Tag Archives: Sebring 12h

65th Running of the Mobil1 12 Hours of Sebring the Debrief

My third consecutive Florida event comes to a close, rounding up an excellent run with Central Florida Region working as a pit marshal.

A lot to talk about this event, many pictures to share in addition to the individual posts I’ve already made from this event, so bear with me and hopefully I don’t leave any details out.

First things first, I can’t say enough how fantastic it was to work on the Pit Marshal crew. What a rush and a privilege it was to be there. Completely different atmosphere and experience to Turns 13 and 15 that I worked at my past Sebring events.

That said the days were extremely long, with the shortest being just under 12 hours and the longest being something like 15 or 16 hours, it was thoroughly exhausting.

But there was lots to see and I was in the prime location to see it. There was lots of downtime also, and a crew that encouraged me to take breaks which was really nice. Even the club allowed us to take pictures as long as we don’t offer them for sale in the end, so the atmosphere was extremely welcoming and positive.

I couldn’t believe just how close I could be to cars and teams, working closely with the IMSA officials, doing whatever overflow work they threw our way. It was simply awesome.

My position in Pit In. The concern was cars coming out of the paddock and jumping out on pit lane, our job was to make sure we gave them a clear lane, or held them up if another car was coming into pit lane from the track, at speed. There were times when teams brought out cars way early ahead of their practice sessions, which was neat because I could snap a shot or two before we were on duty.

This is the Pit Out post. Compared to Pit In, it was far more relaxing. Less work to do, and a far less crowded spot overall. No spectators to deal with. No speeding cars competing for the same real estate. The Sebring weekend started out super cold, temps were in the upper 30’s in the morning, which was a shocker compared to St. Pete GP the previous week. But luckily I was prepared having left a bag full of clothes in Florida after the freezing times at Daytona 24h and the Roar before the 24.

One of the IMSA guys allowed me to go on the grid some time before the practice session started to get some close-ups o the Mazda RT24-P

At the end of the session, there was significant downtime… and an opportunity for a few shots of cars exiting to the paddock.

Some shots from the Porsche GT3 Cup

Notice the visible design difference between the First generation 991 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car and the Second gen models… The lower grill design was \…./ like this on the 1st gen, and /…..\ like so on the 2nd gen. The running lights and tail lights are also different.

Since our bathrooms for Pit Out were on the end of the paddock, on my break I wondered down to see some of the set ups there.

A lovely Mazda MX-5 RF outside the Mazda Motorsports rigs, unfortunately team Mazda were very stingy this time with their swag. There was no Mazda Owners Lounge at this race, and the few people I asked said that Mazda is taking a different direction now, without going into detail.

Has Mazda pulled back on their previously generous owner appreciation efforts?  No more hats, t-shirts, etc. for those Mazda fans rooting for the Mazda DPi?

It was a bit weird, to say the least… the only Mazda swag I did manage to snag came from the lower Mazda racing series in the Mazda Prototype Challenge running the old IMSA Lites cars and the not-Mazda engined 5 liter V8 LMP3 cars.

Anyway…

Mazda RT24-P performance was sad to watch this event. The #70 car brought out our first caution of the race plowing into the tire wall at Turn 17… but all LMP2 cars struggled including the other DPi cars based on the LMP2 like the #2 and #22 Nissan Nismo Patron cars. The #52 Oreca and even the Multimatic sister car of the Mazda’s, the #90 Visit Florida car spend a lot of time in the garages during the race. They really should consider renaming the series Cadillac Sports Car Championship.

The other disappointing thing came from CFR and their pitiful attempts at food services. Some of it absolutely sucked. I can’t believe I ate ham for three days in a row, same meat masked with different bread each time, but essentially the same thing over and over. The worst was a serving of some mystery soup that hardened by the time it was served. I wanted to give it a chance, but a few spoonfuls later I realized the chemical taste wasn’t going to do my body any good, and like the rest of the people on my team threw it away…. luckily though the Patron VIP Suites nearby were very generous with their leftovers and threw the crew at turn 17 a bone, bringing tray fulls of delicious gourmet food, from steak to fish, to pasta and sausages… we pigged out on the good stuff!

WTF?!?!

MMmmmmmmmm…….sooo tasty!

Why can’t CFR hire the same catering crew?

Is it the money? Come on, put my hefty $95 annual membership fee to a better use, eh?…

Thank you Patron for your generous scraps! For such long days on track good food sure made it more enjoyable to participate.

And by long days I really mean very long days… from dawn to dusk and beyond, with night practices and eventually the night race.

I was so tired most of the time I crashed as soon as I got to the camp site… luckily again I have my tent that lives in Florida now, with a comfy sleeping bag, an air mattress and an extra comforter so despite the cold I managed to sleep like a baby every night. The next day started the same as it finished, with more beautiful race cars roaring on track.

I had enough downtime to wander down to turn 17 as the grid was popullating for the Conti race.

Oh look… Miata!

Oh look… more delicious food from Patron!

Park Ferme, and the Dekra scruitineering set up near Turn 17.

Friday night dinner with the CFR was a bit low key… not much in a way of swag, but I got a good keepsake, a CFR Race Official hat! And of course some much desired Mazda lanyards.

And so another race in the books… thanks to all that made this one a memorable one for me. I totally appreciate the opportunity!

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.

PWC at COTA

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!

IMSA got something right at Sebring 12h

I did not go to Sebring this year. It is one of the many “must-do” events I decided to cut from my volunteering schedule. And judging by some comments on facebook about full course yellows resulting from a tire debris, I don’t think I regret the decision either. But seeing Jim Swintal post this on the SCCA marshals page made me smile:

sebring 12h imsa participant pin tusc
source: Jim Swintal

Finally they got something right, the worker swag!

I know what you’re thinking… it’s just a pin, who cares? I think people care. I was once told that motorsport volunteering is not about trinkets, getting freebies or more importantly expecting something. (*we are apparently required to show up, shut up and do a job, not expecting anything in return… I think it’s flawed thinking! the motivational power of swag, even though I have boxes full of t-shirts and hats as many others do, is strong. Receiving a small token of appreciation from the organizers makes you feel appreciated, and therefore makes you want to come back time and again).

I would not be surprised with the power this little thing has over someone’s decision whether to do an event or not. I want one, and I could totally see myself spending a few hundred dollars in air travel, car rental and accommodation costs to work a race where I’d get a pin to add to my collection. And I don’t even like pins, I’d personally prefer a patch. But this pin would do. Could I buy it on eBay? Of course I could, and probably spend far less money than trying to earn it after booking flights, rental cars and hotels, not to mention a few long days of being trackside. But where’s the fun in that? And shame on those that would sell their participant pins to make money! (obviously they’re probably the ones with sticky fingers, taking more pins than what they were entitled to at the morning meeting).

I like the number plate idea, as it is used a lot more than the Tudor United SportsCar Championship logo, because IMSA integrates more series now than just TUSC. It might have made sense in the past to make an ALMS pin or patch when that was all that IMSA sanctioned (besides ALMS Lights/Lites?) but now with CTSCC – Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, Ferrari Challenge, Porsche GT3 Cup, Lamborghini Super Trofeo… and others I’m glad the number plate design is used. And it’s use is very clever, like the corner book covers for each event. How brilliant?!?

imsa sebring 12h

Anyway, congrats to all those Sebring 12h participants that got their hands on this nice little pin. Hopefully IMSA will have some patches made up later on in the season so I could add both to my collection!