Tag Archives: Road Atlanta

Skippy MX-5 Cup Miata Graveyard at Skip Barber Road Atlanta

The saddest thing I saw all weekend while volunteering at the 2015 Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in Braselton, GA this weekend was an MX-5 Cup Miata graveyard near the Skip Barber Racing School facility on the grounds of the Road Atlanta circuit.

No words can describe the sight, so here’s some pictures:

skip barber mx-5 cup miata graveyard road atlanta

skip barber mx-5 cup miata graveyard road atlanta 5

skip barber mx-5 cup miata graveyard road atlanta 3

skip barber mx-5 cup miata graveyard road atlanta 2

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skip-barber-mx-5-cup-miata-graveyard-road-atlanta-6

skip barber mx-5 cup miata graveyard road atlanta 1

I do remember the #95 car in particular from the previous seasons of Skip Barber Racing during the Playboy MX-5 Cup events, including those during previous Petit Le Mans… but I always assumed those cars were sort of fixed and/or sold off to club racers as Miata fields are huge in SCCA Club Racing, NASA racing, even events like American Endurance Racing (AER). But apparently they die a slow death rusting away in rural Georgia with vegetation growing through the panels.

Too bad!

Looks like a lot of salvageable parts…

Postcard from 2015 Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta Presented by Mazda and Interrupted by Joaquin

All ya’ll ain’t gonna believe what happened. Well, maybe you will, but here’s my little preview of the “season finale” at Road Atlanta during the 2015 Petit Le Mans presented by Mazda (the presented by Mazda bit is obviously a joke, while accurate, it was repetitively used by the flag chief in a NASCAR-style shout-out to the sponsors). I like Mazda even though their booth babe tricked me into taking a survey without actually giving me the hat I was promised for my participation. So screw Mazda! or at least the people they outsourced the marketing duties to during the event.

2015 petit le mans mazda owner's lounge

On a positive note, when Corvette Racing advertises a FREE t-shirt for completing their survey, they actually give you a t-shirt… get it Mazda?

2015 petit le mans mazda owner's lounge 1

I will make a few posts about each of the topics I wanted to share from Petit Le Mans, but this entry will act like a snapshot of things to come accompanied by some teaser pictures.

This year’s Petit Le Mans was wet… so wet it was cut short, thanks to Hurricane Joaquin stirring shit up in the Atlantic. But I was well prepared. I had a great station assignment that I actually requested, and as luck would have it, I stayed pretty dry throughout this soaker of a week(end).

hurricane joaquin
credit: borrowed from Facebook

The saddest part of the trip was catching a glimpse of the MX-5 Cup graveyard near the Skip Barber facility at Road Atlanta. I took some pix, they aren’t pretty:

skip barber mx-5 cup miata graveyard road atlanta

skip barber mx-5 cup miata graveyard road atlanta 1

The action on track cheered me up a bit. I was close to the action and close to the pits, which means I was super close to cars. I love being this close to cars! Like this close:

2015 petit le mans continental tire sports car challenge

This is the view from station, with flags in the foreground.

2015 petit le mans pit lane lamborghini super trofeo blancpain

mazda mx-5 cup during petit le mans 2015 miatas galore

I got a chance to meet up with some great people that fed me well. I love southern BBQ. I couldn’t get enough of it! I’m also glad to see some European friends that I last met in Belgium during Spa 24h.

2015 petit le mans marshal dinner with teddy racing

I had some fun in my rental vehicle which I probably overpaid for, just like the flight, and like the cost of the way to get to the flight… I flew out of Philly International the day after Pope Francis left town. But the rental was worth every penny in the flood that literally took over the camp site. I was dry. I was comfortable. And I was happy! I even got a chance to sit in the truck during the red flag period of the race, with the heat on full blast pointed at my sox… shoes off, getting some much needed rest and warmth from the heater and IMSA radio called by John Hindy from Radio Le Mans thru the car’s stereo!

2015 petit le mans red flag

Yep… I got to park on the pit lane for the main event!

petit le mans 2015 rental car and camping vehicle

All in all an excellent weekend. There were some people that went out of their way to sort of shut me down and rain on my parade, and I wasn’t really in a position to ignore them, but shit like that happens. I was just happy that the good moments outnumbered the bad.

2015 petit le mans grid walk 7

I don’t hate Teddy!

PS. I got to win another “Mazda” hat during the marshal party! So thanks but no thanks Mazda booth! But I’m happy I got to take some pix with an ND Miata, both the safety cars and the display models.

2015 petit le mans presented by mazda marshal swag

2015 petit le mans grid walk 2

I also got a chance to sign the nose on the #60 Ligier P2 prototype, they didn’t win and crashed often… but a GTLM car won. A Porsche… which I suspect was done for publicity, both for IMSA and for Porsche in their North American headquarters home of Georgia. Hmm…

Petit Le Mans 2015 Powered by Mazda Spotter Guide by Andy Blackmore Design

Posting this a bit late, but better than never… check out the outstanding work of Andy Blackmore with his latest spotter guide for the Tudor United SportsCar Championship season finale, the 2015 Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

petit le mans 2015 powered by mazda spotter guide by andy blackmore design

click here to download:  http://www.spotterguides.com/portfolio/15imsa

I’ve had an amazing opportunity to actually meet Andy Blackmore for the first time during the pit walk at COTA a few weeks ago during the Lone Star Le Mans and made sure to thank him in person for the fine job he does with all his spotter guides. I always leave an event with a printed version as a keepsake. Sharing the link on my blog does two things: 1. shows my appreciation for the work especially since this is a very useful tool while marshaling and 2. promoting the sport to others who may not have known about the series or the cars that race in it. The detailed spotter guides sure provide a wealth of information on everything from cars, to teams to individual drivers.

Thanks Andy!

Mazda MX-5: Hello Jamie! Pit Stop in New Jersey for a North Carolina Miata Traveling to Massachusetts

Imagine you’re driving your Miata from Raleigh, North Carolina to Schrewsbury, Massachusetts; wouldn’t it be nice to make a pit stop half way to relax, grab some food and chat about marshaling? Well, that’s exactly what Jamie did while on a road trip in his 2013 Miata.

I was glad to hear he was driving through my part of the state and offered to show him a little taste of Jersey. The restaurant of choice was “White Mana” in Hackensack where I work, home of the original slider (little burgers)… long before White Castle took the idea global. White Mana is a great place to eat, chat and watch how sliders are made right in front of you.

white mana hackensack new jersey burger sliders
white mana burger sliders are made fresh, never frozen, served on potato bun cooked to order right in front of you, with diner style seating around the chef

Jamie and I met up at Vince Lombardi Service Area on the NJ Turnpike which I figured would make an easy meeting spot right on i95 before heading to Hackensack. And even there you can’t escape the reach of Motorsports with the big NASCAR official fuel sponsor – Sunoco:

jamie in transit nc3 mx-5 miata from nc to ma 0
one Miata
jamie in transit nc3 mx-5 miata from nc to ma 1
two Miata

jamie in transit nc3 mx-5 miata from nc to ma 3

from Vince Lombardi to White Mana was just a short drive down i80 and of course every opportunity was used to take more Miata pix:

jamie in transit nc3 mx-5 miata from nc to ma 5

jamie in transit nc3 mx-5 miata from nc to ma 4

After we were full, Jamie’s car needed a top off so we passed three BP stations before we reached the most reasonably priced one just near the Garden State Parkway entrance to send Jamie off towards Tappan Zee Bridge and avoiding the big tolls and traffic of going through New York City.

jamie in transit nc3 mx-5 miata from nc to ma 6

jamie in transit nc3 mx-5 miata from nc to ma 7

Not too bad filling up for $2.65/gallon for 93 premium where most other places were from $2.89 to $3.05 including some of those other BP gas stations we passed to get here.

After showing Jamie the way towards New England I broke off down the Palisades Interstate Parkway towards the George Washington Bridge where I remembered the neat spot to take a few beauty shots of the Miata. It’s the place where Rob Ferreti shoots some of his SuperSpeeders YouTube videos and generally a nice place to be with a beautiful view of Manhattan. The little sun shower me and Jamie drove thru was obviously far more severe at the park because most of the parking lot was flooded, which yielded some nice pix:

palisades interstate park george washington bridge mx-5 miata 1

palisades interstate park george washington bridge mx-5 miata 2palisades interstate park george washington bridge mx-5 miata 3

palisades interstate park george washington bridge mx-5 miata 4

All in all it was an excellent day. Anytime you get a chance to meet a fellow Miata owner and also a fellow marshal is an awesome day. Jamie runs the Starter stand, and I had an opportunity to work for/with him at last year’s Petit Le Mans in Road Atlanta. Now that he’s moving up to Massachusetts, the same town where Jessie lives, I’ll probably get an opportunity to learn Start/Finish job from him at some point in the future. And in my marshaling career that is the next position I would like to learn how to volunteer. So stay tuned…

Up to 40% Off! Happy 40th Anniversary Skip Barber

I don’t know who added me to the Skip Barber Racing School mailing list but they are freaking persistent! I’m getting two e-mails per week sometimes. So allow me to share the great news with all of you in case someone has $2-$3 grand burning a hole in their pockets… with up to 40% savings I wonder how they even stay in business being so generous?

Maybe they should start a marshal training program for their very successful driver training program? I think that’d be a great idea.

I would sign up!

 

skip barber the gateway to motorsports it all starts here

It did for Ryan Hunter-Reay, Juan Pablo Montoya, Sergio Perez, Marco Andretti and countless others.

40 years ago, it all started here with dedication, passion and greatness!
Celebrate our anniversary with up to 40% off upcoming programs.
Book a program and save up to $2198 until Monday, July 13, 2015 by midnight.
Celebrate with us and save big by booking your seat today!

 

skipbarber.com | 800.221.1131

Le Mans 24h substitute = Lone Star Le Mans (Austin) + Petit Le Mans (Atlanta)

I don’t think one could truly substitute a race of Le Mans 24h magnitude. But one could certainly try.

Last year I wrote about trying to make a decision as to which European Endurance race I should marshal (click here: Which European endurance race do I pick?) I’m proud to say that the 24h of Nurburgring has materialized and 24h of Spa is within reach just over a month away. But Le Mans 24h, the race that Patrick Dempsey in a recent Jalopnik interview called the best endurance race in the world, has gotten away.

But I won’t despair. I’ve picked a few alternative races with the words: “Le Mans” in their titles a little closer to home. Among them are the Lone Star Le Mans at COTA in Texas and Petit Le Mans in Georgia at Road Atlanta. I also signed up for the Sahlen’s Six Hour at the Glen which is obviously at Watkins Glen in Upstate New York.

wec cota grid porsche 2
WEC at COTA 2014

I have worked all of the races before and unlike the original classic in France where we work in shifts with plenty of downtime, I expect to work the entirety of each of the races for all of these events, cumulatively totaling more than the 24 hours of flat out racing. This is pretty exciting. There will be 6 hours of World Endurance Championship (WEC) at COTA supported by about 3 hours of IMSA Tudor United SportsCar Championship (TUSC), and 10 hours for the season finale IMSA TUSC at Road Atlanta. As well as 6 hours of IMSA TUSC at Watkins Glen International. 6+2:45+10+6=24h 45mins.

sahlen's six hour at the glen 1
old Daytona Prototype from Grand-Am series at Watkins Glen

What do I expect to see at each of the races?

WEC on US soil is always a great sight. I hope the Nissan Nismo GT-R LMP1 car makes an appearance at COTA after it’s debut at Le Mans France. I also hope that Ford brings the latest Ford GT race car to Texas after it’s debut in France. I’m sure the fields of cars will be far smaller in the US as they will be in France, but whatever shows up will be a welcome sight.

petit le mans grid 2014
The grid at Road Atlanta for Petit Le Mans

What will I miss at Le Mans?

The Aston Martin historics race featuring GT1, GT2, GT3 and GT4 race cars of various vintage that have raced before at Le Mans and apparently some of the Nurburgring 24h specials.

McLaren is also celebrating it’s 25th anniversary and there was talk of McLaren race car parade featuring some rare gems from their illustrious racing history. I wish I could have seen that.

But for the price of doing one event I get to do three, and that makes me quite happy. I have now organized the conclusion to my racing season this year, and I’m proud of what events I have added to my resume as a marshal. The planning for 2016 season is well underway and I’m hoping that both Dubai 24h and Bathurst 12h materialize.

Someone Added Me to the Skip Barber Racing School Mailing List, I like it!

Earlier this month I started getting e-mails from Skip Barber Racing School. The first one said that they haven’t heard from me in a while and that I should learn more about their programs. Subsequent e-mails promised to help me spend my tax return with a 25% discount on a variety of events they offer around the country. The latest one claims that Sportscar Racing is within reach…

How I wish that was true!

The last time I remember subscribing to their mailing list was when I was looking for a new job in late 2008. Right around the time I got the idea to vacation in Australia which turned into a wonderful working holiday trip abroad that started my adventures in the Pacific and Southeast Asia. I’m pretty sure I had send Skip Barber an e-mail looking for some work, but obviously never heard back. I wish they would have at least responded about the volunteering possibilities, especially since Skip Barber owns Lime Rock Park and they always need marshals. But for whatever reasons the business side of the racing school and the volunteering requirements of the circuit don’t seem to be aligned.

But I respect Skip Barber Racing School and will paste the e-mail I got below so hopefully someone else may find it useful information. For me racing school participation was and continues to be way out of reach. I’m having a hard time volunteering due to budget constraints.

Sportscar Racing Is Within Reach

skip barber miata mx-5
photo: Skip Barber Racing School

 

Whether you’ve always wanted to try Sportscar racing, or just looking for ways to sharpen your skills on track, we have the perfect opportunity for you!

Finesse your racing skills by learning from the best instructors in the world at some of the most famed tracks in the country.
Book Your Seat Today! 800.221.1131 or visit skipbarber.com
Check out some of the program options for we have to offer:

skip barber miata mx-5
photo: Skip Barber Racing School
Intro To Racing School 
Our Intro To Racing School program is the easiest way to hop in the driver’s seat of an MX-5 Cup car and sample what the world of Skip Barber Racing has to offer. Based on our popular 1 DayRacing School, the three hour Intro to Racing curriculum begins with a detailed vehicle dynamics lesson that will teach participants the fundamentals of professional racing. Participants then head to the race track where they take to the wheel of our MX-5 Cup cars in intense lead-follow sessions.

Program

Track

Program Date

Cost
MX5 Intro to Racing
ROAD ATLANTA
7/6/2015
$595
MX5 Intro to Racing
ROAD ATLANTA
7/7/2015
$595
MX5 Intro to Racing
ROAD ATLANTA
7/8/2015
$595
MX5 Intro to Racing
ROAD ATLANTA
7/9/2015
$595
MX5 Intro to Racing
SEBRING NEW COURSE
7/20/2015
$595
1 Day Racing School 
The 1 Day Racing School is the perfect program for a person new to racing. This day long experience allows the driver to experience the  Mazda Miata based MX-5 Cup Car. This schoolbegins with an in-depth classroom session going over the racing line and vehicle dynamics. The program rapidly picks up the pace as you experience the thrill of the MX-5 Cup Car. This is the ideal program for helping the motorsport enthusiast.

Program

Track

Program Date

Cost

1 Day Racing School – MX5 Only
ROAD ATLANTA
7/9/2015
$2195
skip barber miata mx-5
photo: Skip Barber Racing School
3 Day Racing School
The 3 Day Racing School is every driver’s  gateway to motorsports and racing. This is Skip Barber RacingSchool’s  signature product – with a curriculum that combines classroom sessions with practical hands on seat time. The 3 Day Racing School is a prerequisite for racers interested in obtaining a club, professional or international racing license. In this unique program, students master the fundamentals of racing in classroom and driving sessions. The cars used in the program are either the Formula Skip Barber 2000 open wheel single-seater or MX-5 Cup cars. The MX-5 Cup car has braking and cornering capabilities that vastly exceed any street or sports car. 1 in 3 professional racecar drivers in motorsports is a 3 Day RacingSchool Graduate. So whether you want to be a pro, or just drive like one, it all starts with the 3 Day RacingSchool.
Program
Track
Program Start
Cost
Mazdaspeed MX5 3 Day Racing School
ROAD ATLANTA
6/10/2015
$4,725
Mazdaspeed MX5 3 Day Racing School
ROAD ATLANTA
7/6/2015
$4,725
Mazdaspeed MX5 3 Day Racing School
SEBRING NEW COURSE
7/20/2015
$3,845
Mazdaspeed MX5 3 Day Racing School
ROAD ATLANTA
8/17/2015
$4,725
Mazdaspeed MX5 3 Day Racing School
SEBRING NEW COURSE
9/28/2015
$3,845
2 Day Advanced Racing School

  • The 2 Day Advanced Racing School is just as it sounds, advanced. This school picks up right where the 3 Day Racing School leaves off and helps the participant transition from student to racer. In this school, students are able to polish the skill sets developed, while adding speed and consistency.
  • Upon the successful completion of the 2 Day Advanced Racing School, graduates are eligible to compete in the Skip Barber MX-5 MAZDASPEED Challenge.
Program
Track
Program Start
Cost
Mazdaspeed MX5 2 Day Advanced
ROAD ATLANTA
8/20/2015
$4,175
skip barber miata mx-5
photo: Skip Barber Racing School
5290 Winder Highway | Braselton, GA 30517 US
800.221.1131

Best of luck to Skip Barber Racing School for recruiting new participants. And remember if people can’t afford to go racing, entice them to come out and volunteer!

Tracks around the country and the world could certainly use some more newbies…

How I would go about compiling a “Pro” Marshal’s Handbook

The SCCA Marshal Handbook is 30 pages long. It covers most of the basic rules for club racing, but does little to help a marshal working a “Pro” event especially one sanctioned by the FIA, IMSA, IndyCar, etc.

So to supplement the current lack of actual pre-event training (if you work club events you get really good with club rules which are different than individual series rules) I will compile a Handbook to help those marshals interested in working “Pro” events.

First I must identify what pro events there are on 2015 calendar.

They are:

F1 – Circuit of the Americas, TX (10/25)
MotoGP – Circuit of the Americas, TX (4/12)
MotoGP – Indianapolis Motor Speedway, IN (8/9)
WEC – Circuit of the Americas, TX (9/19)
SBK – Laguna Seca, CA (7/19)
Formual E – Miami, FL – 3/14
Formula E – Long Beach, CA – 4/4

IndyCar – St Petersburg, FL (3/29)
IndyCar – NOLA Motorsports Park, LA (4/12)
IndyCar – Barber Motorsports Park, AL (4/26)
IndyCar – Indianapolis Motor Speedway, IN (5/9)
IndyCar – Detroit Belle Isle, MI (5/31)
IndyCar – Toronto, ON (6/14)
IndyCar – Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, OH (8/2)
IndyCar – Sonoma Raceway, CA (8/30)

TUSC – Daytona International Speedway, FL (1/24)
TUSC – Sebring International Raceway, FL (3/21)
TUSC – Long Beach, CA (4/18)
TUSC – Laguna Seca, CA (5/3)
TUSC – Belle Isle, MI (5/30)
TUSC – Watkins Glen International, NY (6/28)
TUSC – Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, ON (7/12)
TUSC – Lime Rock Park (7/25)
TUSC – Road America, WI (8/9)
TUSC – Virginia International Raceway, VA (8/23)
TUSC – Circuit of the Americas, TX (9/19)
TUSC – Road Atlanta, GA (10/3)

PWC – Circuit of the Americas, TX (3/8)
PWC – St Petersburg, FL (3/29)
PWC – Long Beach, CA (4/19)
PWC – Barber Motorsports Park, AL (4/26)
PWC – Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, ON (5/17)
PWC – Road America, WI (6/28)
PWC – Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, OH (8/2)
PWC – Miller Motorsports Park, UT (8/23)
PwC – Sonoma Raceway, CA (8/30)
PWC – Laguna Seca, CA (9/13)

AMA – Circuit of the Americas, TX (4/12)
AMA – Road Atlanta, GA (4/19)
AMA – Virginia International Raceway, VA (5/17)
AMA – Road America, WI (5/31)
AMA – Barber Motorsports Park, AL (6/14)
AMA – Indianapolis Motor Speedway, IN (8/9)
AMA – NJMP, NJ (9/13)
AMA – Laguna Seca, CA (7/19)

NASCAR – Sonoma Raceway, CA (6/28)
NASCAR – Watkins Glen International, NY (8/9)
NASCAR – Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, OH (8/15)
NASCAR – Road America, WI (8/29)
NASCAR – Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, ON (8/30)

Trans Am – Sebring International Raceway, FL (3/1)
Trans Am – Homestead-Miami Speedway, FL (4/12)
Trans Am – Road Atlanta, GA (5/9)
Trans Am – Lime Rock Park, CT (5/23)
Trans Am – NJMP, NJ (6/14)
Trans Am – Brainerd International Raceway (9/27)
Trans Am – Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, OH (8/15)
Trans Am – Road America, WI (8/29)
Trans Am – Virginia International Raceway, VA (9/27)
Trans Am – NOLA Motorsport Park, LA (10/11)
Trans Am – Circuit of the Americas, TX (11/8)
Trans Am – Daytona International Speedway, FL (11/14)

Ferrari Challenge – Daytona International Speedway, FL (1/25)
Ferrari Challenge – Homestead-Miami Speedway, FL (3/8)
Ferrari Challenge – Sonoma Raceway, CA (4/26)
Ferrari Challenge – Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, QC (6/7)
Ferrari Challenge – Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, ON (7/26)
Ferrari Challenge – Mont Tremblant, QC (9/13)
Ferrari Challenge – Laguna Seca, CA (11/1)

Lamborghini Super Trofeo – Laguna Seca, CA (5/1)
Lamborghini Super Trofeo – Watkins Glen International, NY (6/26)
Lamborghini Super Trofeo – Virginia Int’l Raceway, VA (8/21)
Lamborghini Super Trofeo – Circuit of the Americas, TX (9/17)
Lamborghini Super Trofeo – Road Atlanta, GA (10/1)
Lamborghini Super Trofeo – Sebring Int’l Raceway, FL (11/19)

Seems like a lot of stuff going on, but if you narrow it down by circuits you only get 20 circuits, 17 in the US and 3 in Canada:

Circuit of the Americas, TX
Indianapolis Motor Speedway, IN
Laguna Seca, CA
Sonoma Raceway, CA
NOLA Motorsports Park, LA
Barber Motorsports Park, AL
Mid-Ohio Sporst Car Course, OH
Homestead-Miami Speedway, FL
Daytona International Speedway, FL
Sebring International Raceway, FL
Virginia International Raceway, VA
Road America, WI
Road Atlanta, GA
Miller Motorsports Park, UT
Watkins Glen International, NY
Lime Rock Park, CT
New Jersey Motorsports Park, NJ
Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, ON
Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, QC
Mont Tremblant, QC

And 5 temporary or street circuits, of which 4 are in the US and 1 in Canada:

St, Petersburg, FL
Miami, FL
Long Beach, CA
Detroit Belle Isle, MI
Toronto, ON

Once you take into consideration that many “Pro” events act as support races for other “Pro” events on the same weekend at the same track, the calendar is reduced even further. Therefore further simplification and narrowing down is required.

Second I would use event information to identify the organizers:

They are:

SCCA
USAC
RSI
USARM
ACIND
MMS
Circuit of the Americas, TX
Virginia International Raceway, VA
Miller Motorsports Park, UT

…and possibly other clubs or tracks that organize their own marshals.

Third I would compile procedural information for each series.

This information includes:

Flag Rules including Light Panel Instructions/Procedures
Full Course Yellow Procedure and Restarts
Communication Guidelines
Response Rules, including vehicle specific info like Hybrid systems kill switches, extinguisher switches, tow procedure, lifting of vehicle, and general differences between open wheel, sports car, or moto events.

Fourth I would compile available supplemental info for each series.

That includes:

Spotter Guides
Vehicle Distinguishing Features Info/Class System
Driver List / Number / Names
Team Information
Series Information, etc.

Fifth and final section I would compile pertinent track information.

General description of each Road Course
General description of each Street Course
Specific information unique to each facility.
Any pertinent information for marshals like morning meetings, locations, lunches, where equipment is kept, flags/fire bottles,  etc.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of information for the “Pro” Marshal’s Handbook, but it is a good outline of where to start. I would envisage that with each year information would be updated as necessary – whether added or deleted. However, all in all it would be a solid point of reference for anyone using the Handbook at any “Pro” event they choose to volunteer without alienating one club over another, one series over another or one circuit over another.

This is also something that does not currently exist.

#MarshalCam from Road Atlanta, Petit Le Mans Edition

Petit Le Mans seems like a distant memory right now, and yet it’s still fresh on my mind because: #MarshalCam! I am still uploading the videos shot at Road Atlanta during that amazing weekend, and I wanted to share them with you, the reader for some excellent examples of what this little project is all about.

First up, Mr. Jim from Texas. One of the assistant flag chiefs of the WEC race at Circuit of the Americas a few weeks earlier. We were meant to shoot a COTA edition #MarshalCam interview but the days were so ridiculously long, there wasn’t a good moment to make it happen. But Jim came through big time since we worked Turn 5 together on the first day:

Our corner captain that day was Willy from Michigan. Someone I admire greatly. Because, of all the people I’ve watched and learned from volunteering in the US with the SCCA, Willy has been the most professional. Ironically this was the first time we’ve worked together even though I’ve seen/heard Willy do his magic at the Detroit GP on Belle Isle, Long Beach GP in California and of course the US GP at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas. I’ve said this before and I’m sure many will take offense but a lot of volunteers beat themselves on the chest to tell you how great they are, Willy on the other hand shows exactly what professional marshaling is all about, by example:

For the rest of Petit weekend I got magically swapped to Turn 1 again, to work with Nancy from Gerogia. I had the pleasure of working with her last year on race day only, and was thrilled to return. Nancy is a very colorful person and runs a tight ship. She wants things done her way and she will tell you exactly how to do it. That’s what I love about working with her, there’s no dancing around, no whispers and taking behind your back. You do something wrong, she tells you. And hopefully you correct yourself:

Jason from Tennessee joined our team on race day. And even though it was the first time we worked together we got along really well, which I definitely appreciate. I’m really glad he agreed to do the interview because it was concise, meaningful and direct to the point. If anything, I’m a little envious of Jason’s story of bonding with his father as my dad sees my hobby as a complete waste of time:

Please stay tuned for more outstanding videos featuring marshals from around the world. And if you wish to send in your interview (do a selfie!) I’m happy to send you #MarshalCam patches for your efforts!

PS. there are some Waffle House edition videos coming soon >.<

Tudor United SportsCar – The First Year

2014 has been a good year even though I had drastically cut back on the number of events I participated in previously. I still managed to volunteer six races for the top sports car racing series in America including five Tudor United SportsCar Championship events, all four Tequila Patron North American Endurance Championship races and six Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge races at Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen, Lime Rock, Circuit of the Americas and Road Atlanta.

daytona prototype road america petit le mans

So what can be said about the first year of TUSC. Was it a huge success? A miserable failure? Probably something in the middle. It certainly wasn’t American Le Mans Series (ALMS) or the Grand-Am series that it replaces. The hybrid of both seemed to unfairly favor some and alienate others. Daytona Prototypes vs. Le Mans Prototypes P2 class is an obvious example. But since I know little about classification and enjoy the races from a marshaling perspective I won’t say much more about that. The GT races were outstanding. But unlike previous years where I managed to do up to six ALMS and Grand-Am events each, many close to my home at Lime Rock, NJMP and Baltimore. The most I could scrape together this year was six of the combined series, and it required significant travel. I’m not happy losing local events. But such is life.

My favorite part about the new series was the large fields of cars participating at most events. It’s a sentiment I seem to share with a number of other marshals I have spoken with. Some of the racing was quite good too, especially later on in the season. Though the (Im)Balance of Performance really undermined the authenticity of pure racing.

We really seem to suffer badly from the lack of marshals at each of the six events I’ve done for the series, and I could only blame IMSA for that. Sure the local tracks are responsible for recruiting people, and the local SCCA regions fail to provide sufficient numbers required (to give breaks to workers, especially at long endurance events) it is terribly unsafe and dangerous in my opionion. But I feel it’s up to IMSA to generate interest in motorsport volunteering and just as importantly train the people that participate to live up to the expectations IMSA has. IMSA is very different from SCCA and it’s absolutely silly for them to expect the few people that volunteer to read their corner books (which are distributed to the captains every morning) with the outlined differences between club and IMSA rules and actually follow through with the requirements. Most people volunteering see the spotter guide for the first time, and even those aren’t current until the last day: Race Day! It may cost a little bit of money to recruit and train us as marshals, but for a multi-million dollar industry and as such – international series, it’s a drop in the bucket to make us amateurs look professional at their events. And we need it! I’ve seen some real doozies this season, ridiculous requests like refusing to wear COTA’s blue suits that make all marshals look the same (and therefore professional) vs. mismatched whites, wear what you brung sort of thing which ended up actually happening. Or fundamental undermining of the whole idea to marshal pro events, where experienced marshals and evangelists for club racing promote SCCA club events vs. our top national series, which makes little sense. Everywhere else in the world people strive to volunteer the top events, it gives them a target to work towards. Something to accomplish. In the US the opposite seems to happen, the attitude appears to be: “it’s easier to work club events… wake up later, shorter hours…. free beer”  There’s also the clash of personalities and everyone doing their own thing because that’s what they do at their home region so that’s their way. Instead of pulling together towards a common goal, everyone pulls in a different direction.

I am looking forward to next year’s championship. Though like many of the racers I will probably cut back on my participation and focus on other domestic and international series like Pirelli World Challenge and World Endurance Championship in Europe.