It has been over eight months since my last Motorsport track visit. Finally! Something came along locally that I actually wanted to be a part of. MotoAmerica Championship of New Jersey at NJMP is always amazing and I’m super happy I was able to take part this weekend even though I’ll miss out on a full day of racing (Sunday) due to work.
Work has certainly put a damper on this hobby. By the time I finished Thursday night I only managed to get two hours of sleep before driving down south Friday morning for the ridiculously early 6:40am meeting at NJMP. Luckily it was good weather, sunny and only a small chance of weather that did not materialize, except for one instance of lightning that had us briefly evacuated causing a shortened practice session. I had a great night of rest at a local cheap motel… “cheap” when it comes to quality… not the price which they jacked from $56/night normally to almost double $96/+ tax because a pro race is in town. Thanks Quality Inn. But I can’t complain too much. NJMP pays for this event so my expenses will be covered. Saturday it was rain all day long. And to be honest I missed it. I missed the experience so much I thoroughly enjoyed the misery. Had to change my whites at lunch time because even with rain gear it was getting cold and uncomfortable. But all in all a fantastic weekend. Tons of action, lots of good fun. Now my feet are burning and I’m back to sitting on my ass all day at work tomorrow. Happy with the memories I made.
Blue must be the most suitable bike color…
My first and last local race in the books. Until next year!
My biggest surprise of this weekend was the lack of any visual spotter guides available for any of the three major MotoAmerica series racing at NJMP for the Championship of New Jersey presented by K&N.
How could that be?
It seems like such a no-brainer idea but I was not able to find anything online or after attending the refresh training session on Thursday night. I really think that a sport as popular as this AMA Pro series should totally offer a visual spotter guide much like those offered in IMSA racing, PWC or IndyCar. Even NASCAR does paint scheme stories on their web site ahead of some races to let their fan base know what their favorite driver will be driving and what the livery on that vehicle will look like. I realize that there are potential sponsorship implications, as sponsors change from race to race perhaps, but its no excuse why there shouldn’t be a basic guide to what each team’s and rider’s bikes look like.
I would have really appreciated to have a reference guide to call bikes into Race Control based on what they look like from a distance, it was not always possible to read the bike number, especially in cases where the number was three digits. Those 3 digit bike numbers were pretty much impossible to read when the bike was down, or far away like at Station 12 where I was on Friday.
So yea… if anyone at MotoAmerica is reading please consider making one… Thank you very much for the consideration!
Took me a while to tell the difference between two factory Suzuki teams… turns out the one with a zebra paint scheme was the Superbike team and the one with a single colored stripe is a Supersport 1000 team… Ah hah!
I know this Yamaha team has been using this livery for at least a few years… and so does the factory Yamaha team:
The bikes most difficult to tell apart were the KTM RC Cup liveries:
Greetings from a beautiful weekend in South Jersey volunteering for my only bike race of this season with MotoAmerica Championship Superbikes, Superstock and Supersport bikes supported by KTM RC Cup and Vintage Bikes.
Enjoy the over 100 pix from Race Day on Sunday… and stay tuned for more to come about this awesome event.
I got to work Turn 7 which is probably the best station at Thunderbolt and certainly for me, because during our long lunch hour I was able to just walk into the paddock area and check out all the bikes… spectator bikes, bikes for sale, racing bikes, etc.
The young kids riding… that is really inspiring!
notice the missing BMW engine behind the cowling…
These KTM spec series bikes are really neat!
Love seeing all these vintage bikes, many of them for sale!
And of course lots of new stuff for sale, Suzuki and others had a great test ride opportunity with customers going on a cruise in a convoy of new bikes around Millville, New Jersey
NJMP offered a good discounted lunch option for us, all for $5 bux
Philly Cheesesteak, fries, chips and drink.
By the time I finished my lunch, the grid walk was wrapping up… so I did some drive-by shooting of pix as the bikes were getting ready to grid up and race.
The kids riding area was super cool… I think a few racers actually joined them which looked pretty funny but must have been an amazing opportunity to inspire the young riders to pursue this hobby further.
It’s great to see them actively recruiting, I’ve gotten several invitations over the past few days that I wanted to share with the readers here… I totally think that you should sign up especially if you like motorcycles! It’s a mind blowing experience.
Volunteers Needed for Circuit of the Americas April 20th – 23th
MotoAmerica is looking for a few good men. And women. MotoAmerica is seeking volunteers who want to assist the series and be a part of the action that is the 2017 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Championship.
“Those who volunteer their time to MotoAmerica races add to the safe and efficient running of our events,” said MotoAmerica Race Operations Manager Niccole Cox. “Like MotoGP and World Superbike, we use volunteers to help our staff, our volunteers are a great group of people who are passionate about motorcycle racing in the US. We always try to have a little fun with our Volunteer BBQ with a star rider each round, where the volunteers get to break bread and have some very candid conversations with our stars. The riders very much enjoy being able to meet the people who donate their time to our events, and it lead to some great conversations that most fans will never see. Our volunteers get closer to the racing action than any other fans, and learn what it takes to put on such a large event. The program continues to grow each year, and we are thrilled at the progress and the impact it has made on our organization”
MotoAmerica will provide training, free camping options, guest and parking passes, plus lunch on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at each event. At stand alone events, MotoAmerica Volunteers will also be treated to a Saturday night BBQ with MotoAmerica staff and the opportunity to talk with one of the racers, up close and personal!
Positions are available for Tire Marshal and Technical Control specialties ONLY for Circuit of the Americas.
F&C marshals Track marshals, and medics are being organized by the COTA staff. If you are interested in these positions for this event, please view their event page here. Do you have a medical background? They are in need of you especially!
Here is a brief description of those positions:
• Tire marshal: assists tire-control coordinator in paddock, hot pit, and grid to ensure competitors follow tire-allocation regulations.
• Technical control: supports technical director to certify racing motorcycles conform to rulebook.
Again I would strongly encourage Motorsport marshals and enthusiasts to sign up for this event because it is simply spectacular. For this particular round MotoAmerica plays a support role to the amazing MotoGP event… Expect the crowds for this to be massive and also expect lots of swag from CoTA for your participation. No experience is necessary and in fact Flagging by Faynisha does an excellent job of training you leading up to the big races.
Poking around the MotorsportReg web site I noticed that MotoAmerica is recruiting volunteers for a lot of tracks where it has become almost impossible to play at without being employed by the track. This is excellent opportunity to visit the facility as an insider, specifically for places like Barber Motorsports Park, VIR, Sonoma or Utah Motorsports Complex. Click here for additional information:
For a last minute trip, my visit to COTA for MotoGP and MotoAmerica racing was as good a trip as it gets. I’ve said this to a few people over the past few weeks of marshaling and I don’t think they can really wrap their brains around this statement so let’s break it down here.
I was set to go to Watkins Glen for the NASCAR Motorsport Safety Seminar… I chickened out when I saw snow and freezing temps on the forecast. It did indeed snow and was freezing Upstate New York but I didn’t sit around at home sulking. I booked a flight the day before my departure for Texas. Austin was expensive… of course it would be, I’m only competing with tens of thousands of spectators, teams, officials, etc. So I flew to Dallas. It cost $63 one way on American Airlines and $62 on the way back flying United.
Unlike the last trip a month ago for PWC, Megabus was pricey and the scheduling didn’t work. So I elected to try Greyhound… it still cost almost $30 bux round trip, and the experience was crazy to say the least… I was pretty surprised by the type of folks that ride Greyhound, especially those that make their journey across the whole country, but that’s a story for another time. Lucky for me the Greyhound station is very near to my friend Joaquin’s home and it was quite convenient to get a ride to and from the track there.
Joaquin had a full house so I used my tent that lives in Texas to camp at COTA which worked out very well. It was especially convenient since I told Jeanie that I’d be happy to flag, be a track marshal or deliver lunches and she snagged me to help out with track ops, where among other things I really did do deliver lunches. It was the hardest I had ever worked at a track while volunteering. I was running around so much I had to change my shirt during lunch time because it was completely soaken wet. But it was such a blast.
Probably the coolest experience for me was driving around on track delivering marshals to their stations. I got to use the Toyota Tundra to take a small group to Turn 20A and 20B, and then raced back around the track to see if more people needed rides. I also used a golf cart to run many errands driving around the inner and outer rings of the circuit as well as multiple trips to the paddock. Unlike other series, Dorna really enforced the rule of nobody but officials in pit lane and garages. Everyone got scanned in and out. And since we didn’t get the credentials the only time I got to go there was during the pit walk which we shared with spectators.
But I feel I really got my money’s worth. I was issued blue overalls and a tabard so when numbers were short Saturday morning I was the only flagger at Turn 16. Then I got another track ops person to join me. Then I got pulled off when a real flagger turned up. And as I was leaving I got to help push a striken bike onto the gator transport. It was pretty awesome. On race day I got to spectate from Turn 1 and when things went crashy I got to push another bike up on the transport while the track marshal who was working there was trying to get his hand looked on which he burned by accidentally touching the smoking hot exhaust pipe under the seat. Apparently it burned right thru the glove.
All in all it was the best time I had ever had at COTA and I wouldn’t rule it out that I would sign up again for this position for another big event like Formula 1 later this year.
For a last minute trip it was much better executed than some of my longer planned in advance events. But of course I enjoy returning to COTA and thanks to my buddy Joaquin who’s been keeping my tent for me for a few years as well as Jeanie Caulfied who always makes me welcome back in Austin (even on less than 24 hours notice) things went super smoothly.
I’ll write another entry when I have a little bit more time, it’s basically 1:30am and I’ve just flown in from Dallas via Houston and my alarm is set for 5:30am to go on the next trip to Long Beach.
But suffice to say I had my best time at COTA yet (I think I said this about the trip for PWC last month, but this one beat it by a mile!).
Instead of flagging or track marshaling I suggested to Jeanie that I’d be happy to deliver lunches. And she let me do it! How difficult could that job be? right?… well, I worked my ass off! I was absolutely gutted by the last day of the event and my body basically gave out. I burned myself out. But I had a blast doing it. The Track Ops position that I volunteered for is far more than just delivering lunches to 300+ marshals. I got to drive on track twice a day to deliver marshals to their stations. I got to drive the ring road more than a dozen times a day running errands, everything from delivering late comer marshals to drink and ice runs, to lunch deliveries. I got to fill in on flags when the flag chief was short on people. And I was even lucky enough to push a few bikes on the gator transports when there were incidents at stations I was either assigned to or happened to be in the area. It was such a blast. I feel like I had gotten to do it all, and then some… Definitely not a position I had ever the privilege of experiencing before and one I would love to do again… for F1.
But enough talk… I must get some sleep… in the mean time, here’s some photos:
Every morning I got to do a lap around the COTA circuit to deliver marshals to station, and every afternoon I got to do another to bring them back to the mustering tent.
Of all the rigs at our disposal for “Hospitality Operations Services” I got to wheel every one of them, from pick up trucks to golf carts.
Was super glad we got to do the pit lane walk, although having to share it with spectators kind of took away from it being as special, that and of course it was too crowded to take some decent pix. (especially when the crowd in front of Rossi’s and Marquez’s garages was at least five deep)
For MotoGP the paddock and garages was difficult to access without credentials (which we didn’t have), but MotoAmerica was far more welcoming and we made a number of rounds through it to pick up ice and run other errands.
Ducati Islands in vendor village was like a candy store, so many cool bikes on display it was awesome.
But most awesome was getting to watch the event from different stations and therefore get some amazing perspectives I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.
It was nice to see so many marshals passionate about Motorcycles, many rode their bikes to the event. Some showed up in Miata’s… like this Niseki Edition:
Fantastic time! Can’t thank Jeanie enough for the opportunity!
Fucking Hell! If I put this much effort into job seeking or a real career as I do into my Motorsport volunteering I’d be a millionaire by now… but I am still one good idea away from being successful.
Lucky for me, things seem to be working out for this weekend.
I had committed to the idea of attending the NASCAR track services training (MSS: the Motorsport Safety Seminar) at Watkins Glen but the weather isn’t looking so pretty. It probably wouldn’t have been a big deal had I still used a Ford Explorer or a Jeep to get around, but with Spring-like weather for the past few weeks and me changing to my Summer-tires already on the Miata driving in freezing temps is not my idea of fun… or “safe” for that matter.
But I was determined to be at a race track this weekend, so what did I do? I booked a freaking flight to TEXAS!
Where I had failed to participate in MotoGP at COTA last year I will succeed this year! Thankfully Jeanie Caulfied replied to my urgent e-mail and I’ll get to volunteer in some capacity at the track this weekend, not quite sure what it’ll be… whether waving flags, picking up bikes, recoveries, or delivering lunches. I’m up for it!
To my biggest surprise the airfare between here and Texas wasn’t that ridiculous considering I booked a flight one day before departure! I am finanging a little bit with my routing, departing from Philadelphia on Wednesday morning on a direct flight to Dallas, and returning from Dallas to New York’s LaGuardia via Houston Intercontinental on Monday… which should get me home in time for a few hours of sleep before my departure for California (via Chicago). I am very excited thought. I still haven’t found a way to get from Dallas to Austin yet, and I’m not sure whether I’ll be camping or CouchSurfing yet, but those details I’ll iron out on the fly.
The most important thing is: I’m volunteering for MotoGP at COTA!
Every year, without fail, I get a thick envelope in the mail from Australia inviting me to marshal the SBK Superbike World Championship round at Phillip Island. And since I’m invited, you’re invited through this blog post!
It’s such a heartwarming experience opening the envelope and seeing the invitation letter and application forms… it’s awesome! No other organization has had such a great follow up like the team staffing this FIM event at an incredible racetrack: Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit about 2 hour drive outside of Melbourne, Victoria. And I wish I could have tacked on this event to my upcoming trip to Bathurst in 2016, but there’s just too much time between the two events.
The last time I participated at Phillip Island for this event was 2013, working rescue at “Siberia” turn. It was incredible!
I highly recommend this event to anyone interested in marshaling. The racing is fantastic. The crowd of spectators is huge and very enthusiastic. And the marshaling team treats you really well.
Interested? Get in touch, I’ll forward on the application paperwork.