Tag Archives: Sebring 12 hour

Mazda MX-5: 3,500 Mile Spring Break Road Trip South in a Miata, from New Jersey to Florida

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…

Hit a 60k milestone on this Road Trip

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)

I want to live in a place that has Palm Trees!

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…

Post Card from the Sebring 12 Hour Grid for the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Series

One of my favorite things to do at a race event is to browse through the pre-race grid and take some photos (legally since we as marshals are not allowed to otherwise most of the time). It’s a great opportunity to see the cars assembled fully ready to race. It’s also a chance to mingle with the crowds of spectators doing the same thing you are and trying not to get their shadows into your shots (which is almost impossible in a sunny place like Sebring).

But here they are, and it was an exhilarating experience to be a part of. I’m so glad the crowds were huge, and that the weather cooperated fully. It was much warmer on race day, very sunny and very good for some close racing (in GTLM and GTD fields anyway).

The beauty of working in Pit Lane was the close proximity I had to walk to start my shift during the race. Super convenient and truly enjoyable experience once the race started. I’m so grateful for this opportunity and hope there will be more to come in the future.

Old Stuff at Sebring 12h: Conti Challenge Miatas

One thing that hasn’t changed in ages about IMSA is the NC Miatas racing in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge… in fact the cars precede IMSA’s current Continental Tire Challenge altogether since they used to run and kick ass in the Grand Am Conti Tire Series.

As someone that likes new and shiny things I’d complain about something so clearly stale and out of date. But since these cars look exactly the same as my own Miata, I love seeing them race. In fact I’m glad to see the NC Miata’s still racing in such high profile series, probably the best, the top, sports car racing series in America.

Again I was lucky enough to take some shots on my break from working in the pits…

and again on the grid prior to their race:

The cars were a bit off pace from the leaders. The Murillo Miata acted as a Piñata with multiple GS class cars smashing into it from the very beginning of the race onwards. The Freedom Autosport Miata once again acted as a hero and pushed an ST class Cayman over the finish line (much like pushing his teammate at COTA).

Also the #34 Murillo Racing is obviously the restickered #34 of Alara Racing Miata from last season. Funny how cars change hands. And another peculiar thing about this race car, notice the parts car in their paddock space… despite the IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge stickers, that is a TCA car from the competing Pirelli World Challenge series…

New Stuff at Sebring 12h: Mazda Prototype Challenge

One of the more exciting additions to the program at Sebring 12h this year was a brand new class: Mazda Prototype Challenge.

And as with many other IMSA race cars, the new series incorporates a little bit of the old with a lot of brand new. Mainly, IMSA took a “Meh!” series that was IMSA Lites and turned it into Mazda Prototype Challenge that features the same 2 liter 4 cyliner IMSA Lites open top L1’s (renamed MPC’s) in the lower class and the brand new Le Mans Prototype LMP3 machines with massive 5 liter V8’s (that are not powered by Mazda… technically Nissan engines, but not branded as such).

I think now it’s going to be an awesome addition to the support classes. I think IMSA did a dry run testing this idea last year running the little IMSA Lites alongside the Prototype Challenge PC cars from the IMSA WeatherTech series, obviously it worked well. It’s my understanding that the LMP3’s will replace PC cars next year.

I was lucky enough to be on break at the end of the MPC practice session to snap a few close ups:

and some more in the paddock:

and a few more before the grid was populated:

What was most impressive was how the little Mazda Lites were able to keep up with the LMP3 leaders. The Ligiers and the sole Norma ran best, while the Ginetta was a back marker. The ugly Riley ran OK but was mid-pack at best.

  • Ligier LMP3
  • Riley LMP3
  • Norma LMP3
  • Ginetta LMP3

I’m excited about this series!

Post Card from the Sebring 12 Hour

Super thankful for the opportunity to work this year’s Sebring 12 hour endurance in Florida because I had such an amazing time.

New experience for me working as a pit marshal… right in pit lane. It was super awesome. I was stationed right next to the Mazda VIP area, close to the Mazda Prototypes setup in the paddock, and just generally close to everything. I was sooo cool!

I’ll be sure to share a bunch of posts about the role as a pit marshal, and the Mazda stuff, but for now just a little preview of it all… as I’m super tired and it will take me a few days to get back to normal.

Stay tuned for more…

Sebring 12h 2016 Debrief

This year’s Sebring 12 hour was one of my most enjoyable events I’ve done recently. So many things went right I couldn’t believe my luck and certainly took it all in with pleasure.

Sebring was the second stop on my trip to Florida following the GP of St. Pete. I wasn’t in a particular rush to drive down to Sebring as the weather in St. Petersburg was amazing and me and my CouchSurfing host went to the beach enjoying the sun. But after arriving and setting up my tent (I dread camping whenever I have to) it wasn’t half bad. I was surrounded by friends and we took advantage of the opportunity to spend time together, go out for some drinks and dinners and generally have a good time.

The weather cooperated nicely for the start of the event right until race day. But even then I was very much prepared having packed all my weather gear and having a few pairs of shoes to change into in case it got to that point, luckily I stayed very dry. I’m also happy they red flagged the race for lightning because I definitely saw a few bolts connecting, looking out from our station towards the airport.

So all in all a great time. My corner captain Larry Joseph Morgan or Captain Morgan for short, was really amazing. I enjoy his management style and working with him and the whole team was a breeze, natural and enjoyable. Nobody was budding heads, nobody arguing, things went smoothly and efficiently. Like they should.

I had a few opportunities to make it down to the paddock and even check out the pits during the IMSA feature group’s practice session, which was amazing. One of the Mazda crew invited me to take a closer look and take some shots of the Mazda LMP2 pit stop… I truly enjoyed that opportunity. I’ll definitely keep Sebring on my to-do list for the future. In the meantime, enjoy the pix:

sebring 12h 2016 turn 13 blue and yellow flags

Turn 13 while pretty straight forward was quite challenging for a number of race groups, especially the Porsche GT3 Cup, we had a number of cars spin, slide off and bury it into the tire wall.

sebring 12h 2016 turn 13 don't feed the monkeys

Some interesting signage from previous year’s race, which we modified slightly:

sebring 12h 2016 turn 13 monkey sign modified

sebring 12h 2016 turn 13 feed the monkeys

And luckily the spectators camping besides our station were happy to oblige. We got fed by multiple groups of spectators which was especially awesome. Some delicious food to be sure. The BBQ pork and ribs were especially appetizing.

sebring 12h 2016 turn 13 spectators feeding marshals bbq

sebring 12h 2016 turn 13 spectator bbq

sebring 12h 2016 turn 13 amazing food

Certainly beat the lunches we were provided by track services.

sebring 12h 2016 turn 13 scca number signaling cheatsheet

The SCCA number signaling system which I had confused in a bad way for St. Pete by switching where the location for #1 and #3 signals are. Luckily Nancy Digh corrected me (but I still found myself struggling to remember it when it counted).

sebring 12h 2016 turn 13 flooded apex rain storm lightning

The race got a little dicey with water collecting in our apex, but NASCAR did a great job blowing it off the track.

sebring 12h 2016 turn 13 flooded apex rain storm lightning ford gtlm

Best part was checking out the paddock:

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk mazda lmp2 paddock

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk mazda lmp2 1 paddock

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk patron esm lmp2

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk ferrari 488 gtd

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk ford gtlm 1 paddock

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk ford gtlm paddock

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk corvette c7r gtlm

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk bmw m6 gtd paddock

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk bmw m6 gtlm  paddock

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk bmw historics paddock

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk skip barber miata

The dummy grid for the support races:  (lots of Miazda’s!)

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk false grid miata freedom autosport

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk false grid miata trumpf

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk false grid miata

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk gt3 cup porsche 911

HSR group brought some neat cars like ex-DTM Audi, and a fire-breathing Porsche turbo:

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk historics audi a4 dtm

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk historics porsche turbo

Of course checking out pit lane during practice was incredible:

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk deltawing elan

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk ford gtlm

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk ferrari 458 and pc

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk lamborghini huracan chevy corvette c7r

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk mazda lmp2

This year’s Sebring 12 hour was a blast, to be sure!

sebring 12h 2016 pit lane walk sebring

Postcard from the Sebring 12 hour 2016

What a difference one person makes!

This year’s Sebring 12 hour was quite an experience for me, a very different one from the last disaster I had in Florida all thanks to my post chief: Captain Morgan.

Things went right from the get go, and I’m very happy with that.

Weather was cooperating most of the time and when it turned bad I was prepared so everything worked out pretty well. The racing was good, I was in good company, the spectators fed us most of the time. What could I possibly complain about? I have nothing but praise!

I even managed to get over to Turn 1 to watch the start of the race and do the pit walk leading up to it. More to come soon, enjoy!

sebring 12h 2016 pit walk 2

sebring 12h 2016 pit walk 3

sebring 12h 2016 pit walk 1

sebring 12h 2016 pit walk 3-4

sebring 12h 2016 pit walk 4

sebring 12h 2016 pit walk 4-5

sebring 12h 2016 pit walk 7

And a few shots from Turn 13 where I was based for the weekend:

sebring 12h 2016 pit walk 6

sebring 12h 2016 pit walk 5

What an excellent event! Wish more were like it 🙂

Planning 3 Major Trips Simultaneously: Motorsport Events in Texas, Florida & California

With the excitement from the trip to the South Pacific barely starting to wear out I’m keeping the momentum going by planning 3 massive domestic trips to marshal around the country.

What’s on the agenda?

Pirelli World Challenge season opener at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas immediately followed by a trip to the Gulf Coast of Florida for a few events. I plan to drive down to Florida in my MX-5 the day after I fly home from Texas. The trip will put at least 3,000 miles on the car while volunteering my first St. Pete Grand Prix tagged along to another exciting Sebring 12 hour enduro with the IMSA WeatherTech United SportsCar Series Championship race. After a few weeks of recovery I’ll depart on a trip to California for another IndyCar Grand Prix on the streets of Long Beach.

I could hardly contain my excitement about these trips, and am currently wrecking my brains trying to organize all the travel arrangements. In a way, the flights are the easiest part of the equation. The costs to marshal are tremendous especially when the volunteers compete for the same accommodation that drivers and fans use during a race weekend. I’ve found this to be especially true in the case of St. Pete where even the cheapest hell-hole hotels are pushing $100/night. But it’s a challenge I’m happy to accept, I find the planning part almost as exciting as being trackside for the event.


For the Pirelli World Challenge season opener at the Circuit of the Americas I’ve frankensteined a trip together using a $36 AA flight from LGA to DFW and then $2.50 bus from Dallas to Austin with Megabus. On the way home it’ll be another $2.50 Megabus ride back to Dallas to connect to a $49 UA flight back to LaGuardia via Houston: DFW-IAH-LGA. I’m looking forward to my buddy Joaquin helping me out in Austin again with his monster Chevy dually.

St. Pete GP & Sebring 12h

The IndyCar season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida will be a two day drive in the MX-5 from New Jersey. I will probably break up the trip into a 12 hour and an 8 hour drive with a rest stop overnight in Columbia, SC. I am a little concerned about parking for the MX-5 while in Florida especially if I do stay at a cheapo motel, which tend to be in bad parts of town and therefore prone to crime. But fingers are crossed everything works out. I plan to camp at Sebring, as much as I dislike the idea of camping you can’t beat the price. Although my camping gear, sleeping bag, pillows, etc. will completely pack the poor little convertible.

Long Beach GP

For this trip I frankensteined a few flights to bring the price down. Because it’s a busy Motorsport weekend in the LA area the flights are priced higher than normal. My goal was to book something for under $200 round trip and I just managed to do it by booking a number of separate reservations with United. The one way NY-LA was about $150 but I cut that cost in half by booking NY-Chicago and Chicago-LA separately… $35 for LGA-ORD and $35 ORD-LAX with favorable departure times and plenty of room between the two separate bookings in case there is major travel disruption on the day of travel. The flights back home were the pricey ones and in fact I paid almost double of the cost to get there. I chose to fly out on the Monday after the race, and the cheapest option was a $132 flight from Burbank to Newark via San Francisco: BUR-SFO-EWR. I think I am pretty happy with these bookings considering the alternative was at least $75 to $100 more, or I would have had to rely on wasting an award which I would rather save up on a flight to Europe.

In the next few days I’ll continue researching accommodation for these three trips and trying to decide whether to stick to public transport in California or rent a cheapo car to get around.

I’m excited!

PS. I am especially looking forward to the lengthy trip in the Miata, after a beautiful Road Trip in New Zealand I want to appreciate driving my own car as much as the owners I met love driving theirs.

Expanding my Wish List This Year to Marshal the St. Pete GP & Sebring 12h

I am seriously considering registering as a marshal to volunteer this year’s St. Petersburg Grand Prix followed immediately by the Sebring 12 hour in Florida. Best events to marshal are those that you can do back-to-back and it doesn’t get better than this schedule in March including a street race in a beautiful Gulf Coast Florida town overlooking Tampa Bay as well as one of the most iconic endurance races in the US that is Sebring 12 hours of IMSA racing.

The last time I marshaled in Florida I had less than great time, especially the time before the last time. This involved getting kicked out of my station during the Daytona 24 hours in January of 2013. But I’m over it now and if they let me come back – that is the CFR – Central Florida Region SCCA club that staffs both of these pro-races including IndyCar at St. Pete and IMSA at Sebring, I’d be happy to return.

I would love to actually drive down for this event and do a little bit of recon work to see if I could make the move to Florida in 2016. I realize waiting and hoping for something to happen will actually never make anything happen, so this would be a good opportunity to take the first step towards this move.

Well, fingers crossed!

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.