Tag Archives: Porsche Cayman GT4

California 8 hour at Laguna Seca Debut of Intercontinental GT Challenge in America

Welcome to the California 8h the debrief.

Man was I looking forward to this event… not so much because I thought it was going to be a thriller (it was good, but in a genetic GT racing kind of way, fairly predictable) but because I wasn’t sure it was actually going to happen… even a week before race day!

Why do I say that? Because this is SRO’s second attempt at bringing the Intercontinental GT Challenge to America… I specifically signed up to volunteer the PWC season opener at COTA last year just for the Circuit of the America’s 6 hour race… that never happened.

I am glad however that this event took place, and most importantly that it was a success! We only had 19 cars on grid, which is a low number. But the racing was good. One brand dominated… Nobody could keep up with the pace of the Audi’s… not McLaren. Not Acura. And definitely not Porsche whose very reliable 911 GT3 RSR’s started falling lap down first… at one point there was only four cars on the lead lap, which is silly.

Luckily the battles for first were good. Team Land Audi lead for most of the event. Belgian Team WRT took over briefly and then spun out into the kitty litter, going down a few laps by the time it was recovered. And Magnus racing saved the best for last and won. McLaren ran Okay… went down a few times but finished on the lead lap. And Acura didn’t fare so well either. One of the cars DNF’ed… the other finished in fourth or so. I think all of the Porsche 911’s finished a lap down. In GT4 field the Ginetta, Aston Martin and Porsche Cayman had a great battle. And the Invitational Mazda3 V8’s finished a strong 9th and 10th. Which is pretty cool! Those cars were very neat… one was left hand drive, one right hand drive. And featured two shades of the Mazda famous red paint. (while being powered by a Ford Coyote 5.0 liter V8)

So what’s the verdict for this event?

If it happens again, I think it would be tremendously better if more cars show up. That of course could be said about any other event, but in this case it would have made a huge difference.

Anything else they could change?

YES! I hope and pray that SRO or USAC/PWC/SFR SCCA spring up a few bucks to buy some “SC” – Safety Car boards. It was absolutely absurd waving double yellows every time there was full course caution. Who made that decision? It’s Stupid! Any kind of waving yellow flag for no good reason (absent an SC board) waters down/diluted the importance of the safety aspect of waving yellow flags. How much could the boards possibly cost? Can’t SRO just bring their own… I mean they already bring containers full of equipment. Bring the pink Code 60 flag along too! If I could change one thing I would have changed that first…

Post Card from the PWC, SRO, Global MX-5 Cup & Porsche GT3 Trophy Paddock at Laguna Seca

If the title suggests this was a busy event… you best believe it was! Four days of non stop action… which was a complete and total difference compared to last year where PWC ran it’s season finale alone without any support groups.

What was particularly different this year was the debut of the SRO created Intercontinental GT Challenge stop on American soil. An endurance race that joins the calendar this year along the crown jewel of SRO events: Spa 24 hours. As well as the other two races Stefan Ratel hitched his wagon to: Bathurst 12 hour in Australia  and Sepang 12 hour in Malaysia. The California 8 hour is an event they came up from scratch while the other Intercontinental GT Challenge stops have been established forever… some even before SRO got invovled with them.

To me California 8 hour was the main attraction to come out west and volunteer… But there were other surprises. While the Pirelli World Challenge top group: GT/GTA/GTC and GTS classes already ran their season finale the previous month in Sonoma. The lower classes: TC and TCA/TCB were going to have their finale here at Laguna Seca… and for all those pint size racing cars World Challenge came up with a spiffy title: Grand Prix of Monterey! Wow…

But wait there’s more! Global MX-5 Cup had run their season finale a few weeks ago while playing a support role for the IMSA event at Laguna Seca. But they decided to hold a truly Global MX-5 Cup race inviting some European and Japanese drivers to participate alongside their American counterparts. While the purse for winning the event was big, not that many cars signed up to race. But even with the lack of participation their field was larger than that of the main event, California 8 hour.

The best represented group of the weekend was the Porsche GT3 Cup Trophy Series. I completely confused myself thinking these were the West Coast version of our IMSA GT3 Cup… but I was wrong. While some teams/cars participate in both series, the GT3 Cup Trophy isn’t run by IMSA and is a far different series using a whole variety of cars. There were brand new GT3 911’s… some older versions of the car. And a bunch of GT4 spec Caymans too. Cars were distinguished by their windshield banners and the color of their headlights.

So now that I got all that out of the way, here’s a ton of pix I took while roaming around the paddock on Wednesday, the day before the event started:

Laguna Seca is going Hollywood! Last year they added the Hollywood-style “CORKSCREW” sign on the hill overlooking the track. This year the new addition is a Mazda 787B Le Mans winning car cutout at the entry to the track from Route 68/A Road. Which is also joined by a Yamaha Superbike…  it’s cool!

First thing you see arriving at the paddock is the Long Road Racing setup with their Global MX-5 Cup cars… and Enzo!

Lots of MX-5 Cup cars at the event… some raced in the Global MX-5 Cup while others represented the TCA field in Pirelli World Challenge. Easy to tell them apart… the convertible tops were MX-5 Cup series while the hard tops were PWC.

One team brought a souvenir from the season finale that ran with IMSA at Laguna Seca in September

Car looks pretty rough!

Much like the IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car series, PWC TC class still run NC Miata’s… though they are modified with a 2.5L engine and a big wang in the back.

One of two Japanese-driven cars in the event…

The TCB Mazda2’s used to be competitive, but it seems to me the BoP has balanced all the performance out of them. This #08 was the first car to be lapped. (multiple times, too)

The rest of the Mazda2’s ran slightly better, but not much. Certainly no match for the Honda Fit’s in TCB.

The new TOYOBARU Scion FRS GT86 smoked the competition. Won both races… and then got disqualified for some reason. Miata which came in second both times assumed the victories afterwards.

Porsche’s were second best represented cars for the weekend, after the Miata of course. While in TC class I counted 11 BMW M235i’s

The California 8 hour field was ultra thin… 19 cars total!

The Coyote 5.0L V8 powered Mazda3’s by MARC Cars Australia had two 3’s on the road… two different shades of red. One left hand drive and one right hand drive. Because of attrition both cars finished the race in top 10… ahead of all GT4 cars.

The only European SRO team to show up… Team WRT from Belgium.

The Acura team looked fast and very promising but after a few hours nobody could keep the pace of the Audi R8 LMS.

The TCR cars did especially well in the TC race

I was easily distracted walking around the paddock… this Audi especially caught my eye:

I suspect I’ll get an opportunity to watch it race on track this year…

It looks like the IMSA series, but the Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy is an independent west coast version racing similar cars.

When I finished taking pictures of cars, climbed up the hill to take some selfies with the Corkscrew.

I had some Mexican food on the way over to the track… and after spending a productive day there, I craved Mexican again… so I gave another restaurant a try in Seaside after the first place in Salinas. And then watched the sun set over the Pacific.

It was a great day!

 

Post Card from St. Pete Grand Prix USAC Pirelli World Challenge Paddock

Lots of pix from Day 0 at the St. Pete Grand Prix and specifically the newly USAC sanctioned Pirelli World Challenge Paddock. Lots of new things joining a bunch of lovable oldies… I love the variety in this series and for me that was the main attraction to sign up and volunteer. Check them out:

Brand spanking new Chevy Camaro GT4.R

The skittles McLarens…

New paint jobs on the Cadillacs…

Brand spanking new Acura NSX’s

Much prettier paint jobs for the Ginetta’s compared to last year.

New more sinister black paint job for the SIN too.

I’m guessing the championship winning car from last season is available should a capable driver come along… no Brett Sandberg?

Love the Benzes!

I’m craving BBQ now…

There’s the Panoz Avezzano I was so eager to see in person!

According to one of the mechanics there’s nothing new about this tube-frame car… certainly much less than the GT4 machinery that is doing so well in this series. That said a tube-framed Mustang won both of the races this weekend.

Got scolded by one of the team members for taking pix of the engine

The most  popular attraction and “RACE?” of the weekend

Parking lot find… a new Hertz Mustang Shelby GT-H rental car…

more pix to come from the race weekend soon…

Post Card from the BMW Endurance Challenge Grid Walk during Rolex 24

Greetings from Daytona International Speedway, my first event of 2017 season volunteering during Rolex 24 weekend. First up is the support race to the 24 hour enduro, which in itself has become somewhat of an enduro race… the BMW Endurance Challenge they called it where all of the familiar machinery from years past and some new additions raced on Friday for four hours, significantly longer then their previous 2 hour 45 minute events.

I was volunteering with the Pit & Grid CFR team which for this event was responsible for “crowd control” in the paddock. Being so close to the garages and pit lane was heaven, but unlike all the previous times I flagged this event and took a million pictures, I noticed that this weekend I hardly took any. In fact for the support race the only pix I took were during their grid walk just before the race.

Super happy to have had this opportunity, though a little bummed out that the Mazda MX-5’s didn’t do so well… anyway, here’s the photos I took in pit lane:

This series has turned into something quite exotic, much like their competitors Pirelli World Challenge… this year the McLaren GT4 joins the top “Gran Sport” class alongside the new Porsche Cayman GT4 that was added last year. It ain’t Mustangs vs. Camaros no more. I love what this series has turned into. Also love the fact they are still racing NC Miatas! Makes me feel like I have a fairly “current” model back home.

Cars & Coffee Paramus New Jersey November 2016

Autumn is winding down. Fall foliage has been reduced to leaves waiting in piles on the side of suburban streets, to be sucked up by the DPW trucks… things are about to get pretty gray for a couple of months over the winter. Let a little color cheer you up this weekend. I went to a local Cars & Coffee in Paramus to see some awesome cars on display for everyone’s enjoyment!

I spent a whole of five minutes running around taking pictures, but I’m quite happy I got out of bed early this Sunday morning for this amazing opportunity, enjoy:

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Surprised my car looks so good even when it definitely needs a wash.

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The one thing that stood out at me was the amount of Lotus Espirit’s that showed up for this event.

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Lots of SRT-8 Challengers and colorful Hellcats in attendance too…

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That’s all folks… I think there’s one more of these next week. Hopefully I’ll be able to make it!

PWC Season Finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca the debrief

What an amazing way to end my racing season!

I don’t know if things could have gone any more perfectly than they did, but I’m certainly grateful for the awesome outcome. My station assignment was fantastic. I got to sneak in the day before the event to take lots of pictures which I wanted to do. The weather was picture perfect. We had plenty of incidents to keep us busy over the weekend. And I even got a Mazda rental car which I put over 1,000 miles on road triping the central coast of California… how appropriate for dual Mazda-centric events at a place called Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. I am blessed!

As I’ve mentioned before the trip to Cali this time involved two back-to-back events at Laguna Seca. First a massive Miata get together followed by the Pirelli World Challenge season finale which has a huge field of NC Miatas exactly like the car I own (except maybe more racey).

My buddy Ron whom I talked out of booking a hotel during his visit to Watkins Glen and instead convinced him to utilize the RSI campground came through big time by introducing me to some folks (not directly Mazda Miata owners but closely associated nonetheless) who put me up for the full 10 days of my stay. That certainly brought my expenses down and under control… the trip wasn’t cheap though, I paid $129 for the flight out, $159 for the flight home, $196 for the car rental, $120 for fuel, etc. So at the very minimum I dropped $600 bux but it could have been worse. It was totally worth it though.

I had missed the Bay Area and Monterey Peninsula. I missed Laguna Seca so this trip was good for my soul.

The racing was outstanding. We were kept busy. Had some big crashes and spins and cars getting stuck in our gravel. Luckily no one was seriously hurt. The people I worked with were amazing. Super friendly from day one and I really appreciated such warm hospitality.

I was impressed royally with the way the San Francisco Region operates. Including a post I made on facebook that made all the marshals around the world jealous when SFR put on a Steak and Lobster dinner one night for us. What was more impressive was the fact that the dinner was paid for by recyclables. Something so ordinary that any other club in the nation or the world could do themselves, it’s just a matter of implementing the idea.

So after 1,141 miles on my Mazda 5 rental. One trip to San Luis Obispo along the scenic California 1 route along the coast south, and then two trips along California 1 north… first to Half Moon Bay and the other all the way up to San Francisco’s Golden Gate area along the coast. I am really impressed with this experience. There were hiccups along the way to be sure… lick catching a huge nail in the tire on the rental the night before the racing started which got me  a bit worried. But after doing some quick decision making and a $10 purchase at local AutoZone I was all set and secure.

I love this part of California and would love to come back again and again. Hopefully my next trip to Laguna Seca won’t be 3 years away.

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View over the paddock from Turn 2

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SFR folks seem to take great pride in their region, certainly far more than I do with Guam

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And there’s the lobster!

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for those that didn’t want lobster tails there was plenty of chicken

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It was delicious!

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and so were all the lunches

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and other dinners which were served every night

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I brought a whole stash of nibbles for the station… I called this area the mini bar although with all the food provided I hardly relied on mine

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my favorite drink in California!

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I even contributed to the next feast by donating all my empty cans

During the morning meetings we were constantly reminded that 9 out of 10 times we will not respond to incidents. But I was lucky enough to be able to do it… running out on track to pick up a hood that blew off the #37 Mustang in GTS class

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Really happy with that experience, especially on such an iconic track with all it’s elevation changes, high speed corners and lots and lots of dust everywhere which caused some serious incidents

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For the last dinner of the event my bud Ron and I went to the other iconic place in the area, Baja Cantina with all it’s mementos and motorsport memorabilia on the walls, it was righteous!

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After such a great experience for the two weeks spent at Laguna Seca I didn’t want to leave California

I will be back!

Second Post Card from Turn 2 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Flagging PWC Season Finale

Is there a better spot to be at a race track than one so close you can look the drivers in the eye?

I don’t think so.

I got lucky at Laguna Seca this weekend, because the powers that be allowed me to stay for the duration of the event (all four days) at the amazing Turn 2 hairpin and I loved every minute of it.

I had requested a “first or last” turn when registering thinking I could sneak away during our downtime to take some grid pictures of all the different classes… the GT/GTA/GT-Cup; Spring X: GT/GTA/GT-Cup and GTS, or GTS class by itself or the TC/TCA/TCB event featuring all the Miatas… but that wasn’t practical at Turn 2. So instead I took advantage of the downtime (offduty when pix were taken) and snapped a few close ups as the cars were leaving pit lane on their first sighting lap.

Enjoy:

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and some other cars:

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The Touring Car class was all Mustangs and Camaros just a few years ago, and now it’s become real exotic with the entry of KTM Xbows, Maserati Gran Turismo, Aston Martins, Porsche Caymans, Ginettas and Sin R1’s.

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Also it’s been a long while since I saw a Flying Lizzard Porsche sporting their classic livery:

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Fantastic post to work at Turn 2 and I could highly recommend others request it. I think it’s much better than the Corkscrew.

Cars & Coffee at Tice’s Corner in Woodcliff Lake, Northern New Jersey

I can’t believe it’s December, two days after Christmas and three days before New Year and there are Cars and Coffee meets happening in Northern New Jersey. Today’s event was at Tice’s Corner in Woodcliff Lake, NJ just across the street from BMW of North America headquarters. The weather was damp with some fog in the morning but plenty of cars showed up. My time there was very brief because I had to rush to work though.

My goal was to meet other Mazda MX-5 owners to make friends with.  I don’t have any local friends in Bergen County that I could have a Miata related chat with especially when I have questions about my car. And even though there was a beautiful Torch Red NC2 PRHT in attendance I have no idea who the owner was because it wasn’t obvious in the crowd. Too bad. Don’t know why I’m having such hard time finding local Miata owners to hang out with close to where I live. A million cars showed up on my trip to Southeast Asia but local owners don’t seem particularly interested in my company. Go figure.

Some photos from the event:

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Plenty of cops in attendance 🙂 just noticed in this photo two Explorers roaming around plus another Crown Vic unit nearby.

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Leaving the event I noticed a Copper Red NC1 in my rearview mirror. At first I thought it was one of the Miata.net forum members I had met before, I pulled over to let the guy pass and he honked at me doing so, but it turned out to be a PRHT model just like mine (the forum member has a soft top with some bumper trim accents that this car didn’t have). I ended up following the car all the way to my exit off the highway, and that was really neat to see an identical car to mine in the same neighborhood I live in, but again I have no idea who the owner is. Oh well….

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