Tag Archives: McLaren GT3

California 8 hour at Laguna Seca Debut of Intercontinental GT Challenge in America

Welcome to the California 8h the debrief.

Man was I looking forward to this event… not so much because I thought it was going to be a thriller (it was good, but in a genetic GT racing kind of way, fairly predictable) but because I wasn’t sure it was actually going to happen… even a week before race day!

Why do I say that? Because this is SRO’s second attempt at bringing the Intercontinental GT Challenge to America… I specifically signed up to volunteer the PWC season opener at COTA last year just for the Circuit of the America’s 6 hour race… that never happened.

I am glad however that this event took place, and most importantly that it was a success! We only had 19 cars on grid, which is a low number. But the racing was good. One brand dominated… Nobody could keep up with the pace of the Audi’s… not McLaren. Not Acura. And definitely not Porsche whose very reliable 911 GT3 RSR’s started falling lap down first… at one point there was only four cars on the lead lap, which is silly.

Luckily the battles for first were good. Team Land Audi lead for most of the event. Belgian Team WRT took over briefly and then spun out into the kitty litter, going down a few laps by the time it was recovered. And Magnus racing saved the best for last and won. McLaren ran Okay… went down a few times but finished on the lead lap. And Acura didn’t fare so well either. One of the cars DNF’ed… the other finished in fourth or so. I think all of the Porsche 911’s finished a lap down. In GT4 field the Ginetta, Aston Martin and Porsche Cayman had a great battle. And the Invitational Mazda3 V8’s finished a strong 9th and 10th. Which is pretty cool! Those cars were very neat… one was left hand drive, one right hand drive. And featured two shades of the Mazda famous red paint. (while being powered by a Ford Coyote 5.0 liter V8)

So what’s the verdict for this event?

If it happens again, I think it would be tremendously better if more cars show up. That of course could be said about any other event, but in this case it would have made a huge difference.

Anything else they could change?

YES! I hope and pray that SRO or USAC/PWC/SFR SCCA spring up a few bucks to buy some “SC” – Safety Car boards. It was absolutely absurd waving double yellows every time there was full course caution. Who made that decision? It’s Stupid! Any kind of waving yellow flag for no good reason (absent an SC board) waters down/diluted the importance of the safety aspect of waving yellow flags. How much could the boards possibly cost? Can’t SRO just bring their own… I mean they already bring containers full of equipment. Bring the pink Code 60 flag along too! If I could change one thing I would have changed that first…

PWC Season Finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca the debrief

What an amazing way to end my racing season!

I don’t know if things could have gone any more perfectly than they did, but I’m certainly grateful for the awesome outcome. My station assignment was fantastic. I got to sneak in the day before the event to take lots of pictures which I wanted to do. The weather was picture perfect. We had plenty of incidents to keep us busy over the weekend. And I even got a Mazda rental car which I put over 1,000 miles on road triping the central coast of California… how appropriate for dual Mazda-centric events at a place called Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. I am blessed!

As I’ve mentioned before the trip to Cali this time involved two back-to-back events at Laguna Seca. First a massive Miata get together followed by the Pirelli World Challenge season finale which has a huge field of NC Miatas exactly like the car I own (except maybe more racey).

My buddy Ron whom I talked out of booking a hotel during his visit to Watkins Glen and instead convinced him to utilize the RSI campground came through big time by introducing me to some folks (not directly Mazda Miata owners but closely associated nonetheless) who put me up for the full 10 days of my stay. That certainly brought my expenses down and under control… the trip wasn’t cheap though, I paid $129 for the flight out, $159 for the flight home, $196 for the car rental, $120 for fuel, etc. So at the very minimum I dropped $600 bux but it could have been worse. It was totally worth it though.

I had missed the Bay Area and Monterey Peninsula. I missed Laguna Seca so this trip was good for my soul.

The racing was outstanding. We were kept busy. Had some big crashes and spins and cars getting stuck in our gravel. Luckily no one was seriously hurt. The people I worked with were amazing. Super friendly from day one and I really appreciated such warm hospitality.

I was impressed royally with the way the San Francisco Region operates. Including a post I made on facebook that made all the marshals around the world jealous when SFR put on a Steak and Lobster dinner one night for us. What was more impressive was the fact that the dinner was paid for by recyclables. Something so ordinary that any other club in the nation or the world could do themselves, it’s just a matter of implementing the idea.

So after 1,141 miles on my Mazda 5 rental. One trip to San Luis Obispo along the scenic California 1 route along the coast south, and then two trips along California 1 north… first to Half Moon Bay and the other all the way up to San Francisco’s Golden Gate area along the coast. I am really impressed with this experience. There were hiccups along the way to be sure… lick catching a huge nail in the tire on the rental the night before the racing started which got me  a bit worried. But after doing some quick decision making and a $10 purchase at local AutoZone I was all set and secure.

I love this part of California and would love to come back again and again. Hopefully my next trip to Laguna Seca won’t be 3 years away.

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View over the paddock from Turn 2

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SFR folks seem to take great pride in their region, certainly far more than I do with Guam

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And there’s the lobster!

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for those that didn’t want lobster tails there was plenty of chicken

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It was delicious!

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and so were all the lunches

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and other dinners which were served every night

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I brought a whole stash of nibbles for the station… I called this area the mini bar although with all the food provided I hardly relied on mine

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my favorite drink in California!

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I even contributed to the next feast by donating all my empty cans

During the morning meetings we were constantly reminded that 9 out of 10 times we will not respond to incidents. But I was lucky enough to be able to do it… running out on track to pick up a hood that blew off the #37 Mustang in GTS class

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Really happy with that experience, especially on such an iconic track with all it’s elevation changes, high speed corners and lots and lots of dust everywhere which caused some serious incidents

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For the last dinner of the event my bud Ron and I went to the other iconic place in the area, Baja Cantina with all it’s mementos and motorsport memorabilia on the walls, it was righteous!

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After such a great experience for the two weeks spent at Laguna Seca I didn’t want to leave California

I will be back!

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:

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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

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grand prix of long beach indycar imsa pwc 12 turn 8

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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…

Postcard from the Grand Prix of Texas: PWC at COTA

Howdy from another fantastic weekend trackside.

What an amazing experience the Grand Prix of Texas, or officially Nissan Grand Prix of Texas presented by VP Race Fuels, was… I had such a blast it’s hard to describe quickly… I’ll do a more comprehensive debrief when I get home to Jersey, but for the time being I’d like to share a few pictures from the event.

Keyword for the event: VARIETY!

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#MakeDonaldDrumpfAgain 😉

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Some awesome looking MX-5 Racecars that raced in two classes, TCA – the standard MX-5 Cup Cars and the upper TC class that ran big wings and 2.5L engines which were on par with much larger Mustang V6’s and Nissan Z…whatever has the 6 cylinder in it…

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And of course the food was absolutely amazing, as always! Barbecue + Mexican + Tex-Mex, it was sooooo delicious!

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As usual big thanks to my buddy Joaquin for hosting me for this week, and chauffeuring me around to the track and all the restaurants. Big thanks to Brent McNaul the Flag Chief of the Lone Star SCCA Region for making my trip awesome with amazing station assignments each day… I got to do Turn 3 for the first time, Turn 1 and Turn 9… and all saw some great action there. Thank you so much! And a huge thanks to Jeanie Caulfield for taking care of the marshals with all the breakfasts, lunches and swag at the end. This is much appreciated and encouraging to come back again and again!

I’m very grateful for how everything went down during this event.

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Turn 3

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Turn 1

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Turn 9

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Yep… Have Flags and Will Travel!