Tag Archives: GTE

Rolex 24 hours at Daytona the debrief

Endurance racing is my favorite form of Motorsport. This year’s Rolex 24 had the potential to be very special because in the middle of last season one of my Canadian colleagues put me in touch with an IMSA official and a prospect of a real job (even if it was on a part-time basis) to work events that I really love as a race official. I had my fingers and toes crossed even as December rolled around but the job did not materialize… The 2018 season though seemed to be off to an exciting start with lots of “new” cars/teams/drivers joining the series, so I scrambled to book my flights and went as a volunteer instead.

For the race I got my pit lane assignment directly across from folks whose team I was hoping to join. But instead of doing something important with a real impact on the competition, I spent five days trackside spectating. It was excellent entertainment being so close until the race rolled around when it became pretty obvious that much of the previous year will repeat itself and Cadillacs will dominate. The excitement wore off.

The most interesting racing was in the GT Daytona field so I paid special attention to that battle. In prototypes the lead car was several laps ahead of second place at one point. And in GT Le Mans Fords ran away with pace Corvette couldn’t match, they too were several laps ahead. It was sad to watch the BMW M8’s be so uncompetitive. And the Porsche RSR team didn’t seem to have it’s kamikaze pilots from last year. Oh well!

At the end of the race records were broken, champions were crowned, and Rolex watches handed out as prizes. Who cares though? The predictability of the outcome made things boring. Hey, at least the weather was good!

Luckily, the 24h wasn’t the only race of the weekend. I feel like I got my money’s worth going on this trip from the two support series. The Ferrari Challenge folks put on a grand battle, and with 40+ cars on the grid it was awesome to see the series alive and well after seeing it’s sorry state in Connecticut last time I volunteered for it at Lime Rock.

Similarly Continental Tire Challenge rocked! I loved the battles there in all the classes. Nice to see TC R cars slide in so well into the grid, though a little sad not to see Miatas in ST class.

So in conclusion it was a good trip for a good clean race. A bit disapointing because of lack of excitement but I departed satisfied. And since I’m having trouble finding paid work, it’s likely this event will be one of my last times volunteering until I get the means to afford it again in the future. Too bad I wasn’t good enough to be hired by the series so I could continue doing what I really like to do, but such is life…

Lone Star Le Mans 2016 WEC & IMSA at COTA debrief

This weekend’s Lone Star Le Mans was outstanding!

My third trip to COTA this year and one of the best experiences yet following PWC in the spring and MotoGP in the summer. Ironically the September trip was the hottest temperature wise, but I’m super happy it didn’t rain at all on this trip.

For this event I got teased with my station assignments a little bit. I got the awesome Alpha station for the first day on Thursday which got me very excited but then Station 4 in the Esses brought the mood down a bit on Friday and Saturday because I could not make a much desired trip to pit lane from across the track, even though technically it was pretty close distance wise (if only we could cross the track). I wasn’t too thrilled with Station 4 until I got to do a whole bunch of Blue flag there and cars started bouncing off the curbs and orange turtles which send them flying off the racing line. During the WEC race one of the Ford GT’s got punted into our gravel trap so we got all sorts of action and my view of Turn 4 changed dramatically. I’m very thankful I got a chance to work this station now.

To get to the event I booked a cheapo flight to Dallas. This time on Southwest into Dallas Love Field, my first time flying there, and for $39 one way, a pretty reasonable way to do it. The flight home was a bit more expensive but the costs were offset by my buddy offering to drive me from Dallas to Austin and back. We had a few nice dinners together sampling some of Austin’s finest BBQ joints and some delicious Tex Mex too with a big bowl of Margarita’s.

Next year apparently IMSA and WEC will run COTA on separate weekends which sucks, but it is what it is. There has been an announcement that Creventic will run a 24 hour race in November which I’m really looking forward to participate in, so hopefully things will pan out nicely.

I love Texas and can’t wait to come back again and again.

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The highlight of the COTA experience this year was my finally test driving the new Mazda MX-5 Miata ND model on an autocross circuit. The car didn’t feel much different from my NC miata, and if anything more sluggish but that could have been the result of 95+F temps and the thick humidity. I enjoyed the experience, although it’s a bit of a shame the Petty Driving Experience dude that went on the ride with me didn’t let me do another lap… no other people were waiting in line, we were having a good chat about my previous Petty Experiences with the SRT model like from Chrysler, but after the five minute ride around he told me to park it and that was that. Maybe I’ll get another opportunity at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca next month. Or elsewhere for that matter.

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See you next time Austin!

Petit Le Mans – ALMS season finale @ Road Atlanta

I faced a real dilemma deciding whether to jump on the opportunity to go to Korea for the F1 GP. Fortunately after quickly checking flights for the return trip, I realized I could have my cake and eat it too… You see I had already made plans to go to Road Atlanta for the 15th annual Petit Le Mans, the deciding race of the American Le Mans series. Going to Korea meant that I would miss a big chunk of that racing, luckily thanks to good availability with American Airlines AAdvantage, I was able to arrive just in time for ALMS practice.

Besides the flights, my major concern was cost of rental car and accommodation. Luckily Sixt came through big time. While all other car rental companies, including Sixt, were showing rates in the $30 a day range, there was a promo at Sixt for $19.99 Chevy Cruze in select cities, including Atlanta airport. Luck like this doesn’t happen to me often, I jumped on the deal saving a significant chunk of money. Similarly, CouchSurfing came through as I found a host in Gainsville, Georgia just twelve miles away from the track.

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The racing itself was spectacular. In addition to the usual suspects, a number of teams came from Europe bringing with them beautiful prototypes I haven’t seen in action before. Several teams from France, UK, Ireland and Switzerland were represented, including a gorgeous Lotus prototype that set the pole and won the race, giving the Muscle Milk #6 a good run for the money (had it not been crashed out by the #34 Green Hornet Porsche, it would have probably won though… the same Green Hornet that smashed the #0 Deltawing making it rollover in free practice).

The most interesting part about Petit Le Mans was the fact that it was an endurance race. My previous longest race was a Six Hour at the Glen for Grand Am series, Petit Le Mans was 10 hours or 1,000 miles, going well into the night where the only lights on the circuit often enough were those from the cars. It was super cool blue flagging the race in the dark, trying to make out the prototypes vs. GT’s and keeping track who’s in the lead. But I quickly got the hang of it, which surprised even myself.

I had a really wonderful time meeting a lot of new people from the Atlanta Region, many employees of Road Atlanta with lots of experience working for Panoz whom recently sold the ALMS series to Grand Am/NASCAR. It was quite interesting to chat with them on what the future of sports car racing in US has in store. I’m looking forward to go back to this track for sure, after driving around a few times it really is amazing, the elevation changes rival those of Mosport in Canada .