Tag Archives: Singapore

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Russ found a new hobby in 2011: Motorsport volunteering.

Since then he has worked in 15 different countries and for all sorts of racing from Formula 1 to MotoGP.

Russ likes to encourage others to volunteer also.

Get in touch with Russ to find out how.

 

 

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Mazda MX-5: Miata Shopping in Singapore while on Southeast Asia MX-5 Miata Road Trip

back to: Southeast Asia Miata Road Trip Overview

f-thailandBangkok MX-5 Owners Meet-up

f-thailandThailand MX-5 Road Trip to the Laos Border

f-singaporeSingapore MX-5 Owners Meet-up

f-singaporeMX-5 Miata Shopping in Singapore

f-malaysiaKuala Lumpur MX-5 Owners Meet-up

f-malaysiaMalaysia MX-5 Owners Cruise to Petronas Towers


Normally my time spent in Singapore revolves around foodie experiences, but this time I did something completely new that I’ve never done while visiting the tiny island state: I went car shopping! Naturally I wasn’t actually going to buy a car while on my 24 hour visit, but since my friend and I had some time to kill between lunch and dinner, we decided to hit the dealerships to kick some tires of new and used ND Mazda MX-5’s and Roadsters.

I’ve passed a whole row of dealership a million times while in Singapore as the East-West MRT line goes directly above them, but never set foot inside until now. And it was a really neat experience.

We first went to check out a Mazda dealer with a new Singapore-spec ND MX-5 in stock:

2015 singapore mx-5 miata road trip shopping for a miata 5

2015 singapore mx-5 miata road trip shopping for a miata 2

2015 singapore mx-5 miata road trip shopping for a miata 1

The dealership is like any other in the US, except that all the cars are locked including this gem that I went ahead and posed with. Why? Probably has something to do with the sticker price.

2015 singapore mx-5 miata road trip shopping for a miata 4

2015 singapore mx-5 miata road trip shopping for a miata 3

Oh yeah! You read that right… $166k for a stick shift, and $169 for the auto. That’s not a mistake. Car ownership in Singapore is pricey. It’s important to understand that the majority of that price goes to the COE – or Certificate of Entitlement that you buy for a period of 10 years at which point you are expected to scrap the vehicle, unless of course you buy another COE and pay for annual inspections. Singapore is a crowded city and the high prices help with congestion, though you wouldn’t notice it after being stuck in many traffic jams. Of course after spending a small fortune on a car, many continue to dump more money into it by modifying and customizing the crap out of it to their liking.

The dealership also had some cars that not only we don’t have in the US but ones I didn’t know Mazda made… like these two minivans:

2015 singapore mx-5 miata road trip shopping for a miata 7

Mazda 8 and a Mazda Biante… whatever that is.

2015 singapore mx-5 miata road trip shopping for a miata 6

After we finished gawking at the new cars, my buddy Joey whom I was going to marshal with in Malaysia a few days later got in touch, he works for a dealership on the other side of town near Changi, and after a brief chat we decided to go and visit him at work to see more new and used cars for sale.

Unlike American or Australian dealerships, Singapore has to make due with the little space they have. So one dealership complex we visited was a five or six story parking lot, with various dealers sharing space on each floor. So we went hunting for a pre-owned Mazda Miata there.

singapore car shopping toyota alphard

singapore car shopping toyota veilside

While living in Asia I was very fond of the futuristic looking minivans from Toyota called Alphard and Veilside. The Veilside was a sporty version of the Alphard if I were to describe the two. The latest models seem to resemble something from the Transformers movie.

singapore car shopping toyota harier

singapore car shopping toyota mark X

The Toyota Harrier was the Japanese domestic version of the Lexus RX until of course Toyota killed off the model and started selling Lexus directly to the Japanese market. The cheaper version was so popular they decided to reintroduce it, but now the two look quite different. The white sedan is a Toyota Mark X model, just like the one used in the Hangover 2 movie in the Bangkok scenes. Neat car!

singapore car shopping honda s2000 front

singapore car shopping honda s2000 side

singapore car shopping honda s2000

And then we stumbled upon this beauty… what looks to be a heavily modified Honda S2000 Type S… shame it’s going to be scrapped.

And finally, a JDM market ND Mazda Roadster:

2015 singapore mx-5 miata road trip shopping for a miata 9a

2015 singapore mx-5 miata road trip shopping for a miata 8

2015 singapore mx-5 miata road trip shopping for a miata 10

2015 singapore mx-5 miata road trip shopping for a miata 11

With a price tag north of $100k SGD… nice!

So happy to have had this opportunity to check out some cars for sale in Singapore. It was quite an experience to say the least. I can’t even imagine how the locals could justify paying prices that they do, but hey! when you make money you spend money… so it’s all good!

2015 singapore mx-5 miata road trip shopping for a miata 9

Mazda MX-5: 500+ Photo Road Trip – Southeast Asia Visiting Miata Owners in Thailand, Singapore & Malaysia

In just the first year of ownership of my Miata, I had taken it on a number of Road Trips around the Northeast, including a few trips Upstate New York, several to New England and a few smaller trips down the Jersey Shore. Now, I have embarked on my biggest Road Trip yet to Southeast Asia. Of course I didn’t bring my car along with me but it was a proper Miata Road Trip to be sure.

I had an opportunity to visit MX-5 Miata / Roadster owners in 3 countries: Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia. Besides meeting people and sharing delicious local foodie experiences with them I also had a chance to ride along and drive some cars around Bangkok, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur and have returned from the trip with a phone full of pictures and videos from an adventure of a lifetime.

I would like to share these experiences in a few posts which I will outline below:

Southeast Asia Miata Road Trip Overview

f-thailandBangkok MX-5 Owners Meet-up

f-thailandThailand MX-5 Road Trip to the Laos Border

f-singaporeSingapore MX-5 Owners Meet-up

f-singaporeMX-5 Miata Shopping in Singapore

f-malaysiaKuala Lumpur MX-5 Owners Meet-up

f-malaysiaMalaysia MX-5 Owners Cruise to Petronas Towers


There’s no way I could possibly share all 500+ photos from this amazing adventure so I would encourage the interested readers to look up my Mazda MX-5 Miata Road Trip facebook page and see many more photos shared on there for your Liking.

This would probably be a good place to give a little background about the trip and how it all came together. So to start, I needed an excuse to go to region in the first place. And I was lucky enough to be invited to a friend’s wedding in Bangkok. I was even luckier when I discovered that Sepang International Circuit was hosting an event a week after the wedding, and not just any event, one of my favorite events at present, the Sepang 12 hours endurance race featuring amazing GT3, GTC and GT4 machinery from around the world.

Once I had the trip planned I explored the Miata angle. I had attempted to organize something for my previous two trips to Europe this year visiting Germany for the Nurburgring 24h race in May and Belgium for the Spa 24h in July but nothing really materialized so I was optimistically cautious about managing my expectations for Southeast Asia… I was however very pleasantly surprised and humbled by the amount of MX-5 owners that actually came out to meet me and how friendly they all were.

I relied on a variety of facebook groups to get the meet-ups set up and more or less organized. I was very lucky to find so many active groups including the Miata Club of Thailand, Miata Club Singapore, MX-5 Malaysia Community and Miata & MX-5 SEA (Southeast Asia) Region page. In each community I also tried to seek one contact person to rely on for communication once I was on the ground. On this trip I didn’t bother getting local SIM cards in each country so I completely relied on WiFi where I could find it, and having a local contact really helped to keep things running smoothly. I will write more about my contacts in each individual post later on, but suffice to say I am extremely grateful to each and every one of them for the warm hospitality they had offered me, the experiences they had treated me to, and the amazing friendship they extended to a stranger with a similar interest (MX-5!).

Looking back at my cheesy posts and even more cheesy photos, like the one below, I’m amazed people took me seriously enough to meet with, especially in such big numbers. It was totally unexpected.

2015 southeast asia mx-5 miata roadster road trip

But I’m so glad they did because I’m sure the friendships made on this trip will last. And while I have been to Southeast Asia many times before and was even lucky enough to live there on a short working holiday stint, this was a completely new experience for me, and one I was very much surprised by. It was meant to be a trip for a wedding and a race to marshal and instead the Miata aspect completely took over as a theme throughout the journey.

I would highly recommend this experience to any Miata owners or even Car Enthusiasts in general (wherever you live in the world) to try on your travels. You would get an adrenaline rush like no other!

Special Thanks to:

2015 thailand mx-5 miata roadster road trip 3

Tanet, my Thailand fixer and a lucky owner of several generations of MX-5’s including this beautiful 2008 NC GT PRHT that I got to ride in on a five hour Road Trip to the northern border with Laos (including 1 hour behind the wheel). An amazingly friendly and generous fellow to whom I’m incredibly thankful!

2015 singapore mx-5 miata road trip 18

Woon, my Singapore fixer and the only owner I got to meet while briefly visiting the tiny island state in a middle of a busy workweek. Woon met me on his lunch break and was kind enough to show me his car (2008 NC GT)  including the amazing interior with an Audio system I’d like to install in my car. He was also kind enough to take me for a short drive which was awesome. So thankful for the opportunity!

2015 malaysia mx-5 miata road trip kuala lumpur 8

David and Martin, my fixers in Malaysia. While David was kind enough to drive me around in his beautiful 2008 NC GT PRHT, on our way to dinner and an amazing photo shoot by the Petronas Twin Towers. Martin kept me abreast of all the plans being made while I was busy running around Thailand and Singapore, sadly I didn’t actually get an opportunity to meet Martin or his car which was recently converted from Automatic to Manual transmission and painted a beautiful Brown color not typically found on a Miata. I’m really thankful to David for spending the time with me and being an awesome host and to Martin for helping with the planning.

2015 malaysia mx-5 miata road trip singapore roadster 1

2015 malaysia mx-5 miata road trip kuala lumpur 17

And finally Wei-Ming and Stephanie, a “Miata couple” that met because of the car, they each own an NA Miata (I’m so jealous!). Wei-Ming and I almost met-up in Singapore but unfortunately I ran out of time and had to rush to the airport. But he and Stephanie were kind enough to meet me in KL after the races before I rushed back to the airport again to fly home. What an amazing opportunity! I’m grateful to them for the meeting, the delicious dinner they treated me to and some cool SG MX-5 stickers I will proudly display on my car.

Buy a #MarshalCam Patch. American or Australian Versions. Or Both!

A few things to accomplish in this post:

1st: I wish to express my gratitude to my buddy Joey in Singapore for designing the Marshal Cam patches which I have recently re-ordered to distribute to marshals that participate in my interviews about their volunteering experiences.

2nd: I will have both versions of the patch with me at the following events to distribute to marshals that wish to participate in my interviews:

  • WEC 6h of the Americas at COTA in September
  • Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in October
  • Sepang 12h – Malaysia in December
  • Bathurst 12h – Australia in February
  • Auckland Car Club – New Zealand in February

3rd: If I am not at an event near you and you’d really like to get a patch for your collection, you are welcome to buy one or many. Just get in touch about pricing and shipping charges and we could set up a package for you in no time.

The patches cost me $400 USD for 400 pieces. My break even point is to sell 100 patches at $4 USD apiece (or more at a cheaper price). Plus shipping and handling charges which killed me the last time I mailed out a ton of the original Marshal Cam patches, paying for everything out of my own pocket.

I am going through serious withdrawal right now, my last event was NASCAR at Watkins Glen in early August and it’s been a month without any volunteering whatsoever. So I’m eager to get back to the race track. I’m also very much looking forward to traveling again. Especially to my trip back to Southeast Asia!

bangkok kuala lumpur singapore road tirp mx-5 miata mazda

For any of you on the list of stops above I’ll be sure to have patches with me if you’d like to meet over lunch or dinner and catch up about marshaling in your neck of the woods. I’m sure that besides my right hand drive Miata exploits in Bangkok, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur I’ll be hanging out with some marshal friends too.

Again, huge thanks to Joey in Singapore for designing these awesome patches, they look fantastic!

marshal cam patches america australia usa

The original Red, White and Blue design resembles the American Interstate system sign. While the Green and Yellow design resembles the Australian Interstate system sign. They were designed specifically for my trip to Bathurst in February of next year, and I’m very much looking forward to that journey.

Stay tuned for more, and get in touch if you want one, or a bunch!

#MarshalCam

Mazda MX-5: International Road Trip to Bangkok, Thailand; Singapore; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Shanghai, China

My trip to Southeast Asia in December just got a whole lot more interesting. In the past I’ve always gone to the region for the racing – have marshaled in both Singapore and Malaysia many times. I’ve always loved going there for the amazing food. The beautiful landscapes, the beaches, the architecture, etc. But this trip will take on another dimension: Mazda Miata’s!

I’ve made contact with a few clubs in the region and the response has been amazing. I’m so looking forward to this trip!

bangkok kuala lumpur singapore road tirp mx-5 miata mazda

For anyone interested in checking out the local Car Culture or the Car Scene, or the Miata Community check out the following clubs:

miata club of thailand

f-thailandMiata-Thai Club:

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/miatathai

web site: http://www.miata-thai.net/

 

miata club singapore miata sg

f-singaporeMiata Club Singapore: 

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/5736449818/

f-malaysiaMX-5 Malaysia Club:

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mx5my

web site: http://www.mx5my.com/

mx-5 malaysia sea sepang circuit

My goal on this trip is: to meet up with as many local MX-5 owners as possible. It will be pretty exciting because the cars are RHD (right hand drive) and while very similar to mine, are quite different. (Except of course for the Shanghai MX-5’s which should be identical). Besides the obvious difference of where the steering wheel is located, I’m sure to see quite a lot of modifications people do to their cars in Asia. One of the more intriguing things I’ve seen on the forums above so far is the Aston Martin Miata look:

aston martin miata mx-5 thailand
photo credit: Decha Apiromdej

Obviously quite popular in both Thailand and Singapore

aston martin miata mx-5 singapore
photo credit: Woon Ming

Besides the modded cars there’s also special sights to check out, like the Chang International Circuit in Buri Ram or Bira International Circuit in Pattaya, Thailand:

chang international circuit destination of speed miata mx-5
photo credit: Tanet Zoom

I’m not sure if time will permit to actually visit any of the circuits besides Sepang International Circuit where I’ll be volunteering for Sepang 12h but it would be nice if something like that materialized.

My schedule will be as follows:


 

f-thailandBangkok, Thailand: Wed, Dec 2 to Sun, Dec 6

f-singaporeSingapore: Mon, Dec 7 to Tue, Dec 8

f-malaysiaKuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Tue, Dec 8 to Sun, Dec 13

f-chinaShanghai, China: Mon, Dec 14


 

While in Bangkok I’ll be free most of the time except for Sat, Dec 5 when I’ll attend a wedding. I should be flying out to Singapore at like 2am Monday morning which will give me almost two full days there. I’ll arrive Kuala Lumpur Subang airport around 6pm on Tue, Dec 8 and stay in the city until Thur, Dec 10 at which point I’ll probably make my way to the Sepang International Circuit for the weekend of racing. And then leave straight from the track to the airport for my 2am flight to Shanghai Monday morning. While the other cities in Southeast Asia I have visited many times and know my way to get around, Shanghai will be my very first visit. I will also only have about an 8 hour layover which realistically means I’ll have a whole of 4 or 5 hours free to roam the city. Pretty busy schedule if things go as planned!

Stay tuned for updates about this trip… and if you are reading this from any of the destinations on my trip and want to meet up, please get in touch via facebook, twitter or by replying to this post.

Cheers!

Flights Booked to a Wedding in Bangkok and Sepang 12h Piggybacked on That Trip

Just a few days ago I was day dreaming how nice it would be to go back to Southeast Asia after almost two years of being away, and I found a perfect excuse to commit to it: my FlyerTalker friend Brian is marrying a beautiful Thai girl in Bangkok a week before Sepang 12h.

Score!

This is going to be such an amazing journey I can’t find words.

This is also the first time I’ve paid for a flight to Southeast Asia, all of my previous trips, and there were plenty of them, were booked using frequent flyer miles. But with two Euro Trips this year and a trip to the Pacific next year I’ve blown through my frequent flyer / loyalty program budgets, on most airlines.

Luckily “The Flight Deal” facebook group alerted me to a reasonable deal on United Airlines to fly between Newark, NJ and Bangkok for just $684 bux. I figured getting from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur shouldn’t be too pricey but just for giggles I checked open jaw flights arriving Bangkok on this deal and leaving from KL, the price was only $27 bux difference which is less than what a low-cost airline would charge on that route, so I booked directly with United EWR-NRT-BKK and KUL-NRT-EWR for the trip back. The stop over in Tokyo introduces a new airline and a new aircraft I haven’t flown before: ANA Airlines and the Beoing 787 Dreamliner. Very cool!

great circle mapper ewr-nrt-bkk kul-nrt-ewr
original route: EWR-NRT-BKK and KUL-NRT-EWR  | map courtesy of Great Circle Mapper: http://www.gcmap.com/

UPDATE (8/16): by the time I got home from work other (cheaper) options opened up. So I cancelled my booking, since it was within the 24 hour period that a customer is able to change his/her mind, and re-booked my flight to go ANA from JFK-NRT-BKK and then Shanghai Air from KUL-PVG my first visit to Shanghai. I will have a 9 hour layover there and fly United back to Newark PVG-EWR. All in all pretty happy with the ability to visit three of Asia’s most amazing cities: Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai for $707! Of course I’ll be sure to add Singapore to the mix with one of the low-cost carriers.


great circle mapper jfk-nrt-bkk kul-pvg-ewr
new route: JFK-NRT-BKK and KUL-PVG-EWR | map courtesy of Great Circle Mapper: http://www.gcmap.com/

Now I’m left to determine what to do in Bangkok for about four days before the wedding, find my way down to Kuala Lumpur the week after, and squeeze a side trip into Singapore for a day or two. Easy!

I’m amazed with all the low-cost airline options that are now available on the route from BKK to KUL/SIN. Air Asia and Thai Air Asia fly it. Jetstar Asia, Tigerair, and Scoot from Singapore fly it. Indonesian airline Lion Air (probably operating as Malindo Air) and Thai Lion Air fly it. And the prices are reasonable from Don Mueng Airport DMK which is a new airport for me, I’ve never used it when in Bangkok. On the legacy front there’s Bangkok Air which is an option. But most interestingly Malaysian Airlines have decent flights for cheap because of their battered reputation, I just may give them a go.

So I’m just thrilled with this development, even though I have no idea how I’m going to fork out all this money especially with flights to Texas for WEC and Georgia for Petit Le Mans area already booked, as well as the Dubai 24h trip planned, and the Pacific trip booked and paid for. I’ll have to work extra hard this summer just to stay afloat.

I’ve also posted on the Miata.net forums if any of the local MX-5 owners in Thailand, Malaysia or Singapore would like to meet up. I’d be so interested in checking out and possibly test driving a right hand drive Miata.

Stay tuned for more updates on this and other trips!

thailand

I love Southeast Asia…

Motorsport Tourism: Exotic Car Rentals for $7/min in Singapore

During my last trip to Singapore for the Grand Prix I got chauffeured around  in a beautifully modded and meticulously maintained Mitsubishi Evo, complete with a custom paint job, sweet looking rims and a massive exhaust that makes you feel like you’re going fast even though we never went above the speed limit (I don’t think).

singapore mitsubishi evo

That was a thrill!  I’m sure most other Motorsport enthusiasts travelling to Singapore for the race, especially those with deeper pockets wouldn’t mind shelling out some cash for a similar experience, perhaps in an exotic car. Singapore is full of them, and now you can book one on Uber.

My buddy David forwarded this e-mail to me from Uber Singapore announcing their exotics rental:

uber singapore exotics

Cool beans, right?

Yea, sure! Though, compare the Uber service to the company that actually offers the rides for them: Dream Drive

dream drive singapore motorsport tourism

Dream Drive advertise a 30 minute package for $468 SGD when you drive yourself (they spend 15 minute on the introduction to the car and you get 30 minutes of solid driving of that car, presumably with someone riding shot gun keeping you in line and making sure you stick to the service agreement). You get a 20% discount if you allow them to drive you, which is about $375 SGD. Or for the sake of our comparison, it is $35 less than ($200 flag down fee + $7x30min) what Uber advertises. Decent deal, until of course you factor in rush hour and surge pricing, as well as all the other clean and dirty tricks Uber usually resorts to that allow it to be in the news, constantly. Not to mention the fact that you cannot pre-book your shiny yellow Lambo via Uber before you arrive in Singapore and have to rely on the app on location (basically, at the mercy of availability).

I’m quite happy to see this service being offered despite some of the flaws I see with the concept, because it promotes Motorsport Tourism and I’m all for people enjoying themselves when they travel to watch the races out there, be it Singapore or anywhere else. And I hope that the educated consumer actually pre-books their exotic ride if it really means that much to them (compared to a spur of the moment decision where obviously your Uber app will be potentially most helpful to separate you from your money). And since Uber generally charges 25% of the total ride charge for their service, it’s a good benchmark when selling my consulting services. Though I’m sure I could do it for less. Thanks Uber!

PS. the best way to enjoy the car culture in Singapore is over a delicious local meal:

singapore foodie tour grand prix

Why is Singapore GP oversubscribed with volunteers? Because they advertise! #SGPmarshal

Singapore GP does not need my help recruiting marshals, in a sense that sharing this news on this blog will not result in a spike of exposure for their recruiting efforts. They do an excellent job of recruiting themselves, and specifically by posting this message on the “official” Singapore Grand Prix facebook page:

source: SGP facebook page
source: SGP facebook page

Check it out here: www.facebook.com/SingaporeGP

The official page has just over 100k Like’s and about 1.5k visits /check-in’s. That’s a pretty significant pool of candidates of which historically over 3,000 candidates would submit their applications to fill approximately 1,200 spots. All volunteer in various capacities though some are highly specialized, just look at the poster above: the people in Green have to have a medical background whether doctors or nurses, and the people in red have to be Firefighters. They have to show a certificate of proof to be assigned that role.

This post was made on March 8:

SGP recruiting on their facebook

And as of March 18 it has received 260 likes, 29 comments and 128 shares. One of those shares was me contemplating this blog post with my facebook friends, I don’t know what the other 127 shares discussed but obviously they were interested in some capacity of volunteering for the 2015 Singapore GP. The hashtag SGP created for this campaign is #SGPMARSHAL and was used along with other hashtags like #F1, #SingaporeGP and #F1NighRace, all relatively trending topics. Singapore GP organization has way more marshals that it knows what to do with and yet they are continuing to recruit to keep existing marshals on their best behavior and have a supply of reserves to keep the numbers up year after year.

So the real reason for this blog post isn’t Singapore, it is to ask the question: why doesn’t the United States Grand Prix or COTA –  Circuit of the Americas do a similar marketing/recruiting exercise for it’s own marshaling force?

Circuit of the Americas www.facebook.com/CircuitofTheAmericas  in comparison has 292k Like’s or almost three times as many as Singapore GP, and 45k visits/check-in’s or thirty (30!!!) times as many visits… That’s a ridiculously higher number of exposure in both categories. Not to mention instead of a single Night Race, COTA hosts a full calendar of high profile events from the Pirelli World Challenge sports car event to WEC – World Endurance Championship / IMSA Tudor United SportsCar Championship double header. From MotoGP to F1! And a number of smaller events and track rentals that could seriously benefit from a larger pool of volunteers (or even paid workers for that matter).

So why don’t they do it?

I think… and I could be completely wrong… but I really think that at all levels of management starting from the big wigs running COTA to the smaller wigs running the marshaling services, and the hired wigs that help with the recruiting for individual events like MotoGP, WEC or F1 have way too much “ego!” at play when it comes to the advertising aspect of the volunteer positions. There are too many assumptions that advertising requires too much time, money or effort… or basically resources they don’t have. Or are short on, or don’t really care too much about. There seems to be some foolish reliance on making due with what little they have… the richest country in the world, with the newest and most expensive circuit in the land is willing to cut corners in the safety department by running skeleton marshal crews, because they don’t have enough budget (time, money, effort). There’s the presumption that the volunteers must be experienced instead of assembling eager amateurs/ Motorsport enthusiasts and training them to the standards that the FIA requires for WEC or F1, or FIM requires for MotoGP… Oh no, we must only rely on trusted and experienced SCCA marshals because they’re the best… So much ego! So much wrong with this picture!

Why not take a page out of  the  SGP playbook/ best practices/ success stories? Why not advertise to the audience COTA already has? 300,000 fans is an incredible pool of people, many of whom would probably love to plan a trip to volunteer a weekend in Austin, Texas whether for F1 in October/November, or WEC in September, MotoGP in April or PWC in March… there are so many people that could potentially pick this hobby up and continue volunteering throughout the year closer to where they actually live. Be it within the US or internationally. Plenty of Mexican visitors to the USGP and they’re about to host their own GP again. Plenty of Aussies willing to travel to America to volunteer in Austin. Why not recruit them? I really hope that the 2015 United States Grand Prix marshal recruiting process doesn’t start too close to the event date. I hope everyone that is interested in participating in the event is given the information they need to start making their plans early instead of waiting until the last minute just for an opportunity to apply.

I should point out that COTA has created a facebook page just for their marshals: www.facebook.com/cotatrackmarshals and while it is certainly a plus to have something so specific, at 411 Like’s and 55 visits/check-in’s (at the time of the writing of this post) it doesn’t really compare to the audience of 300,000 facebookers on the main COTA page. That should be used for recruiting volunteers more than anything else. It could be done in conjunction with the official page on the COTA web site:

www.circuitoftheamericas.com/volunteer

 

I will also acknowledge that writing this post can be construed as criticism of both the United States F1 Grand Prix as an event and Cicrcuit of the Americas – the race track that hosts it… and while that is not my intention I know there are ego’s at play and I can’t prevent them from thinking the worst. I have already experienced what people told me was punishment while volunteering for the US GP last year  where I was assigned a position where I couldn’t see anything. I wrote a post complaining about that experience and all kinds of people got all bent out of shape about how dare I criticize such a wonderful event. I certainly didn’t see the need to paint a rosy picture which I’m sure would have been very welcomed when the reality didn’t correspond to it. The same people that got ridiculously offended were also the ones that promised to prevent me from marshaling ever again, so I don’t know how much stock I would put into that promise. I know for a fact though that I wouldn’t volunteer my time, spend a bunch of money on travel and accommodation, just to be “punished” , for whatever reason. I’d rather stay home. But I would get over my own ego and support all of COTA’s recruitment efforts because I know it would improve the sport and the marshaling situation in the US which is dismal, we are very short on people. The more new marshals that volunteer, the more training there would be offered for all of us, the more we all benefit. Much like what Singapore GP has been experiencing for years. My fingers are crossed with the hopes of improvement, and that improvement starts with better advertising. Use your facebook page for good Circuit of the Americas! Please advertise all the available volunteer opportunities and continue doing it often…

I have taken the liberty of creating some useful hashtags for such a campaign, feel free to use them: #USGPmarshal, #USF1marshal, #COTAmarshal, #WECmarshalCOTA, #MotoGPmarshalCOTA, #PWCmarshalCOTA, #F1marshalCOTA etc. the possibilities are endless!

Top 10 Foodie Experiences while Marshaling (International)

Three important components make up this wonderful hobby that I blog about while volunteering in Motorsport: 1). Racing, 2). Travel to get to the Races and 3). the Foodie experiences along the way.

Here are my Top 10 Foodie experiences (cheap, greasy, delicious!) while marshaling, that I would absolutely go back for just to sample the awesome food again. This post will be divided into three sections, because I could and totally will give my Top 10 Foodie experiences while marshaling just in the USA alone. This part is the  International foodie experiences at each venue. And then the places you may transit through just to get to the event (both domestically and internationally).

#10 Canada: Poutine

canada poutine

When marshaling in Canada, you should try Poutine –  french fries, covered in cheese curds and smothered in gravy.

Although a Quebeci cuisine I haven’t really been all that crazy about it while marshaling the Canadian GP in Montreal. Instead it was the food of choice for me in Ontario during the ALMS races at Mosport. I tried to stick to a strictly “poutine” diet which meant trying quite a few different poutine trucks every day, and my favorite by far was one located at a little gas station just north of the Candian Tire Motorsports Park.

The best experience so far was sharing a few big portions with friends right at the track, which we all immediately regretted feeling bloated and full, so we decided to walk the entire length of the circuit to “walk it off” and that I will always remember! You have to try it for yourself.

alms mosport 6

#9 Australia: Fish & Chips

foodie australia fish and chips

When marshaling in Australia (or New Zealand for that matter) do try their Fish & Chips.

While traditionally a British thing, I think it would be foolish not to call Aussie style Fish & Chips an Aussie thing especially when you do have an opportunity to visit a proper fish and chips place along the Indian Ocean like say driving the Great Ocean Road, or on your way to Phillip Island because there’s a beautiful assortment of excellent and very outstanding fish and chips places that serve ridiculously fresh fish. Typically served with malt vinegar or tartar sauce which is my favorite.

The fries are really good, but the fish will be the highlight of that quick and tasty meal. Legend has it they deep fry flake which apparently is shark (gummy shark). And I don’t know about you but tasting shark is exotic and generally awesome.

#8 Germany: Veal Schnitzel with Gravy

foodie germany schnitzel

When marshaling in Germany you must have the Schnitzel!

Whether you go for chicken, beef or veal you won’t go wrong because they’re all equally tasty. I’ve sampled a lot of delicious food in Germany from their wonderful sausages to the delicious sandwiches (pretzel bread = yumm!) But a nice warm veal schnitzel served with fries and smothered in mushroom gravy is finger licking good. Especially when you are walking distance from your post at the Nordschleife on a cool summer’s day.

So when going to work at the “Green Hell” that is Nurburgring add a schnitzel to your list. My favorite joint is Giulia’s in Adenau which is a stone’s throw away from Post 120. And no meal would be complete without a stein of WARSTEINER beer. Seeing it served instantly brought memories of classic cars I saw on TV and later in person at various historic races around the world sporting the WARSTEINER sponsored logo including those beautiful E30 BMW M3’s, the Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR of the mid 2000’s and of course the Porsche prototypes of the much older vintage era.

foodie germany beer nordscheleife

#7 Bahrain: Shawarma Malgoum

foodie bahrain shawarma malgoum

When marshaling in Bahrain you must try a Shawarma Malgoum!

So the french fry theme continues except this time it is engineered in to a delicious shawarma served on a busy street corner in a little village outside of the capital of the tiny island of Bahrain in the Arabian Gulf. I got really lucky to have an opportunity to marshal WEC in Bahrain and one of the marshals that drives a course car offered to show me around and give me a little sample of what the local food scene is like. It’s tough otherwise to find proper Bahraini food in Bahrain because of the dominance of all the western food chains and typical Indian joints that are readily available in the Middle East. But a cheap and compact shawarma really gave me a culinary peak at something truly local. You must experience it for yourself.

I did get a chance to go out for some lamb chops and other well made meats served with humus and pita bread, but I don’t think anything hit the spot like the Malgoum. Why do they call it that? and why is it a very Bahraini thing? Well because it’s an “everything” shawarma stuffed with all sorts of goodness from diced tomatos to generous portions of beef (chicken or lamb, whatever you prefer) some salad, and chili sauce.

Quickly made. Cheap and best enjoyed with friends late night. Typically followed by smoking some hookah at a juice bar. An experience I can’t wait to repeat in the future.

foodie bahrain hooka

#6 Singapore: Chicken Rice

foodie singapore chicken rice

When marshaling in Singapore you must have Chicken Rice!

It’s impossible to come to Singapore and not be overwhelmed by all the amazing culinary variety. You’ve got your traditional Chinese food, Malay food, Indian food, Thai food, Indonesian food, and plenty of Western food options too. But what MUST you try on your visit? Chicken rice, no if’s, and’s or but’s about it! Why? Because it is the simplest and the most readily available foods found on the island. It is also one of the cheapest. And most importantly it’s one of the best things they have to offer both locals and visitors alike.

Chicken rice or more properly Hainanese chicken rice is exactly what the name suggests, a simple cup of white rice served with poached and steamed chicken with some sweet chili, ginger and molasses like black substance that adds a very unique flavor to the dish. Often accompanied by a little bowl of the broth that the chicken is cooked in to sprinkle on your rice while you eat it with a fork and a spoon (using the fork to pile spoon-full’s of chicken and rice mix for each bite). I would highly recommend chicken rice for anyone as basic as it sounds it’s the one thing I really crave the most after living in Singapore for a while.

Don’t forget to get some freshly cut fruit for desert after your meal. Readily available at just about every Kopitiam on the island, the fruit is as important as the dish itself, to me at least. Especially with the exotic options like dragon fruit, starfruit, mango, papaya, pineapple, green/red apple, banana, strawberry and kiwi’s. Try it! Love it!

foodie singapore fresh fruit

#5 Malaysia: Nasi Lemak

foodie malaysia nasi lemak banana leaf

When marshaling in Malaysia you must have Nasi Lemak!

Nasi Lemak to me is the most Malay of the Malaysian dishes I’ve sampled, and I’ve been fortunate enough to try a few. It is coconut rice cooked with your choice of chicken, beef, cockles or even livers covered in spicy fish paste and topped with an egg all wrapped around in a banana leaf.

Traditionally eaten for breakfast, I’ve learned to love this dish at Sepang when one of my fellow marshals would make a morning run to pick up enough for our entire team. It’s true that coconut rice has a tendency to drive your stomach crazy afterwards, but the food is so delicious it is well worth all the funny business that may happen after you’ve digested it. It is phenomenal. You must try! And whenever possible have some Ipoh white coffee to wash it down. Ipoh coffee is served with a hefty serving of condensed milk which makes it white’ish in color and is absolutely amazing with a perfect amount of sweetness that I really love.

foodie malaysia nasi lemak

#4 South Korea: Anything with Kimchi

foodie korean bbq kimchi

When marshaling in South Korea try anything and everything that comes served with Kimchi!

I’m sure you all know what kimchi is so there’s no point explaining why this fermented spicy cabbage goodness is amazing. But when volunteering in Korea, like the Korean Grand Prix of the past or any of the current events held in the country. Whatever you eat that’s served with kimchi will leave you with an excellent memory to take back from Korea home, wherever you may live.

On my last visit I was lucky enough to experience kimchi with a several “guides” that showed me around. I first used CouchSurfing and people were kind enough to show me around the Seoul market, trying food all along the way, from Korean Sushi to Korean BBQ.

Then when we made our way to Mokpo with a fellow marshal he spoiled me for choice with the food options on the way and at the Marshal hostel that served us food for breakfast and dinner. Whatever the food: from delicious meat to fish, kimchi highlighted the dish and made me crave it more and more. I can’t wait to have it again on my next trip to this beautiful country. You should try it too!

foodie south korea kimchi

#3 Malaysia: Fish

foodie malaysia fish rice

When marshaling in Malaysia and if you’re lucky enough to have someone knowledgeable show you around… try the Fried Fish!

There’s a little village not far from the Sepang Circuit that I’ve had the pleasure to frequent after long days of working at the track. The whole rescue team that I camped together with at the track would go out every night for a relaxing evening to socialize with fellow marshals and share a delicious meal. Needless to say I was the only foreigner there, but I felt extremely welcome and more importantly I was absolutely in love with the fish they served at this little Muslim Thai restaurant that basically specializes in a very unique dish I haven’t tried anywhere else in Malaysia or Thailand on my travels, and I always make it a point to sample as much food as possible whenever I am in Southeast Asia.

What is the fish called? I have no idea. It is grilled to make the skin crispy and then smothered in the most delicious sweet chili sauce, served with rice. I always get a cup of Ipoh coffee or two to go with it, which is white coffee I described with my Nasi Lemak dish above, or coffee served with condensed milk. My favorite!

PS. the name of the fish dish is: “ikan kembung masak pedas

#2 New Zealand: Meat Pies

foodie new zealand meat pie

When marshaling in New Zealand (and Australia) you must try the Meat Pies!

Much like fish and chips, which I also really really like, Meat Pies are a British import to the Pacific but one that has gotten a flavor of it’s own and I much prefer the Kiwi meat pies to anything I tried in the UK. The meat pies are typically stuffed with chicken, beef, pork, livers, veggies, and a variety of other combinations like black pepper steak or curry chicken. And I love them all. I really do!

The best part about meat pies you get them served at the track while marshaling so you don’t really have to go looking for them at a specific restaurant or bakery. Although while driving on the way to Hampton Downs or Pukekohe on the North Island I’ve always made it a point to stop at Pokeno to stock up on their delicious goodness.

The pies were also readily available to buy frozen and heat up at home by brands like Big Ben who also sponsored local racing. But nothing compares to freshly made kidney liver pies or chicken curry pies I’d get on the way to the track. I loved it, you’d love it too!

foodie new zealand kiwi meat pie big ben

#1 Singapore: Durian

foodie singapore durian

When marshaling in Singapore the #1 meal you should try is Durian!

The highlight of my life in Singapore and pretty much every subsequent visit since has been to sample some fresh Durian. I don’t know if people would ever understand the craving I have for such an infamous fruit. But I definitely crave it! And you can’t just have any durian you stumble upon the street. Hell they sell them in Chinatown in Manhattan or San Francisco. But apparently there’s nothing worse than bad durian. You have to have it in season. You have to ask for the Malaysian durian which is smaller than the big Thai durian and therefore more potent, tastier.

Other products with durian are a hit or miss. I’ve tried durian ice cream and absolutely hated it, but also tried durian moon cakes during Chinese New Year celebration and absolutely loved them. But there really isn’t a substitute for the real thing. And if you do end up going to the Singapore GP I would highly recommend spending one evening exploring Geylang with a local marshal who would surely be able to point you in the right direction to try the “King of Fruit!”

Of course your experience may be way different from mine. I’m happy to share my favorite American Top 10 Foodie Experiences… and I think the Malaysian and Singapore Top 10 Foodie Experiences will follow, so stay tuned!

How I Undermined my Reputation as a Marshal

As I’m watching the live stream of the Bathurst 12 hour race in Australia, I read an interesting comment from a friend currently marshaling on Mount Panorama that made me want to write this post. It is entirely possible that I have misinterpreted the comment, but it’s worth writing my thoughts down because they reflect the way I feel at this point in time. My opinions definitely change with time, based on the circumstances and with any new knowledge gained from experiences at various events, so I want to write this down to see how I felt when I read it in the future.

Over the past few years of my volunteering in motorsport I have noticed that depending whom I worked with my reputation did not reflect what I intended to project to my colleagues and coworkers. This feeling was magnified but was not limited to events and people in the US. I made a comment about marshals boycotting a karting event in Singapore that was received negatively, which wasn’t my intention at all. And before that, my comments about being prevented from registering to marshal the F1 race in Abu Dhabi allowed some people to form the opinion that I dislike ATCUAE and the Yas Marina Circuit which couldn’t be further from the truth, because after finally visiting the circuit and working the Gulf 12 hour event, I found it to be the most amazing facility I have ever been to.

But events in the US, and certain interactions with people that I felt treated me badly (and ultimately blogged about it on this web site with all the unedited posts still available for the reading) caused retaliation. I’m not just referring to the physical threats by the former flag chief of the region that I dumped with my local club, but also comments by friends which makes me wonder: at what point did I cross the line and undermined my reputation as a marshal?

I say this because obviously in my mind I never set out to volunteer as a marshal and be a dick to other people. I have never intentionally did things “wrong” just to fuck with people. But that’s the vibe I get from people that judge my character and form an opinion of me as a person. The line must have been crossed when I took the whinging that everyone else seems to do over a beer at a post-race party and brought it online in the form of a blog post.

Everybody complains about something. There’s no doubt in my mind that people bitch, moan and complain far more than I do. But I became the enemy of the Motorsports for talking about things publicly on a web site that nobody reads. People complain about everything, from being treated like shit while volunteering by the event organizers or the circuit, or the security staff; to the sloppy food that is provided sometimes, the early meetings, or the fellow marshals they work with, etc. I know this because I have heard it from Singapore to Australia, to Canada and certainly around the US. Blogging about it undoubtedly undermined my reputation. But I don’t agree with writing “rosy” posts just to please people that treat me badly. Or to censor myself. It really makes me wonder how in a country that has OSHA, events/circuits can get away with inhumane treatment (long hours, no breaks, poor working conditions, etc.) But they get away with it because ordinary marshals complain only among themselves at beer parties and not where it actually counts apparently.

The other act of course was picture taking. It was the first nail in the coffin of my career and even though I’ve stopped (or rather changed my focus with the Marshal Cam project) it became the last also. And its ironic. The rules don’t change from track to track or event to event. Marshals aren’t allowed to take pictures while cars are on track whether the event is Formula One, WEC, V8 Supercars or the Australian GT race I’m watching right now. And yet, my facebook is filled with photos posted by people that are currently volunteering track side. And those pictures show race cars, on the racing tarmac. There’s little difference from what I’m seeing now while at my desk at work watching the live stream on one of the screens, to what I did at Montreal during F1 that got me in so much trouble thanks to an overzealous post chief. But me doing it was far worse apparently than anyone else doing it, because I got a web site that no one reads. And that’s a shame, I think.

So what do I intend to do to change my reputation in the future? It’s hard to say at this point because of the awful situation I find myself in, in my personal life. I certainly do not intend to go do club racing exclusively just to kiss ass of the same people that went out of their way to spread rumors about me and then got all bent out of shape because I refused to “respect” them as a result. The bully flag chief pointed out to me that PERCEPTION = REALITY, and I don’t agree with that at all. There are plenty of trolls out there that think they’re cool spreading a rumor to undermine someone they don’t like because all of their buddy buddies adore them for it. It’s absurd. I will choose my future events more carefully. There’s no reason to do every pro event out there because it features something amazing. It’s unrealistic both logistically and financially. I will have to ultimately pick and choose events that I know will make me happy, not someone else, but me – personally. I will work with people that don’t smile to my face and then back-stab me because they’re jealous of the events I’ve done in the past. I will have to volunteer smarter, that’s for sure.

I also want to open an opportunity for feedback from people I actually work with (Not someone that overheard, someone else who overheard another person’s opinion of me. But actual coworkers) to tell me what they feel I did wrong at an event and what I can do to improve, or if I did something right – I should continue doing it. I like the idea of references, like those used on CouchSurfing that help both hosts and travelers to form their opinion on whether or not to deal with someone directly. Maybe the same approach could work well with Motorsport volunteering. I doubt others would jump on the concept because as this blog has clearly pointed out, everyone is very sensitive to even the most innocent amount of criticism. But I am happy to use myself as a test subject to prove that this would be worthwhile in marshaling. In other countries a simple Log Book serves just this purpose, but the only log book I have been filling out is the same one that pisses people off on my web site, because they perceive it as “bragging” so hopefully the reference idea takes off.

Have something to say about me? Post it in the comments below. I will respond to you. Just don’t delete the comments like the old lady from Florida did, when I responded to her comment that called me a “disgrace” or something along those lines. IF I’m wrong, I have no problem admitting it and hopefully learning from my mistakes.

I am very interested to read some feedback about my performance.