Tag Archives: NER SCCA

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

Mazda MX-5 Cup Car in SCCA Club Racing

One of the cars that caught my eye early on upon arriving at Palmer Motorsports Park was a brand spanking new Mazda MX-5 Cup Car from Long Road Racing (the place I got to visit in North Carolina on my road trip back home from Florida in March).

While I knew the cars were sold as a package to anyone willing to shell out $55k (+/-). I didn’t quite comprehend the possibility of someone getting one to flog it in SCCA Club Racing… in a field of mostly NA and NB gen Miatas… Who’d do that?

Gregory Pecora apparently would. I didn’t get a chance to meet him until the end of the race day while walking back to race control from Turn 1 where I was stationed, and he was conveniently set up in the paddock directly in front of my point so I can see the car all day. But why let facts get in a way of a good story, the whole weekend I was speculating what was going on with that vehicle… you see most of the day Friday, during practice and the first race or two, Gregory was pretty consistent slotting himself between two NA Miatas somewhere in the middle of the pack. I was confused. Shouldn’t the ND be faster than the NA’s? Is he running some sort of a restrictor or a handicap to balance the performance of the vehicle?

On race day Saturday the speculation got worse! Gregory came out on the formation lap while the track was mostly wet. Made it as far as Jessie’s station at Turn 5 pulled over and let the field by him starting the race if not dead last pretty close to it. Then he spun it at Turn 4 on the first green flag lap where I had perfect vision of the incident watching from Turn 1. He pitted and retired from the race. For the second race he circulated around for formation, started the race and retired after first lap again… What the hell was going on?

Things improved quite a lot later in the day when the rain stopped. Gregory started form the back of the field and relatively quickly moved up a number of positions. It was exciting to watch! The leader of the race in car #37 / Flatout Motorsports NB MX-5 Miata, had been dominating all weekend as the driver “double-dipped” and raced in almost every race group (except for open wheeler’s and SRF’s), finished first at least four or five times during the day, in the race with the ND, the #37 car managed to lap him before taking a checkered flag, but then I look across in the paddock and the folks in Gregory’s entourage are happily displaying the little checkered flag winners get for taking the top step on the podium in their class. Had he won that race? Apparently so… I was confused!

I will be first to admit I have no idea how the SCCA Club Racing classes work, even in a group of identical Miatas most cars have several classes stickered on them typically with lines through the ones they don’t want to represent in a particular race. But I thought both #121 ND and the #37 NB that lapped it for an overall win were both in STU… maybe there were sub classes in the same group? Not sure… but it was nice to see the ND win.

I went over to the paddock to ask Gregory for permission to take some shots of his car and he explained to me the reason for early retirements in the morning were because he did not have rain tires for the car…. D’oh!!!  Of course that’d make perfect sense… and it would explain why he suddenly picked up speed on slicks in the dry! He also said he set the lap record first time out in his class, that’s pretty impressive also! I congratulated him and snapped a few shots:

mazda mx-5 cup car scca club racing stu class 1

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mazda mx-5 cup car scca club racing stu class 12

Gregory reminded me to give a shout out to Long Road Racing when sharing these pix. He was very appreciative of the outfit saying that he had spoken with them earlier in the day as they were providing technical advice to him for the race. How cool?! So for all you up and coming racers, the choice to get started… go out and buy yourself a jalopy that you can painstakingly convert from street car into a race car or go to LRR and for a fixed amount get a brand spanking new MX-5 Cup Car that comes with all the racing and safety equipment standard, along with tech advice on race day via your phone or internet connection.

In my naive view, it was the best looking car of all the Miatas on track this weekend. Very happy to see one racing on the Club level.

Thank You Trevor Alexander Hermance for the VIP Treatment at Palmer Motorsports Park

First and foremost a huge thanks to my friend Trevor Alexander Hermance for making my first trip to Palmer Motorsports Park a really enjoyable and memorable experience. An equally huge thanks to Jessie Lynne Honigs too because without her facebook post looking for help, I wouldn’t have decided to go up to New England last minute on short notice, but I’m sure she knows exactly how much I appreciate her already! Trevor was kind enough to provide me with a warm and comfortable place to stay so I didn’t have to deal with the misery of camping in pretty crappy weather, and for that I’m always extremely thankful!

I’ll take this opportunity to debrief this trip… my first time marshaling at Whiskey Hill Raceway for the New England Region SCCA season kickoff club races.

The Road Trip started with a Foodie Tour of Connecticut, but instead of seeking out something new and unique I haven’t tried before I knew exactly what I wanted to sample on this visit: steamed cheeseburgers! I knew the place I wanted to visit, and from memory it should have been right on my way. So once I hit some traffic while driving up on Thursday afternoon I punched the name into my GPS: Ted’s Steamed Cheeseburgers Restaurant, and it came up just about 20 miles up the Interstate. I got off the highway and within a mile I was there… except this was not the location I visited last year on my way to Thompson Speedway… not the original. It was one of their new chain stores, a much bigger restaurant size-wise, and one much closer to the highway, which was very convenient. I sat down to eat, to wait out the traffic, and ordered a few more burgers to-go so that I could have them for lunch the next two days (GREAT IDEA, actually! They were delicious, and very filling).

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Everything Cheeseburger with a Raspberry Peach Milk Shake. Yum!

Upon arrival at the Whiskey Hill Raceway at Palmer Motorsports Park I went ahead and registered, set myself up at Trevor’s house and joined Jessie and other flaggers for a very nice dinner celebrating Cinco de Mayo at a local Mexican place called Mexicali in Ware, Massachusetts. For someone that doesn’t drink I found the margaritas especially appetizing, they went well with my burrito.

The following morning we all showed up at the mustering tent bright and early, having driven a whole of maybe a quarter mile from the house to the track. NER SCCA region showed their appreciation by handing me two TIP’s, or Track Incentive Plan Reward Coupons which are redeemable for gas cards… Great! I like a trip that doesn’t cost me too much out of pocket, this trip paid for itself.

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palmer motorsports park whiskey hill raceway ner scca 17 shell gas card

I was assigned to Turn 3 with a very experienced flagger and our day flew by pretty quickly. Though there were no incidents we had plenty of opportunities to wave the blue flag, which is always nice. The incidents we did have we couldn’t really see because they happened right in front of Station 4, which was not within our line of sight, and that station didn’t advise us to help with Yellows. I could just barely see a car spinning up the hill, but then rocks would block the outcome, we couldn’t tell whether it had spun or continued.

palmer motorsports park whiskey hill raceway ner scca 11 turn 3

Though lately I think my new favorite flag is the Yellow, and I got to wave it quite a lot the next day while stationed at Turn 1. Nothing major happened, but I had some dramatic spins in a number of racing groups, with a bunch of cars stopping smack in the middle of the track and the whole field going around them smoothly. My Yellow was out quickly and everyone obeyed it. It was beautiful!

palmer motorsports park whiskey hill raceway ner scca

From turn 1 I could also see Turn 2, and Turn 3, and Turn 4, and Turn 5, and further up to Turn 5A, and then Turn 9, and down to the Start stand. This was not the case the day before at Turn 3, we couldn’t have a visual sight of the station before or the station after us, and flagging while blind isn’t fun. I hope Palmer Motorsports Park does something more about visibility from station to station. I think the most fixable solution is simply adding more stations even if relay stations (which means more people to staff) in order to have full visibility around the track.

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The weather was a bit soggy both days but since I was prepared with wet weather gear it didn’t affect me too much. The temps were a bit chilly but we were up on a mound, so it was to be expected. I find it fascinating how two months ago the trees were blooming in Texas when I went there for PWC, a few weeks later trees started blooming on my drive down to Florida for St. Pete GP, and a month later at Palmer trees are just about ready to start blooming. Funny how mother nature works. Speaking of mother nature, none of the Palmer stations were equipped with porta-johns, which I hope they do soon enough. It’s not particularly comfortable working without a bathroom available nearby.

The fields of cars were impressive for me, especially since majority of them had a Mazda badge on them… even more impressive most of those Mazda badged cars were Miatas. Primarily NA’s and NB’s but one single ND  was my favorite car. I was hoping to spy another NC in the paddock so I could go up to the owner and ask to see what the proper oil level on the dipstick should look like (you know ask a professional racer) but there wasn’t one to be found. Oh well…

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I was really happy to get some Mazdaspeed swag, especially something I don’t already own to add to my collection.

palmer motorsports park whiskey hill raceway ner scca 10 mazdaspeed lanyard

palmer motorsports park whiskey hill raceway ner scca 15 driving the track

Even more impressive was the fact they let us run our personal vehicles around the track at the end of the first day with the rain coming down pretty heavily in spots. I was too excited to go fast, but it was a blast nonetheless. The track looks super wide but judging by all the spins the club racers had I didn’t want to end up in the gravel myself or worse – in the barrier. After two laps I was done, & happy!

We were all exhausted enough after the long, cold and wet day; and it was especially refreshing to go back to the warm house, pop open a Lime-a-Rita with Jessie and BS about our day, sharing stories with the other flaggers that joined us at the house. I was made to feel especially welcome and the VIP treatment certainly is appreciated! Before going to sleep I got to check out Trevor’s/Palmer Motorsports  Park’s little literature collection which was layed out on the table in my room… the book about Mazda 787B especially caught my attention:

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Never stop challenging!!!

The trip ended the same way it started. I made it a point to stop at Ted’s on my drive home. This time I had the Southwest burger which had bacon, shrooms and onions along with a unique sauce on it which was delicious. I went ahead and ordered a few more cheeseburgers to take home, and my father was happy to wolf one down as soon as I got home.

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What a great trip!

I’m so looking forward to the next one.

Got to drive Palmer Motorsports Park… at Speed… in Pouring Rain… Had a Blast!

I remember how excited I was to write a post about driving around Watkins Glen International… a bunch of times… while getting to my station assignment. Well, my experience driving around the Whiskey Hill Raceway at Palmer Motorsports Park beat the WGI experience by a mile… many miles actually. We were let loose on the track at the end of first day with no particular advice on the speed limit or how to drive… you could go as fast as you want… and it was pissing down with rain. The whole thing was awesome!

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I set out in a cold car that’s been sitting in the paddock all day, on cold tires, holding a cell phone in my hand taking these pictures, so naturally first lap was nice and slow. I don’t think I went over 60 or 70mph on the straights. Definitely much slower than that in the corners. Though my less than 1,000 mile BFGoodrich Sport Comp 2’s felt very stable and grippy right from the get-go. For my second lap I put the phone down (remembering that I have the dash cam going and could save the video instead) and gave it a little bit more jandal… The car felt very stable and responsive. Though I kept it a reasonable speed knowing full well that if I brake it, it would be a rather pricey tow bill for 170 miles across several states to get home. Nonetheless even at grandpa speeds I had a blast! What an amazing facility. The uphill climbs are fairly steep. There’s a ton of blind corners. The track is wide enough to try different lines. And then when you get to the summit, you get to zig zag down the mountain which is just as much fun as the climb up. I loved it!

Of course I took a bunch of shots of the car the next morning to illustrate just the magnitude of the boulders that the track is chiseled out of. Pretty amazing.

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Note the heavy earth moving equipment that is working on improving the track daily. Can’t wait to see this place when finished!

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Post card from Palmer Motorsports Park: Whiskey Hill Raceway

Another last minute road trip to New England to help Jessie staff the NER SCCA club racing season opener at Palmer Motorsports Park: Whiskey Hill Raceway. And it turned out absolutely fantastic!

Palmer Motorsports Park is my #41st track to marshal. I was excited to check it out. It’s a brand new facility that only opened last year and still has that brand new track smell to it. Lots of areas are still a work in progress, but what is finished looks very impressive. It’s pretty fascinating how much rock… nay, boulders there are here. It reminded me of Pikes Peak… except instead of going up into the heavens forever, the track climbs up and then swoops down in a series of zig zag zoom zoom turns… which I was lucky enough to experience for myself at the end of day Friday when they let workers drive the track… at speed… in pouring rain. It was a Wicked Pissah! of an experience, I loved it sooooo much!

I’ll write a longer debrief later, but for now enjoy some pix:

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Pretty low key entrance… but the boulder lined driveway into the facility gives you a preview of what to expect at the track itself.

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Worker transport was very useful not just while getting flaggers to stations during the work day, but also at the end of day when we took it for a spin in town of Ware to celebrate Cinco de Mayo…

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Back to the track… the 2D layout doesn’t do the 3D track justice!

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NER SCCA region folks are a tight knit community of down to earth, hard working, racing enthusiasts! Racers and Flagers alike…

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My favorite toy of the weekend was the MX-5 Cup Car from LRR, but I’ll write more about it in a separate post.

palmer motorsports park whiskey hill raceway ner scca 10 mazdaspeed lanyard

I was lucky enough to score some Mazdaspeed swag on this trip.

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As well as some worker “TIPS” the Track Incentive Plan which is $8 per slip of which you get a few during a race weekend. Three of these plus a $1 bill were redeemed for a $25 Shell Gas Card which almost paid for my fuel bill on this trip!

palmer motorsports park whiskey hill raceway ner scca 17 shell gas card

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First day I got to enjoy the views working Turn 3.

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It was a great Blue Flag station.

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The first day ended with a tasty warm meal.

palmer motorsports park whiskey hill raceway ner scca 15 driving the track

And of course I got to haul ass around the wet track, for 2 laps.

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palmer motorsports park whiskey hill raceway ner scca 20 gulf racing

While there was a little bit of variety, I was thrilled to see the majority of race cars at the track were Mazda MX-5 Miatas… and #37 in particular mopped the floors with all of it’s competitors as the car raced in multiple classes… it won against other Miatas, it also won against a mixed field of similar cars… and it won against a field of GT’s on a wet circuit, none of them could put the power down.

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I had an absolute blast! And I’d love to return to this facility when the surrounding forest/trees are covered in luscious green leaves. Although baren trees certainly contributed to better visibility, especially when I worked Turn 1. I will be back here for sure!

Flaggers Needed at Whiskey Hill Raceway Palmer Motorspors Park for New England Region Season Opener

Dear Dears,

Please allow me to extend an invitation to marshal the New England Region SCCA season opener at Whiskey Hill Raceway, Palmer Motorsports Park somewhere in Massachusetts to help my buddy Jessie Lynne Honings out in her role as the new flag chief.

Flaggers are very much needed to staff this event.

You will also be able to learn new information about the IndyCar Not-Boston Grand Prix which Palmer is a supporter of. Despite the news of cancellation of Boston Grand Prix, a race will happen in New England and Jessie will be involved in organizing the marshals for it.

And if you show up to flag then I’d be able to get some training as a Starter. So you’ll do me a huge favor! For me Palmer will also be my 41st track to marshal at so I’m very much excited!

Here’s the invite:

New England Region, SCCA
Flagging and Communication Invitation

NERRC Kickoff Weekend at Whiskey Hill Raceway at Palmer Motorsports Park

Friday May 6th & Saturday May 7th


NER Flaggers and Friends,
Finally, it’s feeling like Spring.  That means it’s time to dig out that flag bag, clean out the old Little Debbie(R) cakes, and repack fresh for the new season!  There’s much to talk about since we last shared a beer at the track. Our 2016 opening race is fast approaching.  On Friday, May 6th, there will be qualifying in the morning, racing in the afternoon, followed by dinner under the paddock tent.  On Saturday, May 7th, we’ll have racing all day long.  Feel free to arrive Thursday evening for a Cinco de Mayo celebration!  Suggestions on how to celebrate are welcome, this is still in the planning stages.
If you plan to attend, please register on motorsportreg or drop us an email specifying which days you’ll be there.  In your email, please include any special station assignment requests you might have.

Registration link:  https://www.motorsportreg.com/events/worker-registration-for-may-5-7-ner-races-palmer-whiskey-hill-raceway-ma-812408

IndyCar: Grand Prix of Boston Marshal Invitation 2016

UPDATE MAY 2: Looks like the IndyCar NOT-Boston Grand Prix may be happening elsewhere in New England. Please stay tuned as Jessie Lynne Honigs works out the details before starting her work on staffing the marshals for this event.


 

For those in the Northeast of the US there’s a new Grand Prix option to volunteer, on the streets of Boston, Mass.

That’s right… the Grand Prix of Boston is scheduled for Labor Day this September and its an event I’m eagerly awaiting even if I may not have an opportunity to attend as an actual marshal.

Best of all Jessie Lynn Honigs is the flag chief of the marshals so there will definitely be some quality organizing going on behind the scenes.

grand prix of boston indycar

Interested?

There’s nine months left to plan! I’m a huge fan of street courses because you as a marshal don’t get any closer to the cars than you do at a city circuit. The cars are just on the other side of the crash barrier, inches from you sending all sorts of shock waves thru your body as they fly past. The adrenaline rush is out of this world.

I would highly recommend this event to anyone interested.

For details visit: http://indycarboston.com/

and of course NER SCCA page: http://www.ner.org/

New England Region SCCA Season Finale at Thompson Speedway Debrief

After blowing through $400+ dollars on travel expenses alone for Petit Le Mans, I returned home feeling bummed out that I didn’t quite get my money’s worth from that event. Maybe my expectations were unreasonably high, I don’t know. So to end the year on a high note I decided to take Jessie up on her invite to come to New England Region SCCA season finale at Thompson Speedway for some club racing. Good thing I did!

A number of things went well that I’ll blog about, but I must apologize that on this event I took hardly any pictures so prepare to read a lot of positive words without much photo evidence to illustrate the experience. I’ll write about my foodie tour separately, though I should mention that of all places: Who woulda thunk that Connecticut was such a foodie destination?  Not me… Besides the food, seeing the leaves change color up in New England was neat, it was fall foliage in full effect with various shades of green, yellow and red all around.

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The drive to Thompson, and well to Massachusetts where Jessie lives, was also to test out the new tires I just bought for my Miazda, which turned out to be a lot worse than I thought they’d be. I’m talking about the BFGoodrich g-Force Comp 2 A/S that I had recently purchased for my 16 inch winter wheels. I don’t know if it’s the aggressive tread pattern or the idea that maybe they weren’t balanced correctly when I had them mounted, I felt a very noticeable but slight vibration throughout the entire trip. It came from the front, I felt it on the steering wheel, I felt it on the gas pedal. But it also came from the rear, because I felt it on the seat as I was driving. So I’m not happy about that. I wish the ride was a bit smoother like the old Yokohama’s I took off to go with the BFG’s. That said I got to test the tires out in the dry for about 200 miles and then another 200 in the wet, and the grip was perfect. So maybe that’s the nature of the design after all?

starter ner scca thompson speedway

I was so glad to catch up with Jessie once again over dinner and for the whole day of racing. She was working Race Control and had a great view of my Starter station below the race control window, which means the only pictures of the event with me in them came from her taking spy shots. Thanks Jessie! Also thanks to her I finally got a chance to experience the Starter role, it was something I wanted to do forever but was never given a chance. I am hooked on this role now and don’t really see how I could go back to regular F&C after this experience. Not willingly anyway…

pumpkinhead beer with cinamon and brown sugar
Jessie introduced me to some delicious new beer: Pumpkinghead served with cinnamon and brown sugar along the rim of the glass, yumm!

As with any SCCA Club Racing there were many Mazda MX-5 Miatas racing. So that was by far my favorite sight to see at the event. Among them was a true red NC Miata with a bunch of Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge stickers, which I assume was a hand me down IMSA car from a few seasons ago. It went very well, much faster than most other NA and NB Miata’s though unfortunately it broke down during the last race of the day. Luckily though I saw it win it’s class during an earlier race in the day, and I’m kind of kicking myself for not taking a picture of the driver receiving a small checkered flag directly under our Start stand for his victory lap (in the paddock – since they weren’t doing them on track because of time constraints). It was awesome to see and I’m very happy for the driver. It was nice to also see “Flatout Racing” stickers on that car and many other Miatas which are apparently rental cars for someone who wants to race but doesn’t have the money to buy a race car. What a cool concept!

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Anyway, I had a fantastic trip and I’m very happy I got a chance to go. The New England Region threw a big tent party for the workers at the end of the day with delicious pasta on the menu, and some prizes and other awards for volunteer participation. I was amazed to see that I won something again, a nice envelope with some gas money which basically covered most of my cost to go up there, in fuel anyway. So I came home really happy! Thanks to Jessie! and Thanks to the NER!

One more event of the season and 2015 is in the history books 🙂

…and a few more pictures:

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flatout racing miata nb 2

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I love seeing the British influence in New England:

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Almost forgot to mention some fuel stats. This time I noticed something interesting, the cheaper New Jersey based BP 93 octane gas seems to give better gas mileage than the more pricey Massachusetts BP 93 octane premium gas. I topped off before I left NJ, re-fueled in MA adding 5.672 gallons  after doing 201.1 miles, getting 35.454 mpg. After reaching home I topped up 6.899 after doing 228.8 miles getting 33.164 mpg. Which leads me to believe NJ gas is superior MA gas all other things being equal. Unlike my previous trips where I normally keep the car between 60 and 70mph, this time I was in a more of a rush doing 70 to 80mph so maybe that was a factor. Overall I did 429.9 miles and used 12.571 gallons, averaging at 34.197 mpg. NJ gas price $2.29/gal for 93 at BP, MA gas price $2.45/gal for 93 at BP.  And now I’m at 5,000 miles since the last oil change, so the little Miazda is due for it’s second service.

Club Racing at Thompson Speedway the Debrief

As if by chance I noticed Jessie (from SponsorAFlagger.com)  looking for more volunteers to marshal NER SCCA event where she’s the assistant flag chief, so I signed up. With her help of course, because MotorsportReg.com was giving me all sorts of problems. But between the two of us we figured it out. I’m so glad I got to experience this new (to me) circuit, because everything about the trip went absolutely perfectly and it’s all thanks to Jessie. I think I’ll use a new strategy for volunteering the US races from now on, I will attend all events as Jessie’s guest… I could definitely get used to the VIP treatment that comes as a result 😉

Thompson Speedway has recently re-opened. It still has that brand new smell to it like a new car, but in reality it’s America’s oldest in several respects. Did you know that it was the oldest banked oval in the US? Or that it was the oldest American purpose built road course? I certainly didn’t. But all that Jessie told me that I need to know about it is that it has the best ice cream… I was eager to find out for myself.

The drive up to Thompson wasn’t terribly long either. It’s only about 30 miles further than New Jersey Motorsports Park and the price of tolls to get there is less. I’ve already blogged about my foodie tour of New England which you can read all about here: Best Lobster Rolls in Connecticut. And that was a very cool way to start the trip. But what was even cooler was hanging out with Jessie, Jason, George (their dog) and Stevie (their Miata). Jason is a very accomplished race car driver with many trophies to show for it and a history of racing various Mazda’s from rotary RX-7’s to the Miata. Check him out at Angry Pork Racing: angrypork.com/ While Jessie of course is an accomplished marshal having won worker of the year in 2013? and running a successful Sponsor A Flagger site:  sponsoraflagger.com/  But most impressively to me she likes Durian shakes at a local Vietnamese place we went to for dinner, which probably means she would totally enjoy marshaling in Singapore or Malaysia and it’s my goal in the future to help facilitate that opportunity!

durian shake at pho dakao in worcester massachusetts
Durian Shake and Lychee Martini at Pho Dakao in Worcester, Mass

For race day on Friday Jessie and I got to work together at turn 3 on our elevated station which was very cool. I’m a big fan of these things. Why? Because it gives the marshal working that particular turn good visibility of track before and after the station. And the drivers get a good visibility of all the flags as they approach the turn. I wish more tracks would use the same idea when applicable. Behind the station there was a golf course and many a golfers came around to spectate at different times. I even found a Callaway golf ball near my car when leaving. Kudos to Thompson for being a multi-purpose facility. At a time when everybody in Motorsport is struggling it’s nice to see diversification.

thompson speedway turn 3 station
Elevated Marshal Station at Turn 3, Thompson Speedway

thompson speedway flags

thompson speedway formula vee

The day went by pretty swiftly. We had a few spins, one resulting in a light impact of two Formula Vee’s getting tangled up. But otherwise it was nice and quiet. I had a great time checking out the paddock during lunch and seeing some amazing machinery.

thompson speedway official pace car camaro

trans am mustang at thompson speedway

 

hoosiers and wilwood brakes on a trans am mustang thompson speedway

thompson speedway track diagram

spec racer fords at thompson speedway

forza abarth 500 at thompson speedway

thompson speedway ner scca 1

Kudos to NER SCCA for providing $10 cash to workers for lunch which went towards a box of very greasy fries and chicken fingers that were delicious. At the end of the day we had a nice banquet reception with great food for the workers and drivers all mixed in one big room. There was a chit for free beverage, and of course Jessie treated me to a huge ice cream cone with really awesome “Maine Black Bear” flavor. I tried her “Chrunchasaurus” which too was amazing. Needless to say, I loved every minute of it. NER SCCA had a raffle where I actually won something! That doesn’t happen often. We were asked to pick envelopes containing cash and mine practically covered the whole gas bill to get up there, so I left quite surprised and happy.

bogey's ice cream at thompson speedway
“Crunchasaurus” ice cream and “Maine Black Bear” ice cream cones at Bogey’s Thompson Speedway… best race track ice cream I’ve ever had!

I think Thompson Speedway will be seeing me again in the future, especially if I get to play Jessie’s guest again 😉

Mazda MX-5: 450+ mile Road Trip to New England

My marshaling rig has turned into quite a road trip machine lately, with several trips Upstate New York to Watkins Glen and my most recent trip to marshal at Thompson Speedway via the Connecticut coastline. Not only did I enjoy the foodie tour of New England I got great gas mileage doing it. That’s going to be the surprise takeaway from this experience. From the 450 mile trip I only stopped to get a splash of gas somewhere deep in Connecticut while on the hunt for a BP gas station (Public Service Announcement: there are no more BP stations in the state of Connecticut! – sure as hell wish I would have known that before wasting a good half an hour of my time on this search… this must be one of those deals like we had in NJ where all Mobil stations were converted to Lukoil, or the current HESS stations being converted to 76, damn you high level corporate branding deals)

The reason I was searching for a BP gas station is because I had accumulated quite a collection of used BP cards with a $3+/- balance from using them here in New Jersey. We don’t pump our own gas in NJ, so every time I fill up using a BP card there’s a chance that there will be a leftover amount on the card. And it’s a bit embarrassing asking the attendant to use three or four different cards in order to use them up and fill the tank. Long story short, I found a BP station on the way to Thompson from Jessie’s house early Friday morning, happy to see the lights on when the rest of Worcester, MA was still waking up. But as I pulled in it was obvious that they were still closed. And so I postponed getting fuel until after the day at the track. Trying to find a BP in Connecticut was like a treasure hunt. The first one right off of i395 exit turned out to be re-branded to a Gulf station. I should have given up at that point, but NOPE! I continued to search for another one closer to Norwich, CT… that took me about 15 miles off the interstate and again, while the gas station looked like it once was a BP station, now it clearly wasn’t… as all the BP branding was pulled off. Since the low fuel light was already on by the time I got there, I pulled into the nearby Mobil station and started crunching numbers to see how much I’d need to get home. My math said 4 gallons, I put 3 instead and to my amazement I actually made it. Although the low fuel light came on somewhere in Westchester while passing White Plains before the Tappan Zee Bridge. I went into fuel save mode (real world Formula One reference for you there) and got to my regular BP station nearest to my house about 30 miles away. It was pretty late in the evening, so I decided to break the law and get the attendant in trouble by pumping my own gas. It was like a ritual using three different cards, lol

road trip miata BP gas station great gas mileage

Why BP and not some Joe Schmoe gas station? Because I bought a bunch of BP gift cards on eBay with a 10% discount that are good to be used for CASH price instead of the higher Credit Card price at the pump. Why Mobil and not Joe Schmoe in Connecticut, because I trust brand name stations more than I do the off-brand names.

bp fill up mazda miata mx-5

And the fuel hunt story was about the most interesting thing that happened on the whole 450 mile drive. The car performed flawlessly. I managed to avoid most of the traffic spots by actually following Waze. I had an amazing time doing the lobster roll / New England foodie tour. Had a blast chasing Jessie around in her 2009 Miata at Thompson, CT and I very much look forward to another long road trip this summer. What a surprisingly good car for road trips this MX-5 is.

Oh btw… the best roads going up to New England are smaller highways like Merritt Parkway, perfectly smooth surface all the way. The Interstates I took, including i95, i395, and i91 turned out to be really shitty with all the massive pot holes and other road imperfections caused by trucks and other heavy vehicles. I found myself diving into quite a few craters and other unavoidable pot holes that made me cringe. I hate that shit! At this pace I think I’ll be doing suspension work on the car soon. Note to self: take alternate routes even if they are slightly more out of the way to avoid damage.

Fuel mileage:

13.06 gallons used, 450 miles traveled = 34.5 MPG mostly highway with the few detours for the lobster rolls and around the circuit. Total spent on fuel $38.78 with average price per gallon under $3 thanks to the fill ups in NJ. The cheapest gas $2.87 in NJ and priciest $3.25 for 93 octane premium fuel in Connecticut.