Tag Archives: mrti

Thank You Scott Lucas and the Pit Crew for the VIP Treatment at Daytona 24, St. Pete GP & Sebring 12

I want to express my gratitude to the men and women I worked with over the past three consecutive Florida races, two of them back-to-back and especially our Chief of Pit & Grid Marshals Scott Lucas. Thank you sir!

What an incredible opportunity this has been. It’s definitely a first in my seven years of marshaling that I found a team that welcomed me as well as these folks. I am so grateful!

Needless to say I would love to be back and work with them again, and I hope they will extend more opportunities to me in the future.

What a great bunch of people to volunteer with!

I can’t say enough good things… except:

Thank you for Daytona 24 hour!

Thank you for St. Pete Grand Prix

And thank you very much for Sebring 12 hour!

See you next time….

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg the debrief

What an amazing experience this year’s Firestone Grand Prix of Saint Petersburg was. I had a blast!

I signed up to volunteer as a pit & grid marshal and spend the entire event in pit lane near pit out. Occasionally during my off time I went to spectate at Turns 2 and Turn 10 as well as do a little bit of flagging from the amazing Turn 12. My favorite events of the race weekend were everything but IndyCar but since they were the big boys in town I did enjoy spectating their time on track. We didn’t have much to do during the IndyCar sessions because that series brings their own Pit people to work the event, so instead I took some pix…

So for this event the role I was assigned was more of an observer in nature than anything else. Having worked the Indy race at Pocono Raceway with Team Pocono, the paddock at Daytona for the 24 and as pit fire at VIR for IMSA, the pit lane observer role was familiar for me. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to do where I was stationed at pit out. It seems the St. Pete GP folks contracted the event “volunteers” – a separate group from CFR SCCA folks that I was part of, to do the crowd control duties. But I noticed the people were a bit timid and didn’t really stop anyone from crowding various pit boxes, or assisting much for teams bringing cars onto the pit lane from the paddock. The time went by slow because of the lack of duties, but there couldn’t be a better spot to watch what’s happening in pit lane other than maybe watching it on TV. I enjoyed the experience.

Post race we were right in the thick of things as the winning drivers walked past us towards the podium.

As we wrapped up and walked towards our worker shuttles I noticed this little Disney jem… a Mickey Mouse race car and boy do I think it looks sooooo much better than the massive billboards the actual Indy Cars have become. I’m not a big fan of the series. To me IndyCar feels a lot like the open wheel version of NASCAR where good drivers go to retire. And I’m sure the series could be improved greatly if it aspired to be more Formula 1 rather than NASCAR. Instead of one chassis supplier Dallara, there should be more variety. Optimize the wings and things for aero more than advertising space, and things would improve. Watching the crowds at this event though I can see they are not exactly struggling, so let them ride a wave of success and ignore my difference in taste of the outward appearances.

Besides the actual event, I am absolutely in love with St. Petersburg and the Gulf Coast of Florida in general. I would totally love to move to the Tampa Bay area, Clearwater, St. Pete Beach, or even Brandenton… it’s far more laid back than South Florida/Miami area and just as exotic. I’m sure there are tourism and motorsport based businesses I could make a living at. And check out some of the murals and street graffiti around downtown St. Pete, it’s simply uplifting… I want to live here!

One final highlight of the trip. I had booked a cheap motel about 10 miles north of the track. It had horrible reviews and I was cringing at the idea of staying there. After much thought I decided to change my plans and reach out to people on CouchSurfing to host me. The fella that accepted my request turned out to be awesome and I had an absolute blast staying there… just a few blocks from the track. Before heading back to Daytona after the race I offered to buy my host dinner for his troubles and he chose a really tasty option, burgers at Engine 9 downtown. It was a great experience!

… another Florida event is next on my calendar: Sebring 12 hour!

Post Card from Firestone St Petersburg Grand Prix

What a difference a year makes…

Last year I felt a little bit stuck between Turns 8 and 9 at the St. Pete GP street circuit. This year however I decided to give Pit Marshaling a try and what an incredible difference that made. I’ll write in greater detail about what that role entailed, but suffice to say I had an absolute blast. It gave me some freedom to roam around during the off time and visit some amazing stations from Turn 2 which was the nearest to my post to Turns 10 and 12 which required a bit of a walk… but that took me to the spectator area and all the cool things on offer there. I loved every minute of it!

We were off to a quiet start, literally being inside the pit lane at pit out making sure no one got in a way of cars entering the circuit.

Of course being that close to cars was an excellent perspective. Sure you see cars close at some of the turns, but they’re going rather fast. In pit lane the speed limit was 35mph and I got a great view and sound off of the passing cars like the new Panoz Avezzano GT.

I should say that the pictures were taken while off duty, and while the cars were returning to their paddock on the other side of the track through the Turn 1 opening.

So much Britishness!

There was a collection of safety cars, pace cars and course cars near pit exit that we walked past every morning. Later on during the races there was quite a collection of broken down race cars there too.

The front stretch on this street course actually is a runway of the local airport, so looking down the straight towards Tampa Bay you could see an occasional sail boat going by on the blue water, while small planes were coming in for a landing on the runway that remained active during the event. I shouldn’t say just small planes, a rather large Coast Guard cargo plane also landed which was impressive to say the least!

This was my post!

Up close to many of the drivers and the series officials.

Love all the Mazda branded race stuff on pit lane…

I thought this was cool, a train of race cars being pulled off pit lane.

Exotica!

The Panoz team didn’t do so well though the car ran strong… turns out there will be a pair of those Avezzanos racing in this series!

Central Florida Region fed the marshals real well over the weekend.

A mini Moke!

Oh and I got to flag at Turn 12 / Timeline during my off sessions!

Thanks to Craig from Canada for taking the pictures, that’s his finger you see in the top right corner.

Darren Gunn from CFR did a great job printing these large scale spotter guides for the past two events, Daytona and St. Pete!

The sun was brutal, I got fried… but these snowballs were refreshing

View of the starter stand where I’d like to end up one day…

View from Turn 10, one of the most exotic views I feel on the track

I’m sure my little nephews would enjoy this spectator attraction.

I’ll make another post fro the IndyCar specific pix.

St. Pete GP Spotter Guides

I was really hoping to share a spotter guide from the Pirelli World Challenge Championship round #1 starting tomorrow but it doesn’t seem to be ready yet. So touche… but IndyCar, the headlining series of the St. Pete Grand Prix have released their spotter guide and it’s available for download here: http://www.gpstpete.com/ and here:  http://bit.ly/2mG1zqh

I’m not all that partial to IndyCar and part of the reason is the stale nature of the cars themselves… I don’t think the design changed much forever… neither have the paint jobs. Most of the teams have sported the same stickers for a few years now, so there’s that.

But since I am very interested in PWC, I’m just going to describe some of the stuff I’m really looking forward to seeing tomorrow in the paddock:

Panoz Avezzano GT is making a debut, and so is Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R which looks pretty mean from the pics I’ve seen so far.

The St. Pete GP round will only see GT, GTA and GTS cars race, which is some of the best sports cars out there (no Miatas though)

The variety from the entry list seems incredible, check it out:  http://files.world-challenge.com/events/2017-03-stpt/2017-PWC-STPT-EntryList.pdf

  • Mercedes-AMG GT3
  • Cadillac ATS-V.R
  • Audi R8 LMS
  • McLaren 650S
  • Acura NSX GT3
  • Ferrari 488 GT3
  • Porsche 911 GT3 R
  • Aston Martin Vantage GT3
  • Bentley Continental GT3
  • Ferrari Challenge Evo
  • SIN R1 GT4
  • Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR
  • Porsche 911 GT3 Cup
  • KTM X-bow GT4
  • Ginetta G55
  • Ford Mustang BOSS 302
  • Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R
  • Panoz Avezzano GT
  • McLaren 570S GT4

In all there are 45 entries, 13 GT cars, 10 GTA, 2 GT Cup, and 20 GTS! That’s going to be a hell of a street race.

Hope they release a spotter guide soon.

 

Mazda DPi looks like a real production Mazda the 1st Gen Mazda RX-8

I made a post a while back wishing prototypes looked more like production cars (e.g. Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR, Porsche 911 GT1, McLaren F1 GTR). I think this year’s Mazda DPi platform came fairly close at resembling a production Mazda… though you have to squint just right to see that resemblance.

I think, and I could be wrong, but to me the current SpeedSource Mazda RT24-P looks a lot like the 1st Generation Mazda RX-8 especially the very early models of 2003-2008 vintage.

Just look at it:

And compare it to this picachu yellow RX-8:

To me, the narrow grille, the almond shaped headlights, the big wheel arches and even the fog light openings all resemble one another on the new prototype and the old street car.

Granted there are plenty of differences, like the fact the RX-8 was Rotary powered being the most obvious. And the fact that few things about the MRT24-P (besides the sponsorship money of course) actually come from Mazda Motors, the car was built by Multimatic in Canada, the same company that builds both the race and the street versions of the Ford GT for Ford Motor Company, engines are AER, etc. Still I would say they did a great job creating a vehicle that at first look does resemble a real Mazda! This is obviously not the case with the Cadillac DPi’s for example, or even the Tequila Patron Nissans (although they did a great job modifying a nose of the Ligier to look very Nissan-like).

Way to go Mazda!

Why Is Everyone Ditching SCCA Pro Racing? First Global MX-5 Cup in Favor of IndyCar and Now Pirelli World Challenge to USAC

For those of you reading this blog post looking for some in-depth analysis or insider information as to why everyone is ditching SCCA Pro racing, go look elsewhere. This post will express my opinion on the matter which is just that, an opinion. It is based on my personal experience of a mere marshal volunteering for both series mentioned in the title and the three sanctioning bodies involved. My treatment as a volunteer could and definitely may be different than that of other volunteers so take the opinion at face value.

That said… and the many frustrating posts I’ve made over the past few years, I can’t say I am surprised that SCCA is being ditched. I have had plenty of personal experience of maltreatment by assholes within the club to which I pay/paid a hefty membership fee for all these years. Perhaps I’m not the only one that thinks this sort of treatment isn’t acceptable and there are other options.

What am I talking about?

Today PWC leadership made an announcement at the Performance Racing Industry Show in Indianapolis, Indiana that after 27 years of being sanctioned by SCCA Pro (a body that created the PWC series) it will now be sanctioned by USAC – the arch-rival of Sports Car Club of America from way back in the day. USAC is United States Auto Club which I’m sure people reading this blog would be familiar with because I’ve had many kind things to say about them from my experience marshaling at Indianapolis Motor Speedway which is staffed by USAC volunteers (not SCCA).  For more info about this story check out this Racer Magazine article:  racer.com/more/viewpoints/item/137087-insight-the-state-of-pirelli-world-challenge

Speaking of Indy, about a month ago the leadership of Global MX-5 Cup, which also had been sanctioned by SCCA Pro for the past 11 years, announced their move to IndyCar sanctioning. Read all about that story here in this Racer Magazine article:  racer.com/scca-home/mazda-mx-5-cup/item/136029-pruett-indycar-s-new-mazda-matrix

IndyCar of course is the famous American dumbed-down version of Formula 1. IndyCar, like NASCAR has in recent years build up a ladder system to feature various lower support series at their events. They call it the Mazda Road to Indy or MRTI for short. Even though Mazda doesn’t actually race in the big leagues with IndyCar where Chevy and Honda engine powered Dallara chasis compete. Instead Mazda provides pretty much all the engines for the lower series including Indy Lights, the Formula 2000 and 1600 series and Pro Mazda series. Not quite sure exactly how those series differ from similar SCCA club F1600 and F2000 series, but they are very similar save for the sanctioning bodies. The Mazda connection made sense for IndyCar’s sanctioning of the Global MX-5 Cup, even though that is the only non-open wheel series they sanction (I think). USAC sanctioning something as big-time as PWC though is a stretch, especially since the only thing I’m aware of USAC sanctioning previously are dirt racers throughout the MidWest.

But I guess we’ll see how that will go.

Good news is that PWC will open TCA class to the Global MX-5 Cup, which already features previous gen NC MX-5 Cup cars. Now we’ll get a mix of NC’s and ND’s… good variety!

I was getting excited this year volunteering for Pirelli World Challenge because of Stefan Ratel’s involvement with this American series. He is famous for the Blancpain Sprint and Endurance Series in Europe as well as the Intercontinental GT Challenge which he was going to bring to America after big success in Asia (Sepang 12h) and Australia (Bathurst 12h) and of course their crown jewel event, the Spa 24h in Belgium (at one of my favorite circuits: Spa-Francorchamps). Maybe with PWC moving to USAC the SRO will have more say in the way things are done in US, which I assume would have created tensions with SCCA… (because of course everything creates tensions with SCCA, speaking from personal experience here). I hope to see the series succeed under USAC.

Besides the IndyCar and USAC sanctioning bodies, the two series are actually run by WC Vision for PWC and Andersen Promotions for the Global MX-5 Cup… so I’m not sure how much input either IndyCar or USAC will have on either. But I’m sure at the very least both MX-5 Cup and PWC will probably continue to prop up IndyCar events in the future (as they have already done in the past)… which is a good thing! The only thing different for me volunteering will be the fact that I will not earn SCCA worker credit for volunteering those big weekend events now. Oh well!

Who’s left to ditch next? Will Trans Am jump ship too?

2017 will be quite interesting.

Hopefully there will be enough change in the future that won’t require me to pay $60 to Topeka for SCCA membership. Then again USAC charges $30 per event at Indy, or a discounted rate for multiple events. This business of shaking down volunteers for the privilege of volunteering is just wrong to me. I still think that it should be like the rest of the world, a small nominal fee to cover supplies like plastic membership cards and postage to mail them to the members every year. Anything more is a rip off. Maybe after losing a few more series they’ll come to their senses. Or maybe they’ll become even more greedy… who knows?

pwc lime rock memorial day weekend 2016 grand prix of lime rock 2

UPDATE December 12, 2016; Formula Race Promotions (FRP) whom run Formula Atlantic, Formula 2000 and Formula 1600 have announced that they’ve ditched SCCA as well in favor of USAC.  atlanticchampionshipseries.com/news/972-usac-to-sanction-atlantic-f2000-f1600-championships.html

Seems like only Formula 4 remains under SCCA Pro sanctioning body, which makes absolutely no sense considering F4 is a European FIA rules/spec series (which had a real hard time starting up in the US this year). We’ll see if they stick around…

Post card from the Grand Prix of Alabama

I must start by saying how ridiculously impressed I am with Barber Motorsports Park and the group that organizes the marshals there: Flagging by Faynisha. This event was a real pleasure and joy to work because of all the positive vibe I got on this trip, at pretty much every step of the way.

I’ll leave the details for a later post but suffice to say I had a blast. The trip started on the same day that my Long Beach GP trip finished, I booked a combination of public and private transportation services which included bus rides, train rides, airplane flights, etc. One of the most roundabout ways of getting from New Jersey to Alabama. But I made it, and I had a great time along the way.

I want to thank my buddy Robert Carnright for organizing the marshaling part of the trip for me and introducing me to Faynisha. Couldn’t have done it without the help… and super glad I did!

Some photos from the event:

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Welcome to Barber Motorsports Park, just about 10 miles outside of Birmingham, Alabama right off of Interstate 20

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Probably the biggest attraction of the facility is it’s amazing museum: Barber Motorsports Museum ( I only took a sneak peek)

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IndyCar going through tech inspection

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Indy Lights going through tech inspection

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The Holmatro Safety Crew that work all IndyCar events

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Mazda Road to Indy support series which include USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights… all cars obviously powered by Mazda

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A very diverse driver range, this one hailing from Malaysia

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My favorite support series was the PWC: Pirelli World Challenge

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The Sin cars were back, and after the smash ups in COTA they were kicking ass! One had a very impressive win, starting from the front, stalling, dropping to last and coming back to win!

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KTM Xbow GTS piloted by my neighbor from NJ Brett Sandberg

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More diversity in the Pro Mazda series, Argentine, Canadian, American and Australian pilots

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I was lucky enough to visit race control on my first day to Barber, was pretty interesting perspective I don’t normally get to see

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Some Ginetta GT4 cars from the GTS class

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Maserati Gran Turismo GT4 contributing to the variety in cars

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I love all the statues around the circuit, these were at the gates to the paddock, while my favorite were the alligators in the pond

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First few days were spent at Turn 1, VIP treatment for sure!

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For race day we were bumped to Turn 10, another excellent spot

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Stay tuned for a more detailed write up on this awesome experience.