Tag Archives: Monterey

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…

Another Post Card from the Grand Prix of Monterey and the California 8 hour at Laguna Seca

I wanted to share a few pix from the actual flag points during the PWC and SRO weekend at Laguna Seca… so here it goes.

My goal was to work in pit lane for this event. I was introduced to someone who chiefs that specialty and that person never replied. So to not miss the event, I decided to volunteer as a flagger and instead of requesting a specific post to work (like I did in previous years, like Turn 8 Corkscrew or Turn 2 last year for this very event) I just asked to be put wherever they needed me. And lucky for me they needed me in some very cool place. I got to work for two days in the beginning at Turn 3 which was amazing… and for the last two days of racing at Turn 11 which took the cake!

1957 was an amazing year it turns out… Lime Rock was built in 1957 and are celebrating their 60th this year. So is Laguna Seca apparently, and even VIRginia International Raceway was built in ’57 except that track went on hiatus for a bunch of years recently.

View from Turn 3 towards Turn 2 above and Turn 4 below.

A super convenient station which allowed me to sneak out to do another paddock walk to take some pictures during lunch time on Thursday. My awesome coworker helped me out by grabbing lunch for me at the Social tent which was delicious… I wolfed it down before the practice resumed in the afternoon.

The only European team in attendance. Belgian WRT Audi which “almost” won this event if it didn’t take aggressive actions against another fast Audi that lead most of the race and spun out into the gravel going down several laps before it was pulled out.

Pretty car though…

The Audi R8 that lead most of the race… they also had their Daytona 24 hour IMSA car on display in the paddock. Lead most of the race but were overtaken by Magnus Racing Audi towards the end.

Winner winner, chicken dinner.

Mazda of course had a prominent display in the paddock including their Miata “halfie” street/race car. And the new RF fastback.

I did some shopping before coming to the track so I had plenty of snacks to much on during the weekend…

Oh look “CARS” stamped fishies…

It was cooler in the mornings but the temps went up during the day, and the sun was pretty brutal especially at Turn 11 where I was without any cover during race days.

San Francisco Region SCCA did a fantastic job as usual feeding us.

Though I didn’t win this t-shirt that I really wanted, my buddy Ron who did win for some crazy reason offered to me. I’m super grateful!

On Friday evening SRO had rolled out all it’s cars for a group photo…

A very small group of only 19 cars to race for the 8 hour endurance, most of which typically only race sprint 2 to 3 hour races with PWC. team WRT of course and MARC Cars Australia have more endurance racing experience with Spa 24 and Bathurst 12 hours under their respective belts (along with many others I’m sure).

Thank goodness I had a bunch of bandanas to cover up so I didn’t fry my face… on Sunday it turns out Fort Ord conducted a controlled burn which scared the crap out of a lot of fellow marshals. Especially people working pit lane when ash started raining down (near fuel rigs). Oops!

My buddy Adam who hosted me for the weekend and who also works for SCRAMP came to visit me at Turn 3 and Turn 11.

Monday morning it was a wrap… a wrap of my two week California getaway. Speaking of wraps, I love the cover Adam is using on his Miata, and should probably invest in one for my car. Fits like a glove.

We grabbed one final lunch at my favorite diner in Salinas that severs the freshest salad I’ve ever had: Elli’s (get it, like Ellis Island)

And I headed back to return my 2017 Hyunday Accent at Hertz Seaside before heading back to Monterey.

I’m used to seeing Canadian flags here in New York at most places, but in California obviously the Mexican flag is more prevalent.

Then caught a $2.50 bus ride to the MRY – Monterey Regional Airport just a few miles away from town… where Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was prominently on display encouraging people to visit.

It was such a fantastic trip. I would love to go back…

Day 3: Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca – Driving the Circuit

The final day of Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was perhaps my best day in California yet because I got a chance (second year in a row) to drive a NC Miata around the circuit! WOO HOO! My buddy Peter with a beautiful NC2 Silver Soft Top allowed me the opportunity to drive his car after we lined everyone else up for the lunch time parade laps. We were the last car on track in the tail as the head of the parade lead by Moss Miata people caught up behind us. Apparently it takes 350 cars going somewhat swiftly to safely populate Laguna Seca two-wide.

I love this track… I really do love Laguna Seca, what a fantastic place!

I stand corrected on my previous claim of where Miata owners came from… turns out there were MX-5’s from as far as ALASKA!

this is another gorgeous NC in dark green… emerald?

Oh look… my Miata!

Great view of the gorgeous AMG GT’s from the track experience…

My beautiful ride for the drive around the Circuit… this NC2 Sport

Shortly before our parade laps… all lined up!

Let’s go… oh wait more cars on the way!

A Playboy MX-5 Cup car, much like this inspired me to buy mine…

Fewer cars for the parade laps on Sunday compared to Saturday, which was great for going around the track a little quicker…

A gorgeous day for a drive around Laguna Seca!

Fin! The end to a wonderful experience…

Some more photos from the day in the paddock

Sad to see this beautiful NC from north of the border crash on Saturday… apparently the owner would have some explaining to do at immigration before crossing back into Canada

We adjusted the office set up to deal with the strong sun…

Maybe one of these days in the future I’ll get a ride around the track at speed in this official Pace Car (that was actually used next weekend for the Pirelli World Challenge/California 8 hour race)

More shots of the crashie:


…even the glass cracked 🙁

Safety first!

And that’s a wrap. What a fantastic event. So proud to be a part of it. Thanks again to Rick Weldon and the whole crew for welcoming into the volunteer fold. I am super thankful! I highly recommend this event to everyone that would listen. And would love an opportunity to come back and participate again in the future… if I can.

Day 2: Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca – The Ride Along

This year’s event was considerably smaller than last year’s… but the quality in my opinion was outstanding. It was cozier. I think people got their money’s worth for those that paid for track time. I got to work the merchandise area again like last year… showing up bright and early around 7:30am but the highlight of my day was around noon when I helped with aligning the cars for a big group parade lap around the famous Laguna Seca circuit. And best of all I caught a ride around the track with my buddy Daniel from Atlanta, Georgia

Cobra eh?

My office for the weekend… sold a ton of poster sets, most of the previous year’s t-shirts and we absolutely ran out of all of the current year t-shirts. Great sales day I would say!

I think my favorite car of the weekend…

The Playboy MX-5 Cup cars were literally the reason why I started my interest in Miata’s… and after one crashed into my station at Road Atlanta during Petit Le Mans I knew I wanted to buy one.

Checking out the vendor’s wears on display in the paddock

A Miata celebrity autograph session…

My buddy Daniel’s car sprung a leak after the first session on track, pissing coolant all over the place… I’m amazed he was able to drive it 2,500 miles back to Georgia after racing on track. Craziness!!!

Daniel is running meaty 245 size tires all around… wow! And I thought going to 215 was going wide, lol

Moving off the paddock to the staging area… first customer was from Las Vegas, Nevada

And while I waited for cars to show up to populate our “pre-grid” there was a parking lot of AMG Track Experience cars for me to oogle at… they were parked 11 across and 10 deep… over 100 cars!

That’s a lot of Miata’s… about 350 to be exact

My chariot for the parade laps… a 2008 MX-5 track car I first met in Duluth, Georgia on my trip to Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama and VIR in Virginia.

Here we goooo…

We were supposed to do maybe 2 or 3 laps, but that was turned into a full 30 minute session with many more laps than just a few.

The Corkscrew!

Thanks Daniel!

The famous starter stand…

One of my favorite flag points at Laguna Seca, Flag Point #8

Love the way Daniel has his car set up. Great noise from the exhaust. Comfortable racing seats and a good roll cage which I hope he’ll never have to use at his track days.

Love seeing a Miata with diplomatic plates… I’m guessing a child of a Consul to the USA?

Doing some quick shopping at the Laguna Seca Souvenir shop

Wonder why no Fiata’s showed up for this event…

And the day ended with a delicious dinner with a bunch of Miata owners… HUGE thanks to Rick Weldon for letting me be part of this event… I am forever grateful!

Gnarly California Trip 2017

Another radical trip in the books… this time I spent nearly two weeks on Monterey Peninsula in Northern California enjoying myself at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

This post will act as a glossary of all of my activities and adventures, which included:

I’ll be writing the individual posts over the next few days so please stay tuned…

The trip went absolutely wonderfully. It’s been a while since the last event so I was well rested and enjoyed the experience very much. Instead of paying for a cheap flight I broke down and burned some frequent flyer miles to get to California. Which meant I could do some crazy routing to finally fly directly into Monterey. On the way over I used my Alaska miles that I got by converting Virgin America points (which Alaska bought out)… luckily two out of the three legs of the trip were actually on VX which was super enjoyable. I love their Airbus A320’s. I flew New York to San Francisco. Instead of getting off the plane and driving two hours, I spent the next four hours in the air over California. First taking another VX flight to San Diego where I connected to an Alaska Air operated by Horizon prop-plane Bombardier Q400 to fly back up to Monterey. My goal was to fly over Laguna Seca and take some shots, but 7:30pm this time of year meant complete darkness… so the only visual I have of the track is what I saw… it’ll stay in my mind instead of captured on a cell phone camera.

Car rentals at MRY weren’t cheap… as expected. But instead of paying $400-500’s for convenience I instead booked a car from Hertz Local Edition in Seaside (and Salinas as a backup)… it was only $162 which is a great deal for a two week rental. Got a Hyundai Accent which got a solid 33mpg! And because I’m so broke I tried not to do too many California road trips… ironically when I returned the car I had put 805 miles on it, which surprised me!

The two events at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca were fantastic!

I got a chance to get a ride in all versions of the NC Miata… the early years NC1 – my buddy Daniel from Gerogia who drove his 2008 all the way cross-country for this event. Then hopped into the same NC2 I drove around the track last year (the owner let me drive it again which was awesome!) And finally my host in Prunedale owns an awesome looking NC3 which I was lucky to ride in again. We met at the Miata’s at Laguna Seca event last year and him hosting me for the duration of the trip was probably the only thing that made this all possible.

I can’t say enough positive things about my Cali visit this year. It’ll probably be a while before I get a chance to go again, so I’m going to savor the memories and share them on this blog along with many pictures.

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Trip Booked in October 2017

I’m really happy to say that the West Coast trip of 2017 has been booked. I had the privilege of participating in my first Miata’s at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca event last year followed by an exciting weekend of Pirelli World Challenge at the same facility, and this year I’m going to repeat the trip. Flights have been booked. Events registered for, the only thing left to do is find cheap accommodation.

It’s exciting!

First, I cashed in some airline miles to actually fly into Monterey (MRY) this time. No more flying to the Bay Area (SFO, OAK, SJC) and driving two hours. Instead I wanted to see the track from the air and there’s no better way than to fly into the Monterey Regional Airport which takes the final approach right over the circuit.

Second, I can’t wait to volunteer again with the organizers of Miata’s at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca event. It was such an amazing opportunity last year I couldn’t pass it up this year:  https://www.miatasatmazdaraceway.com/

Third, PWC is going to be a blast because of a potential race that may actually take place this year. I may sound a little skeptical because the SRO advertised a US round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge a year ago at COTA with a proposed 6 hour race, which never happened, and now the California 8 hour enduro is on schedule but suspiciously very little information is available about it. At the very least I think the PWC event will take place, and last year it was great fun to volunteer it. But as a fan of endurance racing I want to see this California 8 hour race happen. More importantly I love the concept of teams flying in their talent… race car drivers, engineers, crew and renting local vehicles to compete instead of flying all that machinery in with them (from Europe, Asia, Australia, etc.) The concept is cool, there are certainly plenty of PWC and IMSA teams that wouldn’t mind making some money from rentals in this way, but will it actually happen? We’ll wait and see.

I will have a few days of downtime between events, so my goal (besides finding cheap accommodation) is to find something to do from Monday to Wednesday in early October. I’ve done road trips up to San Francisco and down to Saint Luis Obispo last year. This time I’d like to do something different.

Can’t wait!


PS. as an avgeek I used some of my recently converted Virgin America miles to book a flight with Alaska Airways whom have absorbed VX… lucky for me, I’ll still get to fly Virgin’s A320’s.. and the routing I booked is a little crazy. I’ll do JFK-SFO on a VX A320, connecting to SFO-SAN on a VX A320, my first flight into San Diego, for absolutely no other reason than to connect to a puddle jumper Bombardier Q400 on Horizon Air to do SAN-MRY. It’s going to be fun arriving Monterey on a little propeller plane. On the way back I’ll fly United Express Canadair CRJ-200 MRY-LAX, connecting to a red-eye transcon Boeing 757 on LAX-EWR route. So many dots and lines for my flight map thanks to frequent flyer miles.

Woo Hoo! Got to do a Parade Lap in NC2 MX-5 During Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

Probably the most unexpected thing that happened the weekend of Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca event was me ending up behind the wheel of a beautiful gray NC2 MX-5 doing a closing lap at the end of the parade lap session on Sunday… Yep, I got to freaking drive Laguna Seca and it was mighty awesome!




























For a weekend that will be remembered for it’s sensory overload, I think this is by far the highlight of the whole trip! Thanks to everyone that made this possible!

Mazda MX-5 RF: Finally Caught the Retractable Fastback in Person during Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

The Mazda MX-5 Miata RF has been as elusive for me as the Millionth Miata but I finally caught a glimpse of it in person at the Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca event in Monterey, Cali this weekend… What a pretty car!








Somebody left it overnight at our Merchandise garage so I got some up close snaps of it before it was rolled out on display outside…




I do like it!

Maybe this thing will replace my current NC1 GT PRHT… Hmm!

Post Card from 2016 Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

For a last minute trip this one was a super exciting one and worth every penny I spent on it thus far. After reading about Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca taking place this October in Monterey, California… one of the biggest Miata get togethers in the US, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to be a part of it. I’ll write in greater detail about my experience but for now I’ll share some pix:


Picking up a rental car at Hertz San Francisco… what do  you know, it’s a Mazda… a Mazda5  (missing the MX obviously)


First stop, Embassy Suites where they threw a big welcoming BBQ











Oh, hello MX-5 RF… finally we meet:



And just like that, they put me to work… love volunteering with these guys:



Great atmosphere, tons of Miata people and even more food!


First day at the track volunteering at the merchandise store first and then aligning the cars for the group photo and the parade lap:





Lots of Miata Exocets in attendance





Huge thanks to a new friend Adam for volunteering to give me a ride in the parade lap…turns out Adam is a scrutineer at various Pro events including WEC and F1 at COTA… methinks I’ll be seeing Adam again at various tracks volunteering races together. Thanks Adam!












Mazda really had their logos everywhere on this track


The first night ended with another amazing dinner that they invited me to just for volunteering…. Very awesome of them!


The views from the Red Bull VIP lounge were amazing


The entertainment and food were amazing also!



Loved these scallops in bacon!


Miatas everywhere you look at Laguna Seca









All the vendors on one side of the paddock and then official Miatas at MRLS merchandise area where I volunteered on the other:



We were right next to the Millionth Miata and MX-5 RF displays:










Patriotic Canadians came from British Columbia and Alberta




Oh look, it’s my car!






And then the event came to a close… and I took my Mazda5 around for a little Laguna Seca photo shoot:













Bye Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca!  Hello to Pirelli World Challenge which I’ll volunteer for next week at Laguna Seca 🙂



Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Bucket List

After compiling a list of all of my recent MX-5 Miata Road Trips I realized there’s one event I really must add to my bucket list: the Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca happening this October.

Why is this an important event?

I could think of a bunch of reasons… for one, Laguna Seca is a fantastic facility and a home of Mazda Motorsports and Mazdaspeed activities. The Global MX-5 Cup championship opened at Laguna Seca last weekend. California is perhaps the best place to own a Miata or at the very least a very appropriate place to visit, cruising to Big Sur along the PCH with the top down. And the best part there would be hundreds if not thousands of fellow MX-5 nuts in attendance many of whom would drive their cars there while others like me would be able to fly in and possibly rent one.

I’m seriously considering doing this event one year!

Here’s the promo pitch:

Miatas at Mazda Raceway has established itself as one of the must-do events on the Miata calendar. Don’t miss out.
The event will take place on October 1-2, 2016.
Registration for the hot laps will open at 9 am PDT on May 21st.
We’re still working on details, but here’s what you can probably expect.
  • 2 days of track time at world famous Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
  • Hundreds of Miatas and Miata enthusiasts of all types
  • Parade laps on Saturday and Sunday
  • Vendors on hand with displays and demos and product specials
  • A BBQ and car show on Friday night
  • A party with live band on Saturday night



miatas at mazda raceway laguna seca october 2016