Tag Archives: Sebring

Marshal Radio: Episode 3 Sebring 12 Hour Debrief with Guest John Gamble Talking IMSA DPi’s, LMP2 and LMP3’s

It’s been a while since our last episode, but John Gamble and I decided to do a follow up post-Sebring 12 hour. Have a listen:


Marshal Radio – 12 hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway

Summary:

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.

Thanks John and see you next time.

Thank You Scott Lucas and the Pit Crew for the VIP Treatment at Daytona 24, St. Pete GP & Sebring 12

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.

What a great bunch of people to volunteer with!

I can’t say enough good things… except:

Thank you for Daytona 24 hour!

Thank you for St. Pete Grand Prix

And thank you very much for Sebring 12 hour!

See you next time….

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.

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…

Signed Up for Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and Sebring 12 hour

Good News! I signed up to volunteer for St. Pete Grand Prix and Sebring 12 hour with the Central Florida Region SCCA.

I had a blast last year. I had a great time at Daytona this year. So it was natural to want to return to sunny Florida this March.

Like last year I’ll be driving my Miata down for two weeks on the Gulf Coast of Florida. I’ll do a stop over in Daytona Beach on the way down and hopefully on the way back home. All of this I am very much looking forward to. New for this year will hopefully be my role at the event. I asked to work Pit & Grid so hopefully I’ll get to see more at St. Pete than just a remote corner of the track. Although I think Sebring will indeed be the more busy of the two races for me.

We shall see…

Looking forward to watching the pelicans land into Tampa Bay while in St. Petersburg and Clearwater Beach area.

this is my post assignment from last year…

…can’t wait!

Mazda MX-5: 3,000+ Mile Spring Break Road Trip South in a Miata, from New Jersey to Florida

Question: “Is Mazda MX-5 Miata a good Road Trip car?”

Answer: Yes, absolutely!

I have found first hand how good my little red sports car was for the little Spring Break Road Trip down the Eastern seaboard from NJ to Florida. My goal was to marshal the Grand Prix of St. Pete and Sebring 12 hour, but what I ended up doing was much more than that. I got to visit several more circuits including Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, FL and Roebling Road in Savannah, Georgia. And I got to enjoy a ton of foodie experiences along the way, which is probably the best way to make a long trip in a Miata really comfortable. The trick is making sufficient stops along the way to not get tired or bored of the drive.

I also kept a little game going trying to play with my fuel mileage and finding most reasonable fuel prices along the way. I relied on an app called Gas Buddy which helped a lot considering the spread for fuel prices for 91-93 octane Premium fuel was vast, from $1.90 in the Northern States to $3,00/gallon in Southern states. I’ve found out that even from the same brand gas station, not all fuels were performing comparatively. I got better gas mileage sometimes from Speedway gas stations than I did from BP, Exxon or Sunoco.

Although not very scientific I created this spreadsheet of all 15 of my fill ups, including price paid, amount of fuel used, and MPG #’s:

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south to florida fuel strategy and gas mileage

But enough about strategy the key attraction for me was sightseeing

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south central florida region scca at sebring

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south to florida sebring international raceway

Sebring was the farthest point South I’ve driven my MX-5 Miata yet, I always wanted to get a shot of the car with the track. Daytona International Speedway was another, I’m happy to accomplish both!

mazda mx-5 day trip to daytona international speedway 2

On the drive back I had some time to kill since my plan was to spend the night in South Carolina at a fellow marshal’s home (who wouldn’t get out of work until about 5’ish which gave me plenty of time to be a tourist while driving up). So I visited Roebling Road in Savannah, GA on the drive up.

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south to florida roebling road savannah georgia

And that was as far as racetracks went on the trip. I did drive right past Darlington Motor Speedway (and Raceway, and Dragway) but that was around 5 o’clock in the morning and way too dark to take pictures anyway.

The rest of the trip was devoted to general sightseeing. Every time I’m in that part of Georgia I love visiting Savannah and Tybee Island.

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south tybee island savannah georgia

And believe it or not, I have yet to take a single picture of me in my car until now, I offered to take a photo for some tourists at the sign and they returned the favor for me to take this shot :

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south tybee island savannah georgia russ

Of course the main reason to visit Tybee Island is for it’s incredible seafood at The Crab Shack, which is exactly what I did.

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south tybee island savannah georgia crab shack

The food wasn’t particularly cheap, and the portions were kind of small, but you couldn’t beat the experience of freshness. Worth it!

Food therefore was a major theme on my Road Trip, and an integral part of keeping me entertained and enthusiastic about the drive (read: not bored!).

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south to florida watering hole sebring

On our very first night in Sebring, Nancy Digh organized a nice marshal welcoming party at the Cowpokes Watering Hole in Sebring. I had a fantastic Brisket Bacon Burger there.

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south to florida watering hole sebring brisket burger

But my favorite meal at Sebring (besides what the spectators fed us at turn 13) was at the Palm Diner trying their seafood belly buster:

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south to florida palm diner belly buster

My most favorite meal in Florida thought was in Lake Worth while Couchsurfing. My host took me to a little hole-in-a-wall place called Cherry Pocket Steak & Seafood where I had an awesome meal.

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south to florida cherry pocket steak & seafood fish

The appetizer was really my favorite. We had gator bites while sitting on a patio looking over a lake looking directly at a small alligator sunning itself out of the water. The salad that came with it had the most awesome strawberry flavored sauce, finger licking good!

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south to florida cherry pocket steak & seafood gator bites

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south to florida airboats and seaplanes

Only in Florida where you can arrive at the restaurant by car, seaplane or air boat.

Driving further north my buddy Ben took me to Redbone Alley  serving an amazing dish of Grits and Catfish… very southern!

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south grits and catfish florence south carolina

Even chain food in North Carolina was delicious, Bojangle’s famous biscuit and gravy, cajun chicken and sweet tea were sooooo good!

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south biscuit and gravy cajun chicken sweet tea bojangles

Virginia and Pennsylvania welcomed me with an even faster fast-food option right at the gas station: Sheetz and their delicious sliderz and chicken strips tossed in Dr.Pepper BBQ sauce… Yum!

Long story short, the Road Trip in a Miata becomes not just bearable but extremely enjoyable when you take your time and enjoy the sites, try the local foods and enjoy yourself when you can.

After making it home I went ahead and swapped my Winter BFG’s that now have about 4.5k miles on them for Summer BFG’s with 0 miles on them and am looking forward to taking another Road Trip soon…. stay tuned!

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south wheel swap winter for summer

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south wheel swap winter for summer bfg

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 🙂

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!