Racer Magazine just reported that Trans Am (one of two SCCA Pro series that remained with the club’s sanctioning body after many other respectable series bailed) will make Audible Flagging System mandatory in the cars that race with the series… TA1, TA2, TA3, TA4, etc. The system will not cost the team’s extra, instead it will be provided to all in the name of safety. The system will use audible and visual flashing lights to warn competitors of danger reflecting the traditional flags displayed around the track. An interesting statistic used to promote the idea of the system is that 88% of major incidents that happen result from secondary impacts, or not the direct result of the initial crash but crashing into the crash because of failure of adequate warning.
This news fascinates me.
Not sure how to take this news. Be proud? Be insulted by providing an insufficient service as a volunteer?
Do we even need volunteers anymore?
The AFS system will surely cost less than the soggy sandwiches provided to flag marshals every day of the race meeting.
Ironic that the only club in the U.S. with the power to issue internationally recognized marshal licenses had bailed or is in process of dumping its volunteer marshals.
Or are they?
Link to Racer.com article: http://www.racer.com/scca-home/item/146674-audible-flagging-systems-becomes-trans-am-series-flagging-system
I remember coming across a picture of a Tic Tac livery Porsche 962 Group C car advertising an event at Daytona… didn’t take me long to decide I must participate. The event: Historic Sportscar Racing Classic 24 hours of Daytona presented by IMSA. Reading about it I thought there would be a million people there… after all everywhere I go people say that Historic events are the best, at Watkins Glen or Laguna Seca or even international events like Spa-Fracorchamps.
Reality though was a bit more low key. But lucky for me not only did I get to see the aforementioned Tic Tac livery Porsche 962. I got to see four of them altogether. I figured they’d do a few parade laps and take it easy for display purposes. In reality though each car was pushing their limits. Some I clocked at nearly 180mph from my post at Pit Out during the race. Wow!
I was always of the opinion that prototypes resembling production cars made the best race cars. The more recent Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR or CLK LM I got to see a few times now is one of my favorites. Similarly Porsche 911 GT1 and the McLaren F1 GTR are amazing. But the cars that preceded that era of racing were the Porsche 956 and 962 respectively and for me seeing them race was a true highlight of the visit to Daytona.
Even though this Rothmans livery Porsche didn’t actually race, it was neat to watch it during practice keep up with the competition. I was convinced this was the car I got to see sitting at Bruce Canepa museum in California a few weeks back, but it was actually a different chassis altogether.
I knew the Dyson team was a competitive Mazda prototype racers in American Le Mans Series, but it was neat to learn they had a history with Porsche Racing in IMSA GTP
The Hawaiian Tropic Fabcar didn’t roll out until race day and after seeing it I really took a liking to it. Compared to the Tic Tac livery car this was like comparing IndyCar to F1, but still it looked beautiful.
I was happy to see other interesting sports cars I haven’t seen before like the Sunoco livery Camaro and the Oldsmobile Aurora IMSA GT.
Overall it was an incredible week… Five days on track at Daytona and most of the time all by myself in Pit Out. What an amazing experience.
It’s ironic that I’m going to mention Trans Am almost as an afterthought, but that’s what it felt like they were at this event. Even though it was their season finale they definitely played a support role for the HSR. That didn’t stop them from having some aggressive racing on display and I truly enjoyed the experience.
Anyway… race day especially was a real enduro. We only had three SCCA people on Pit Lane (possibly four but he was on the HSR radio) and those three were basically there for the full 30 hours of the race. Starting 7am Saturday for the morning meeting, and finishing Sunday 1pm’ish after that last race got totally mangled with incidents. I attempted to work the full race through for two of my previous Daytona 24 hours (modern IMSA races) but the closest I came was working 22 hours in 2013… somehow this time around I managed to do all 30! It did help that there were 45 minute races with 15 minutes between sessions that I could sit down, but still.
Getting to the event was a real enduro also. I elected to drive down because flights weren’t all that cheap, and a one-way Hertz rental from one of NYC’s airports was just $4.99 per day. I decided to book a car for two days so I could do a more leisurely drive. And my total came out to just over $13 dollars. As cheap as it seems though the fuel killed the deal. It cost me $71 in fuel for the little Nissan Versa I got. Plus another $49 for a hotel in South Carolina to get some rest. I picked my usual stop on the North/South Carolina border to get some fresh pig wings from Dixie Pig in Rock Hill… my favorite!
Spending the night in Charlotte area was neat because I got to see a ton of Miata’s driving around. There was one sitting by my motel at a gas station when I pulled in. And another must have been dining at a fast food place near the motel when I went to pick up my food. So I quickly posted on facebook to see if anyone would want to meet up. Obviously it was too late to do something that evening, but next day I headed out to a Miata specialist shop in Columbia, South Carolina to check out their NC Miata race cars and the garage. And while there got a message from a Miata owner in Savannah, Georgia to meet up for lunch there. Perfect!
The Savannah Miata mini-meet was kind of funny… I neglected to mention to my new friend that I’m driving a rental car, and he almost showed up in his minivan that is used for car pooling… but I’m glad he stopped home to swap into his gorgeous Miata. Love that color blue!
Great opportunity to meet a fellow Miata owner and to try a new place… never been to Zaxby’s before, and it wasn’t bad.
The rental car though was a solid piece of shit, the only saving grace was the fact I squeezed out over 40mpg out of it on the 1,100 mile road trip.
Wish I could bring a little palm tree home one day… or move to a state with palm trees… like say: Florida?
I think one of these days I’ll just move down there!
Speaking of Florida two of my First Coast Miata buddies came out to watch the races on Friday… but because our schedule was so hectic I didn’t get a chance to say Hello… luckily I did get an opportunity to take a shot of their cars coming back from lunch:
Some great folks from the First Coast Miata Club in Jacksonville, FL
And so in closing it was a super incredible weekend. Got a chance to see some awesome machinery going really fast. And some stuff you don’t normally see out and about…. like the Ferrari F40
…which looked almost common parked next to this amazing thing:
So yeah, can’t say enough good things about this trip!
Thanks to Jamie Dzencelowcz the chief starter for inviting me to work on the start stand for this NER Club Racing event at Lime Rock over Father’s Day weekend.
For some odd reason everyone I met was very surprised to see me there, which was odd… my guess the rumor mill is churning based on something I said at some point or something someone else said about me. But frankly I don’t give a shit. I paid my dues this year, I’m perfectly allowed to be at any SCCA event. That said it was a very much welcoming atmosphere at the track. I wanted to get more experience working start, and I got precisely that. I was glad to find out that the Driver’s will put on a paddock crawl again. And they did a fantastic job. And the quality of racing was good too. We had a mixed bag of weather. It rained one day and was fine the next. We had plenty of incidents of bodywork flying off various cars on the front straight. So that was good to see too, some action.
Most importantly though I had a blast doing what I like. I especially enjoyed doing lap charts for the bigger groups. It’s basically recording the position of every car as they crossed the start finish line every lap. As a blue flagger it’s something that I’ve always done in my head anyway, keeping track of the leaders and the backmarkers so that I could blue flag them on the appropriate laps. But now there’s an official record on the Start stand. That was amazing. And I was somewhat impressed with myself that I managed to memorize the look of a lot of cars from a distance. Something I struggled with during PWC weekend where I made a few mistakes pointing out the wrong cars even though I always thought I had knew those cars very well already.
As always it’s super neat to see cars from bird’s eye view, especially the winners when they come in to pick up little checkered flags to do their victory laps.
To be honest I’ve given up on Club Racing this season… But since I still hold a valid SCCA license and my friend Jamie offered to let me work on the Starter stand with him, I jumped on the opportunity!
Boy am I glad I did.
I came for the Miata’s, but stayed for all the variety that was there.
The various Spec Miata fields were huge… I liked the battles going on from my vantage point. And since there were four of us on the Start stand I got to rotate into every position available for a few sessions at a time… so I got to Start and Chequer races. I got to work as a backup. I got to do lap charts. And finally, got to do comms. It was neat to say the least and much needed practice I wanted to have as I did make mistakes a few weeks ago at Lime Rock working the PWC race as a backup starter.
But anyway. For the NA and NB Miata fans there was a lot to love. I only spotted one NC there. Briefly thinking a few Honda S2000’s were Miata’s as they were under car covers… Ooops! They sure do have similar dimensions and it’s especially hard to tell when you can only see wheels, and both Mazda and Honda tend to use the same Enkei wheels.
Anyway, here’s some pix of my favorite cars this weekend:
This fella raced one of the SAC NC Miata Cup Cars during PWC.
Love the paint job on this Formula Vee…
Surprised how flashy some cars looked wearing sponsors on their liveries…
Woo Hoo… NC Miata!
Not a Miata!
But it’s wearing a +5HP sticker…
This thing kicked ass in the rain, winning one race.
Stock vs. Non-Stock S2000’s… probably my favorite looking race car at the track… wonder why they created a class that eliminates the windshield of a car…?
This thing too had a very dramatic last lap, front straight, chequered flag finish… dash to the win!
Several young female racers, which is awesome to see on such grassroots level of Motorsport.
I’ll be back for more tomorrow… Saturday = Race Day!
For the second year in a row now the New England Region SCCA drivers have put on quite a feast for the volunteers and fellow drivers on Friday night after track activities came to a close.
It’s a nice touch… this gives the drivers an opportunity to show their appreciation for the workers and I wanted to do my part to show my appreciation for a job well done. Thank you very much! It’s certainly appreciated.
I only spent a little time pigging out before driving home to Jersey for the night, but I must say the BBQ ribs one fella had were outstanding. Last years’ favorites: margarita slushie people with a side of tacos and the Dinosaur RX-7 folks with their assortment of sausages and meatballs also did a fantastic job. And there was someone with a tasty strawberry and whip cream desert. Full, tasty, meal… hit the spot after a long day at a wet track.
Thanks again to all the NER Drivers!
22 lbs of ribs gone in a matter or minutes… finger lickin’ good!
Una Frozen Margarita por favor… Gracias!
Oh look I spy Stevie!
Gotta say it looks way different with those massive Mustang wheels!
One of the more social socials I’ve been to at a track lately.
My day got better as I kept on hearing tires screeching on the neighboring parking lot in the Meadowlands… I was already enjoying the view of the older MX-5’s racing… I discovered one white NA had huge plumes of flames shooting out under braking at the end of their autoX course… so my goal was to catch it on film trying to take a picture. I of unfortunately failed. But having heard the noise of engines roaring nearby decided to check out what it was.
Boy am I glad I did…. because it both excited me and pissed me off.
I’ll explain why, but first let me share some pix:
Notice anything different to Parking Lot L?
Parking Lot E definitely looks different… Most cars didn’t drive here on their own, they were towed. Most car numbers are real stickers not painter’s tape. The cars are newer. The asphalt looks better in the parking lot. Hey, these folks got deep pockets!
This is what excites me… the cool cars. The variety. The performance. And this is what pisses me off… Look at all this fucking money! I’m so sick and tired of SCCA raising fees because they need more money and look at all this stuff in SOLO, they are not hurting for money. They got all the money in the world. It upsets me that they can’t afford to offer training in this area of the country, the New York/New Jersey Regions, but the money clearly is flowing in. Anyway… back to the cars, racing around cones set up on a big parking lot. I enjoyed watching. It was great! Many cars traveled long distance to be here. I saw lots of NER – New England Region stickers. A lot of cars with Connecticut plates. A lot of serious machinery, racing for 40-50 seconds at a time. And that’s cool!
But even with the cool machinery I was bored after five minutes.
So I departed on my final stop of my Sunday Fun Day automotive adventures… BBQ with car people in Edison.
Second New Jersey to Florida Road Trip is now in the books. This trip in March over Spring Break was my second year in a row volunteering for St. Pete GP and Sebring 12 hour. It was also my second drive down to Florida this year (first one being for the Roar before the 24). All in all I put 3,440 miles on the car. Burned 102 gallons of 93/Premium fuel. Spent $268 dollars on gas using BP, ExxonMobil and Sunoco gas cards (which with the 7% discount that I paid for them, I actually only spent $250 on fuel). Averaged 34mpg which was an improvement of 1mpg over last year, and got my best fuel economy yet with 38mpg’s over two consecutive fuel ups on the drive down… Yay! I noticed gas prices were almost a dollar per gallon more than last year… And in all I did about 500 miles more since I based myself in Daytona Beach during this trip and took multiple drives out of the Daytona area for various events, from a Miata meet in Jacksonville, to St. Pete GP in the Tampa Bay area, to Sebring in Lake Placid area, and to Orlando Miata meet much like last year. It was a fantastic trip!
Interesting option of No-Ethanol fuel in South Carolina…
When leaving for the trip I couldn’t sleep the night before so instead of tossing and turning I jumped in the car at 1am and headed down. The night drive was great because there was hardly anyone else on the road, which meant I could take it nice and slow. Driving in the 60’s rather than 70’s the gas mileage improved tremendously… so averaging 36mpg vs. 31mpg meant that on the 3 tanks that it took to get to Florida from New Jersey I extended my range by 150 miles! Or basically had to refuel less often.
Much like last year I used the Gas Buddy App to check fuel prices to strategise my drive. Virginia and South Carolina had the lowest gas prices for premium fuel. While Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia and even Florida were the priciest. The most I paid for gas was $2.86 in Florida and the least was $2.39 both in South Carolina and Virginia. There’s a Sunoco I really like in St. George, South Carolina that always has low prices and a few BP’s in the stretch of i81/i66 where for some reason the prices for premium gas are 50 cents less per gallon than anywhere else in Virginia. (Greenville area)
My first order of business when arriving in Daytona was mounting my eBay lip spoiler… which turned out really great. Not sure if this thing contributed to my great gas mileage, but I’m glad that it certainly didn’t hurt!
I decided to get to Florida a day early because of some severe weather moving into the Northeast, which worked out really well because it allowed me an opportunity to “discover” Daytona more than I’ve done in the past while volunteering there. So I visited a race team based in Holly Hill, a few miles from the Speedway: BSI Racing.
Next day I was off to St. Pete… I left early enough so I can volunteer for the half day in the afternoon right after registration.
This year’s PWC racing was outstanding! IndyCar wasn’t so bad either and I especially enjoyed it from my new position in pit lane.
I CouchSurfed while in St. Pete and my host was awesome. Just a few blocks north of the track which getting there early in the morning was a breeze. Literally took me less than 10 minutes to drive down, and that’s because I had to stop at a few traffic lights.
Got some real IndyCar goodies for my Miata in pit lane… the official Firestone tire caps… No idea what team they came from but I picked up a bunch to give out as souvenirs when I travel. They sure are a lot lighter than the bag of NASCAR lug nuts I took to Australia and NZ.
Mailed my Miata buddies in Southeast Asia some #MRTI goodies from St. Pete GP.
I headed back to Daytona Beach right after the race, and the next morning left on a scenic drive along A1A towards Jax Beaches, on my Minorcan Clam Chowder foodie tour. I’m in love with my newly discovered attraction of St. Augustine (America’s oldest city!) the scenery was great and the food was delicious.
Lots of Spanish influence in this area, including the Minorcan Clam Chowder… Minorca of course is the smallest of the three Spanish Islands in the Mediterranean with the larger ones being the much better known Majorca as in Palma de Majorca and Ibiza.
I ran into a Lancia – Martini Racing photoshoot while on the trip where a Brit photographer basically booted me from taking pix:
From there I rushed to join the First Coast Miata club at their monthly meeting at yet another seafood place.
Was so good to see my friend Arved there who inspired me to buy the eBay lip spoiler to begin with. It’s nice to go to Miata events like this because they inspire you to do mods to your car.
Next day I was off to Sebring!
Lots of Mazda’s there. Absolutely awesome event. I had a blast working in pit lane there. One of my best experiences of Sebring yet!
Right after the race I headed back to Daytona Beach… but much like last year returned to the Orlando area for an Orlando Roadsters monthly meet at Tijuana Flats in Winter Park (near University of Central Florida). For a Monday night meet it was a big one, about 30 cars showed up over the course of the event… it was super enjoyable!
And so my time in Florida came to a close… the two weeks flew quick, I would really want to come back and stay for good. Staying in Daytona Beach area was very cool because I got to hang out with a few marshaling buddies I really respect, including visiting some fine dining establishments with them…
Florida is really the best place to go for fresh seafood…
On the drive home I stopped at my favorite South Carolina BBQ place in Rock Hill called Dixie Pig to pick up a couple of orders of their famous Pig Wings in parm & garlic sauce. Brought it all the way home to share with my parents and nephew… they loved it too!
I’ll be doing another one of these Southern trips next month hopefully with another two week volunteering tour of Barber Motorsports Park for IndyCar and VIR for PWC. Stay tuned…
First let me apologize for the poor audio quality for my guest John. I made a rookie mistake… since recording the last Miata Fiata Radio episode I forgot to adjust my Blue Yeti mic to adjust again from 360 degree area, instead it was turned directly towards me and John was sitting opposite me… Sorry!
That said, he’s a soft-spoken man and that’s how he generally sounds anyway… so turn your volume up and listen.
We talked about marshaling at Sebring 12 hour this year and how much we liked the new selection of prototypes especially in the new support series: Mazda Prototype Challenge and the LMP3 cars (which ironically aren’t Mazda powered at all).
We also talked briefly about the St. Pete Grand Prix where I volunteered. Barber Motorsports Park and VIR where I plan to volunteer soon. And Watkins Glen International where John and I will probably record another episode.
I’m really enjoying doing these episodes with John Gamble, big thanks to him and Jeree for letting me stay in their house while in Florida… I had based myself in Daytona Beach for both St. Pete and Sebring along with two Miata events in Jacksonville and Orlando.
I want to express my gratitude to the men and women I worked with over the past three consecutive Florida races, two of them back-to-back and especially our Chief of Pit & Grid Marshals Scott Lucas. Thank you sir!
What an incredible opportunity this has been. It’s definitely a first in my seven years of marshaling that I found a team that welcomed me as well as these folks. I am so grateful!
Needless to say I would love to be back and work with them again, and I hope they will extend more opportunities to me in the future.