Tag Archives: Mazda DPi

Roar Before the 24 Pit Lane Preview

This year’s Roar Before the Rolex 24 was much bigger than last years… why? My guess would be because of Fernando Alonso… and maybe a gaggle of other Formula 1 drivers, along with a whole fleet of new Prototype and GT cars on display.

I’m thrilled to have had an opportunity to visit the pit area for WeatherTech Sports Car Championship practice, and I can’t wait for the proper enduro at the end of the month. It will be fantastic.

Here’s a few pix:

The elusive Team Joest Mazda

Alonso!

Hold on…

Jackie Chan Racing

Keep holding…

Hopefully… with a little bit of luck… this will be my view for the Rolex 24 in pit out.

Also hoping the weather is like this, warm and sunny.

With no Miatas racing in IMSA any more, it’s nice to see an RF at the Team Joest garages.

65th Running of the Mobil1 12 Hours of Sebring the Debrief

My third consecutive Florida event comes to a close, rounding up an excellent run with Central Florida Region working as a pit marshal.

A lot to talk about this event, many pictures to share in addition to the individual posts I’ve already made from this event, so bear with me and hopefully I don’t leave any details out.

First things first, I can’t say enough how fantastic it was to work on the Pit Marshal crew. What a rush and a privilege it was to be there. Completely different atmosphere and experience to Turns 13 and 15 that I worked at my past Sebring events.

That said the days were extremely long, with the shortest being just under 12 hours and the longest being something like 15 or 16 hours, it was thoroughly exhausting.

But there was lots to see and I was in the prime location to see it. There was lots of downtime also, and a crew that encouraged me to take breaks which was really nice. Even the club allowed us to take pictures as long as we don’t offer them for sale in the end, so the atmosphere was extremely welcoming and positive.

I couldn’t believe just how close I could be to cars and teams, working closely with the IMSA officials, doing whatever overflow work they threw our way. It was simply awesome.

My position in Pit In. The concern was cars coming out of the paddock and jumping out on pit lane, our job was to make sure we gave them a clear lane, or held them up if another car was coming into pit lane from the track, at speed. There were times when teams brought out cars way early ahead of their practice sessions, which was neat because I could snap a shot or two before we were on duty.

This is the Pit Out post. Compared to Pit In, it was far more relaxing. Less work to do, and a far less crowded spot overall. No spectators to deal with. No speeding cars competing for the same real estate. The Sebring weekend started out super cold, temps were in the upper 30’s in the morning, which was a shocker compared to St. Pete GP the previous week. But luckily I was prepared having left a bag full of clothes in Florida after the freezing times at Daytona 24h and the Roar before the 24.

One of the IMSA guys allowed me to go on the grid some time before the practice session started to get some close-ups o the Mazda RT24-P

At the end of the session, there was significant downtime… and an opportunity for a few shots of cars exiting to the paddock.

Some shots from the Porsche GT3 Cup

Notice the visible design difference between the First generation 991 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car and the Second gen models… The lower grill design was \…./ like this on the 1st gen, and /…..\ like so on the 2nd gen. The running lights and tail lights are also different.

Since our bathrooms for Pit Out were on the end of the paddock, on my break I wondered down to see some of the set ups there.

A lovely Mazda MX-5 RF outside the Mazda Motorsports rigs, unfortunately team Mazda were very stingy this time with their swag. There was no Mazda Owners Lounge at this race, and the few people I asked said that Mazda is taking a different direction now, without going into detail.

Has Mazda pulled back on their previously generous owner appreciation efforts?  No more hats, t-shirts, etc. for those Mazda fans rooting for the Mazda DPi?

It was a bit weird, to say the least… the only Mazda swag I did manage to snag came from the lower Mazda racing series in the Mazda Prototype Challenge running the old IMSA Lites cars and the not-Mazda engined 5 liter V8 LMP3 cars.

Anyway…

Mazda RT24-P performance was sad to watch this event. The #70 car brought out our first caution of the race plowing into the tire wall at Turn 17… but all LMP2 cars struggled including the other DPi cars based on the LMP2 like the #2 and #22 Nissan Nismo Patron cars. The #52 Oreca and even the Multimatic sister car of the Mazda’s, the #90 Visit Florida car spend a lot of time in the garages during the race. They really should consider renaming the series Cadillac Sports Car Championship.

The other disappointing thing came from CFR and their pitiful attempts at food services. Some of it absolutely sucked. I can’t believe I ate ham for three days in a row, same meat masked with different bread each time, but essentially the same thing over and over. The worst was a serving of some mystery soup that hardened by the time it was served. I wanted to give it a chance, but a few spoonfuls later I realized the chemical taste wasn’t going to do my body any good, and like the rest of the people on my team threw it away…. luckily though the Patron VIP Suites nearby were very generous with their leftovers and threw the crew at turn 17 a bone, bringing tray fulls of delicious gourmet food, from steak to fish, to pasta and sausages… we pigged out on the good stuff!

WTF?!?!

MMmmmmmmmm…….sooo tasty!

Why can’t CFR hire the same catering crew?

Is it the money? Come on, put my hefty $95 annual membership fee to a better use, eh?…

Thank you Patron for your generous scraps! For such long days on track good food sure made it more enjoyable to participate.

And by long days I really mean very long days… from dawn to dusk and beyond, with night practices and eventually the night race.

I was so tired most of the time I crashed as soon as I got to the camp site… luckily again I have my tent that lives in Florida now, with a comfy sleeping bag, an air mattress and an extra comforter so despite the cold I managed to sleep like a baby every night. The next day started the same as it finished, with more beautiful race cars roaring on track.

I had enough downtime to wander down to turn 17 as the grid was popullating for the Conti race.

Oh look… Miata!

Oh look… more delicious food from Patron!

Park Ferme, and the Dekra scruitineering set up near Turn 17.

Friday night dinner with the CFR was a bit low key… not much in a way of swag, but I got a good keepsake, a CFR Race Official hat! And of course some much desired Mazda lanyards.

And so another race in the books… thanks to all that made this one a memorable one for me. I totally appreciate the opportunity!

Post Card from the Sebring 12 Hour Grid for the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Series

One of my favorite things to do at a race event is to browse through the pre-race grid and take some photos (legally since we as marshals are not allowed to otherwise most of the time). It’s a great opportunity to see the cars assembled fully ready to race. It’s also a chance to mingle with the crowds of spectators doing the same thing you are and trying not to get their shadows into your shots (which is almost impossible in a sunny place like Sebring).

But here they are, and it was an exhilarating experience to be a part of. I’m so glad the crowds were huge, and that the weather cooperated fully. It was much warmer on race day, very sunny and very good for some close racing (in GTLM and GTD fields anyway).

The beauty of working in Pit Lane was the close proximity I had to walk to start my shift during the race. Super convenient and truly enjoyable experience once the race started. I’m so grateful for this opportunity and hope there will be more to come in the future.

Andy Blackmore Design Sebring 12h Spotter Guide 2017

Andy Blackmore Design has released the official IMSA Sebring 12 hour spotter guide.

Download it as a companion for watching the race. I always rely on these guides when marshaling.

www.spotterguides.com

Rolex 24 at Daytona 2017 the Debrief

Rolex 24 at Daytona is my first major event of the 2017 season. The race itself was the second trip to Florida this year because I decided to participate earlier in the month of January for the “Roar before the 24” pre-race which was super exciting. The difference for the race for me was my role: I worked as pit & grid marshal.

Pit & Grid is an exciting position which I had first experienced while in New Zealand working a V8 Supercars race on the streets of Hamilton before they moved it to the Pukekohe permanent circuit. It was fun because it was so different, and because of the general proximity I had to the cars. There we were warned to watch our toes because the V8’s drivers would totally run over us on their way to their grid position. For the Daytona 24 hour event our services were not needed on the grid, or in the pits for that matter. I worked on the cold side of things in the paddock, making sure cars could leave the garages and enter or exit pit lane without running over someone else’s toes. So our job was really to be a spectator marshal. And after serving in this role at Pocono Raceway last year for an IndyCar event with Team Pocono, a race that doens’t normally use marshals, it was a preview into a role I totally would love to work more often.

I have made a ton of other posts already showing off the photos I took during some ad hoc grid walks (runs) and the up-close-and-personal look at the Mazda DPi cars which I really wanted to do. Or the acute gout attack that I got post-race that I am still recovering from more than two weeks later. So I’m not going to babble on about that. But I want to reinforce just how much this race was enjoyable this year, partly because of my assignment I think. The amount of cars was great. The amount of brand new cars was fascinating. And the crowds of spectators that came out to celebrate this event was very much impressive. I loved every moment of it!

I think this experience will effect my desire to work IMSA events again this season… perhaps as soon as March with a return trip to Florida to work St. Pete Grand Prix and Sebring 12 hour.

So stay tuned….

 

I’m also eager to come up with another international trip for this season, my goal is to marshal in a country where I haven’t marshaled before. This would be the big #16 and as always Asia is at the top of my list, I’d love to do Macau Grand Prix for the first time. But also Azerbaijan with Baku Grand Prix isn’t out of the question. But perhaps Latin America will finally make a list. I’d love to go to Brasil to to a Grand Prix there… or even better one of their Supercars events. Stay tuned for sure.

Post Card from the Rolex 24 at Daytona Grid Walk

The 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona was a blast for me! I got to see all the cars up close and personal and spend a good chunk of the race in the paddock shooing people out of the way of speeding cars and crew that kept those cars going for the duration of the race.

Unlike previous times I volunteered to work pit & grid which for this event turned out to be more of a “crowd control” role in the paddock across the gate from pit lane… anytime cars left the track to go to the garages or returned to the track after a repair during the race I had work to do, making sure the spectators don’t get run over… or a car doesn’t lose time unnecessarily because of pedestrian traffic. That was fun!

Also unlike previous times where I would just barely get a chance to sneak into the paddock to take some pictures, I hardly took any even though I was in the paddock the entire time. I almost missed the grid walk because it was so busy before the race. But my boss was really cool and when the announcer called to clear the grid, I ran out there to snap some shots. My goal was to get the Mazda MRT24-P DPi’s which were a hell of a way down the Le Mans style pit lane past the GTD, GTLM and PC fields. I did manage to snag some shots of them, but because they started playing the national anthem I didn’t bother going all the way down to P1 spot to catch a photo of the Cadillacs. Touche…

Here’s the pix:

The variety of cars was absolutely outstanding… much like the previously mentioned fields in the Pirelli World Challenge… but of course this series also sports the uber quick prototypes. I have to admit besides the Mazda’s, the GT field was my favorite!

The variety:

  • Acura NSX GT3
  • Aston Martin Vantage GT3
  • Audi R8 LMS
  • BMW M6 GT3
  • Chevy Corvette C7.R
  • Ferrari 488 GT3
  • Ford GT
  • Lamborghini Huracan GT3
  • Lexus RC F GT3
  • Mercedes-AMG SLS GT3
  • Porsche 911 GT3 R and RSR

The PC field remained unchanged and to be honest those cars are getting old, I’d be OK not seeing them return the following season. The prototypes were dominated by Cadillac DPi’s which was pretty disappointing. Mazda’s DNF’s were super disappointing too. Though I was quite happy to see the Spirit of Daytona / Visit Florida P2 finish third. That was a fluke especially since that car started from the back of the prototype grid. I’m super happy though to have had this opportunity to see the cars so up close and personal. Best time at Rolex 24 ever for me.

Oh yeah… and I got to watch both the start and the finish from pit lane along with all the teams and official IMSA photographers.

Mazda RT24-P DPi at the Roar before the 24 Daytona Int’l Speedway

Mission Accomplished!

My goal for this 1,000+ mile Road Trip in my MX-5 Miata from NJ to Florida was to get some close-up shots of the new Mazda RT24-P DPi at the Roar before the 24. It almost looked like it wouldn’t happen. Every time we would visit the paddock during lunch or at the end of day, both Mazda’s would be in pieces… I wanted the whole car. So we tried again on the very last day… instead of going to the CFR SCCA compound for lunch we rushed to the paddock and snuck into the Mazda pits where a few photographers crammed into the back of the minivan they were going to use to drive on track and take pictures of the Mazda’s following them… that didn’t happen. We talked to one of the crew who told us that the #55 Mazda was called in for tech inspection, so we started making our way back to that area when we saw one being towed. Not sure what happened at inspection but they pulled it into the garage and it didn’t return for the afternoon practice session. At the end of the day we again rushed back to the paddock after watching #70 car practice, and caught it just in time after it was parked in it’s garage and one of the crew started removing the rear engine panel off. I made a comment that no matter how we tried we just couldn’t seem to catch the car in once piece, the crew member looked at me, stopped walking away, and put the panel back so I can take some pictures. Wow! What a nice gesture!?! He let us come into the garage and get some good selfies there. Thanks so much SpeedSource employee!

Here’s the pix, finally:

A perfectly executed 5 point turn ­čÖé

I’m really thankful for this opportunity, and look forward to watching the team do well in this year’s IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship!

First impressions of the car? I love the body styling. It’s all brand new. Instead of the bug-eyed look of the previous gen Lola, this one has much sleeker surface, almond-eyes, nice RX-hues to it all over. But the power house sounds exactly the same as the old one. Reliability issues remain similar. Both cars took a while to come out to practice and just as quickly went back into the garages. When they were running both were very quick. For the longest while in one practice session #55 was quickest. #70 was right behind it. The #13 Rebellion Racing prototype took the top spot away but the Mazdas were solidly quick. They did not get nearly as much track time as the Cadillac DPi’s did and that’s what makes me think that they will continue dominate while the Mazda’s will challenge them for pole position at most races, faltering back due to reliability during the races. Sucks but that seems to be the reality. I’d like to be proven wrong. Good luck SpeedSource & Mazda Motorsports!

Second Post Card from the Roar before the 24 at Daytona Int’l Speedway

What an amazing opportunity!

Weather was freezing cold… literally! 37F for the final day of practice on Sunday. It was sunny but windy. But the day went by fairly quickly, we finished pretty early for a day at the track and before returning our equipment to Central Florida SCCA compound we made a dash for the paddock to take some more pix.

I’m so glad we did because the pix came out great, and there weren’t too many spectators in the way of the cars to take good shots. Enjoy:

I’m really happy with this whole trip so far, everything I wanted to do I managed to accomplish and it’s a great feeling. Can’t wait to come back for the 24 hour race at the end of the month!

Post Card from the Roar Before the 24 at Daytona International Speedway

Did not think I’d go back to Daytona, until I saw all the entries for the 2017 IMSA season… wow! The new DPi programs are in full effect. There are several GTE and GT3 machines with new manufacturers. I had to be here. Not once but twice… Not just for the 24 hour race at the end of January… but the Roar before the 24 in the beginning of the month.

Here are some pix from Turn 4, working with my good friend John Gamble:

Pretty impressive line up in the GT field:

  • Aston Martin Vantage (GTD)
  • Acura NSX (GTD)
  • BMW M6 (GTLM & GTD)
  • Corvette C7.R (GTLM)
  • Ferrari 488 (GTLM & GTD)
  • Ford GT (GTLM)
  • Lamborghini Huracan GT3 (GTD)
  • Lexus IS-F (GTD)
  • Mercedes-AMG SLS (GTD)
  • Porsche 911 GT3 R (GTD)
  • Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GTLM)

The prototype field is also expanded with new Cadillac DPi replacing the familiar Corvette Daytona Prototypes. Mazda has a new skin, but a very similar engine sound to the old Lola. Lots of Orecas, a few Ligier Nissans, etc.

In the Continental Tire support group the McLaren GT4 is really balancing out the Porsche Cayman GT4 dominance.

More pix from the pit walk:

And some shots from Station 4:

And a delicious pizza dinner with the Gambles Friday night:

Looking forward to the rest of the weekend even if Saturday is supposed to be very wet…. more to come!