While I was away flagging Long Beach Grand Prix in California a Spanish language article popped up on the internet featuring my exploits around the world along with a translated version of the interview by my buddy Julio Castrejón who runs the Motorsport portal 100×100 Racing. Things got fairly busy and I almost forgot to share the news of this article on my blog, but here it is. I’m very much thrilled and excited to see the article! I am very fortunate to have Julio as a friend and a colleague, particularly one I look up to having worked with him for several 24h of Le Mans races. I’m humbled to get the recognition but at the same time very proud to support the idea of marshal interviews to encourage Motorsport enthusiasts around the world to take the next step and become Motorsport volunteers and try their hand at Motorsport marshaling!
IF the name Julio Castrejón sounds familiar, it should be, he’s contributed to this blog with a bunch of articles in both English and Spanish a few years ago. He was also a very devoted supporter of my MarshalCam.com #MarshalCam project with several videos that we shot together at Le Mans 24 hours in France (both in English and Spanish). Julio is also fluent in French (and probably a bunch of other languages). He’s been a very involved figure in European Motorsports with marshaling being just a small part of his duties. He’s quite an impressive person and I’m incredibly jealous of him, especially his latest job working the Dakar Rally in Latin America.
Go check out the article and be sure to follow 100×100 Racing on all of their social media pages.
Andy Blackmore has made the 2015 Le Mans 24h spotter guide available for download well ahead of the event for those of you attending, watching remotely or marshaling the event to get familiarized with.
Andy’s spotter guides are my absolutely favorite, and even though I won’t be attending the event, I can’t help but recommend others to check out his work for themselves:
The level of detail is outstanding as usual, and here’s the breakdown what all that information means:
I don’t think one could truly substitute a race of Le Mans 24h magnitude. But one could certainly try.
Last year I wrote about trying to make a decision as to which European Endurance race I should marshal (click here: Which European endurance race do I pick?) I’m proud to say that the 24h of Nurburgring has materialized and 24h of Spa is within reach just over a month away. But Le Mans 24h, the race that Patrick Dempsey in a recent Jalopnik interview called the best endurance race in the world, has gotten away.
But I won’t despair. I’ve picked a few alternative races with the words: “Le Mans” in their titles a little closer to home. Among them are the Lone Star Le Mans at COTA in Texas and Petit Le Mans in Georgia at Road Atlanta. I also signed up for the Sahlen’s Six Hour at the Glen which is obviously at Watkins Glen in Upstate New York.
I have worked all of the races before and unlike the original classic in France where we work in shifts with plenty of downtime, I expect to work the entirety of each of the races for all of these events, cumulatively totaling more than the 24 hours of flat out racing. This is pretty exciting. There will be 6 hours of World Endurance Championship (WEC) at COTA supported by about 3 hours of IMSA Tudor United SportsCar Championship (TUSC), and 10 hours for the season finale IMSA TUSC at Road Atlanta. As well as 6 hours of IMSA TUSC at Watkins Glen International. 6+2:45+10+6=24h 45mins.
What do I expect to see at each of the races?
WEC on US soil is always a great sight. I hope the Nissan Nismo GT-R LMP1 car makes an appearance at COTA after it’s debut at Le Mans France. I also hope that Ford brings the latest Ford GT race car to Texas after it’s debut in France. I’m sure the fields of cars will be far smaller in the US as they will be in France, but whatever shows up will be a welcome sight.
What will I miss at Le Mans?
The Aston Martin historics race featuring GT1, GT2, GT3 and GT4 race cars of various vintage that have raced before at Le Mans and apparently some of the Nurburgring 24h specials.
McLaren is also celebrating it’s 25th anniversary and there was talk of McLaren race car parade featuring some rare gems from their illustrious racing history. I wish I could have seen that.
But for the price of doing one event I get to do three, and that makes me quite happy. I have now organized the conclusion to my racing season this year, and I’m proud of what events I have added to my resume as a marshal. The planning for 2016 season is well underway and I’m hoping that both Dubai 24h and Bathurst 12h materialize.
You don’t choose to work Le Mans… Le Mans chooses you!
OK, enough. It is important to know that changes are coming to the way marshals are assigned to the various posts around the track, primarily the way the marshal posts are set up around the track. Apparently, gone are the days of crossing the track just to get to your station. Starting this year, the posts will be set up in such a way that would allow marshals to take their positions without crossing the hot track during the 24 hour race (an activity that was particularly exciting, especially at poste 106 bis where I was stationed because of the way the track crossings were executed, especially at night). That said, my old post #106 (or 10.6 km from Start line) is no more, it’s now Sector 28 to be controlled by one post chief on Driver’s Left and another on Driver’s Right.
So no more hot track crossing unless there is an incident.
In addition to that, there will be less response to incidents. The marshals will be primarily concerned with flagging an incident while rescue crews in vehicles will respond to them. This is again a bit of a departure from the way things were done, and more closely resembles what happens at the Tudor United SportsCar Series races in the US, and to some degree what has been done at the Nurburgring 24h event for ages. Hot pulls. Rescue truck response, etc. Is this a good thing? I don’t know. It took me by complete surprise for example when I responded to my first big Le Mans crash in 2012 along with my American partner. We pushed one car out back on track, but the second one was too mangled to continue. Both I and my partner were convinced that vehicle intervention would be needed as we were powerless to push the car to safety. But we were wrong. As our colleagues watching the race on TV in the marshal campground during their time off started rushing to our aid, soon there was no place for me to put my hands to help push the car. But push the car they did, for a good 100 meters to a cutout in the fence, where the vehicle remained until the end of the race. That was amazing! But apparently that is no more.
The ACO sent out a detailed description of the changes and the new station assignments that I won’t be sharing in this post. But for whomever is interested in the event I urge you to sign up now! Especially with the front engined and front wheel drive Nissan GT-R LMP1 car making it’s debut, and the 25th anniversary of McLaren taking to the track during the exhibition activities, 2015 would be an excellent year to participate. Sadly I won’t be there, but you have fun!
It’s never too early to start planning events for next year, and even though there are a few major events still left for me to do this year, I’m contemplating the plan of action for the future.
I’m having a really hard time deciding which weekend in Europe to choose, the options are: Nurburgring 24h, Le Mans 24h and Spa 24h. Each event is a month apart with N24h taking place in the middle of May, LM24h in the middle of June and Spa 24h at the end of July. All three events are in the heart of European summer and travel to Europe will be quite pricey. But having done Le Mans a few times, Nurburgring for the first time and visiting Spa in transit, I’d love to volunteer all three events. Which one would you choose?
The way things are going now, I’m fairly sure that whatever event I choose for next year will be the highlight of the year for me. I will explain why. Marshaling in the US has deteriorated into pathetic and depressing experience. There is still no training, and little desire from the powers that be to implement universal training for everyone to work well together, regardless of what each participant’s personal experience is. We bicker and argue over the way things should be done with no meaningful outcome resulting from those heated discussions. No one is focused on a common goal of bettering the role of marshaling for the masses. Instead people push their own agendas. It is laughable that some idiot decided to pursue the issue of COTA issued blue nomex suits as being a problem. Whether fit, comfort or color, whatever the hell the problem was it didn’t particularly please a moron that reached out to COTA and now we must bring our own whites to the event. While this may make sense for some locals it is terribly inconvenient for those of us traveling having to lug more baggage. But it is also an issue of looking professional at the track. With a track issued overall everyone looks the same and therefore professional. By bringing your own whites, the marshaling body will resemble a group of amateurs sporting 50+ shades of white, some wearing jeans and t-shirts while others may throw some orange into the mix and it will really look like COTA scraped the bottom of the barrel just to man the staff for the event. Totally uncool!
While I am bottling that frustration before heading out to the actual event, I’m curious to see what people think I should do next year. I would love to do Le Mans again, but Spa seems like an equally amazing venue that I haven’t experienced yet. And Nurburgring actually pays marshals for participation so that could significantly offset my travel costs.
Huge… absolutely massive thanks to my good buddy Julio, the Spanish marshal at Le Mans, who very generously snapped a few awesome shots while we were acting as spectators at Le Mans 2014. I had the pleasure of working on the Spanish team again at poste 106 and these guys treated me absolutely and genuinely well.
I would love an opportunity to work with Julio and his friends again and again whether at Le Mans or Spa 24h in the future.
But without any further ado, here are the pix:
As you can see in the photos this year was definitely the year of the Porsche. So many classics on display. So many amazing cars I only wished I saw in action when they were racing similar Mercedes and BMW prototypes. We even got a private tour of the Porsche garage as a few of Julios mates work as engineers for the team. Fantastic experience for sure! Thanks again Julio….
Greetings from the 82nd running of the 24 hours of Le Mans at the Circuit de la Sarthe in the beautiful French countryside two hours drive from Paris.
I mention Paris because we spent a beautiful two hour drive stuck in rush hour traffic trying to get out of the city on our way from Brussels with Pol. My Beligan friend that I met a year earlier at Le Mans was kind enough to offer me a ride from the airport and it was quite an adventure driving down. The trip normally takes about as much as I spent driving from New Jersey to Watkins Glen, just to put things in perspective. So all things considered Europeans are very lucky when it comes to motorsport with all the close proximity of amazing race tracks. Besides Le Mans we also visited Spa-Francochamps, Zolder and the Nordschleife at Nurburgring in Germany, but I will leave that for a follow up story.
This year Le Mans was amazing. Partly because I was much better prepared for it than the previous year. Partly also because I had managed my expectations and things went very smoothly and according to plan. The camping was great, the company was amazing, and we were very lucky again with several incidents taking place at our corner, including the Nissan ZEOD coming to a hault by us giving an opportunity to push something trackside.
One of my favorite moments however was getting some outstanding interviews done for Marshal Cam, where to my surprise quite a few people were willing to participate. And my Marshal Cam patches were quite a hit, so I’ll be sure to do that again in the future.
All in all fantastic trip, and the first stop on my European Road Trip that also included the 24 hours of Nurburgring.
The rebirth of a tradition: group photo. See if you can spot me?
It will definitely take more than one post to describe the most amazing trip I have taken to volunteer in recent memory, but I must start the story somewhere… so this is a very high level overview, a teaser if you will, of what happened. And why I would recommend the trip to anyone even remotely interested in motorsports and especially those marshaling!
This summer I was on a trip of a lifetime… an Endurance Marathon that involved the most famous races in the world, the most well known circuits and some of the most challenging sports car series out there. I am of course talking about the Le Mans 24 hours which is by far the biggest race in the world, period. The Nurburgring 24 hours which is perhaps the most famous racetrack in the world that is Nordschelife. And the Six hours at the Glen which proved to be one of the best experiences I had with the Tudor United SportsCar series though one that proved that the Balance of Performance is still out of whack but is getting better with every race, and endurance racing is alive and well in America.
I have also had a chance to visit a new country on my Euro Trip: Belgium and the fantastic cities of Brussels and Bruge. In fact the Road Trip took me through four countries: Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands; Four circuits including Circuit de la Sarthe, the Nordschleife, Nurburgring, and Spa-Francochamps and Zolder in Belgium as a tourist. I flagged the entirety of the six hour race at Watkins Glen followed by a six hour drive home which was awesome. It’s always a pleasure visiting the Seneca Lake region of Upstate New York especially when the home in New Jersey gets unbearably hot.
All in all the last three weeks of my life went by perfectly. I took a lot of pictures that I will be sharing with the readers. Quite a few videos which will undoubtedly get me in trouble. And interviewed some very experienced marshals that I will share with the world of racing enthusiasts on my Marshal Cam facebook page to recruit new volunteers. The three chapters of this story will be published shortly.