I got pretty excited about this event because there was an RSI e-mail sent to all the persons that hadn’t worked an event at Watkins Glen this year (which I have not) stating that as form of punishment instead of flagging on regular stations we’ll be required to work in the paddock… SWEET! I thought, that’s like the best punishment ever… but alas, I was put on station all four days of the event. And as luck would have it the station (9A – exit of the boot) was just close enough to take a sneak peak at the Grid, but not really long enough to take many pictures. In fact for the Conti race I only got as far as the very last car on the grid, and then had to run back to get to my post in time for the start of the race (and buy lunch on the way back so I could wolf it down during the sighting lap)… it’s like that time I bitched about Lime Rock where you got one of two options during lunch either take pix of cars or eat lunch, but not both… well this was the same scenario. But I got to have my cake and eat it too… check out all the awesome pix I took for my private collection:
I lied, I snuck a shot or the second-to-last car on the grid too…
How I wished I would have worked paddock for this event 😉
After the first day of racing on Saturday, we went in town for some tasty seafood dinner at the Marina… what a view!
looked like someone took a chunk out of my fish before it got to my table… hmmmm!?
And of course nice to spy a Niseko Miata in the parking lot.
Next morning back to station, sadly couldn’t drive trackside to get to it but was able to cross the actual track at Turn 5… going counter.
Same story on Race Day! We were technically not allowed to leave station because it wasn’t fair to every other marshal on other stations. But I was busting to use the bathroom and I had to buy lunch, so off to the paddock area I went, which was right next to the Grid… so I snuck in real quick:
As usual the grid was very crowded… and whatdyakno… there were other flaggers there taking pictures like me. But also lots and lots of kids which is really awesome to see. The Prototype area was super crowded but the GT field, especially GTD was nearly empty, and in my view it had the most variety. Acura, Audi, BMW, Lamborghini, Lexus, Mercedes-AMG, Porsche, holly-cow is that field awesome!
Also lucky for me Mazda qualified like shit… taking the very last spots on the Prototype grid… which meant I could get some shots without a bunch of people crowding two inches from the cars.
and back to my post I ran… (taking more pictures on the go)
the parking area was interesting too, not just the grid…
Rolex 24 at Daytona is my first major event of the 2017 season. The race itself was the second trip to Florida this year because I decided to participate earlier in the month of January for the “Roar before the 24” pre-race which was super exciting. The difference for the race for me was my role: I worked as pit & grid marshal.
Pit & Grid is an exciting position which I had first experienced while in New Zealand working a V8 Supercars race on the streets of Hamilton before they moved it to the Pukekohe permanent circuit. It was fun because it was so different, and because of the general proximity I had to the cars. There we were warned to watch our toes because the V8’s drivers would totally run over us on their way to their grid position. For the Daytona 24 hour event our services were not needed on the grid, or in the pits for that matter. I worked on the cold side of things in the paddock, making sure cars could leave the garages and enter or exit pit lane without running over someone else’s toes. So our job was really to be a spectator marshal. And after serving in this role at Pocono Raceway last year for an IndyCar event with Team Pocono, a race that doens’t normally use marshals, it was a preview into a role I totally would love to work more often.
I have made a ton of other posts already showing off the photos I took during some ad hoc grid walks (runs) and the up-close-and-personal look at the Mazda DPi cars which I really wanted to do. Or the acute gout attack that I got post-race that I am still recovering from more than two weeks later. So I’m not going to babble on about that. But I want to reinforce just how much this race was enjoyable this year, partly because of my assignment I think. The amount of cars was great. The amount of brand new cars was fascinating. And the crowds of spectators that came out to celebrate this event was very much impressive. I loved every moment of it!
I think this experience will effect my desire to work IMSA events again this season… perhaps as soon as March with a return trip to Florida to work St. Pete Grand Prix and Sebring 12 hour.
So stay tuned….
I’m also eager to come up with another international trip for this season, my goal is to marshal in a country where I haven’t marshaled before. This would be the big #16 and as always Asia is at the top of my list, I’d love to do Macau Grand Prix for the first time. But also Azerbaijan with Baku Grand Prix isn’t out of the question. But perhaps Latin America will finally make a list. I’d love to go to Brasil to to a Grand Prix there… or even better one of their Supercars events. Stay tuned for sure.
The 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona was a blast for me! I got to see all the cars up close and personal and spend a good chunk of the race in the paddock shooing people out of the way of speeding cars and crew that kept those cars going for the duration of the race.
Unlike previous times I volunteered to work pit & grid which for this event turned out to be more of a “crowd control” role in the paddock across the gate from pit lane… anytime cars left the track to go to the garages or returned to the track after a repair during the race I had work to do, making sure the spectators don’t get run over… or a car doesn’t lose time unnecessarily because of pedestrian traffic. That was fun!
Also unlike previous times where I would just barely get a chance to sneak into the paddock to take some pictures, I hardly took any even though I was in the paddock the entire time. I almost missed the grid walk because it was so busy before the race. But my boss was really cool and when the announcer called to clear the grid, I ran out there to snap some shots. My goal was to get the Mazda MRT24-P DPi’s which were a hell of a way down the Le Mans style pit lane past the GTD, GTLM and PC fields. I did manage to snag some shots of them, but because they started playing the national anthem I didn’t bother going all the way down to P1 spot to catch a photo of the Cadillacs. Touche…
Here’s the pix:
The variety of cars was absolutely outstanding… much like the previously mentioned fields in the Pirelli World Challenge… but of course this series also sports the uber quick prototypes. I have to admit besides the Mazda’s, the GT field was my favorite!
Acura NSX GT3
Aston Martin Vantage GT3
Audi R8 LMS
BMW M6 GT3
Chevy Corvette C7.R
Ferrari 488 GT3
Lamborghini Huracan GT3
Lexus RC F GT3
Mercedes-AMG SLS GT3
Porsche 911 GT3 R and RSR
The PC field remained unchanged and to be honest those cars are getting old, I’d be OK not seeing them return the following season. The prototypes were dominated by Cadillac DPi’s which was pretty disappointing. Mazda’s DNF’s were super disappointing too. Though I was quite happy to see the Spirit of Daytona / Visit Florida P2 finish third. That was a fluke especially since that car started from the back of the prototype grid. I’m super happy though to have had this opportunity to see the cars so up close and personal. Best time at Rolex 24 ever for me.
Oh yeah… and I got to watch both the start and the finish from pit lane along with all the teams and official IMSA photographers.
Weather was freezing cold… literally! 37F for the final day of practice on Sunday. It was sunny but windy. But the day went by fairly quickly, we finished pretty early for a day at the track and before returning our equipment to Central Florida SCCA compound we made a dash for the paddock to take some more pix.
I’m so glad we did because the pix came out great, and there weren’t too many spectators in the way of the cars to take good shots. Enjoy:
I’m really happy with this whole trip so far, everything I wanted to do I managed to accomplish and it’s a great feeling. Can’t wait to come back for the 24 hour race at the end of the month!
Did not think I’d go back to Daytona, until I saw all the entries for the 2017 IMSA season… wow! The new DPi programs are in full effect. There are several GTE and GT3 machines with new manufacturers. I had to be here. Not once but twice… Not just for the 24 hour race at the end of January… but the Roar before the 24 in the beginning of the month.
Here are some pix from Turn 4, working with my good friend John Gamble:
Pretty impressive line up in the GT field:
Aston Martin Vantage (GTD)
Acura NSX (GTD)
BMW M6 (GTLM & GTD)
Corvette C7.R (GTLM)
Ferrari 488 (GTLM & GTD)
Ford GT (GTLM)
Lamborghini Huracan GT3 (GTD)
Lexus IS-F (GTD)
Mercedes-AMG SLS (GTD)
Porsche 911 GT3 R (GTD)
Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GTLM)
The prototype field is also expanded with new Cadillac DPi replacing the familiar Corvette Daytona Prototypes. Mazda has a new skin, but a very similar engine sound to the old Lola. Lots of Orecas, a few Ligier Nissans, etc.
In the Continental Tire support group the McLaren GT4 is really balancing out the Porsche Cayman GT4 dominance.
More pix from the pit walk:
And some shots from Station 4:
And a delicious pizza dinner with the Gambles Friday night:
Looking forward to the rest of the weekend even if Saturday is supposed to be very wet…. more to come!
It’s not always that I’m in a position to take some pictures at an event. I used to get in trouble for it all the time (often facing myself having to choose whether to eat lunch or try to get into the paddock to take some pictures), then I realized if I showed up a day early and wandered around the paddock I could get lucky, which has been working out really well for me lately. But every once in a while I get a station assignment that gives me an opportunity to legally take pictures without getting in trouble (no cars on track).
This Sahlen’s Six Hour at the Glen during Independence Day weekend was one of those weekends, where all stars aligned. I was no longer limited to the confines of the paddock, where cars aren’t always in one piece or there’s a line of spectators either blocking or placing shadows on the cars I wanted to take a pic of. This time around the cars came to me right past the station, off the track and at a slow enough speed so I could take some awesome shots.
This year’s Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix was a blast!
I had such a tremendously great time I can’t express my gratitude enough to all the people that make the event possible.
There were some hiccups, as there always are, but things worked out perfectly. I was in good spirits from day 1, although it was hard to overcome my displeasure with the state of the roads in Michigan. Many of the highways and roadways in suburban Detroit suffer from incredible neglect and my Miata was the wrong vehicle to navigate these streets. Specifically Interstate 75, Chrysler Freeway and parts of Ford Freeway (Interstate 94) had such big pot holes I’m surprised I didn’t suffer a blowout. My GPS didn’t help me either, sending me along Mound Road or Metro Parkway (Metropolitan Pkwy) which had pot holes so big they had their own pot holes within them, it was so rough I cringed every time I found myself falling into one. And with the car being so low most of the time I couldn’t see it coming until I was in it…. So with that off my chest, to the positive.
Or at least sort of positive. My GP experience I found out, is what I make it… and on the first day of the event I found out I was flagging at Turn 11 which is along the Detroit River on the back straight just past a few sharp turns from Turn 7, 8, 9 and 10. Turn 11 was spectacular both with the views of Canada across the river, Windsor Ontario hustle and bustle can be seen and heard quite easily. But also because once the cars come out of the turn they come so close to the concrete barrier which we flag from, sometimes they brush up against it. Often times I had to yank my Blue flag back after displaying it because it was possible for the cars to rip it out of my hands and take it along for the ride… the rush was incredible!
Yet… Turn 11 has the identical views I’ve seen before from Turn 7 which I worked the last time I went to Detroit Grand Prix in 2013. And that bummed me out…. I was hoping to experience something new, something unique… even if it wasn’t the best view I wanted for it to be different…. so after contemplating whether or not I’d be a pain-in-the-ass for asking, I reached out to my corner captain and asked if I could be switched. He told me “NO”, the assignments were set in stone… Hmm. I asked a few more people on the ride back to the dinner tent after the day’s events were finished, and they said if I feel it is a legitimate reason I should go ahead and make the request, but it would be better if I present the Flag Chief with a solution, otherwise find someone from a different station to switch with me.
While I knew some people at the event, I didn’t know enough to have this conversation about switching so I went straight to the Flag Chief. I presented him with my dilemma and suggested that he could even put me on a “Shitty” station but my goal is to have a different view. He kind of “whoah’ed!” at my “Shitty” comment, as if there’s no such thing at the track and all stations are “good” but then after some thought told me he’d take care of it. I told him no pressure with the decision, I’m quite impressed with the views of Turn 11 and I had a great time working with all the people on there, but honestly I’d prefer a different view, and left it at that.
During dinner the flag chief asked one of the corner captains if he wouldn’t mind trading people, he agreed… and I found out I’m going to work Turn 1 for the rest of the weekend… Holly Fucking Batman! Turn 1!!!! WHOA… that was very surprising and not at all expected.
I couldn’t wait to come back Saturday and Sunday because I knew Turn 1 would be awesome… the switch totally made my day!
The team on Turn 1 welcomed me even if they probably thought I was a jerk for even requesting this move. I can’t say I was terribly concerned what other people thought, I noticed that as long as I look out for my own interest, I have a great time. But we all had an amazing time working together. I tried to share with the team what I learned working a few IndyCar, IMSA and Trans Am events this year… possibly even too much info. But I thought it was helpful. We had a great rotation, I got to do what I wanted. I even said it would be a nice thing to have an incident at Turn 1 so we could all learn from it, and sure enough we had quite a tangle on the very first lap of the IndyCar race on Sunday. Nobody got hurt except some pride maybe, but we learned a lot… Especially from our Holmatro Safety Team crew that scolded us for blocking their exit with the truck. Sadly, their exit coincided with our escape route in case an incident such as this happened. So no matter how much they think they’re doing Godly work with their God-like attitude towards the volunteers who stand between a moving concrete barrier and the swing of their open door as they rush out to the scene. I wouldn’t have changed anything about the way we reacted to the multi-car crash that moved our station a few inches in making the truck exit hole even smaller.
Post race we had a great photo op with the cars that couldn’t continue:
The views from Turn 1 were pretty awesome, we could see almost everything that went on in that part of Pit Lane, including penalties and all vehicles exiting onto the track. Prior to the IndyCar incident we had a few scuffles and spins in Trans Am, while IMSA was pretty well behaved and civil through our corner.
Every night Detroit SCCA Region treated us to a tasty dinner, which was so appreciated!
The food was excellent, from sign-on/registration throughout the event… I especially like the Thursday night welcome party at Sindbads, for all the bad things being said about Detroit, this was an excellent view of what Detroit is really like, and that there are multiple experiences to be had in the D, not just bad ones like people assume every time. Sindbads is great!
Believe it or not, this is Detroit!
The other thing I’m a big fan of is the Michigan State Police cars with their traditional light bubble and the stop sign on the hood… What in the world is that still all about?
Anyway I had such a great time I can’t wait to return again and again! I will marshal another Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix if I have the money to do it. Next time I’ll rent a car though!
After a three year hiatus I decided to sign up for another DGP. It took a while to contemplate my options but I pulled the trigger on the last day registration was open and just a week before the race.
I’ll write in greater detail about what I liked and disliked about the event, there were plenty of both… but for now I’d like to share some of my favorite pictures from the IMSA pre-race pit and grid walk… To me this was the highlight of my participation.
Guess who’s going to watch the next Jason Bourne movie? This guy!
Gorgeous view of the fountain on Belle Isle, and an even more gorgeous station assignment, working Turn 1!
Ever wanted to volunteer in Motorsport but don’t see standing on the side of the track in all sorts of weather as your cup of tea? No worries, there are other options!
My friend Jessie Lynne Honigs just shared a pretty neat invitation on facebook:
Have you always wanted to work on a race team? Here’s your chance! We’re looking for volunteers, starting with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach! Information here…
Since I’m going to the Long Beach Grand Prix and volunteering there already I am extremely jealous of the lucky bastard that will get a chance to work with Starworks Motorsport.
I think this is particularly a great idea because with street circuit events the amount of people available to participate should be pretty impressive, especially considering how many people can simply walk to the track (even if they take public transport for a few blocks to get there from where they live).
PS. if I’m not mistaken Starworks Motorsport and Peter Baron were the most generous group of people that supported Jessie’s SponsorAFlagger.com project with their $1,000+ donation a few years ago at Lime Rock in a form of a gift cards that every marshal volunteering that weekend walked away with. That was impressive!
This year’s Sebring 12 hour was quite an experience for me, a very different one from the last disaster I had in Florida all thanks to my post chief: Captain Morgan.
Things went right from the get go, and I’m very happy with that.
Weather was cooperating most of the time and when it turned bad I was prepared so everything worked out pretty well. The racing was good, I was in good company, the spectators fed us most of the time. What could I possibly complain about? I have nothing but praise!
I even managed to get over to Turn 1 to watch the start of the race and do the pit walk leading up to it. More to come soon, enjoy!
And a few shots from Turn 13 where I was based for the weekend: