Tag Archives: Indy

Alabama Grand Prix (IndyCar) the Debrief

I had an incredible time at this year’s Alabama Grand Prix.

Not really much to say other than everything about this trip has been awesome. Under the circumstances I had an absolutely awesome event! Getting sick before the trip put a little hindrance on the mood and well being, but that’s just how it goes.

Here’s some pictures from the weekend:

I was surprised to see IMSA trailers in the paddock. Then I realized that both Porsche GT3 Cup and the Mazda Prototype Challenge were participating. And since everything else was a spec series, including IndyCar’s with their identical Dallara bodies. The USF2000, the Mazda MX-5 Cup and the IndyLights. Only the Prototype Challenge offered some variety.

The Ginetta LMP3 didn’t make an appearance but there were more than one Norma’s (even if just on display).

So glad I came on Thursday during the promoter’s test day so I could snap these shots in the paddock. Otherwise there would have been no opportunities to visit pit lane/paddock during the rest of the event. We were in a perfect spot on Race Day to see the driver’s parade:

And that’s a wrap!

Would love to come back another year for another awesome experience at Barber Motorsports Park!

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg the debrief

What an amazing experience this year’s Firestone Grand Prix of Saint Petersburg was. I had a blast!

I signed up to volunteer as a pit & grid marshal and spend the entire event in pit lane near pit out. Occasionally during my off time I went to spectate at Turns 2 and Turn 10 as well as do a little bit of flagging from the amazing Turn 12. My favorite events of the race weekend were everything but IndyCar but since they were the big boys in town I did enjoy spectating their time on track. We didn’t have much to do during the IndyCar sessions because that series brings their own Pit people to work the event, so instead I took some pix…

So for this event the role I was assigned was more of an observer in nature than anything else. Having worked the Indy race at Pocono Raceway with Team Pocono, the paddock at Daytona for the 24 and as pit fire at VIR for IMSA, the pit lane observer role was familiar for me. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to do where I was stationed at pit out. It seems the St. Pete GP folks contracted the event “volunteers” – a separate group from CFR SCCA folks that I was part of, to do the crowd control duties. But I noticed the people were a bit timid and didn’t really stop anyone from crowding various pit boxes, or assisting much for teams bringing cars onto the pit lane from the paddock. The time went by slow because of the lack of duties, but there couldn’t be a better spot to watch what’s happening in pit lane other than maybe watching it on TV. I enjoyed the experience.

Post race we were right in the thick of things as the winning drivers walked past us towards the podium.

As we wrapped up and walked towards our worker shuttles I noticed this little Disney jem… a Mickey Mouse race car and boy do I think it looks sooooo much better than the massive billboards the actual Indy Cars have become. I’m not a big fan of the series. To me IndyCar feels a lot like the open wheel version of NASCAR where good drivers go to retire. And I’m sure the series could be improved greatly if it aspired to be more Formula 1 rather than NASCAR. Instead of one chassis supplier Dallara, there should be more variety. Optimize the wings and things for aero more than advertising space, and things would improve. Watching the crowds at this event though I can see they are not exactly struggling, so let them ride a wave of success and ignore my difference in taste of the outward appearances.

Besides the actual event, I am absolutely in love with St. Petersburg and the Gulf Coast of Florida in general. I would totally love to move to the Tampa Bay area, Clearwater, St. Pete Beach, or even Brandenton… it’s far more laid back than South Florida/Miami area and just as exotic. I’m sure there are tourism and motorsport based businesses I could make a living at. And check out some of the murals and street graffiti around downtown St. Pete, it’s simply uplifting… I want to live here!

One final highlight of the trip. I had booked a cheap motel about 10 miles north of the track. It had horrible reviews and I was cringing at the idea of staying there. After much thought I decided to change my plans and reach out to people on CouchSurfing to host me. The fella that accepted my request turned out to be awesome and I had an absolute blast staying there… just a few blocks from the track. Before heading back to Daytona after the race I offered to buy my host dinner for his troubles and he chose a really tasty option, burgers at Engine 9 downtown. It was a great experience!

… another Florida event is next on my calendar: Sebring 12 hour!

St. Pete GP Spotter Guides

I was really hoping to share a spotter guide from the Pirelli World Challenge Championship round #1 starting tomorrow but it doesn’t seem to be ready yet. So touche… but IndyCar, the headlining series of the St. Pete Grand Prix have released their spotter guide and it’s available for download here: http://www.gpstpete.com/ and here:  http://bit.ly/2mG1zqh

I’m not all that partial to IndyCar and part of the reason is the stale nature of the cars themselves… I don’t think the design changed much forever… neither have the paint jobs. Most of the teams have sported the same stickers for a few years now, so there’s that.

But since I am very interested in PWC, I’m just going to describe some of the stuff I’m really looking forward to seeing tomorrow in the paddock:

Panoz Avezzano GT is making a debut, and so is Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R which looks pretty mean from the pics I’ve seen so far.

The St. Pete GP round will only see GT, GTA and GTS cars race, which is some of the best sports cars out there (no Miatas though)

The variety from the entry list seems incredible, check it out:  http://files.world-challenge.com/events/2017-03-stpt/2017-PWC-STPT-EntryList.pdf

  • Mercedes-AMG GT3
  • Cadillac ATS-V.R
  • Audi R8 LMS
  • McLaren 650S
  • Acura NSX GT3
  • Ferrari 488 GT3
  • Porsche 911 GT3 R
  • Aston Martin Vantage GT3
  • Bentley Continental GT3
  • Ferrari Challenge Evo
  • SIN R1 GT4
  • Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR
  • Porsche 911 GT3 Cup
  • KTM X-bow GT4
  • Ginetta G55
  • Ford Mustang BOSS 302
  • Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R
  • Panoz Avezzano GT
  • McLaren 570S GT4

In all there are 45 entries, 13 GT cars, 10 GTA, 2 GT Cup, and 20 GTS! That’s going to be a hell of a street race.

Hope they release a spotter guide soon.

 

Post Card from IndyCar at Pocono Raceway, The Tricky Triangle

Greetings from Day 2 of IndyCar at the Pocono Raceway… on the Tricky Triangle. What Turn 4?

So this time I’m doing something different, while still volunteering for a Motorsport event, it’s not quite marshaling. But I’m in pit lane, there are race cars around me, I’m happy!

A few weeks ago I worked with a guy from Pennsylvania at Watkins Glen who invited me to come volunteer IndyCar at Pocono… What? I didn’t know we could do that… I thought marshals weren’t needed on ovals… err… triovals.

They are not, but volunteers are always needed. I filled out my application… got a typical cryptic response that made me wonder if I was in or out, and tickets for the event showed up in my mail box a few days before the race. Cool!

The role for this event was: “Customer Service” with Team Pocono. Some would call it a security role, but there were actual security at the event that were hired help and were getting paid for their service. We worked for free, and we were the only ones in pit lane, where you know… it’s actually dangerous.

Our role was to check wristbands and paper tickets of spectators and VIP’s that were roaming around pit lane during all sessions of the event. I didn’t think this was even possible because typically the pits are off limits to spectators at other events I volunteer at. IMSA and F1 have a special Pit Walk for the spectators which is a watered down experience that lasts for about an hour or so primarily designed for spectators to take some close up pictures of cars in pieces and maybe grab an autograph from their favorite driver. Here, the pit lane was open to anyone who was willing to spend the extra money for this pit pass, and it wasn’t that pricey.

In many ways this activity is where IndyCar is most similar to NASCAR rather than other series like IMSA or F1. The other similarity was running the oval which meant there wasn’t to be any racing as soon as the rain hit the forecast. That combined with a time-certain TV schedule meant that despite the scheduled race for today, the feature activity of the weekend, the actual race got moved to Monday because of the rain (even though as usual the morning was nice and sunny with some overcast)… This was the first time I’ve ever had a race postponed to the next day of the week.

The actual role of customer service was really neat. I got to interact with a bunch of spectators, several crew / team members of the pits I was responsible for, and got to see several drivers up close. The first day of my participation I was absolutely rubbish. There was a person smoking nearby who I missed completely, which was one of my responsibilities. People kept on sneaking up towards the pit wall every time I would turn my back, which wasn’t meant to happen. Someone walked in with a beer, which again was a big no no… Someone brought their young kids in, again this wasn’t good. But on the second day I got the hang of it.

As usual we were not allowed to take any pictures of the cars, but I snuck a few selfies in.

indycar at pocono raceway 1

Only British flags were flying on communication antennas in pit lane to commemorate the one year anniversary of Justin Wilson’s death which happened at this event last year sadly.

indycar at pocono raceway 5

First day I worked the “South” pits watching over Alexander Rossi and Tony Kanaan pits. While second day I got bumped to the North pits looking out for Marco Andretti and Takumo Sato. Second day we really had nothing to do. (because of the rain)

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indycar at pocono raceway 10

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I was most impressed with the whole registration process at Pocono. Things were well organized, people were knowledgeable and things went very smoothly. Camping was provided right on the inner course where I had driven once when I volunteered as F&C during an SCCA event.

indycar at pocono raceway 3

Chits for food were provided both days, and food was tasty!

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For the second day there was a car show with some interesting things on display like these Jaguars.

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For support event we had Vintage IndyCar organized by USAC.

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There were also lots of stock cars and dirt track cars on display very popular in Pennsylvania and among the crowd who were naturally mostly NASCAR fans. The whole weekend had a very low key feel to it, almost like a club event. Not too many people in attendance which made the event feel very open and drivers super accessible.

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The days on post were quite long and my feet were burning by the end. Luckily I had enough wet weather gear with me to stay dry when the skies opened up on Sunday.

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As a keepsake we got a pin for participation and a program. Which is more than we normally get while volunteering for F&C.

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All in all I had a hell of a time and even though I left the track when the rain started because I was not going to camp in the bog that the water created, I’m very much looking forward to the 98 mile drive back there on Monday to finish what I started/signed-up to do.

It was a fantastic experience to be sure!

Postcard from the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Greetings from the Sunshine State!

The very Sunshine City: St. Petersburg, Florida where I’m volunteering my first Grand Prix of St. Pete.

What a fantastic opportunity to flag another street course. I really missed the closeness of the action you get at city courses like this, and this trip didn’t disappoint. I was paired with an awesome partner who right off the bat offered to let me stay on blue flag for as much as I wanted to, so I was in the top mood for the entire weekend. We spent three and a half days trackside, first half being on Thursday working in the afternoon for the PWC test session (much reduced field from last week’s appearance at COTA), but it was a lot of fun!

For the duration of the rest of the weekend we were stationed at 9R which is a mirror station for Turn 9 located driver’s right half way between Turn 8 and 9. Lots of visibility of action at Turn 8, quite a few cars went into the run off, a bunch crashed into the tire wall, and a few brushed the wall as they passed by us. It kept us busy.

St. Pete is probably my favourite city in Florida right now edging out Ft. Lauderdale and even Miami Beach. I would love to move here.

Weather was great. Company was great. Racing was a bit amateur but also pretty great. No complaints from me.

Oh yeah, there were IndyCars on track too…

Some pix:

st pete grand prix turn 2 indycar pwc 1

First half day on track working Turn 2, which has the exit to pit lane right under our noses. With the track being so green we got pelted by sand and asphalt as the cars entered track and picked up all that debris towards us.

welcome to florida mazda mx-5 miata

For a moment I thought I may not make the opportunity to go trackside because my 7 hour trip from Columbia, South Carolina turned into an 8.5 hour ride. But luckily PWC was running behind schedule which was just fine by me.

st pete grand prix turn 9r indycar pwc 1

The view from 9R looking towards Turn 8.

st pete grand prix flag to flag photography dave green

Big thanks to Dave Green from CFR SCCA for this professional shot, check out his web site www.flagtoflagphotography.com

st pete grand prix paddock usf2000

The only opportunity we had to see some cars in the paddock was on the first half day when there was delay in getting marshals to stations, luckily we pulled in thru the support paddock where we saw a few of these USF2000 cars getting shuttled around.

st pete grand prix paddock pwc lotus 1

st pete grand prix paddock pwc lotus 2

Of course I was most interested in the PWC GT cars, and there were some beautiful models on display getting ready to start their session.

st pete grand prix paddock pwc audi tt 1

st pete grand prix paddock pwc maserati 1

st pete grand prix paddock pwc maserati 2

st pete grand prix paddock pwc roush mustang 1

st pete grand prix paddock mazda road to indy usf2000

The shuttle bus ride along the track gave me an opportunity to snap some shots. It looked pretty tight and challenging which resulted in some messy races over the weekend. But I’m a big fan of this setup.

st pete grand prix indycar pwc airport runway turn 1

Oh yeah, and the front straight is an actual airport runway… cool!

I’m surprised I haven’t done this event before, with the experience from this weekend I would love to come back again.

USAC Marshall Program: License Application to Flag Indianapolis Motor Speedway Events

Saw a friend share a link today on facebook: usacracing.redpodium.com/usac-marshall-program I know USAC: United Sates Auto Club… the Motorsport sanctioning body responsible for organizing marshals for Indianapolis Motor Speedway events. Great people… looking closer at the license application page… they’re using my picture from Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix from a few years back. How cool?

The licensing fee is also significantly cheaper than say SCCA, but granted there are very few events where marshals are needed at IMS, which like other famous oval tracks rely on paid spotters and the light system to signal cautions at the big events, like Indy 500.

Nevertheless, a very worthwhile experience being a member.

USAC indianapolis motor speedway marshall application 2016

So if you’re interested… do join!

Indianapolis: IndyCar & MotoGP Marshals Registration Open

As of this week, if you wish to volunteer as a marshal for a few inner track events at Indianapolis, the registration process is about to start. New this year is an additional IndyCar race, not the world famous Indy 500 going around the oval, but a shorter event using the same road course that Grand Am and IMSA TUSC series used.

Similarly, Indianapolis turns into a biker town when MotoGP comes around, and I would highly recommend taking advantage of the opportunity to marshal there. If you wish contact details for either of the events, by all means get in touch.

Keep in mind that Indianapolis events are run by United States Auto Club and there is a small registration fee that pays for your very fancy dinner the night before the events start. You will also get a nice Indianapolis Motor Speedway hat and a polo shirt, as well as possible other swag for participating. USAC provides marshal uniforms (the blue overalls) so you can travel light to the event. Do bring your own gloves, whistle, earplugs and comfortable shoes. Don’t forget your rain gear as Indy gets pretty stormy on occasion.

Here are some photos from some of the events I marshaled there:

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motogp indianapolis 1

motogp indianapolis