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…
Greetings from the Independence Day Weekend at Watkins Glen… The Sahlen’s 6 hour at the Glen paddock filled up slowly. I arrived Wednesday afternoon, went for a wonder around the paddock and only saw some Porsche GT3 Cup, Lamborghini Super Trofeo Huracan’s and LMP3/Mazda Prototype Challenge cars unloaded. But as the weekend went on and more trailers moved in there was a lot to look at. Especially all those cars with patriotic wraps on them…
I hate camping, especially with the threat of severe weather, luckily my tent only took on a little bit of water.
This 911 put on quite a smoke show when I approached… got oil?
I love the fact they mixed the US and Canadian series for this weekend. It had some crazy side affects due to a crash that I got to witness on their Race 1 but still nice to see a 40 car field of GT3’s.
The weirdest thing for me with these pace cars was that a Porsche started the Platinum group during the GT3 race, but an Audi started the Gold group… couldn’t they source another 911 somewhere?
At least the Mazda started their Prototype Challenge races.
…and it’s a pretty RF model with Global MX-5 Cup wheels!
Anybody wanna buy a Norma LMP3?
My usual cruise to Jerlando’s in Montour Falls for some faux-Italian:
New sign: Welcome to Watkins Glen!
Top of the Esses selfie, day one working solo.
And as the paddock filled in, more IMSA stuff to check out:
Love that bucket of fries I got a chance to lunch on one of the days…
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.
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:
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:
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!
No sooner as we pulled into Seneca Lodge we spotted a Miata there. This theme would continue throughout my trip last weekend.
Ron had forgotten his RSI hat at the bar so we went back, and the Miata was still parked there… some hard core fan!
Back at the “new” circuit, things weren’t much different. There were Miata’s everywhere you looked. My favorite ones were at Turn 1:
This gorgeous Niseko Edition Miata was really something to look at.
As well as Canadian Mazdaspeed Body Kit NC in speeding ticket red.
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.
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.
Huge thanks to Andy Blackmore for his awesome spotter guides.
Notice how close my parking spot was to these cars exiting track…
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.
But again the spectators that showed up in their MX-5’s had a blast:
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.
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.
We parked ours right in front of the Grand Stand at Turn 1.
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.
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.
I bought my Miata as a result of watching Playboy MX-5 Cup race…
Greetings from my second weekend in a row at Watkins Glen International, 9th weekend in a row volunteering, this time for IMSA’s Sahlen Six Hours at the Glen. What a spectacular event!
I had an absolute blast and will share some details in the next few posts, but for now here are some pictures from day 1 at WGI:
Props to Prestige Lamborghini Paramus, the town next to where I live for kicking ass all weekend with their #1 Huracan.
Anybody wants to buy a slightly used Porsche? Sell it to you cheap…
Finally a photo of me in my own Miata! I posted on facebook that I’d come back to the Mazda Owners Lounge and score some swag… boy did I ever score… so much swag I couldn’t believe it!
My whole trip to Watkins Glen for IMSA weekend was very Mazda-centric… my goal was to get some photos of the Le Mans 24h winning 787B heritage livery on the current Mazda LMP2 racing in IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship… and boy did I ever get lucky being in the right place and at the right time.
The color coded shirt was a coincidence… I threw something on after a long day on track so I didn’t go to the restaurant wearing all white.
We followed the Mazda SpeedSource team to pit lane for an “official” photo shoot, and got some spy shots in the process.
Though based on the original 1991 Le Mans 24h winning 787B rotary livery, the current model was not a direct replica. The design and colors were unique enough and I really liked it. In fact I really liked it on both cars #55 and #70:
What an awesome perk of working the IMSA 6hr weekend at Watkins Glen International. I got to drive to my station trackside, almost every day, two laps per day (for those days I went to lunch). That was a hell of a rush even though I doubt I went over 50mph.
While it wasn’t my first time driving around Watkins Glen, so far I’ve done it in my Chevy Impala, a Ford Explorer and the Jeep Grand Cherokee… but it was my first time in the Mazda MX-5 Miata, and it was soooo cool! I love when circuits allow marshals to drive trackside to get to station, not all tracks do this. I’ve managed to drive around NJMP both Lightning and Thunderbolt, Road Atlanta, and of course Mount Panorama at Bathurst. Of all of them I think Watkins Glen is my favorite experience driving on track. So without talking too much, I’ll just share some quick pics:
Going up the Esses between Station 2 drivers right and Station 3 driver’s left.
Going down into the Boot between Station 9 and Station 9a both driver’s right.
Parking nearest to Station 10 driver’s left in the sole of the Boot. Way too close for comfort for me as cars come around the corner from 9a and hit the straight before the hairpin turn at Station 11. I was worried parking too close to the ARMCO so the car doesn’t get hit by debris in case someone crashes there. I also didn’t want to park too far off on the grass because it was wet and I didn’t want to get stuck. There’s a steep drop down hill with a creek at the bottom.
Driving up to Station 1 at Turn 1 after the front straight.
Parking about as close as you’d want to park to the action. Loved it!
Thank you Watkins Glen International for being so good to the volunteer RSI marshals!
And thanks to IMSA for allowing us the opportunity to drive the track at their event. Much appreciated!
Was super lucky to work Station 4 for one of the days during the Sahlen’s Six Hour at the Glen this weekend, and it was a convenient place to walk over to the paddock for some pics. It was very wet, to the point that TUSC qualifying, Porsche GT3 Cup and Lamborghini Super Trofeo races were abandoned.
Not much to say about that but have lots of pix to share:
I love whenever I have an opportunity to take some good shots of race cars fully assembled and on display. I’m sure everyone loves seeing them too… Enjoy!
The Sahlen’s Six Hours at the Glen this weekend was a wonderful event through and through. Absolutely everything went perfectly, I was super pleased. We even had one incident at the start of the feature race, however my response to that incident made me question how I handled it. So here’s some food for thought.
I even posted the scenario for discussion on the Flag Marshals of the World facebook group and the answers were exactly as I anticipated them to be… torn right down the middle it’s either one thing or the other: Green or Yellow flag.
What would you do when a car crashes right at your flag point?
It is stopped with part of the car on racing line… do you wave the Yellow or do you wave the Green flag?
I waved Yellow knowing that I’m shutting down the long straight between Station 12 and Station 13 for racing. Station 11 backed us up with another waving Yellow at our request because the drivers were coming around a hairpin turn and going uphill into a blind spot. The incident was over in less than a minute. Race Control advised us that next time we should wave Green. And after that we heard one of the cars get penalized for passing under our Yellow flag. We did not see the pass happen because it must have happened closer to Station 13 and we did not actually have a direct line of sight to the next station.
The video of the incident would make an excellent training piece if any of the marshal schools decided to use it. I’m certainly saving it for my own reference in the future. The YouTube clip from TUSC and screen shots from the video are attached below:
Fast forward to minute marker: 14 and 15 minutes into the broadcast. Screen Shot images are from Fox broadcast and used for educational/non-for-profit purposes.
Corvette GTLM in traffic among GTD class cars sliding sideways
Corvette GTLM started losing it on the straight from 11 to 12
Corvette GTLM hits the ARMCO with the left front and bounces off
Corvette GTLM hits the ARMCO with the left rear sliding to a stop
Corvette GTLM finally comes to rest facing wrong way, counter race
Corvette GTLM proceeds to cross track trying to turn around
Corvette GTLM unable to complete the U-turn has to back up a little
Oliver Gavin (Le Mans 24h champion) comes up the hill in the toe of the boot (hairpin) at Watkins Glen and loses it in the straight… 6 minutes and 57 seconds into the 6 hour race, causing him to spin and hit the ARMCO. He is facing counter race on driver’s right. He waits for the pack to pass and proceeds across the track driver’s left where he is unable to complete the turn and leaves the back of his car on the racing line. He waits again for the leaders of the Prototype class to go by, backs up and continues on. No big deal, minor incident with minimal damage to the car.
Seeing him lose it, when the car was sideways, I put out a waved Green flag. My communicator Robbie called Race Control to tell Station 11 to go waving Yellow. The car slid past our station and I changed my flag to waving Yellow. I saw him attempt to turn around so I continued waving while he was inching forward with at least part of the car still on track. Once he stopped under our feet I was contemplating to start waving Green again to allow the rest of the field to resume racing, but I didn’t. I continued waving Yellow flag until Oliver backed up enough so he could straighten the car out, and drove off. I switched to waving the White flag as he continued well off pace, and other cars had to pass him on the right. He was back up to speed at the next station, and the incident was over.
Why did I contemplate waving the Green flag as he was clearly at our station? (something Race Control suggested after watching the video)
Because procedurally speaking, any incident before the station requires a waved Green flag, any incident after the station requires a waved Yellow flag but any incident at station requires discretion. I obviously thought that having part of the car exposed on racing line could result into flying debris in the form of small or big chunks of carbon fiber or worse, hot fluids resulting from a crash. The drivers are not supposed to accelerate until they see a Green flag. But being that the car was right under the waved point (station), and the track condition was wet and getting wetter, it seemed like a dangerous option. Most cars started the race on slicks and it wouldn’t be uncommon to see cars go slight sideways as they hit the accelerator (had they seen the Green flag at our station).
I like the responses I got in the discussion on facebook because plenty of people feel the same way I felt. However, there were just as many people that suggested Green flag was the correct choice, and obviously based on the video Race Control agreed. I was faced with a very similar situation a few years ago at Laguna Seca in California. During the MX-5 Cup race I had a car pull off track and stop right at my station leaving part of the car right at the apex of the turn… the very famous turn: the Corkscrew. Since the car was nose-first facing the piece of concrete slab I was standing on, and the driver got out and quickly got behind my station, I did not show any flag. The flag point behind me went Yellow, and the next flag point down the hill went Green. I was concerned showing the Green flag because if anyone lost control and hit the car in the apex of the turn, the car would hit me directly. If I waved Yellow, then the cars wouldn’t be able to race all the way until the next point, which was relatively close, but still shut down a part of the track. And so I have been debating this situation ever since. The only difference between the Laguna Seca and Watkins Glen incidents is that I was working alone at Laguna… luckily at Watkins Glen I asked Robbie for his opinion and he agreed with me to continue displaying the waved Yellow.
There was a joke with the SCCA… when flagging an incident that happens at your station, take a step away from the incident and now you don’t have to show the flag any more, it’s the flag point prior to your’s concern. Since the SCCA does not use the Green flag past an incident, and the drivers know to resume racing once they clear an incident, this isn’t much of an issue but with IMSA using modified FIA rules where Green flag is required, I didn’t think it would be appropriate to take a step away from the incident to wave my Green. Perhaps I should have. Perhaps I chickened out at the prospect of having a relatively minor incident escalate into a major incident.
I don’t know.
I would like to learn from this…. but honestly, if I’m faced with the exact same set of circumstances I would probably wave Yellow again.
I remember reading something Stef Schrader posted on Jalopnik that required the use of the Poop Emoji… and that was the first thing that came to mind during the Sahlen’s Six Hour at the Glen last weekend when, with an hour left to go, I was in what could only be described as the most severe pain at the most inconvenient time I have ever experienced. And I totally handled the situation wrong. But it makes for a hell of a story since this could happen to anybody. As embarrassing as the act of pooping is, we all do it… and as a marshal what do you do when you must poop during the race?
This is practically a public service announcement… Remember folks: call your flag chief if nature calls! It’s a lesson that I forgot to remember.
To paint the scene without giving away too many details, myself and Robbie from Canada were working Station 12 at Watkins Glen. It is in the toe of the boot, downhill from a big spectator area, which had one portable john shared among the spectators and the marshals. The weather was shit. It wasn’t pouring rain, but it rained constantly for two days. The ground was saturated. The race was red flagged when turn 1 lost visibility of the start stand and couldn’t do their job properly because between the fog setting in and the mist from the rooster tails, it was pretty awful. The race resumed after the red flag… the leaders crashed, and we were back to full course yellows. And my stomach was feeling like someone was sticking a dull knife in there and trying to move it side to side, up and down… it wasn’t good at all.
Robbie was farting up a storm. He was especially amused with himself because the TV people attached a microphone right at the “ass” level directly next to the spot we were flagging from. Every opportunity he got he ripped a big one and that brought many smiles to his face, and I increased the distance between us going back a step or two. He was happy like a pig in mud, but I was ready to cry. And instead of calling the flag chief to relieve me, so to speak… so I can drive up to one of the proper bathrooms on the infield, I puckered up. Instead of leaving Robbie to his own devices… I puckered up. And the damn pain got stronger. I was contemplating walking up to the portable john on top of the hill from the station by the spectators, but there was a big lake of mud right at the entrance, and much of that mud made it’s way in with the heavy traffic that porta-pod was seeing. Pooping there was not an option, at least not without transferring some of that brown mud on my white gear. So I puckered up.
I was too embarrassed to broadcast my call of nature to race control and all the other marshals on our net, as discreetly as it could have been done, I figured everyone would know. So I didn’t, instead I’m making this very public post to remind myself in the future and anyone else for that matter. What do you do when you must poop and the track is hot, there’s a race going on? Call for help! I don’t care if you’re working on station alone, or have a happy Canadian to keep you company, call for help. And go poop!
You’ll feel like a new person when it’s all done. I know I did.
This is post 1 of a few that I’ll write about my visit to WGI to marshal the Sahlen’s Six Hour at the Glen with RSI. I had an absolute blast. The following topics will be addressed individually:
Sahlen’s Six Hour at the Glen
Visit to HRD
Another 500 mile Road Trip in the MX-5
Best perk of volunteering with RSI @ WGI
Food and Drink in the Seneca Lake area
MX-5 Miatas at Watkins Glen
It’s almost midnight, I just arrived home from a five hour road trip from Watkins Glen, NY covering 250+ miles in mostly wet weather, and so I’ll just give a brief description of each topic now.
1. The Sahlen’s Six Hour at the Glen went especially good for me this year. In fact it went from good to better, to best and then to a predictable conclusion. It rained so the racing was cut short and some support series cancelled. But RSI was extra good to me this season allowing me to work Stations 10, 1, 4 and 12 over the four day weekend.
2. I made a quick pit stop at Heinlein Racing Development shop in Northwestern New Jersey on my way to Watkins Glen. That was an awesome visit with Tivador Heinlein to check out his new shop and all the amazing cars that he’s working on. I was in a Candy Shop!
3. I’ve completed another 500+ mile road trip in my MX-5 Miata, and this trip went even better than the last one. The 16″ inch wheels made a big difference resulting in a softer, more pleasant ride. And I got awesome gas mileage to boot!
4. One of the absolute best perks of volunteering with RSI at WGI is the ability to get to station trackside! I got to do a few laps around the whole of Watkins Glen circuit (albeit at 40mph) this weekend, and I loved it!
5. Unlike the past few times I ended up going out every night instead of staying in the campground. The famous Seneca Lodge in the outskirts of Watkins Glen and Jerlandos in Montour Falls.
6. There was a ton of MX-5 Miatas at the Glen and I was busy snapping away with my phone…. It’s not like I’ve never seen Miatas at WGI before, but now as an owner it was more personal.
I’ll be publishing the individual posts in the next few days. Stay tuned.