state is best experienced in a rental car where you don’t really care what condition you leave the vehicle in when  you return it.

And yet on this trip I managed to spot a few MX-5 Miata’s around. Most notably a marshal friend of mine from Ontario with her NC3 PRHT:

mazda mx-5 miata road trip new jersey to michigan 3

mazda mx-5 miata road trip new jersey to michigan 4

That car is a beaut. And knowing how roads are in Ontario from my visit to Mosport earlier in the month I’d say she’s very lucky living on the other side of the Detroit River.

While I was on the hunt for the Fiata I burned a full tank of gas driving around (very much pointlessly as my search didn’t amount to much in the end). But I was successful at spotting one so at least it wasn’t a total failure.

fiata fiat 124 spider at aburn hills michigan fca hq 3

On the same Fiata trip I did a foodie tour of the D… and while I’m not the biggest fan of hot dogs, I did like the idea of checking out what is considered popular in Detroit… they call them coney islands there.

detroit foodie tour coney island hot dogs with chili 10 american lafayette

I drove the entire length of the famous Woodward Avenue from Pontiac to Downtown and then back, eating coney’s along the way.

I even went to the FIAT dealership to see maybe I’d spy a Fiata there, but except for the one I saw leaving FCA, Auburn Hills I had no luck.

detroit grand prix paddock walk belle isle 28

A visit to the GM Renaissance Center was about the coolest thing I did while in Detroit. That and a visit to the Detroit Historical Museum on Woodward which was really neat!

detroit grand prix paddock walk belle isle 23 belle isle park detroit

Of course the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix was a blast this year!

mazda mx-5 miata road trip new jersey to michigan 2

Luckily, and thank GOD for that, I didn’t experience any troubles along the way there or back. No blowouts like I was afraid of, no bubbles in the tires, etc. My plan now that I’m back in NJ is to rotate the tires and have a better inspection of the wheels in general and various suspension components, brakes, etc. This trip was a hell of a workout for the car and I’m hoping not too damaging. I’ll also check the oil now that I’m at 5,000 miles to see how Pennzoil Platinum compares to Mobil 1. If it’s dark I’ll replace it and if not, I’ll use it for a few more thousand miles.

Looking forward to the next road trip!

 

Thank You Trevor Alexander Hermance for the VIP Treatment at Palmer Motorsports Park

First and foremost a huge thanks to my friend Trevor Alexander Hermance for making my first trip to Palmer Motorsports Park a really enjoyable and memorable experience. An equally huge thanks to Jessie Lynne Honigs too because without her facebook post looking for help, I wouldn’t have decided to go up to New England last minute on short notice, but I’m sure she knows exactly how much I appreciate her already! Trevor was kind enough to provide me with a warm and comfortable place to stay so I didn’t have to deal with the misery of camping in pretty crappy weather, and for that I’m always extremely thankful!

I’ll take this opportunity to debrief this trip… my first time marshaling at Whiskey Hill Raceway for the New England Region SCCA season kickoff club races.

The Road Trip started with a Foodie Tour of Connecticut, but instead of seeking out something new and unique I haven’t tried before I knew exactly what I wanted to sample on this visit: steamed cheeseburgers! I knew the place I wanted to visit, and from memory it should have been right on my way. So once I hit some traffic while driving up on Thursday afternoon I punched the name into my GPS: Ted’s Steamed Cheeseburgers Restaurant, and it came up just about 20 miles up the Interstate. I got off the highway and within a mile I was there… except this was not the location I visited last year on my way to Thompson Speedway… not the original. It was one of their new chain stores, a much bigger restaurant size-wise, and one much closer to the highway, which was very convenient. I sat down to eat, to wait out the traffic, and ordered a few more burgers to-go so that I could have them for lunch the next two days (GREAT IDEA, actually! They were delicious, and very filling).

ted's in cromwell connecticut new england foodie tour mx-5 miata 1

ted's in cromwell connecticut new england foodie tour mx-5 miata 2

ted's in cromwell connecticut new england foodie tour mx-5 miata 3

Everything Cheeseburger with a Raspberry Peach Milk Shake. Yum!

Upon arrival at the Whiskey Hill Raceway at Palmer Motorsports Park I went ahead and registered, set myself up at Trevor’s house and joined Jessie and other flaggers for a very nice dinner celebrating Cinco de Mayo at a local Mexican place called Mexicali in Ware, Massachusetts. For someone that doesn’t drink I found the margaritas especially appetizing, they went well with my burrito.

The following morning we all showed up at the mustering tent bright and early, having driven a whole of maybe a quarter mile from the house to the track. NER SCCA region showed their appreciation by handing me two TIP’s, or Track Incentive Plan Reward Coupons which are redeemable for gas cards… Great! I like a trip that doesn’t cost me too much out of pocket, this trip paid for itself.

palmer motorsports park whiskey hill raceway ner scca 13

palmer motorsports park whiskey hill raceway ner scca 17 shell gas card

I was assigned to Turn 3 with a very experienced flagger and our day flew by pretty quickly. Though there were no incidents we had plenty of opportunities to wave the blue flag, which is always nice. The incidents we did have we couldn’t really see because they happened right in front of Station 4, which was not within our line of sight, and that station didn’t advise us to help with Yellows. I could just barely see a car spinning up the hill, but then rocks would block the outcome, we couldn’t tell whether it had spun or continued.

palmer motorsports park whiskey hill raceway ner scca 11 turn 3

Though lately I think my new favorite flag is the Yellow, and I got to wave it quite a lot the next day while stationed at Turn 1. Nothing major happened, but I had some dramatic spins in a number of racing groups, with a bunch of cars stopping smack in the middle of the track and the whole field going around them smoothly. My Yellow was out quickly and everyone obeyed it. It was beautiful!

palmer motorsports park whiskey hill raceway ner scca

From turn 1 I could also see Turn 2, and Turn 3, and Turn 4, and Turn 5, and further up to Turn 5A, and then Turn 9, and down to the Start stand. This was not the case the day before at Turn 3, we couldn’t have a visual sight of the station before or the station after us, and flagging while blind isn’t fun. I hope Palmer Motorsports Park does something more about visibility from station to station. I think the most fixable solution is simply adding more stations even if relay stations (which means more people to staff) in order to have full visibility around the track.

palmer motorsports park whiskey hill raceway ner scca 16

The weather was a bit soggy both days but since I was prepared with wet weather gear it didn’t affect me too much. The temps were a bit chilly but we were up on a mound, so it was to be expected. I find it fascinating how two months ago the trees were blooming in Texas when I went there for PWC, a few weeks later trees started blooming on my drive down to Florida for St. Pete GP, and a month later at Palmer trees are just about ready to start blooming. Funny how mother nature works. Speaking of mother nature, none of the Palmer stations were equipped with porta-johns, which I hope they do soon enough. It’s not particularly comfortable working without a bathroom available nearby.

The fields of cars were impressive for me, especially since majority of them had a Mazda badge on them… even more impressive most of those Mazda badged cars were Miatas. Primarily NA’s and NB’s but one single ND  was my favorite car. I was hoping to spy another NC in the paddock so I could go up to the owner and ask to see what the proper oil level on the dipstick should look like (you know ask a professional racer) but there wasn’t one to be found. Oh well…

palmer motorsports park whiskey hill raceway ner scca 9

I was really happy to get some Mazdaspeed swag, especially something I don’t already own to add to my collection.

palmer motorsports park whiskey hill raceway ner scca 10 mazdaspeed lanyard

palmer motorsports park whiskey hill raceway ner scca 15 driving the track

Even more impressive was the fact they let us run our personal vehicles around the track at the end of the first day with the rain coming down pretty heavily in spots. I was too excited to go fast, but it was a blast nonetheless. The track looks super wide but judging by all the spins the club racers had I didn’t want to end up in the gravel myself or worse – in the barrier. After two laps I was done, & happy!

We were all exhausted enough after the long, cold and wet day; and it was especially refreshing to go back to the warm house, pop open a Lime-a-Rita with Jessie and BS about our day, sharing stories with the other flaggers that joined us at the house. I was made to feel especially welcome and the VIP treatment certainly is appreciated! Before going to sleep I got to check out Trevor’s/Palmer Motorsports  Park’s little literature collection which was layed out on the table in my room… the book about Mazda 787B especially caught my attention:

ner scca at palmer motorsports park 1

Never stop challenging!!!

The trip ended the same way it started. I made it a point to stop at Ted’s on my drive home. This time I had the Southwest burger which had bacon, shrooms and onions along with a unique sauce on it which was delicious. I went ahead and ordered a few more cheeseburgers to take home, and my father was happy to wolf one down as soon as I got home.

ted's in cromwell connecticut new england foodie tour mx-5 miata 4

ted's in cromwell connecticut new england foodie tour mx-5 miata 5

What a great trip!

I’m so looking forward to the next one.

Three Week Foodie Tour of the South, with some Racing Sprinkled In

Over the past three weeks I’ve got a chance to sample some amazing foodie experiences around the southern part of the country while marshaling various events in Texas, California and Alabama. My goal is to share my opinions on the places I liked and others that didn’t really do it for me anymore, while promoting the idea that there’s so much more to do when traveling for Motorsport events than just being stuck at the circuit all the time.

foodie tour long beach california in-n-out burger and fries animal style

I’ll start with my visits to the In-n-Out burger joint. It is a fast food place and as such not exactly a culinary phenomenon, but we don’t have it in New Jersey and everyone rants and raves about them on the west coast, and specifically in California so I had to have it. Was it as good as everyone claims it to be? Not particularly. I think I’m In-n-Outed already. The burgers are fantastic, for sure. But I think the fries killed the experience for me. There was an In-n-Out in Austin, Texas my host and I went to during the MotoGP before trying one in Huntington Beach, California during the Long Beach Grand Prix and the problem is the same: french fries go cold quickly making them taste like paper… especially when you get them done animal style, the cheese just puts a hard layer over the thin cut fries ruining the taste of the potato (I’m assuming that’s what they’re made of). That said, next time I’m in Cali I’ll probably have one again, minus the fry.

Another chain that really didn’t do it for me was Shrimp Basket in Irondale, Alabama. I like the idea of seafood to mix things up but this joint didn’t really live up to my expectations and I left disappointed. The food was mediocre, small portions and overpriced.

foodie tour alabama grand prix irondale shrimp basket

Similarly, I was very disappointed in Boomerang’s food truck at COTA, the Aussie flag peeked my interest as I absolutely love to have meat pies whenever I travel to Australia. But this place ruined it for me. The pie was basically a miniature pot pie which is nothing like the proper Aussie/Kiwi pies, and at $10 a pop they’re grossly overpriced, considering real OZ pies go for $2-4 bux.

foodie tour austin texas cota motogp boomerangs 1

foodie tour austin texas cota motogp boomerangs 2

I had to have one when I saw the truck, but I’m sorry I did.

foodie tour austin texas cota motogp boomerangs 3

Now to the foodie experiences that I seriously enjoyed…

Meches Tacos is an excellent taqueria less then a minute away from COTA that serves amazing breakfast tacos…. simple yet excellent! So good in fact I ate them before I realized I should take a picture. Look for it on FM 812 in Del Valle, TX just past the track entrance when traveling from Austin.

Unlike my last trip to Austin for PWC in March where I focused primarily on BBQ joints for dinner, this time around Tex-Mex was the name of the game, and the highlight of my visit was a trip to Baby Acapulco’s. I was feeling pretty exhausted and a bit under the weather so I ordered Baby A’s tortilla soup to help self medicate, and that stuff was pretty awesome. Again, was too hungry to take a picture but I did snap a shot of a similar lunch at Pappasito’s Cantina at Dallas Airport on my flight home…. another excellent choice for quick and good meal when traveling to Texas.

foodie tour motogp at cota texas papasito's cantina

I enjoy visiting Pappas restaurants in Texas ever since a friend of mine took me out to the Pappas Steakhouse in Houston. Now whenever I’m in Texas I try to visit one of the establishments depending what I’m in the mood for… Tex-Mex at Pappasito’s or seafood at Pappadeaux.

Some chains of course are better than others. We went to a bunch of bad ones in Southern California which was surprising considering how saturated the market is there with good authentic Mexican food. But we also went to some really great places. One was a hole in a wall bar serving simple sandwiches on rye bread called Joe Jost’s. I ordered the hot dog which was actually Polish kielbasa and a liverwurst pate style thing on rye. This place was a few minutes drive from the temporary circuit downtown and full of people when we went. Funny enough all the drinks were served in margarita style glass, even beer.

foodie tour long beach california bar food

Next awesome stop was actually adjacent to my flag point. After two days of eating the same exact sandwich provided by Cal Club I couldn’t stand the idea of having the same thing on Race Day so we climbed the fence and went to Islands fine burgers and drinks. The root beer float I got to start off my meal really hit the spot on a warm and sunny day. But the highlight of the meal was my bacon avocado burger and those excellent fries. It was very delicious!

foodie tour long beach california islands root beer float

foodie tour long beach california islands burger

I felt like I needed a nap after that big  meal, and the uneventful IndyCar race that followed almost succeed putting me to sleep.

The final meal on the trip before flying out of town took delicious to the next level. I’m a sucker for Motorsport advertising, and when I saw a beautiful Dodge Viper racing in the Pirelli World Challenge series wrapped in Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles livery I had to see what the fuzz was all about. After visiting the Mazda HQ in Irvine I made my way to their Anaheim location to give it a go.

roscoe's fried chicken n waffles 1

Boy did that hit the spot. I requested the chicken breast with two giant waffles. The meal was so big this was one of those rare occasions where I didn’t finish it. I don’t normally leave food on the plate after I’m done eating, but this time I just had no place to put it, I was completely stuffed. And very satisfied. The freeflow of fruit punch and lemonade in a distinct two tone as pictured was a nice touch and something I hadn’t really seen before at a chain restaurant. Another good sign the place was packed for lunch!

roscoe's fried chicken n waffles 2 fruit punch and lemonade

Lucky for me, just a week later I had another Southern place to compare these friend chicken and waffles to. As I got an opportunity to stop by a real soul food place in downtown Atlanta on my layover heading home from Alabama. Glady’s Knight’s Chicken & Waffles wasn’t a planned visit, but since I was staying in a cheap motel just a block away and there weren’t too many other options in the area, I jumped on the opportunity to give it a try. Comparing the two I would vote for Roscoe’s as my more favorite, the chicken was juicier and the pancakes were more affordable. But the Hotlanta joint definitely had a better ambiance inside. And instead of the fruit punch and lemonade combo they had a sweet tea and lemonade instead… and after a week or so in the deep south, sweet tea became my go to drink every time!

foodie tour atlanta soul food fried chicken and waffles

foodie tour atlanta soul food sweet tea and lemonade

Now I’ll finish this write up with the really good stuff!

Alabama took me by complete surprise when I arrived there. It was nothing what I had expected. And while I always remind myself to travel with an open mind, arriving in Birminham blew my mind!

The foodie experiences were a major contributing factor to the mind-blown phenomena, and by sharing the pix below I’ll attempt to explain exactly why.

The first thing I learned about Southern Cuisine in Alabama is that they have a special sauce for their meals unique to the region. It’s called the Alabama white sauce and it’s best served on chicken or turkey although some friends that recommended it prefer it on pork too… So of course I went out hunting for this amazing white sauce.

And I found it at Saw’s soul food restaurant downtown.

foodie tour alabama grand prix birmingham saws sampler

My CouchSurfing host lives just about a mile down the road and was happy to show me this joint. She even recommended the sampler plate to try more of the things on the menu. She was completely right, everything was delicious and I really did enjoy the sauce.

foodie tour alabama grand prix birmingham saws juke joint sausage

A few days later my buddy Robert and I went to the other Saw’s location called Juke Joint, which had a different menu but equally delicious food. I ordered some amazing sausage and fried green tomatoes. I also ordered sweet tea fried chicken sandwich to go so I can have it as lunch at the track the next day. Both were fantastic options!

foodie tour alabama grand prix birmingham golden rule sampler

foodie tour alabama grand prix irondale bama white sauce

Speaking of taking food to the track, on Friday a whole group of Road Atlanta flaggers went to Golden Rule BBQ joint just a few miles from the track for a big dinner. There I got to sample some amazing sliced pork again served with the local white sauce which is vinegar and mayo based with pepper and other stuff added for flavor. I had so many leftovers there was no need to buy lunch the next day.  It was such an delicious experience I’m happy to say that out of all the Southern food I got to sample on the trips to Texas and California, Alabama wins hands down for having the best food!

I am so looking forward to my next Grand Prix Foodie adventure.

Mazda MX-5: Another 500+ mile Road Trip to WGI

This is post 3 in a series of about 5 posts from the 2015 IMSA 6hr endurance race at Watkins Glen International Upstate New York.

welcome to new york mazda mx-5 miata

What a difference another set of tires makes! Last time I did this trip to go to Watkins Glen for the NASCAR track services training I scuffed the hell out of my 17’s with the low profile tires. Since then I’ve been shopping around to get a set of 16’s with a bigger sidewall for a smoother ride as well as a 17″ RX-8 spare donut in case a tire blows out in the middle of nowhere in Pennsylvania or New York. watkins glen mazda miata mx-5 rsiMy shopping results were fruitful because I enjoyed a much more comfortable ride on the OEM 16’s I bought and luckily there wasn’t any blowouts. Very happy! Read about my last road trip to WGI here.

The trip up was just as uneventful as the way back, the difference being weather. It was nice and sunny on Wednesday when I left home. No particular rush to get to the track except I had to be at the registrar office by 4pm. To my surprise I had arrived there way earlier than expected even though there were several traffic spots on the interstate. I took the scenic route through Pennsylvania going along i80 to i380 to i81 in Scranton and then i86/rt 17 in Binghampton all the way to Horseheads/Elmira where I got off the highway and took the local way up to the track.

At the registration building I bumped into a familiar site, a TPC Porsche Cayman Spyder with Bikini Top I’ve definitely seen before. And a predictable photo shoot followed:

mazda mx-5 miata porsche cayman 1

porsche cayman spyder with bikini top tpc

porsche cayman spyder with bikini top

porsche cayman spyder with bikini tops

What happened at Watkins Glen I’ll cover in another series of posts.

miata at the glen for imsa 6 hour

On the way home, the drive was pretty relaxing (after the 6hr enduro). I got to use my newly installed intermittent windshield wiper switch quite extensively because the weather kept on changing along the way, and I hit plenty of rain of various severity. Got to see some nice cars leaving the track, like this Porsche 911 GT3 with Georgia manufacturer plates:

mazda mx-5 miata porsche 911 gt3

And of course there was an obligatory stop at Sheetz just outside of Scranton, PA… it’s like a tradition for me now to stop there whenever I’m in Pennsylvania. Picked up a 3 pack of burger sliders, and some chicken nuggets for dinner, and continued on my way stuffing my face while driving.

mazda mx-5 miata at sheetz gas station in pennsylvania

It was a really awesome road trip, and I’m looking forward to the next one in August for NASCAR at Watkins Glen.

 

Fuel mileage:

18.79 gallons used, 607 total miles done = 32 MPG mostly highway but plenty of slow driving from campground to the track in 1st and 2nd gear (making it mixed city/highway driving). Total spent on fuel $56.27 making an average price per gallon just under $3… with the cheapest gas in NJ at $2.859 and the priciest gas in NY $3.179 for 93 octane premium fuel.

(Marshal) Podcast with Rob from SuperSpeeders (SuperSpeederRob)

I would like to do a Marshal Podcast.

I’ve expressed my interest before and I would really like to put the wheels in motion to do it for a few reasons. First, no one else is doing it and I think the marshaling community would benefit from having a podcast about the topic of volunteering in Motorsport. And second, I think it would help with recruiting Automotive and Motorsport enthusiasts to actually volunteer (as marshals), wherever they live.

I asked my buddy Rob from SuperSpeeders YouTube channel fame for some advice about starting a podcast and he invited me to check out how he does it with his SuperSpeeders podcast. Great!

To my surprise when I arrived at Rob’s day job at Gotham Dream Cars in Englewood, New Jersey, Rob invited me to jump onto the podcast and put my 2 cents into the topics he was discussion on his most recent episode, which is available for download on ShoutEngine.com:

http://shoutengine.com/SuperSpeeders/episode-9-fixing-the-broken-traffic-system-and-tra-8727

So what have I learned from Rob?

It’s not terribly difficult to do a podcast. It helps having good equipment to record the sessions in a quiet environment without much background noise. But to get the ball rolling we can easily get started with a free tool like Google hangouts.

The topics to cover are infinite. The time will fly without a doubt. And the more people that participate the more interesting the discussion would be.

Of course in our case, the idea is to bring a couple of people from the marshaling world and have them call in on Google chat from Australia, Brazil, Spain, Belgium, etc. And Rob advised me that issues may arise with buffering based on individual people’s internet connection, etc. So there is potential for bugs.

But the key is to go ahead and start doing it.

Listening back to the podcast Rob recorded I noticed that it takes some practice to answer questions more directly. Finding a way to compress the answer from multiple paragraphs into shorter and more meaningful sentences. I certainly didn’t do that when talking about my marshaling experience veering off into a million different tangents while trying to cover a few topics at once.

I’m looking forward to hearing other people’s feedback on what they thought about this podcast to see what we could use and what we could scrap from the #MarshalPodcast idea.

PS. on the way home I took the Palisades Interstate Parkway and while cruising along at 60mph other traffic was blowing past me like I was standing still… Rob isn’t the only one bitching about the artificially low speed limit. Quick Google search resulted in this Change.org petition from a few years ago that tried to deal with this issue: https://www.change.org/p/palisades-interstate-parkway-police-disband-palisades-interstate-park-police Hopefully there will be some changes in Policing in America in the near future to stop law enforcement departments from shaking down random citizens.

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!

Marshal Cam

I’m excited to report that the video version of this blog is up and running on Facebook and YouTube. The Marshal Cam channel with the Twitter keyword #MarshalCam is Live!

Initially I posted a video on my Facebook profile to encourage friends I’ve met volunteering around the world to contribute… here’s the video:

In addition I had made another video of exactly what I was looking to do, a sample:

And I was quite thrilled when a fellow marshal from the UK whom I worked the British GP together at Silverstone quickly send in her’s:

I also created a Facebook Fan Page here: Marshal Cam  www.facebook.com/MarshalCam and people are liking things so far, though a few more video submissions so I can create my big Marshal Cam mash-up would be great. Here’s the YouTube channel that you should Subscribe to: How to become a Marshal?   www.youtube.com/user/GrandPrixRoadTrip

So far a lot of people are asking “Why do this?” “What’s the purpose of this video?”

Why am I doing this? Because nobody else is. Not the FIA, FIM, ACO… IMSA… or any of the clubs are doing much on a local or grander scale. Sure some SCCA clubs have produced promo videos locally but it doesn’t quite encourage someone that may stumble upon it on YouTube or Facebook to say: “Hey, I’d like to try volunteering!” and it’s a shame…

So despite the often cynical criticism I seem to get, the goal is genuinely to promote the idea of volunteering in motorsport. I wish I knew I could volunteer about ten years ago when I first came out to Giants Stadium in the Meadwolands to watch SCCA SOLO racing. I thought marshals were paid and had highly coveted jobs. The reality is organizations struggle to get enough marshals to run events. Promoting us, what we do, openly on social media may encourage new participation. And we all win from that.

Now through #MarshalCam I don’t promote filming at motorsport events. That goes against the rules of most organizations including the FIA, F1, IMSA, and all the tracks get bent out of shape when people film without their permission while representing the track. So doing a video on web cam or smart phone from the comfort of your own home or office is innocent enough without breaking any rules or infringing copyrights.

I really hope the idea takes off… if just a little bit! At the very least we will show how diverse the marshals are from around the world, and how similar we are sharing the same hobby in racing!