Greetings from Lime Rock!
Here’s some pix taken over the two day Northeast Grand Prix event:
As is usually the case, I started writing several looooong paragraphs took a deep breath and deleted them because many things I said there would get me in trouble. So instead I’ll just tone it down to this: I had a generally great experience this Independence Day/Fourth of July Weekend at Watkins Glen.
The Sahlen’s Six Hours at the Glen proved to be everything I expected it to be and then some. The weather could have put a damper (? not sure if that’s the right word here) on things but it didn’t. Tent stayed relatively dry. Racing was relatively good. And people I was hanging out with were super friendly. I would say I got the VIP treatment from RSI but that would imply that they somehow treated me better than they treat others, which isn’t accurate. I’m genuinely satisfied with the way everyone behaves at RSI that I come in contact with and for me that’s a huge plus, I appreciate the positive vibes and positive attitudes.
We did have a few massive smash ups that I personally got a chance to respond to. A driver left in a Medevac unit which nobody ever wants to see, several others ended up in the hospital also, and the race was red flagged. It was an incredible experience and one I will definitely learn from.
There were moments I really liked. Like all the star and stripe and patriotic liveries many cars were wearing. Some things I didn’t like… the weather – mainly. But also the performance of the Mazda prototype team which keeps playing this underdog role that they really don’t deserve anymore. It was nice to see one of the cars end up on the podium, but that happened only because so many cars didn’t finish, including the other Mazda prototype. So that’s that.
Favorite little car that was an actual underdog was this yellow NC:
It still uses NC1 tail lights… just like my car.
Interestingly enough the #25 car had a smashup this weekend running it’s traditional Freedom Autosport livery, and suddenly it re-emerged wearing #25 under Murillo Racing orange livery. Wish I had snapped a photo of it. But my station was too far to the grid so I had to boogey down in order to make the start of the race.
Here’s the previously mentioned 4th of July liveries I did manage to get a snap of:
And here’s a few cool NC Miata’s I ran across in town at Watkins Glen and at the track:
There was a convoy of about five of various vintage Miata’s parading around Watkins Glen on Wednesday that I waved to while driving in the opposite direction, but I’m not sure what club they were from or what group it was that organized that cruise… it would have been nice to join them but I saw nothing about this event posted online.
Back to the track..
I got to flag from Station 3 on Thursday which is at the top of the Esses. Station 4 on Friday which is the next station after the bridge leading up to the Bus Stop… and Station 9A at the exit of the Boot on Saturday and Sunday.
The major smash up I experienced was Porsche GT3 Cup behaving very NASCAR-like… in fact I had worked an event for NASCAR when we had an identical full-track-blockage incident on the same station. This one however was far scarier. One of the Porsche’s completely lost it’s front end… wheels, suspension, frunk… everything!
On GTD qualifying I had a weird experience with the two Lexuses. They had back to back, identical incidents within seconds of each other, where one vehicle recovered the spin with damage and the other planted it into the guard rail causing a small engine fire.
So all in all it was a pretty active weekend. Lots to see. Lots to do.
I loved it!
Thank you Watkins Glen, and I hope to see you next year.
Greetings from the Independence Day Weekend at Watkins Glen… The Sahlen’s 6 hour at the Glen paddock filled up slowly. I arrived Wednesday afternoon, went for a wonder around the paddock and only saw some Porsche GT3 Cup, Lamborghini Super Trofeo Huracan’s and LMP3/Mazda Prototype Challenge cars unloaded. But as the weekend went on and more trailers moved in there was a lot to look at. Especially all those cars with patriotic wraps on them…
I hate camping, especially with the threat of severe weather, luckily my tent only took on a little bit of water.
This 911 put on quite a smoke show when I approached… got oil?
I love the fact they mixed the US and Canadian series for this weekend. It had some crazy side affects due to a crash that I got to witness on their Race 1 but still nice to see a 40 car field of GT3’s.
The weirdest thing for me with these pace cars was that a Porsche started the Platinum group during the GT3 race, but an Audi started the Gold group… couldn’t they source another 911 somewhere?
At least the Mazda started their Prototype Challenge races.
…and it’s a pretty RF model with Global MX-5 Cup wheels!
Anybody wanna buy a Norma LMP3?
My usual cruise to Jerlando’s in Montour Falls for some faux-Italian:
New sign: Welcome to Watkins Glen!
Top of the Esses selfie, day one working solo.
And as the paddock filled in, more IMSA stuff to check out:
Love that bucket of fries I got a chance to lunch on one of the days…
more to follow…
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!
One of the more exciting additions to the program at Sebring 12h this year was a brand new class: Mazda Prototype Challenge.
And as with many other IMSA race cars, the new series incorporates a little bit of the old with a lot of brand new. Mainly, IMSA took a “Meh!” series that was IMSA Lites and turned it into Mazda Prototype Challenge that features the same 2 liter 4 cyliner IMSA Lites open top L1’s (renamed MPC’s) in the lower class and the brand new Le Mans Prototype LMP3 machines with massive 5 liter V8’s (that are not powered by Mazda… technically Nissan engines, but not branded as such).
I think now it’s going to be an awesome addition to the support classes. I think IMSA did a dry run testing this idea last year running the little IMSA Lites alongside the Prototype Challenge PC cars from the IMSA WeatherTech series, obviously it worked well. It’s my understanding that the LMP3’s will replace PC cars next year.
I was lucky enough to be on break at the end of the MPC practice session to snap a few close ups:
and some more in the paddock:
and a few more before the grid was populated:
What was most impressive was how the little Mazda Lites were able to keep up with the LMP3 leaders. The Ligiers and the sole Norma ran best, while the Ginetta was a back marker. The ugly Riley ran OK but was mid-pack at best.
I’m excited about this series!
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.
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.
See you next time Austin!
Greetings from sunny Central Texas and the Lone Star Le Mans at the Circuit of the Americas. This time I’m volunteering F&C. Thursday at Station Alpha directly across from Pit Exit and the rest of the event at Turn 4 in the Esses.
Wonderful event, awesome experience and perfect weather (albeit a little HOT). Enjoy the pix:
The only WEC car I got a picture of as the team garages were closed during our paddock walk… boo hoo!
For the Kiwi’s:
Lots of Mazda stuff for me to enjoy:
Lots of new LMP3’s on display:
Probably the ugliest LMP3 on display from Riley:
Thanks to one of the HOPS crew, I got a chance to test drive the new ND Miata at the COTA Lot H… seemed pretty sluggish on acceleration, more so than my car… hmm!
Love the pre-race FIA inspection trackside…