Tag Archives: mx5 cup

Grand Prix of Monterey PWC at Laguna Seca the debrief

Grand Prix of Monterey, not to be confused with the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix, was a PWC season finale last weekend a few weeks after a similarly named IMSA race took place (just ahead of it’s season finale at Petit Le Mans in Georgia (Road Atlanta)).

This was a weird event because the big boys, the GT-class including amateur version GTA and GTC as well as the standalone GTS series had already run their season finale a few weeks prior at Sonoma. This meant we wouldn’t see Cadillac ATS’s race around this weekend, or the Nissan NISMO GT-R’s, or the Bentley Continental GT’s or the volume of cars we had last year at this very event. Some (very few) GT’s showed up for the California 8 hour, but I’ll write about that event separately.

So Touring Cars were having their Grand Prix. There were so many cars in the top TC class they ran separately from the smaller and less powerful cars TCA’s and TCB’s. The TC field had a very strong presence of the new BMW M235i’s which had 11 vehicles on the grid. There was a nice sprinkle of European TCR cars in the form of Audi S3 LMS widebodies, which did remarkably well. And then there were my favorite’s… The NC-gen Mazda MX-5’s with a 2.5 liter engine and a big wang in the back to distinguish them from the Miata’s in the lower TCA class which are more stockish. There were three MX-5’s in TC class this weekend. The #54 car which did remarkably well and finished second in their first race. And John Weisberg’s #5 car which ran mid-back for both of the races. There was also a late commer #17 car which came out for the first race, was smoking a lot and didn’t return for the second race.

A very familiar car from BERG Racing from Upstate New York.

This car ran super strong, finishing second in the first race. Amazing feat considering all the competitors it raced against that seemed much stronger.

The TCR cars were very well represented! And one of the Compas 360 cars won both of the races and subsequently the championship.

As usual the BMW field was best represented in TC class.

There were also several Honda Accords running their front wheel driver machines which seemed to really struggle around Laguna Seca circuit. Both suffered wheel failures at some point during the race weekend.

In the TCA/TCB races the Toyobaru BRZ/GT86 thing couldn’t be touched, it smoked everyone else… and then it came out the car was disqualified and a Miata which followed this car some distance to second actually took over the first place. Hmm!

The funny looking hard-top Miata’s did remarkably well in their races. Running very strong. The finish had a great mix of cars in it: Toyota followed by a Mazda, followed by a Honda… so no one brand dominated. Of course the Toyota ended up getting disqualified and it’s teammate retired before the end of the race.

This fella ran out of brakes in the first race, but had a much stronger finish in the second .

And finally the TCB field is being retired next year, so no more Mazda 2’s on this level of racing… I’m sure they’ll still have a long life of racing on the club level though.

I had an awesome time working this event. Though I wish that the Touring Cars ran alongside their Grand Touring cars on the same championship weekend. Having TC cars run their own “Grand Prix” dilutes the idea of a GP of Monterey weekend. They were after all a support series.

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.

NER SCCA Club Racing at Lime Rock on Father’s Day Weekend

Thanks to¬†Jamie Dzencelowcz the chief starter for inviting me to work on the start stand for this NER Club Racing event at Lime Rock over Father’s Day weekend.

For some odd reason everyone I met was very surprised to see me there, which was odd… my guess the rumor mill is churning based on something I said at some point or something someone else said about me. But frankly I don’t give a shit. I paid my dues this year, I’m perfectly allowed to be at any SCCA event. That said it was a very much welcoming atmosphere at the track. I wanted to get more experience working start, and I got precisely that. I was glad to find out that the Driver’s will put on a paddock crawl again. And they did a fantastic job. And the quality of racing was good too. We had a mixed bag of weather. It rained one day and was fine the next. We had plenty of incidents of bodywork flying off various cars on the front straight. So that was good to see too, some action.

Most importantly though I had a blast doing what I like. I especially enjoyed doing lap charts for the bigger groups. It’s basically recording the position of every car as they crossed the start finish line every lap. As a blue flagger it’s something that I’ve always done in my head anyway, keeping track of the leaders and the backmarkers so that I could blue flag them on the appropriate laps. But now there’s an official record on the Start stand. That was amazing. And I was somewhat impressed with myself that I managed to memorize the look of a lot of cars from a distance. Something I struggled with during PWC weekend where I made a few mistakes pointing out the wrong cars even though I always thought I had knew those cars very well already.

As always it’s super neat to see cars from bird’s eye view, especially the winners when they come in to pick up little checkered flags to do their victory laps.

Love the Brasil colors on this E46 M3

Fathers Day Weekend SCCA Club Racing at Lime Rock

To be honest I’ve given up on Club Racing this season… But since I still hold a valid SCCA license and my friend Jamie offered to let me work on the Starter stand with him, I jumped on the opportunity!

Boy am I glad I did.

I came for the Miata’s, but stayed for all the variety that was there.

The various Spec Miata fields were huge… I liked the battles going on from my vantage point. And since there were four of us on the Start stand I got to rotate into every position available for a few sessions at a time… so I got to Start and Chequer races. I got to work as a backup. I got to do lap charts. And finally, got to do comms. It was neat to say the least and much needed practice I wanted to have as I did make mistakes a few weeks ago at Lime Rock working the PWC race as a backup starter.

But anyway. For the NA and NB Miata fans there was a lot to love. I only spotted one NC there. Briefly thinking a few Honda S2000’s were Miata’s as they were under car covers… Ooops! They sure do have similar dimensions and it’s especially hard to tell when you can only see wheels, and both Mazda and Honda tend to use the same Enkei wheels.

Anyway, here’s some pix of my favorite cars this weekend:

This fella raced one of the SAC NC Miata Cup Cars during PWC.

Love the paint job on this Formula Vee…

Surprised how flashy some cars looked wearing sponsors on their liveries…

Woo Hoo… NC Miata!

Not a Miata!

But it’s wearing a +5HP sticker…

This thing kicked ass in the rain, winning one race.

Stock vs. Non-Stock S2000’s… probably my favorite looking race car at the track… wonder why they created a class that eliminates the windshield of a car…?

This thing too had a very dramatic last lap, front straight, chequered flag finish… dash to the win!

Several young female racers, which is awesome to see on such grassroots level of Motorsport.

I’ll be back for more tomorrow… Saturday = Race Day!

Post Card from the Dummy Grid at Memorial Day PWC LRP Grand Prix

Fantastic Memorial Day weekend at the races… Lime Rock Park was fantastic to me. I have grown to absolutely love the Pirelli World Challenge series. And best part I got to work as a backup starter… so there was a lot of downtime. I was in the prime spot to see the cars up close, and as a result there was ample opportunity to take some pix. So this is my Saturday Race Day mega gallery… enough talking here’s the pix:

Free breakfast for the marshals how thoughtful! Thanks Skip Barber

Miata Racing is the main reason I signed up to do this event!

They split TC from TCA/TCB races, so it was much easier to see the current MX-5 Cup cars winning a race…

New flavor of SAC racing skittles cars…

Hhhmm… I didn’t know Volvo and GM had a relationship… I knew about SAAB/Scania but Volvo GM – WHITEGMC is news to me… kind of cool though!

This is such a beautiful and completely appropriate paint job… for this event!

Selfies!

The driver of this #70 also raced (and won in) the TCA MX-5 Cup car

Thanks to Chris Booth for taking some pix of me with the cars in the paddock during lunch time.

He sells Miata parts apparently ūüôā

…after doing donuts in Turn 1 and returning to pit lane counter race

The series starter gave me a small gift: A Guardian Angel… Awwww!

I am so grateful to everyone that made this weekend possible for me. Thanks to the folks at Lime Rock Park, to the series: Pirelli World Challenge and of course Chris Booth for taking some pix for me. Thank you all very much! See you at the next one.

Mazda MX-5 Miata Cup Cars Victoria Day Speedfest at Mosport

All of these cars you have already seen before on this blog… a few weeks ago at VIR, but now Canadian Tire Motorsports Park is in the background and since I left home at the crack of dawn to make sure I can’t them on the track for their Thursday test session, I’m going to share the pix separately from the general Paddock post card I wrote about in another blog post… so here it goes, lots and lots of Miata pix

Only a handful of teams ran the MX-5 cup car in the Pirelli World Challenge TC and TCA class. The TC cars of the past were NC Miata’s running a 2.5L engine and a big wing, which didn’t come standard on the car. The TCA class ran a standard 2.0L and a Mazdaspeed lip spoiler which carried over from the Playboy MX-5 Cup of the past. The cars literally came from Playboy Miata Cup once NC cars were phased out for ND Miatas. Now this year is a transition year as ND MX-5 Cup cars are eligible to run PWC. Unlike last week at VIRginia International Raceway, all the cars had their hard tops in place, and some teams like SAC above even wrapped them to match the livery. The SAC example above is especially interesting as they did the same thing at VIR, running both the NC and ND #74 car with identical liveries, transferring their knowledge gathered from data from one car to the other. Very cool!

Crunch….

Same same… but different!

The reflective wrap on this Winding Road car always makes my phone camera go haywire…

I have to say that the new ND lid looks so much better than NC lid.

Skittles!

The new Mazda CX-5 posing in the Victory Circle

Spectating from Turn 2

Parking near my station at Turn 9

Notice the Sunoco Race Gas Pump near Ultra 94 Petro-Canada pump

Fin

The Debut of MX-5 Cup Cars (Hardtops) in PWC Pirelli World Challenge

My goal signing up to volunteer the Nissan Grand Prix of VIR was to see the Global MX-5 Cup cars make their debut in the Touring Car class of Pirelli World Challenge series. This series, unlike the Global MX-5 Cup which I got an opportunity to volunteer for under the IndyCar sanction at Alabama Grand Prix a week prior run with hard tops (instead of open top convertibles). I figured it would be great to check out the new hard tops in person… funny enough, most of the tops didn’t arrive until the very last day and the final race. Most of the practices and the first race for some cars was run open top. I’m sure many teams had a nail biting experience waiting for the big box shipment to arrive.

Naturally I took a million pix of both the new ND MX-5 Cup cars and the established NC MX-5 Cup cars that have run and win PWC TC / TCA class for years now.

The Skittles Team:

And the Long Road Racing trailer:

On Saturday big wooden boxes started arriving… and that’s when you started to see hard tops on ND’s being installed… At last!

At first it seems like each team got one hard top allocation, but by race day on Sunday all teams were wearing theirs.

They do look pretty good!

Congrats to the Miata teams that took the top step on the podium this weekend. It was great to watch!

Got to Drive Around the Repaved Watkins Glen International Circuit

Woo Hoo! For the second week in a row, I’ve had an opportunity to drive around a circuit… this time around the world famous Watkins Glen International… freshly repaved and feeling smooth as a baby’s bottom. It was amazing, and I’m so thankful for the opportunity.

My Saturday’s station assignment for the NARRA/Trans Am weekend was Station 7 of the new numbering scheme, previously known as Station 10 at the toe of the boot. ¬†Because the station is most easy to access trackside we were given permission to drive to station. Parking just a little ways from where the flag point is…

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Because the morning meeting was on the inside of the track near the paddock, I went to ¬†enter track at Baker which is next to Station 1A (or old Station 2) and drive up the Esses, around Turn 5’s loop down to¬†6 entering the Boot… Station 7 is driver’s left before a sharp uphill right around the toe of the boot.

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I didn’t just drive the track once… I got to do it twice… because during lunch time we were allowed to go to the campground to relax and eat our food. Of course by then it started raining.

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The drive back at the end of the day was right after the Global MX-5 Cup race which was a bit of a carnage, they sent us back through the pit lane and paddock instead of going all the way around the track to Turn 5 where the RSI campground access point is.

The track, compared to the last time I drove around it, was in far better shape… no more bumps when going from asphalt to concrete, no patches to bump around on, no more ripples. Smooth as ever!

I Loved it!

Thanks RSI and WGI…. for an amazing experience.

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of course after the race weekend the car was covered in an inch of dust, so my routine now takes me into town of Watkins Glen before leaving to visit Classic Car Wash for a little Rinse:

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