Tag Archives: mazda lola lmp2

SpeedSource ex-Factory Mazda Race Team Christmas Liquidation Auction, More Photos

RaceCarsDirect.com has a listing for the upcoming December 19th auction with some spiffy new pictures of all the SpeedSource Mazda Prototypes and GT cars being liquidated by Key Auctioneers.

I do hope they go to a good home!

Photo credit: RaceCarsDirect.com
Photo credit: RaceCarsDirect.com

Photo credit: RaceCarsDirect.com
Photo credit: RaceCarsDirect.com
Photo credit: RaceCarsDirect.com
Photo credit: RaceCarsDirect.com

link to auction:  racecarsdirect.com/Advert/Details/87218/speedsource-racing-auction—december-19th-20

The news of this team going kaput is terrible… not shocking, but just sad really. I used to follow SpeedSource from when I started marshaling in the US. Back in 2013 they raced the Mazda RX-7 firebreathers in GrandAm, the cars that now made their way to Australia (ironic as I’m sure there is similar local talent, including Mad Mike in New Zealand, home of the four rotor Mazda’s).

I used choose races to go to specifically to root for the Mazda diesel-powered GX cars that were just introduced… they kind of sucked but ended up on the podium because frankly no-one else raced in GX class. There were a few Cayman’s if I remember correctly, and the only car that was worse than them was the Lotus Evora.

When they shoved the diesel engine into their Lola’s the results were similar. It was a bit pathetic to watch LMP2 prototypes race so slowly. Things improved with the petrol AER engine, but the cars were so fragile even if they were fast… you look at them sideways and they would break down. Yet I was cheering for them!

I’m sure the Lola’s could have any engine the new buyer chooses for them to be competitive again on the club or even historics racing level… The Mazda6 GT cars don’t need to be propelled by a diesel either. But it’s a cool piece of history on sale here that I hope I’ll see again at a track in the future… or even in a museum somewhere.

Merry Christmas folks… buy yourself a perfect present: Race Car!

 

 

PS. I will have to do a follow up write-up on all the Skip Barber liquidated Miata race cars one day. I know there’s one “small” team in Cummings, Georgia area that is restoring 15 of them to their racing glory… maybe I’ll get to visit them in the future to take some photos… maybe I’ll see them at VIR or Road Atlanta in action. One man’s loss is another man’s gain, or however that saying goes. And these liquidation auctions are precisely that.

Sahlen’s Six Hour at the Glen 2016 the debrief

I’ve been doing the Sahlen’s Six Hour at the Glen since Grand Am ran the series in 2012, each year it’s different. This year was my best one yet. So many things went right. So many things made me happy, I can’t rant and rave enough about the experience… but I’ll try.

First things first. This was a four day event. Four pretty long and grueling days. I totally lucked out with my station assignments thanks to RSI boss Jim Wilbur. No I didn’t get to work Start, but for pro events where official IMSA starter does all the work anyway, I don’t really miss it. Instead I got to work Turn 6 in the Boot on Thursday, Turn 5A in the Bus Stop on Friday, Turn 1A on Saturday and Turn 1 on Sunday. Is it possible to get better assignments than these? I don’t think so.

As far as incidents went we didn’t have too many. I think of myself as the anti-magnet because whenever I work a station nothing happens and the next day things go to hell in a basket there real quick. But I wouldn’t complain about that. I do always tell the people I work with that if something is going to happen I would prefer for it to happen in front of us so at the very least we have the opportunity to learn from the incident. Things happened in a real big way on Friday when a Lamborghini Huracan smashed the wall while braking for the Bus Stop… the car did a 360 sending debris flying everywhere, the left rear wheel assembly ended up landing in the duck pond. And as soon as the car stopped it lit on fire. The driver walked away OK but I was most impressed with how the IMSA Porsche SUV driving safety crew put out the relatively large fire using just the car’s internal extinguisher system. That was really cool!

For the rest of the days I was limited to watching cars go 4 off in our corner or at the most spin. Which was OK… I wasn’t too happy to see the #55 spin at Turn 1 on race day because I was hoping the Le Mans heritage livery car would do well, but predictably the Daytona Prototypes won and that was a bit of a bummer for the otherwise good weekend. But what are gonna do?

I’m thrilled that RSI has been open to the idea of letting SCCA marshals from other places volunteer. I got to work with folks I had worked with a few weeks earlier at Detroit Grand Prix visiting Upstate New York from Michigan. Ron came to satisfy his bucket list quest form California. There was someone from Maryland, another lady from Ontario. It was very well staffed. The IMSA folks were very happy with the quality of calls on the radio, until of course the very last day when a few people fumbled their calls. It doesn’t take much to make a mistake though, I’ve done quite a few working comms on Thursday and Friday. But it was good practice.

The highlight of my trip of course was seeing all the Mazda stuff. Mazda as a company and Mazda Motorsports as a participant committed in a big way to their product during the visit to Watkins Glen. There was significant presence not just with the Mazda Owner’s Lounge in the infield, but also the Test Drive display on the outside of Turn 1. I kind of wished I had more time to take a new ND Miata for a spin around the old Watkins Glen Grand Prix street circuit. Drive past Seneca Lodge and all… But it didn’t happen.

I did get to meet a ton of Mazda people though. And we were lucky enough to stumble onto the Team photo shoot in progress on Day 1. I remember hearing someone from the team saying that despite the photos being released the next day he was sure they were already on Facebook. I posted mine at that moment. I figured if they wanted to keep this stuff secret they would undoubtedly shooo us off or even call security for assistance but nobody said a peep.

I got a ton of swag from Mazda… mostly lanyards I plan to take with me to Europe for the MX-5 Miata Euro Trip (Holland, Germany, Belgium and France). But while working I noticed photographers wearing a very cool Le Mans heritage lanyard… I had to have it. And to make a long story short I approached one of the Mazda big wigs at their paddock area and the guy took it off his neck and gave it to me just because I volunteer as a corner worker. I thought that was bloody tops! Nobody else in that paddock would give you the shirt of their backs, so to speak, but this dude did, and I thank him for it! Furthermore, one of the photographers I asked about it on Thursday made it a point to go and find me on Sunday just to give me another one. I thought that was really cool, and gave him a million thanks too! What a pleasant experience all around.

After nine weekends in a row at various race tracks and two trips to WGI back to back I am ready to take a little break from racing now.

Of course my next trip is just a week away going to Europe to marshal my 15th country (the Netherlands), work the GP circuit at Nurburgring and do another year at Spa-Francorchamps for Spa 24h. I can hardly wait, actually!

Woo Hoo….

 

PS. speaking of Europe, I was fortunate enough to see and watch the original 1991 Le Mans 24h winning Mazda 787B go around Circuit de la Sarthe during the 2013 Le Mans 24h race (where I was for the first time) and the current SpeedSource interpretation, while inspired by the original is nothing really like it… But it’s nice to see.

mazda 787b at circuit de la sarthe le mans 2013 france 1

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mazda 787b at circuit de la sarthe le mans 2013 france 8

I especially like to see this line: Never Give Up!  I will one day apply that principle to my job search!

mazda 787b at circuit de la sarthe le mans 2013 france 6

Compared to:

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sahlen's six hour at the glen 2016 paddock walk 20

A Very Mazda-Centric Visit to Watkins Glen Int’l for IMSA 6 Hour Enduro Race

I just had one of my most Mazda-centric weekends at Watkins Glen International for the Sahlen’s Six Hour and all the support races.

To start an internet friend was visiting from California and I was determined to show him a good time. Ron is a fellow marshal from the San Francisco Region of SCCA. He’s also a fellow Miata owner with a beautiful 2007 Winning Blue that he autocrosses and uses as a marshaling rig to go to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. I figured Ron would get a kick out of going to the Seneca Lodge, but the roles reversed and he showed me something about Watkins Glen I had not experienced before… he took me around the original 6.6 mile Watkins Glen Grand Prix Circuit:

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In fact we drove that course several times. Basically every time we decided to go into town for dinner, we’d take the course… and enjoy these beautiful views:

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Turns out I had driven over the Start/Finish line a million times, ever since I started coming to volunteer at Watkins Glen in 2012, but I never realized what it was!

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No sooner as we pulled into Seneca Lodge we spotted a Miata there. This theme would continue throughout my trip last weekend.

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Ron had forgotten his RSI hat at the bar so we went back, and the Miata was still parked there… some hard core fan!

seneca lodge watkins glen miata 1

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Back at the “new” circuit, things weren’t much different. There were Miata’s everywhere you looked. My favorite ones were at Turn 1:

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This gorgeous Niseko Edition Miata was really something to look at.

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As well as Canadian Mazdaspeed Body Kit NC in speeding ticket red.

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I went over to chat with the owners during lunch break, awesome guys! Saw them posting on Miata.net / MX-5.net about this event. Then one of them came over and hung a goodie bag off my mirror.

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Besides being an active place to work at Turn 1 (Station 1A) I was able to see up close and personal the car I came there to see… the 1991 winning livery Le Mans 24h heritage edition Mazda Lola’s.

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Huge thanks to Andy Blackmore for his awesome spotter guides.

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Notice how close my parking spot was to these cars exiting track…

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As far as racing went, the Miata’s didn’t do terribly well. Freedom Autosport #25 was leading the race for the longest time until it was punted off, which is a common practice in Continental Tire Sports Cars Challenge… the others were involved in first lap incident too I think, so no Miata took a podium, and almost all suffered damage.

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But again the spectators that showed up in their MX-5’s had a blast:

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I only got to drive a sliver of the track getting to my station on Thursday and Friday… working Turn 6 in the Boot and Turn 5A in the Bus Stop… but that was OK with me. I got lucky on race day to work Turn 1, which allowed me to hit the pit lane to do my grid pix.

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That place was super crowded. I did manage however to visit the Mazda Owner’s Lounge which was very generous with me this time, and even contemplated visiting the Mazda test drive center near Turn 1 to see if I could take an ND for a spin around the original 6.6 mile Grand Prix Circuit (currently village streets).

Our station at Turn 1 was peculiar, it was manned by Mazda owners. The corner captain drove a Mazda 3 and was sporting a Mazda hat and a lanyard, and our other coworker, the most experienced one on station, drove a first gen red NA Miata.

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We parked ours right in front of the Grand Stand at Turn 1.

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Another fantastic weekend in the books and more than ever now I’ve become a total Mazda fan boy… Mazda advertises that there are more Mazdas raced on any given weekend than any other brand. And I totally believe that. Besides the Prototypes and Miatas in their respective series, there was a spec series formally called Prototype Lites and currently renamed to Mazda Lites (because they paid more said the voice on the radio from Race Control)… so definitely, when it comes to Motorsport Mazda is knee deep in this business.

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We found this Zebra livery car thinking it was piloted by the same girl from last weekend’s SCCA Majors (who had a blow up Zebra in her Miata) but it turned out to be another Zebra enthusiast/racer.

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I bought my Miata as a result of watching Playboy MX-5 Cup race…

Post Card from Belle Isle Detroit, Pre-Grand Prix Paddock Tour

Knowing full well how stringent the organizers get giving us (volunteers) paddock and pit access during the event, I went a day early to walk around and get some shots of the unpacking in progress.

I had to sneak onto the island. Our credentials were not to be distributed until later on in the afternoon and since dinner was provided by Detroit Region SCCA it was unlikely that I’d return to Belle Isle Park or even more unlikely that I’d actually see anything there. So having arrived for the event a day early and getting some much needed rest at my friend’s house I ventured down to Detroit downtown bright and early. First stop was visiting the GM Renaissance Center, something I always wanted to do… there on the second floor I found the Detroit Grand Prix offices, with big glass windows showing you what’s going on behind the scenes with all the maps and track plans on display to anyone that walks by.

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I also spotted a cool looking Chevy Caprice Detroit PD car… on the way back to my car I managed to snap a few shots… turns out these cars (about 100 of them) were donated to the city of Detroit, and therefore sport a cool wrap of the city skyline.

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detroit grand prix paddock walk belle isle 27 chevy caprice detroit pd

It was a very beautiful day and an awesome chance to walk along the waterfront of the Detroit River, checking out the views of Windsor, Ontario on the other side. Next Stop: Belle Isle Park.

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I managed to get into the parking lot that I obviously had no legitimate access to, but as security was slack, I got away with it.

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I’ve always been fascinated by the old-school look of Michigan statie’s cars, like this Ford Explorer Police Interceptor.

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detroit grand prix paddock walk belle isle 3 aj foyt

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And then I spotted a Miata a fellow marshal owns it from Canada eh?

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Lots of Chevy’s everywhere…

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detroit grand prix paddock walk belle isle 7 chevy ss

detroit grand prix paddock walk belle isle 8 chevy camaro

detroit grand prix paddock walk belle isle 9 chevy corvette

detroit grand prix paddock walk belle isle 22 chevy silverado

And then my favorite… the SpeedSource Mazda Prototype Team:

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detroit grand prix paddock walk belle isle 13 mazda lola lmp2

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detroit grand prix paddock walk belle isle 19 turner bmw

detroit grand prix paddock walk belle isle 20 turner bmw

detroit grand prix paddock walk belle isle 21 lambo huracan

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More from the event soon…