Tag Archives: Paddock

Roar Before the 24 Pit Lane Preview

This year’s Roar Before the Rolex 24 was much bigger than last years… why? My guess would be because of Fernando Alonso… and maybe a gaggle of other Formula 1 drivers, along with a whole fleet of new Prototype and GT cars on display.

I’m thrilled to have had an opportunity to visit the pit area for WeatherTech Sports Car Championship practice, and I can’t wait for the proper enduro at the end of the month. It will be fantastic.

Here’s a few pix:

The elusive Team Joest Mazda

Alonso!

Hold on…

Jackie Chan Racing

Keep holding…

Hopefully… with a little bit of luck… this will be my view for the Rolex 24 in pit out.

Also hoping the weather is like this, warm and sunny.

With no Miatas racing in IMSA any more, it’s nice to see an RF at the Team Joest garages.

65th Running of the Mobil1 12 Hours of Sebring the Debrief

My third consecutive Florida event comes to a close, rounding up an excellent run with Central Florida Region working as a pit marshal.

A lot to talk about this event, many pictures to share in addition to the individual posts I’ve already made from this event, so bear with me and hopefully I don’t leave any details out.

First things first, I can’t say enough how fantastic it was to work on the Pit Marshal crew. What a rush and a privilege it was to be there. Completely different atmosphere and experience to Turns 13 and 15 that I worked at my past Sebring events.

That said the days were extremely long, with the shortest being just under 12 hours and the longest being something like 15 or 16 hours, it was thoroughly exhausting.

But there was lots to see and I was in the prime location to see it. There was lots of downtime also, and a crew that encouraged me to take breaks which was really nice. Even the club allowed us to take pictures as long as we don’t offer them for sale in the end, so the atmosphere was extremely welcoming and positive.

I couldn’t believe just how close I could be to cars and teams, working closely with the IMSA officials, doing whatever overflow work they threw our way. It was simply awesome.

My position in Pit In. The concern was cars coming out of the paddock and jumping out on pit lane, our job was to make sure we gave them a clear lane, or held them up if another car was coming into pit lane from the track, at speed. There were times when teams brought out cars way early ahead of their practice sessions, which was neat because I could snap a shot or two before we were on duty.

This is the Pit Out post. Compared to Pit In, it was far more relaxing. Less work to do, and a far less crowded spot overall. No spectators to deal with. No speeding cars competing for the same real estate. The Sebring weekend started out super cold, temps were in the upper 30’s in the morning, which was a shocker compared to St. Pete GP the previous week. But luckily I was prepared having left a bag full of clothes in Florida after the freezing times at Daytona 24h and the Roar before the 24.

One of the IMSA guys allowed me to go on the grid some time before the practice session started to get some close-ups o the Mazda RT24-P

At the end of the session, there was significant downtime… and an opportunity for a few shots of cars exiting to the paddock.

Some shots from the Porsche GT3 Cup

Notice the visible design difference between the First generation 991 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car and the Second gen models… The lower grill design was \…./ like this on the 1st gen, and /…..\ like so on the 2nd gen. The running lights and tail lights are also different.

Since our bathrooms for Pit Out were on the end of the paddock, on my break I wondered down to see some of the set ups there.

A lovely Mazda MX-5 RF outside the Mazda Motorsports rigs, unfortunately team Mazda were very stingy this time with their swag. There was no Mazda Owners Lounge at this race, and the few people I asked said that Mazda is taking a different direction now, without going into detail.

Has Mazda pulled back on their previously generous owner appreciation efforts?  No more hats, t-shirts, etc. for those Mazda fans rooting for the Mazda DPi?

It was a bit weird, to say the least… the only Mazda swag I did manage to snag came from the lower Mazda racing series in the Mazda Prototype Challenge running the old IMSA Lites cars and the not-Mazda engined 5 liter V8 LMP3 cars.

Anyway…

Mazda RT24-P performance was sad to watch this event. The #70 car brought out our first caution of the race plowing into the tire wall at Turn 17… but all LMP2 cars struggled including the other DPi cars based on the LMP2 like the #2 and #22 Nissan Nismo Patron cars. The #52 Oreca and even the Multimatic sister car of the Mazda’s, the #90 Visit Florida car spend a lot of time in the garages during the race. They really should consider renaming the series Cadillac Sports Car Championship.

The other disappointing thing came from CFR and their pitiful attempts at food services. Some of it absolutely sucked. I can’t believe I ate ham for three days in a row, same meat masked with different bread each time, but essentially the same thing over and over. The worst was a serving of some mystery soup that hardened by the time it was served. I wanted to give it a chance, but a few spoonfuls later I realized the chemical taste wasn’t going to do my body any good, and like the rest of the people on my team threw it away…. luckily though the Patron VIP Suites nearby were very generous with their leftovers and threw the crew at turn 17 a bone, bringing tray fulls of delicious gourmet food, from steak to fish, to pasta and sausages… we pigged out on the good stuff!

WTF?!?!

MMmmmmmmmm…….sooo tasty!

Why can’t CFR hire the same catering crew?

Is it the money? Come on, put my hefty $95 annual membership fee to a better use, eh?…

Thank you Patron for your generous scraps! For such long days on track good food sure made it more enjoyable to participate.

And by long days I really mean very long days… from dawn to dusk and beyond, with night practices and eventually the night race.

I was so tired most of the time I crashed as soon as I got to the camp site… luckily again I have my tent that lives in Florida now, with a comfy sleeping bag, an air mattress and an extra comforter so despite the cold I managed to sleep like a baby every night. The next day started the same as it finished, with more beautiful race cars roaring on track.

I had enough downtime to wander down to turn 17 as the grid was popullating for the Conti race.

Oh look… Miata!

Oh look… more delicious food from Patron!

Park Ferme, and the Dekra scruitineering set up near Turn 17.

Friday night dinner with the CFR was a bit low key… not much in a way of swag, but I got a good keepsake, a CFR Race Official hat! And of course some much desired Mazda lanyards.

And so another race in the books… thanks to all that made this one a memorable one for me. I totally appreciate the opportunity!

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.

ted's steamed cheeseburger meriden ct 4

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!

flatout racing miata nc 2

flatout racing miata nc 3

flatout racing miata nc 1

flatout racing miata nc 4

flatout racing miata nc 5

flatout racing miata nc 6

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:

flatout racing miata nb 1

flatout racing miata nb 2

austin cooper s thompson speedway ner scca 1

austin cooper s thompson speedway ner scca 2

austin cooper s thompson speedway ner scca 3

austin cooper s thompson speedway ner scca 5

open wheel race car thompson speedway ner scca

thompson speedway motorsport park

american racer tire wall thompson speedway motorsport park

I love seeing the British influence in New England:

connecticut american ambulance at thompson speedway 3

connecticut american ambulance at thompson speedway 1

connecticut american ambulance at thompson speedway 2

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.

Grid Walk at Spa 24h

One of the coolest things I did at Spa 24 hour was the grid walk. The experience allowed me to take a shit ton of pictures of cars up close which meant I didn’t bother trying to use the phone at any other time which has historically gotten me in a lot of trouble for sneaking a shot here and there.

I had such a blast and took so many shots I would love to share them here for everyone else to enjoy. The weather was a bit soggy which was great because all the cars came out in perfect focus with no shadows. And there’s something inherently beautiful about cars that have good contrast against the background. So here we go:

grid walk spa 24h 2

grid walk spa 24h 3

grid walk spa 24h 4

grid walk spa 24h 5

grid walk spa 24h 6

grid walk spa 24h 7

grid walk spa 24h 8

grid walk spa 24h 9

grid walk spa 24h 10

grid walk spa 24h 11

grid walk spa 24h 12

grid walk spa 24h 13

grid walk spa 24h 14

grid walk spa 24h 15

grid walk spa 24h 16

grid walk spa 24h 17

grid walk spa 24h 18

grid walk spa 24h 19

grid walk spa 24h 20

grid walk spa 24h 21

grid walk spa 24h 22

grid walk spa 24h 23

grid walk spa 24h 24

grid walk spa 24h 25

grid walk spa 24h 26

grid walk spa 24h 27
Does anyone know what an Australian Holden Special Vehicle (HSV) sticker is doing on a British entered Nissan Nismo GT-R? GodZiller…

grid walk spa 24h 28

grid walk spa 24h 29

grid walk spa 24h 30

Huge thanks to my Belgian friend Pol for all the awesome photos!

grid walk spa 24h thanks pol

Two huge thumbs up for the SRO, the Spa 24h organizers and Spa-Francorchamps circuit for allowing marshals like me to have fun!

spa 24h at spa-francorchamps pit lane