Tag Archives: Prototype Lites

Petit Le Mans Marshal Invitation, Road Atlanta September 27 – October 1, 2016

Just got two invites for the most important races of the year (I think) on the American Racing Calendar. I’ll make two posts to share the invites with anyone who could be interested. My advice, do both!

Petit Le Mans is one of the coolest events there is on US soil. It is season finale of the IMSA  WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the final round of the North American Endurance Cup and the circuit couldn’t be better: Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia.

Interested in volunteering?

I say do it!

What is it; Petit Le Mans

When is it: September 27 – October 1, 2016

Where is it: Road Atlanta, Braselton, Georgia

Who’s recruiting: Atlanta Region SCCA

Who will be there: Five Race Groups!

  • IMSA WeatherTech Series (DP & LMP2, GTLM, GTD)
  • IMSA Continental Tire Series (GS & ST)
  • IMSA Lamborghini Super Trofeo
  • IMSA Mazda Prototype Lites
  • SCCA-PRO Global MX-5 Cup

How to get there? Fly into Atlanta which may be pricey. Other airports within a reasonable drive distance are Savannah, Georgia which is what I’ve done a few years ago. Charlotte, NC may be cheaper or even Nashville, TN but then the drive is loooong.

Where to stay?  The cheapest place: Road Atlanta campground. You will drive in and out every morning as the Mustering Marshal tent is outside of the main gate. But that process is fairly painless.

I would highly recommend this event!

I’ve worked every Petit since 2012, this year may be the first time I do miss it, but I would go again in the heartbeat if I still can’t find a job by late September… my fingers are crossed that I’ll be working for a living, but if not I’ll find a way to come to this event!

To sign up go to the Atlanta Region SCCA web site and follow a link to  MotorsportReg looking for the Petit Le Mans volunteer opportunities. Though officially the event starts Thursday, September 28, it is common practice to volunteer the promoter test day taking place Wednesday, September 27. So plan on spending a week in Georgia!

Good Luck!

Have Fun!

Sahlen’s Six Hour at the Glen 2016 the debrief

I’ve been doing the Sahlen’s Six Hour at the Glen since Grand Am ran the series in 2012, each year it’s different. This year was my best one yet. So many things went right. So many things made me happy, I can’t rant and rave enough about the experience… but I’ll try.

First things first. This was a four day event. Four pretty long and grueling days. I totally lucked out with my station assignments thanks to RSI boss Jim Wilbur. No I didn’t get to work Start, but for pro events where official IMSA starter does all the work anyway, I don’t really miss it. Instead I got to work Turn 6 in the Boot on Thursday, Turn 5A in the Bus Stop on Friday, Turn 1A on Saturday and Turn 1 on Sunday. Is it possible to get better assignments than these? I don’t think so.

As far as incidents went we didn’t have too many. I think of myself as the anti-magnet because whenever I work a station nothing happens and the next day things go to hell in a basket there real quick. But I wouldn’t complain about that. I do always tell the people I work with that if something is going to happen I would prefer for it to happen in front of us so at the very least we have the opportunity to learn from the incident. Things happened in a real big way on Friday when a Lamborghini Huracan smashed the wall while braking for the Bus Stop… the car did a 360 sending debris flying everywhere, the left rear wheel assembly ended up landing in the duck pond. And as soon as the car stopped it lit on fire. The driver walked away OK but I was most impressed with how the IMSA Porsche SUV driving safety crew put out the relatively large fire using just the car’s internal extinguisher system. That was really cool!

For the rest of the days I was limited to watching cars go 4 off in our corner or at the most spin. Which was OK… I wasn’t too happy to see the #55 spin at Turn 1 on race day because I was hoping the Le Mans heritage livery car would do well, but predictably the Daytona Prototypes won and that was a bit of a bummer for the otherwise good weekend. But what are gonna do?

I’m thrilled that RSI has been open to the idea of letting SCCA marshals from other places volunteer. I got to work with folks I had worked with a few weeks earlier at Detroit Grand Prix visiting Upstate New York from Michigan. Ron came to satisfy his bucket list quest form California. There was someone from Maryland, another lady from Ontario. It was very well staffed. The IMSA folks were very happy with the quality of calls on the radio, until of course the very last day when a few people fumbled their calls. It doesn’t take much to make a mistake though, I’ve done quite a few working comms on Thursday and Friday. But it was good practice.

The highlight of my trip of course was seeing all the Mazda stuff. Mazda as a company and Mazda Motorsports as a participant committed in a big way to their product during the visit to Watkins Glen. There was significant presence not just with the Mazda Owner’s Lounge in the infield, but also the Test Drive display on the outside of Turn 1. I kind of wished I had more time to take a new ND Miata for a spin around the old Watkins Glen Grand Prix street circuit. Drive past Seneca Lodge and all… But it didn’t happen.

I did get to meet a ton of Mazda people though. And we were lucky enough to stumble onto the Team photo shoot in progress on Day 1. I remember hearing someone from the team saying that despite the photos being released the next day he was sure they were already on Facebook. I posted mine at that moment. I figured if they wanted to keep this stuff secret they would undoubtedly shooo us off or even call security for assistance but nobody said a peep.

I got a ton of swag from Mazda… mostly lanyards I plan to take with me to Europe for the MX-5 Miata Euro Trip (Holland, Germany, Belgium and France). But while working I noticed photographers wearing a very cool Le Mans heritage lanyard… I had to have it. And to make a long story short I approached one of the Mazda big wigs at their paddock area and the guy took it off his neck and gave it to me just because I volunteer as a corner worker. I thought that was bloody tops! Nobody else in that paddock would give you the shirt of their backs, so to speak, but this dude did, and I thank him for it! Furthermore, one of the photographers I asked about it on Thursday made it a point to go and find me on Sunday just to give me another one. I thought that was really cool, and gave him a million thanks too! What a pleasant experience all around.

After nine weekends in a row at various race tracks and two trips to WGI back to back I am ready to take a little break from racing now.

Of course my next trip is just a week away going to Europe to marshal my 15th country (the Netherlands), work the GP circuit at Nurburgring and do another year at Spa-Francorchamps for Spa 24h. I can hardly wait, actually!

Woo Hoo….

 

PS. speaking of Europe, I was fortunate enough to see and watch the original 1991 Le Mans 24h winning Mazda 787B go around Circuit de la Sarthe during the 2013 Le Mans 24h race (where I was for the first time) and the current SpeedSource interpretation, while inspired by the original is nothing really like it… But it’s nice to see.

mazda 787b at circuit de la sarthe le mans 2013 france 1

mazda 787b at circuit de la sarthe le mans 2013 france 2

mazda 787b at circuit de la sarthe le mans 2013 france 3

mazda 787b at circuit de la sarthe le mans 2013 france 4

mazda 787b at circuit de la sarthe le mans 2013 france 5

mazda 787b at circuit de la sarthe le mans 2013 france 7

mazda 787b at circuit de la sarthe le mans 2013 france 8

I especially like to see this line: Never Give Up!  I will one day apply that principle to my job search!

mazda 787b at circuit de la sarthe le mans 2013 france 6

Compared to:

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 34

sahlen's six hour at the glen 2016 paddock walk 20

Second Post Card from Sahlen’s Six Hour at the Glen, IMSA Series taking on Watkins Glen Int’l

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.

So enjoy the pix!

sahlen's six hour at the glen 1 corvette

sahlen's six hour at the glen 2 ford gt

sahlen's six hour at the glen 3 ford gt

sahlen's six hour at the glen 4 bmw m6

sahlen's six hour at the glen 6 pc starworks

sahlen's six hour at the glen 7 bmw m6

sahlen's six hour at the glen 8 pc

sahlen's six hour at the glen 9 viper

sahlen's six hour at the glen 10 viper

sahlen's six hour at the glen 11 viper

sahlen's six hour at the glen 12 ford gt

sahlen's six hour at the glen 13 ford gt

sahlen's six hour at the glen 14 porsche gtd alex job racing

sahlen's six hour at the glen 15 porsche gtd alex job racing

sahlen's six hour at the glen 16 tequila patron lmp2

sahlen's six hour at the glen 17 tequila patron lmp2

sahlen's six hour at the glen 18 wayne taylor racing daytona prototype

sahlen's six hour at the glen 19 wayne taylor racing daytona prototype

sahlen's six hour at the glen 20 ferrari 488 gtd

sahlen's six hour at the glen 21 ferrari 488 gtd

sahlen's six hour at the glen 22 pc

sahlen's six hour at the glen 23 bmw m6 turner

sahlen's six hour at the glen 24 bmw m6 turner

sahlen's six hour at the glen 25 corvette gtlm

sahlen's six hour at the glen 26 audi r8 lms magnus racing

sahlen's six hour at the glen 27 audi r8 lms stevenson racing

sahlen's six hour at the glen 28 audi r8 lms stevenson racing

sahlen's six hour at the glen 29 ferrari 488 gtlm

sahlen's six hour at the glen 30 ferrari 488 gtlm

sahlen's six hour at the glen 32 porsche 911 gt3 rsr

and some selfies…

sahlen's six hour at the glen 33

sahlen's six hour at the glen 34

sahlen's six hour at the glen 35

sahlen's six hour at the glen 36

Debrief coming up next…

A Very Mazda-Centric Visit to Watkins Glen Int’l for IMSA 6 Hour Enduro Race

I just had one of my most Mazda-centric weekends at Watkins Glen International for the Sahlen’s Six Hour and all the support races.

To start an internet friend was visiting from California and I was determined to show him a good time. Ron is a fellow marshal from the San Francisco Region of SCCA. He’s also a fellow Miata owner with a beautiful 2007 Winning Blue that he autocrosses and uses as a marshaling rig to go to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. I figured Ron would get a kick out of going to the Seneca Lodge, but the roles reversed and he showed me something about Watkins Glen I had not experienced before… he took me around the original 6.6 mile Watkins Glen Grand Prix Circuit:

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 2

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 3

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 4

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 5

In fact we drove that course several times. Basically every time we decided to go into town for dinner, we’d take the course… and enjoy these beautiful views:

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 6

Turns out I had driven over the Start/Finish line a million times, ever since I started coming to volunteer at Watkins Glen in 2012, but I never realized what it was!

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 7

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 8

No sooner as we pulled into Seneca Lodge we spotted a Miata there. This theme would continue throughout my trip last weekend.

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 9

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 10

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 11

Ron had forgotten his RSI hat at the bar so we went back, and the Miata was still parked there… some hard core fan!

seneca lodge watkins glen miata 1

seneca lodge watkins glen miata 2

Back at the “new” circuit, things weren’t much different. There were Miata’s everywhere you looked. My favorite ones were at Turn 1:

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 20

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 19a

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 19

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 18a

This gorgeous Niseko Edition Miata was really something to look at.

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 18

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 17a

As well as Canadian Mazdaspeed Body Kit NC in speeding ticket red.

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 17

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 16

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 15

I went over to chat with the owners during lunch break, awesome guys! Saw them posting on Miata.net / MX-5.net about this event. Then one of them came over and hung a goodie bag off my mirror.

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 26

mazda owners lounge imsa sahlen's six hour at the glen 19

Besides being an active place to work at Turn 1 (Station 1A) I was able to see up close and personal the car I came there to see… the 1991 winning livery Le Mans 24h heritage edition Mazda Lola’s.

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 12 le mans

Huge thanks to Andy Blackmore for his awesome spotter guides.

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 12

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 21

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 22

Notice how close my parking spot was to these cars exiting track…

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 23

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 24

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 25

As far as racing went, the Miata’s didn’t do terribly well. Freedom Autosport #25 was leading the race for the longest time until it was punted off, which is a common practice in Continental Tire Sports Cars Challenge… the others were involved in first lap incident too I think, so no Miata took a podium, and almost all suffered damage.

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 29

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 30

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 31

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 32

But again the spectators that showed up in their MX-5’s had a blast:

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 28

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 27

I only got to drive a sliver of the track getting to my station on Thursday and Friday… working Turn 6 in the Boot and Turn 5A in the Bus Stop… but that was OK with me. I got lucky on race day to work Turn 1, which allowed me to hit the pit lane to do my grid pix.

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 33

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 34

That place was super crowded. I did manage however to visit the Mazda Owner’s Lounge which was very generous with me this time, and even contemplated visiting the Mazda test drive center near Turn 1 to see if I could take an ND for a spin around the original 6.6 mile Grand Prix Circuit (currently village streets).

Our station at Turn 1 was peculiar, it was manned by Mazda owners. The corner captain drove a Mazda 3 and was sporting a Mazda hat and a lanyard, and our other coworker, the most experienced one on station, drove a first gen red NA Miata.

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 35

We parked ours right in front of the Grand Stand at Turn 1.

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 36

Another fantastic weekend in the books and more than ever now I’ve become a total Mazda fan boy… Mazda advertises that there are more Mazdas raced on any given weekend than any other brand. And I totally believe that. Besides the Prototypes and Miatas in their respective series, there was a spec series formally called Prototype Lites and currently renamed to Mazda Lites (because they paid more said the voice on the radio from Race Control)… so definitely, when it comes to Motorsport Mazda is knee deep in this business.

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 13

We found this Zebra livery car thinking it was piloted by the same girl from last weekend’s SCCA Majors (who had a blow up Zebra in her Miata) but it turned out to be another Zebra enthusiast/racer.

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 14

mazda-centric visit to watkins glen international for imsa racing 0

I bought my Miata as a result of watching Playboy MX-5 Cup race…