Tag Archives: Seneca Lake

Most Un-NASCAR-Like Race at Watkins Glen the debrief

Greetings from the Glen! It’s NASCAR weekend and while the camp sites and the grand stands were all completely full (sold out some claimed) it was hard to believe that these were NASCAR races… Why? Because every driver, in each of the three series racing this weekend drove so professionally. It was a little hard to believe. I mean I don’t know much about NASCAR but if there’s one thing I’ve heard and seen talked about the series before is all it’s crashes. And there weren’t many. I saw a few nose to tail bumps, a couple of side to side contacts. A few spins. But that’s it. No major crashes. Hell, no minor crashes either. It was great to watch! Really spectacular racing with drivers in control of their cars ignoring the stereotypes. This was also the weekend that had the potential of seeing one of the first Monster Energy Cup events in the rain… and while the weather on Saturday had the potential for wet stuff, it really dissipated by Sunday and we had a picture perfect race.

I loved this weekend! I had such a blast.

First, huge thanks to RSI for the awesome station assignments again. I am super fortunate and blessed to get the views I was getting and for that I’m grateful!

Station 5A views, at Turn 5 exit of the Bus Stop

Station 2, at Turn 2 bottom of the Esses.

Both turns had a lot of potential for huge incidents. But instead we saw good clean racing. And that was neat!

I was super happy I got to hang out with some close friends over the weekend. Hit Watkins Glen downtown for some dinners. Enjoy the NASCAR atmosphere at the local pubs where drivers apparently served as bar tenders and free swag was given out. I was lucky to bring some of that swag home. That’s always a plus (not that I need any more swag).

Lucky for me, my buddy Chris from New Jersey came up to use my guest pass so I had an excuse to visit the infield for the first time (ever I think) during a NASCAR weekend. It was great to see sooo many people enjoying themselves. Checking out the displays, buying NASCAR gear, and having fun!

I loved the ambiance of it all.

And so another race in the books. This was probably the most clean NASCAR event I’ve ever worked. Which is a huge positive! I’m especially happy that for the Monster Energy Cup Series there was no Green/White/Checker routine everyone is so used to.

Thanks to NASCAR for putting on a great show. Thanks to Watkins Glen for being such an awesome facility. And thanks to RSI for making my volunteering enjoyable there!

See you next year.

Sahlen’s 6 hour at the Glen 2017 the debrief

As is usually the case, I started writing several looooong paragraphs took a deep breath and deleted them because many things I said there would get me in trouble. So instead I’ll just tone it down to this: I had a generally great experience this Independence Day/Fourth of July Weekend at Watkins Glen.

The Sahlen’s Six Hours at the Glen proved to be everything I expected it to be and then some. The weather could have put a damper (? not sure if that’s the right word here) on things but it didn’t. Tent stayed relatively dry. Racing was relatively good. And people I was hanging out with were super friendly. I would say I got the VIP treatment from RSI but that would imply that they somehow treated me better than they treat others, which isn’t accurate. I’m genuinely satisfied with the way everyone behaves at RSI that I come in contact with and for me that’s a huge plus, I appreciate the positive vibes and positive attitudes.

We did have a few massive smash ups that I personally got a chance to respond to. A driver left in a Medevac unit which nobody ever wants to see, several others ended up in the hospital also, and the race was red flagged. It was an incredible experience and one I will definitely learn from.

There were moments I really liked. Like all the star and stripe and patriotic liveries many cars were wearing. Some things I didn’t like… the weather – mainly. But also the performance of the Mazda prototype team which keeps playing this underdog role that they really don’t deserve anymore. It was nice to see one of the cars end up on the podium, but that happened only because so many cars didn’t finish, including the other Mazda prototype. So that’s that.

Favorite little car that was an actual underdog was this yellow NC:

It still uses NC1 tail lights… just like my car.

Interestingly enough the #25 car had a smashup this weekend running it’s traditional Freedom Autosport livery, and suddenly it re-emerged wearing #25 under Murillo Racing orange livery. Wish I had snapped a photo of it. But my station was too far to the grid so I had to boogey down in order to make the start of the race.

Here’s the previously mentioned 4th of July liveries I did manage to get a snap of:

And here’s a few cool NC Miata’s I ran across in town at Watkins Glen and at the track:

There was a convoy of about five of various vintage Miata’s parading around Watkins Glen on Wednesday that I waved to while driving in the opposite direction, but I’m not sure what club they were from or what group it was that organized that cruise… it would have been nice to join them but I saw nothing about this event posted online.

Back to the track..

I got to flag from Station 3 on Thursday which is at the top of the Esses. Station 4 on Friday which is the next station after the bridge leading up to the Bus Stop… and Station 9A at the exit of the Boot on Saturday and Sunday.

The major smash up I experienced was Porsche GT3 Cup behaving very NASCAR-like… in fact I had worked an event for NASCAR when we had an identical full-track-blockage incident on the same station. This one however was far scarier. One of the Porsche’s completely lost it’s front end… wheels, suspension, frunk… everything!

On GTD qualifying I had a weird experience with the two Lexuses. They had back to back, identical incidents within seconds of each other, where one vehicle recovered the spin with damage and the other planted it into the guard rail causing a small engine fire.

So all in all it was a pretty active weekend. Lots to see. Lots to do.

I loved it!

Thank you Watkins Glen, and I hope to see you next year.

 

Sahlen’s Six Hour at the Glen Spotter Guides by Andy Blackmore

Don’t know about all ya’ll but I’ll be spending this Forth of July Upstate New York, volunteering yet another Sahlen’s Six Hour at the Glen… you know the race weekend is near because Andy Blackmore has released a whole series of new spotter guides for this event. And because IMSA is pretty awesome, there are spotter guides commissioned for nearly every series racing!

So go to SpotterGuides.com or IMSA.com and download them:

What can you download?

  • WeatherTech Sports Car Championship spotter guide
  • Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge spotter guide
  • Porsche GT3 Cup North America spotter guide
  • Porsche GT3 Cup Canada spotter guide
  • Lamborghini Super Trofeo spotter guide

OR… do what I do, and stop by one of the many info booth’s at Watkins Glen International and pick up a spotter guide as a souvenir to take home… those are my favorite!

links:

http://www.imsa.com/

https://www.facebook.com/SpotterGuides/

2017 Official IMSA Spotter Guide

 

Post Card from Sahlen’s Six Hour at the Glen 2016

Greetings from my second weekend in a row at Watkins Glen International, 9th weekend in a row volunteering, this time for IMSA’s Sahlen Six Hours at the Glen. What a spectacular event!

I had an absolute blast and will share some details in the next few posts, but for now here are some pictures from day 1 at WGI:

sahlen's six hour at the glen 2016 paddock walk 2

Props to Prestige Lamborghini Paramus, the town next to where I live for kicking ass all weekend with their #1 Huracan.

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Anybody wants to buy a slightly used Porsche? Sell it to you cheap…

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Finally a photo of me in my own Miata! I posted on facebook that I’d come back to the Mazda Owners Lounge and score some swag… boy did I ever score… so much swag I couldn’t believe it!

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sahlen's six hour at the glen 2016 paddock walk 1

My whole trip to Watkins Glen for IMSA weekend was very Mazda-centric… my goal was to get some photos of the Le Mans 24h winning 787B heritage livery on the current Mazda LMP2 racing in IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship… and boy did I ever get lucky being in the right place and at the right time.

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The color coded shirt was a coincidence… I threw something on after a long day on track so I didn’t go to the restaurant wearing all white.

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We followed the Mazda SpeedSource team to pit lane for an “official” photo shoot, and got some spy shots in the process.

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Though based on the original 1991 Le Mans 24h winning 787B rotary livery, the current model was not a direct replica. The design and colors were unique enough and I really liked it. In fact I really liked it on both cars #55 and #70:

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sahlen's six hour at the glen 2016 paddock walk 33

More to come soon…

NASCAR Cheez-It 355 at the Glen the debrief

I think the only person that had more fun than I did at this weekend’s NASCAR races at Watkins Glen International was Joey Logano who won both the Xfinity Series race on Saturday and the Sprint Cup race on Sunday. Well, maybe he had more fun, his lengthy burn-out at the end of the race almost burned the racecar down. But I got to watch the whole thing while marshaling, and that was neat!

The coolest thing about working with RSI at WGI is you get rotate stations every day you volunteer, so that’s three opportunities to check out different views every day. I got to work Station 9 short on Friday for the K&N race, Station 6 on Saturday for the Xfinity race, and be one of the flaggers at Station 16 for the Srpint Cup race on Sunday.

watkins glen nascar station 9 short shute

Friday I was a bit unprepared, forgot my lucky orange hat at home, and my bandana did a horrible job protecting my face from the sun. I got a very unique tan line for the rest of the weekend as a result.

watkins glen nascar station 6 flags

We had plenty of shade on Saturday, but I still managed to make a goofy mistake. It is RSI protocol to call “heads-up” from Station 6 to Station 7 for any car that decides to skip the bus stop. While working Station 9 the previous day I heard race control mention that heads-up weren’t necessary because there were so many of them. So I assumed that was the case for Saturday. I was wrong. My buddy Pat worked Station 7 and said he would have liked a few heads up because they nearly missed their calls when the cars blew the stop as required before rejoining the track after the bus stop. Oops!

watkins glen nascar station 16

Not much really happened on Sunday. But since we had a grand stand directly behind us (the Jackie Stewart Grand Stand) we had a big jumbotron directly in front of us. So we got to watch the entire race which included seeing the run-away wheel that rolled from pit lane all the way down the track and back up towards the Esses stopping after Station 2. And the car that caught on fire after Joey Logano celebrated with a huge burnout winning his second race of the weekend. We saw the car ahead of him run out of fuel directly in front of us, that was neat. To my surprise the race finished under Green which seems pretty unusual for NASCAR because at times the Green, White, Checkered is almost manufactured…

watkins glen nascar station 16 jackie stewart grand stand

Most of the pictures came out pretty dark because the sun was really bright and any pictures in the shade resulted in dark faces.

As far as best station assignment for the weekend, each one offered a unique perspective. I loved watching the cars run beyond track limits full speed at station 9, they came out right by us often spraying us with grass and other small debris.

watkins glen nascar station 9 flags

For the K&N Pro Series race I noticed a cool sticker job on one of the old Toyotas… the Kobe Toyopet dealership was listed as a sponsor. I had no idea that NASCAR was big in Japan!

watkins glen nascar k&n series

From Station 6 the views were probably the best! We didn’t really get to use the “Loop Closed” sign, but both Blue and Yellow flags got a work out that’s for sure. I had to rush to get Red out also, once.

watkins glen nascar station 6

watkins glen nascar station 6 bus stop

The racing line was right under our noses, with the station designed to put us over and close to the track behind the catch fence. Meanwhile station 16 was re-designed recently which eliminated the necessary cutout for the flagger to stand in, and instead they covered it with larger catch fencing and a small hole cut out for us.

watkins glen nascar TV car

Most of my day on Sunday I spend volunteering at the entry to pit lane. We helped work the crossings so that spectators and some die hard NASCAR fans among them could cross the actual track from Gate 5 towards the Bog. Many of them wandered into the pit lane, and most wanted to take a picture with our checkered or yellow flags. I worked with Pat and Beth who I spend a lot of time with this weekend, and it was a very enjoyable experience. NASCAR fans are some of the most devoted fans I’ve come across, something akin to the European endurance racing fans you meet at Le Mans. Some were, and would happily admit to being rednecks, but not all fans were necessarily in that category, I saw them as die hard racing fans who really celebrated their favorite drivers. For the littlelest fans in that group we had some real NASCAR lug nuts that Dave the pit lane chief scooped up for us the day before, and we were handing them out to the small kids walking through our crossing. I think that really gave them a kick and an experience they weren’t expecting.

watkins glen nascar lug nuts for the kids

The crossing job went on right to the point of other marshals getting delivered to their stations. So we went straight to our posts skipping the morning meeting, etc. I went to Station 16 while Pat and Beth worked Station 17 which is the last turn before Start/Finish.

I was hungry as ever, luckily there was this nice food stand at the bottom of Jackie Stewart grand stand and for $9 bux I had an enjoyable meal before the race.

fast food at wgi for nascar

As I mentioned previously the race ended pretty quickly and under Green flag conditions, so it was back to the RSI campsite to pack up. One of my favorite sights at the campsite was this OFF sticker on a few cars, the “Old Farts Flagging” Society. And it’s a sticker I had nothing to do with it’s creating. But I think it’s very funny.

wgi flag old farts flagging society

I am very much looking forward to my next trip to WGI! What an amazing experience this NASCAR weekend was.

 

BTW. there’s an interesting observation about NASCAR. Friday I used the wrong blue flag to work the race. I was always under the impression that the Blue flag with a Yellow stripe was an official NASCAR flag because you can clearly see it on most ISC circuit logos like Daytona for example. But it turns out that was not the case. For Saturday and Sunday I learned that the solid Blue flag must be used. Not only that, much like the FIA, NASCAR uses all waved flags on stations, and we got to wave the Blue, the Yellow and the Red. It’s ironic that typically in the US all flags are displayed stationary, but it seems when it comes to road courses NASCAR is much like the FIA!

Sahlen’s Six Hour At the Glen 2015 Debrief

This was the most amazing event I’ve ever done at Watkins Glen!

The Sahlen’s Six Hour At the Glen 2015 was my first US event of the season, and only second event after the Nurburgring 24h in May. I had the most incredible time and I’ll share the story in this debrief.

I think everything went relatively perfectly throughout this trip. The drive up was on a nice sunny day, I enjoyed the drive with the softer tire/wheel combo on the Miata, got great gas mileage. My name was actually on the registration list which I think was the first time that has happened in my four years with RSI. And I got to hang out with a fellow marshal from Colorado visiting WGI for the first time for this event. It was excellent.

Over the four day weekend I got assigned four excellent station assignments, many took me quite by surprise. I worked Station 10 at the toe of the boot on Thursday, all by myself. Then got moved to Station 1 in Turn 1 for Friday where I worked with one of the WGI employees who said she loved to blue flag, so I got an opportunity to share some of the things I learned over the years working IMSA, and she shared with me some videos from her Twitter feed. She said she follows a bunch of the drivers, especially those from Upstate New York. The weather changed on Saturday and Sunday where we saw two days of rain. It wasn’t heavy rain or stormy weather, but it was fine and consistent which had a similar effect, parts of the schedule were abandoned. Saturday I worked Station 4 at the top of the Esses and Sunday I worked Station 12 at the exit to the hairpin in the toe of the Boot. My schedule was quite similar to the IMSA race I worked last year, I remember working Station 10 alone during the week and Station 12 on race day. I don’t really remember where I was in the middle. But I do remember that I nearly had a heartattack at Station 10 when I stepped on something that was moving under my feet, looked down and it was a small snake a few feet long that scurried away… Yikes!

imsa at watkins glen international station 10

Unlike last year, I pitched a tent this year. And since I got a very positive experience at Nurburgring using an air mattress, I made sure to bring one with me to New York. The Miata was full to the max with all the gear, both trunk space and the passenger seat. The tent held up pretty well in the weather we had, although I got awoken a few times during the night when the walls were caving in from the wind.

camping at watkins glen international with mazda mx-5 miata

As far as racing goes, the weekend was pretty predictable. While a P2 Prototype posted good numbers in practice it was the Daytona Prototypes that lead the pace of the race… which was kind of Meh! The DeltaWing and diesel Mazda Skyactive P2 were also predictably slow and mostly broken… The best battles were in the GTLM and GTD fields, which was great. I was happy to see the Falken Porsche team do well knowing that they’ve pulled out of IMSA for next year.

I was really happy that I got the opportunity to drive the circuit a few times to get to station and then to get back to the RSI campsite. That’s such an amazing perk that Watkins Glen does for their marshals that is really appreciated, even when I drove the track relatively slowly. It was very cool. I was also thrilled to go walk around the paddock as the teams were getting ready to do qualifying which never actually happened. Because of the rain that was increasing in volume of water getting dumped on the circuit, the day was cut short… you can actually see the rain in my pictures that I shared in the Media post earlier.

Every night of this trip I ended up going out to dine in town. Someone at RSI recommended Jerlando’s at Montour Falls. I’ve tried their calzone and a chicken parm and it was quite tasty, especially having a nice warm meal after a long day at the track. I also got to visit Seneca Lodge pretty much every night. First with Christy from Colorado who has heard about it and had to see it for herself, and then with Jessie from SponsorAFlagger.com  It was pretty funny with Jessie when one of the IMSA driver’s came up to her and told her how he follows her marshaling adventures on facebook…. No one has ever done that with me, especially not a race car driver. Go blondie, Go!

While at the RSI compound I was really happy with the way everyone treated me. People were really friendly and welcoming and I really appreciate that when volunteering. I was amazed and thankful for my station assignments every day. The IMSA folks were just as pleased as I was. Even when some of the lingo during communications is uniquely Watkins Glen compared to the rest of the circuits they visit, they spoke very positively at the level of professionalism extended to the series. Calls were concise, precise and accurate. I was lucky enough to make a few of those important calls when two separate cars came to a stop right at my station (Station 10) resulting in practice stoppage. During the race we had a Corvette spin and again stop right at the foot of our station (Station 12) check out my earlier post about that incident. I was very proud to be a member of RSI when things just went right over the weekend. No fighting or bickering, no yelling or screaming. Just business as usual, and everything was done by the book. I loved it!

And so I’m looking forward to my next visit to Watkins Glen in August for the NASCAR Sprint Championship series. Can’t wait…

 

PS. I was very happy to see tons and tons of MX-5 Miatas at WGI

mx-5 miata parade at watkins glen