Tag Archives: Long Beach Grand Prix

My Least Favorite Moment from the Grand Prix of Long Beach: Drivers Ignoring Yellow Flags!

This year’s Grand Prix of Long Beach gave me the opportunity to see a lot of action at Turn 8. I got to flag some pretty massive impacts from several McLarens in the PWC race hitting the wall. Alexander Rossi in the #98 IndyCar was our first customer with a major whammy into the concrete barrier just past the tire wall exiting Turn 8. Several Stadium Super Trucks went in as well, but all drivers left the turn unhurt… except for one of our guys, a fellow marshal.

The incident during the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race was absolutely absurd and completely avoidable. Yet we had one of our marshals leave the track in an ambulance because of injuries sustained as a result of “drivers” completely ignoring Yellow flags.

Now the marshal was released quickly and returned to the track to carry on his duties for the rest of the weekend. But it was thanks to dumb luck that things ended the way they did, it could have been much worse and potentially fatal.

What happened?

Well, have a watch for yourself:

The video (courtesy of Gazette Sports) shows the replay of the incident as well as the post-race driver’s interview, which is especially chilling showing how little regard for human life (other than the driver’s own selfish well being) there is on display.

I don’t really know who this celebrity is, but he certainly isn’t a race car driver. Worse, the “real” or “pro” race car drivers that this douche was following, aren’t much better than him either. For the whole group to so blatantly disregard the waving Yellow flags (and believe me, I was waving mine frantically being the closest person to the incident working Turn 8 Apex station, and basically waving the hell out of that flag right in the face of the drivers as they turned in) is pretty disheartening and very much appalling.

The only reason racing works worldwide is because there are rules in place that most racers follow. If you disregard the rules you can injure or kill someone on the track, including yourself. Disregarding yellow flags is about as bad as it gets because you willingly put someone in danger by not following the rules.

To me, the pro’s in this situation were as guilty as the celebrity that nearly chopped the legs off of a marshal against the tow truck. Nobody in that final group lifted when going into the turn. The dumbass causing the final crash was only following the “pro’s” going flat out through the turn, just like he admitted in the interview. And things shouldn’t be that way. He’s thankful he had a sturdy car like a Toyota with it’s five point harness and all, but the marshal standing on track he sent flying over the hood of the car only had the fucking Yellow flag for protection, a yellow flag that everyone ignored.

This…. is tremendously disappointing!

toyota grand prix of long beach pro celebrity race crash

toyota grand prix of long beach pro celebrity race crash 2

toyota grand prix of long beach pro celebrity race crash 3

toyota grand prix of long beach pro celebrity race crash 4

toyota grand prix of long beach pro celebrity race crash 5

The screen grabs above show the final incident in detail. Certainly no laughing matter when the camera captures the whole incident so clearly. I know we, as volunteers, accept a certain level of risk when marshaling because being in dangerous situations is inevitable, but finding yourself faced with blatant disregard for the only thing that is designed to keep you “safer” is pretty bad.

Post card from the Grand Prix of Long Beach

Greetings from sunny Southern California! Los Angeles, Long Beach and the home of the Grand Prix of Long Beach along the streets of downtown and the beautiful waterfront.

My station was at Turn 8, on Pine Ave between Bay St and Seashore Drive directly across from the Long Beach convention center and along the row of restaurants which turned out to be very handy when the Cal Club provided lunches started losing their appeal.

This time around the station assignment was a little less pretty than my stint at Turn 2/3 a few years ago next to the beautiful fountain featuring a roundabout with a dolphin that made it’s way on TV every time the cars went by. Although sitting at Islands Burger Joint for lunch on Sunday and watching the replay of the PWC race, the track still looks magnificent. Definitely hues of Singapore here stateside.

We were lucky enough to have a bunch of incidents to deal with. Many cars smashed upon exit of our turn somehow magically managing to miss the tire wall. Several McLarens crashed, including the Gaisco Red Dragon which was basically written off for the weekend. The K-Pax black McLaren with a baby blue roof crashed twice. Once bouncing off the tire wall and second time being put into the wall by a passing Porsche 911 which wrote that car off too, the rescue guys had a hard time towing it. Speaking of rescue guys we had a major fuck up during the celebrity race where one of the rescue guys was sent flying over the hood of a crashing car. No good!

I will do a more detailed debrief later, but for now enjoy some pix:

grand prix of long beach indycar imsa pwc 1 indy haulers

grand prix of long beach indycar imsa pwc 2 cadillacs on city streets

grand prix of long beach indycar imsa pwc 3 macau

grand prix of long beach indycar imsa pwc 4 indy car on city street

grand prix of long beach indycar imsa pwc 5 mclaren on city street

grand prix of long beach indycar imsa pwc 6 mclaren on city street

grand prix of long beach indycar imsa pwc 6 nissan gt-r nismo on city street

grand prix of long beach indycar imsa pwc 7 citroen in santa monica

grand prix of long beach indycar imsa pwc 8 cal club

grand prix of long beach indycar imsa pwc 9 in-n-out burger

grand prix of long beach indycar imsa pwc 10 alexander rossi indy car

grand prix of long beach indycar imsa pwc 11

grand prix of long beach indycar imsa pwc 12 turn 8

grand prix of long beach indycar imsa pwc 13 turn 8

grand prix of long beach indycar imsa pwc 14 turn 8

grand prix of long beach indycar imsa pwc 15 turn 8

grand prix of long beach indycar imsa pwc 16 corvette c7r

grand prix of long beach indycar imsa pwc 17 ferrari 488

grand prix of long beach indycar imsa pwc 18 mazda mx-5 drift car

grand prix of long beach indycar imsa pwc 19 mazda mx-5 drift car

grand prix of long beach indycar imsa pwc 20 mazda mx-5 drift car

grand prix of long beach indycar imsa pwc 21 lunch at islands

grand prix of long beach indycar imsa pwc 22 ferrari 458 world challenge

grand prix of long beach indycar imsa pwc 23 mazda owners lounge

grand prix of long beach indycar imsa pwc 24 mercedes-benz amg sls crash

grand prix of long beach indycar imsa pwc 25 mercedes-benz amg sls crash

grand prix of long beach indycar imsa pwc 26 bentley continental gt3

Stay tuned for more…

Volunteer in Motorsport: Working for a Race Team, Starworks Motorsport Wants YOU!

Ever wanted to volunteer in Motorsport but don’t see standing on the side of the track in all sorts of weather as your cup of tea? No worries, there are other options!

My friend Jessie Lynne Honigs just shared a pretty neat invitation on facebook:

startworks motorsport volunteers wanted

Quote:

Have you always wanted to work on a race team? Here’s your chance! We’re looking for volunteers, starting with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach! Information here…

Since I’m going to the Long Beach Grand Prix and volunteering there already I am extremely jealous of the lucky bastard that will get a chance to work with Starworks Motorsport.

startworks motorsport volunteers wanted

I think this is particularly a great idea because with street circuit events the amount of people available to participate should be pretty impressive, especially considering how many people can simply walk to the track (even if they take public transport for a few blocks to get there from where they live).

I want to get involved in his myself!

You should too!

 

Links: starworksmotorsport.com/ & facebook.com/starworksmotorsport/

PS. if I’m not mistaken Starworks Motorsport and Peter Baron were the most generous group of people that supported Jessie’s SponsorAFlagger.com project with their $1,000+ donation a few years ago at Lime Rock in a form of a gift cards that every marshal volunteering that weekend walked away with. That was impressive!

Planning 3 Major Trips Simultaneously: Motorsport Events in Texas, Florida & California

With the excitement from the trip to the South Pacific barely starting to wear out I’m keeping the momentum going by planning 3 massive domestic trips to marshal around the country.

What’s on the agenda?

Pirelli World Challenge season opener at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas immediately followed by a trip to the Gulf Coast of Florida for a few events. I plan to drive down to Florida in my MX-5 the day after I fly home from Texas. The trip will put at least 3,000 miles on the car while volunteering my first St. Pete Grand Prix tagged along to another exciting Sebring 12 hour enduro with the IMSA WeatherTech United SportsCar Series Championship race. After a few weeks of recovery I’ll depart on a trip to California for another IndyCar Grand Prix on the streets of Long Beach.

I could hardly contain my excitement about these trips, and am currently wrecking my brains trying to organize all the travel arrangements. In a way, the flights are the easiest part of the equation. The costs to marshal are tremendous especially when the volunteers compete for the same accommodation that drivers and fans use during a race weekend. I’ve found this to be especially true in the case of St. Pete where even the cheapest hell-hole hotels are pushing $100/night. But it’s a challenge I’m happy to accept, I find the planning part almost as exciting as being trackside for the event.

PWC at COTA

For the Pirelli World Challenge season opener at the Circuit of the Americas I’ve frankensteined a trip together using a $36 AA flight from LGA to DFW and then $2.50 bus from Dallas to Austin with Megabus. On the way home it’ll be another $2.50 Megabus ride back to Dallas to connect to a $49 UA flight back to LaGuardia via Houston: DFW-IAH-LGA. I’m looking forward to my buddy Joaquin helping me out in Austin again with his monster Chevy dually.

St. Pete GP & Sebring 12h

The IndyCar season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida will be a two day drive in the MX-5 from New Jersey. I will probably break up the trip into a 12 hour and an 8 hour drive with a rest stop overnight in Columbia, SC. I am a little concerned about parking for the MX-5 while in Florida especially if I do stay at a cheapo motel, which tend to be in bad parts of town and therefore prone to crime. But fingers are crossed everything works out. I plan to camp at Sebring, as much as I dislike the idea of camping you can’t beat the price. Although my camping gear, sleeping bag, pillows, etc. will completely pack the poor little convertible.

Long Beach GP

For this trip I frankensteined a few flights to bring the price down. Because it’s a busy Motorsport weekend in the LA area the flights are priced higher than normal. My goal was to book something for under $200 round trip and I just managed to do it by booking a number of separate reservations with United. The one way NY-LA was about $150 but I cut that cost in half by booking NY-Chicago and Chicago-LA separately… $35 for LGA-ORD and $35 ORD-LAX with favorable departure times and plenty of room between the two separate bookings in case there is major travel disruption on the day of travel. The flights back home were the pricey ones and in fact I paid almost double of the cost to get there. I chose to fly out on the Monday after the race, and the cheapest option was a $132 flight from Burbank to Newark via San Francisco: BUR-SFO-EWR. I think I am pretty happy with these bookings considering the alternative was at least $75 to $100 more, or I would have had to rely on wasting an award which I would rather save up on a flight to Europe.

In the next few days I’ll continue researching accommodation for these three trips and trying to decide whether to stick to public transport in California or rent a cheapo car to get around.

I’m excited!

PS. I am especially looking forward to the lengthy trip in the Miata, after a beautiful Road Trip in New Zealand I want to appreciate driving my own car as much as the owners I met love driving theirs.

Registration for Long Beach Grand Prix 2015

On January 21st at 12:00AM Pacific Standard Time the registration to marshal the 41st Long Beach Grand Prix will be open with SCCA Cal Club. The event will be held from Friday, April 17th to Sunday, April 19th on the streets of Long Beach along the waterfront.

In my opinion this is an excellent event to volunteer because of the beautiful location of the temporary circuit. I often heard people comparing the event to Monaco or Singapore with it’s exotic, palm tree lined streets, the Pacific Ocean in the background and about as California as it could get with a great So Cal vibe all around. I only got to work one race two years ago, and unfortunately cancelled my participation last year because of a new job, I would love to go back.

I didn’t get a chance to do much blue flag because the person I was paired with refused to share, but other people I knew from the event didn’t have such an issue on their station. So perhaps if doing a particular role is important to  you, be sure to request it in advance.

Here are some pix from my last LBGP:

Long Beach Grand Prix, IndyCar 2013
Long Beach Grand Prix, IndyCar 2013

long beach gp

 

To sign up visit MotorsportReg.com and search for Long Beach GP or follow this link: www.motorsportreg.com/events/flag-com-long-beach-grand-prix-registration-scca-california-sports-car

Read about Cal Club SCCA here: http://www.calclub.com

I often heard Cal Club does things differently to the rest of the country, this was especially emphasized by folks from the San Francisco Region, but you should be a judge of that for yourself.

I think this is a fantastic event, and if you can be sure to consider the Formula E event to be held on the streets of Long Beach on April 4th read more about it here:  www.fiaformulae.com/en/calendar/2015-long-beach

 

Long Beach Grand Prix Registration

Registration for the Long Beach Grand Prix has now opened, and the deadline to sign up as a marshal is March 13th. I have done this event last year and it was quite good even though there were some hiccups. The setting is perfect and so is the racing.

I made a little promo video to encourage marshals to participate:

Have fun if you get a chance to experience it!

39th Grand Prix of Long Beach

Talk about managing expectations… the 39th annual TOYOTA Grand Prix of Long Beach had the potential to be a fantastic event, yet it wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, the race atmosphere and the overall scenery were quite exotic and unique. I was immensely impressed, however the role assignments on my station ruined things for me from the get go, and it never really recovered throughout the weekend. I’ve mentioned the blue flag fiasco in the previous post so I won’t go any further in bitching about it, other than to make an observation of how big of a difference such a simple thing makes. People often criticize events for not providing decent lunches – no big deal for me, I often bring my own. Others complain of the event when it rains – again no biggie as I carry my wet weather gear. But when you get assigned to a role, like say “yellow flag” and you’re stuck on it for two hours starring at a space where typically nothing happens, while the “blue flag” person is enjoying an exciting workout, it got to me. With the designated role of “blue flagger” and all, it has not stopped people from rotating even for just a few minutes to let the “yellow flagger” do something. The selfish arrogance displayed at Long Beach reminds me why I dislike SCCA so much.

long beach gp

long beach gp 1

long beach gp

long beach gp 4

long beach gp 5(yeah! that close…)

long beach gp 6

All the pouting and whining aside, I did in fact have a great time. And would probably like to return considering the alternative this year was Bahrain F1 Grand Prix and I’m not sure I’ll have enough frequent flyer miles left next year to make it happen. I enjoy California in general, everything from the In-n-Out restaurant near LAX to the beautiful palm tree lined streets you see overlooking the beautiful beaches on the Pacific Ocean.

I am very much looking forward to the next trip to California next month for ALMS at Laguna Seca… hopefully I can do a little blue flagging this time!

Post card from the Grand Prix of Long Beach

Greetings from the 39th annual LBGP, one of three of my marshalling events in the Golden State: California.

long beach gp 3

The day went by smoothly this Friday, though there were some incidents I got to flag, like an LMP1 prototype flying over our roundabout shrub or the Indycar that overcorrected it and met the wall opposite our station. Even a celebrity race pilot went nose deep into the tire barrier.

Worst of all was station role assignments. I wad doomed to doing yellow flag for all series. Of the seven people on station, three out of state marshals like me got yellow flag duties, while three locals got to blue flag everything. The last local woman did comms all weekend. Not fair from the onset, but worse, the blue flaggers refused to rotate during sessions, making each practice or race, a sleepingly boring experience. No bueno SoCal, no bueno!