Greetings from Lime Rock!
Here’s some pix taken over the two day Northeast Grand Prix event:
First race of the season (and ironically possibly last as there are so few events at Lime Rock this year) got off to a wonderful yet traditionally wet start. I have completed my first visit to Lime Rock Park for the Continental Tire SportsCar Championship race this Memorial Day weekend. It was low key, but generally good, I have nothing but praise for the way everything went.
Though I brought my GoPro with me I played by the rules and didn’t even take it out of my bag all weekend. Perhaps it’s unfortunate since there were a few moments where I could have shot some nice videos for the Marshal Cam project including doing an on track interview of a fellow marshal. But between the schedule and the often heavy rain it didn’t happen. None of the dickheads that gave me a hard time over using photo/video equipment before were actually present for this weekend, we were so short on marshals that even the flag chief was manning a station at the start line of which I’m very jealous. But I’m glad that the region has hired some new help to work Lime Rock events so perhaps once the cancer that was spread by the stubborn old farts before results in a change of attitude of why we participate at these events. Based on what I saw things went exceptionally well, so more of that in the future, please!
I was lucky to work turn 1 for Friday’s practice which allowed me to flag a number of exciting spin offs and contacts with the tire wall in the runoff. But the real highlight of my trip was working the Uphill station on race day. I had never seen so many cars, go wheels up on practically every lap, and somehow not crash upon landing. The Porsche GT3 Cup was fantastic to watch. And we had a troop of photographers constantly with us snapping away. Some placed themselves in a rather dangerous position next to the ARMCO at the likely point of impact. Few of them got sprayed by dust from the cars that inevitably hit the patch of dirt before recovering and continuing on with their race. But it makes me wonder whether people think about the outcome… when a Porsche 911 GT3 or any other car for that matter has it’s front wheels up in the air, it effectively has NO steering. How could they feel they are safe at an impact zone?
At any rate, I had fun. Got to test my Coleman tent before the trip to Europe. Snapped a few pics of myself to keep the memories, so I’m happy. Hopefully Lime Rock brings some more good racing back to this track. We lost ALMS and Grand-Am, and all we are left with is a watered down version of the old Grand-Am support race. Oh well!
It wasn’t that this year’s Northeast GP was bad, it wasn’t… the constant and lengthy battle in the P1 prototype field, the P2, LMPC, GT and GTC was exciting… the problem was there was only two true contenders in P1… and two true contenders in P2… and only a few in GTC, etc. But even that wasn’t the problem… My problem was again with me managing my expectations. I got extremely lucky with my experiences last year, stuff that doesn’t always happen… and despite the fact I worked the weekend with my bestest flagging friends, shit just didn’t happen like it did last year! And I just found pix to prove it, enjoy!
Photo credit to Chris Raftis: www.flickr.com/photos/gargos/sets/72157634203956491
Of course in 2013 there were a lot more factors that affected my feelings. My goal is always to stay positive no matter how realistic/pessimistic my posts sound. Do read my original post about the 2012 Northeast GP…
I was not feeling it. The whole atmosphere of this year’s Northeast GP was somehow off. It was supposed to be amazing. After all I had just returned from Europe working the actual Le Mans… I was going to work with my friends at Lime Rock, what more could I ask for? Well Friday night I was just one bad decision away from going home and not returning.
Luckily I stayed. Saturday morning, on race day I was still out of it. I asked my buddy Tim where he and Jessie were stationed and he was like: “we’re together dude!” which made me feel a lot better, I mean we were team JRT after all, even though I was totally thirdwheeling the entire weekend. I also found out we were at Turn 1, which made me go “WOW!” that’s one hell of a station to work for ALMS. And finally when the flag chief called station assignments I discovered I was made corner captain, which just made me laugh. Why me? Usually Tim likes this sort of thing… but at least I knew I wasn’t going to be stuck doing something I wouldn’t enjoy. In that spirit, I made station assignments based on people’s requests. It may sound a lot looser than it actually is, but I know from my experience when I’m doing something I enjoy doing, the time flies.
Thanks to the heat the time didn’t fly during the race though. It felt like the exact 2 hours and 45 minutes that it was. Unfortunately for Tim and Jessie, they were marooned across track at the outpost for the entire race. I tried to “create” opportunities to cross with the only full course yellow until that point occurring at our station thanks to a high-sighted prototype challenge car, but it wasn’t happening. All in all, the race was OK… not the greatest ALMS race I’ve been to, not even as good as I remember last year’s race to be, but it was good. Something was holding it back from being amazing. Not sure what.
The station assignment was quite perfect though. We were able to do the grid walk for the Le Man’s style start, and mingle with teams and drivers before the big event. It gave Tim and Jessie a final opportunity to sticker up cars they didn’t get a chance to over the past few days, and they did a spectacular job doing it. These guys have some serious balls doing what they did… I on the other hand would be contacting the organizers, the team head offices, etc. and probably getting rejected at every step of the way, while they went there and had the driver’s put the stickers on the cars, that’s about as good as it gets.
It will be sad not to see prototypes racing at Lime Rock Park next year with the United SportsCar Series… its the second track I’ve lost in my home area in two years, after NJMP lost Grand-Am… but I guess I’ll have to travel elsewhere to volunteer…
The highlight of the weekend was a call I requested that Brendan make to Race Control in the early stages of the race. Pat from Watkins Glen had complained that the blue flag was shredding off the handle, every time we used it. And at turn 1 we used it aggressively. I had a quick look at it, and told him that that’s how flags generally are with the NY SCCA region… but being corner captain and allowing myself to start and finish the race on blue flag, I found my right hand was cramping after only 15 minutes into the race, because I was clinging onto the cloth part of the flag. The grip was so tight because I worried I’d lose the flag when waiving it in a spirited fashion to allow the prototypes to zoom past the slower GT/GTC traffic. Brendan reported our blue flag catastrophic failure to Race Control whom promptly delivered a new flag for us to flog 🙂
Andy Blackmore has provided another fantastic spotter guide for download on this web site download it here: Northeast GP ALMS spotter guide by Andy Blackmore
I’m looking forward to adding another keepsake to my collection come Saturday afternoon, but even before I leave it’s good to see the cars that will be there. Sure looking at the list of registered vehicles is informative, but seeing a spotter guide actually makes your brain click what cars the list is referring to, and what their liveries will look like for this race. I love it. We are in the final year of American Le Mans Series before they merge with Grand-Am as United SportsCar Series, and I’m truly looking forward to some fantastic racing at Lime Rock Park this weekend.