Tag Archives: Sponsoraflagger.com

Volunteer in Motorsport: Working for a Race Team, Starworks Motorsport Wants YOU!

Ever wanted to volunteer in Motorsport but don’t see standing on the side of the track in all sorts of weather as your cup of tea? No worries, there are other options!

My friend Jessie Lynne Honigs just shared a pretty neat invitation on facebook:

startworks motorsport volunteers wanted

Quote:

Have you always wanted to work on a race team? Here’s your chance! We’re looking for volunteers, starting with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach! Information here…

Since I’m going to the Long Beach Grand Prix and volunteering there already I am extremely jealous of the lucky bastard that will get a chance to work with Starworks Motorsport.

startworks motorsport volunteers wanted

I think this is particularly a great idea because with street circuit events the amount of people available to participate should be pretty impressive, especially considering how many people can simply walk to the track (even if they take public transport for a few blocks to get there from where they live).

I want to get involved in his myself!

You should too!

 

Links: starworksmotorsport.com/ & facebook.com/starworksmotorsport/

PS. if I’m not mistaken Starworks Motorsport and Peter Baron were the most generous group of people that supported Jessie’s SponsorAFlagger.com project with their $1,000+ donation a few years ago at Lime Rock in a form of a gift cards that every marshal volunteering that weekend walked away with. That was impressive!

Club Racing at Thompson Speedway the Debrief

As if by chance I noticed Jessie (from SponsorAFlagger.com)  looking for more volunteers to marshal NER SCCA event where she’s the assistant flag chief, so I signed up. With her help of course, because MotorsportReg.com was giving me all sorts of problems. But between the two of us we figured it out. I’m so glad I got to experience this new (to me) circuit, because everything about the trip went absolutely perfectly and it’s all thanks to Jessie. I think I’ll use a new strategy for volunteering the US races from now on, I will attend all events as Jessie’s guest… I could definitely get used to the VIP treatment that comes as a result 😉

Thompson Speedway has recently re-opened. It still has that brand new smell to it like a new car, but in reality it’s America’s oldest in several respects. Did you know that it was the oldest banked oval in the US? Or that it was the oldest American purpose built road course? I certainly didn’t. But all that Jessie told me that I need to know about it is that it has the best ice cream… I was eager to find out for myself.

The drive up to Thompson wasn’t terribly long either. It’s only about 30 miles further than New Jersey Motorsports Park and the price of tolls to get there is less. I’ve already blogged about my foodie tour of New England which you can read all about here: Best Lobster Rolls in Connecticut. And that was a very cool way to start the trip. But what was even cooler was hanging out with Jessie, Jason, George (their dog) and Stevie (their Miata). Jason is a very accomplished race car driver with many trophies to show for it and a history of racing various Mazda’s from rotary RX-7’s to the Miata. Check him out at Angry Pork Racing: angrypork.com/ While Jessie of course is an accomplished marshal having won worker of the year in 2013? and running a successful Sponsor A Flagger site:  sponsoraflagger.com/  But most impressively to me she likes Durian shakes at a local Vietnamese place we went to for dinner, which probably means she would totally enjoy marshaling in Singapore or Malaysia and it’s my goal in the future to help facilitate that opportunity!

durian shake at pho dakao in worcester massachusetts
Durian Shake and Lychee Martini at Pho Dakao in Worcester, Mass

For race day on Friday Jessie and I got to work together at turn 3 on our elevated station which was very cool. I’m a big fan of these things. Why? Because it gives the marshal working that particular turn good visibility of track before and after the station. And the drivers get a good visibility of all the flags as they approach the turn. I wish more tracks would use the same idea when applicable. Behind the station there was a golf course and many a golfers came around to spectate at different times. I even found a Callaway golf ball near my car when leaving. Kudos to Thompson for being a multi-purpose facility. At a time when everybody in Motorsport is struggling it’s nice to see diversification.

thompson speedway turn 3 station
Elevated Marshal Station at Turn 3, Thompson Speedway

thompson speedway flags

thompson speedway formula vee

The day went by pretty swiftly. We had a few spins, one resulting in a light impact of two Formula Vee’s getting tangled up. But otherwise it was nice and quiet. I had a great time checking out the paddock during lunch and seeing some amazing machinery.

thompson speedway official pace car camaro

trans am mustang at thompson speedway

 

hoosiers and wilwood brakes on a trans am mustang thompson speedway

thompson speedway track diagram

spec racer fords at thompson speedway

forza abarth 500 at thompson speedway

thompson speedway ner scca 1

Kudos to NER SCCA for providing $10 cash to workers for lunch which went towards a box of very greasy fries and chicken fingers that were delicious. At the end of the day we had a nice banquet reception with great food for the workers and drivers all mixed in one big room. There was a chit for free beverage, and of course Jessie treated me to a huge ice cream cone with really awesome “Maine Black Bear” flavor. I tried her “Chrunchasaurus” which too was amazing. Needless to say, I loved every minute of it. NER SCCA had a raffle where I actually won something! That doesn’t happen often. We were asked to pick envelopes containing cash and mine practically covered the whole gas bill to get up there, so I left quite surprised and happy.

bogey's ice cream at thompson speedway
“Crunchasaurus” ice cream and “Maine Black Bear” ice cream cones at Bogey’s Thompson Speedway… best race track ice cream I’ve ever had!

I think Thompson Speedway will be seeing me again in the future, especially if I get to play Jessie’s guest again 😉

Mazda MX-5: Hello Stevie!

I think the prospect of meeting Stevie was the deciding factor in going to volunteer at Thompson Speedway for the New England Region SCCA thing… sure meeting Jessie was cool, going to another new track was nice, eating lobster along the way was delicious, but seeing another MX-5 Miata up close to compare with mine was really neat. I don’t think I could explain it, so I’m not going to. Instead here is just a small fraction of the bazillion pictures I took of the cars:

hello stevie mx-5 miata

I think George the Basset Hound was thoroughly confused seeing another Miata in his driveway.

hello stevie 17 mx-5 miata

First comparison: Oh look! the 2009 looks exactly the same as my 2007. Except that it doesn’t. The front bumper was changed from a happy oval mouth to a more pronounced one. The headlights were different, bigger slightly. I know the engine internals were improved. I was a little surprised to see the base model not have fog lights, I thought those came standard pretty much on all NC Miatas but not so. The steering wheel looked a little bare without all the controls there. Even the roll hoops didn’t come chromed, and instead were painted gray, but not the same color as the car, or the dash piece, just gray like the plastic. That was a little weird.

hello stevie 5 mx-5 miata

Next thing you know we’re at Thompson Speedway, going around the oval for a little photo shoot on the embankment:

hello stevie 6 mx-5 miata

hello stevie 7 mx-5 miata

hello stevie 8 mx-5 miata

thompson speedway ner scca miata

hello stevie 9 mx-5 miata

hello stevie 10 mx-5 miata

hello stevie 11 mx-5 miata

And so that was that… now any normal person would be happy they got their pix and be done with it. But with me, nope… I took more:

hello stevie 3 mx-5 miata

hello stevie 4 mx-5 miata

In the paddock area by the garages.

hello stevie 2 mx-5 miata

hello stevie 1 mx-5 miata

At our station, Turn 3.

hello stevie 12 mx-5 miata

hello stevie 13 mx-5 miata

At the end of day party…

hello stevie 14 mx-5 miata

It was just a cool thing to see, and do some more comparisons. Like the rear bumper that is quite different on the NC2 vs. NC1:

hello stevie 15 mx-5 miata

Not only did they delete the reflector to integrate it into the tail lights, they also created a slightly more aerodynamic look to it making the car look wider and lower in the tail pipe area. The trunk lid was also different from a soft top to the hard top models:

hello stevie 16 mx-5 miata

…alright

THE END

Thank You Jessie for the Great Time at Thompson Speedway!

Don’t even know where to begin to describe the amazing time I had volunteering at Thompson Speedway, except by thanking Jessie for making this whole trip possible. Thank you Jessie!

It was a sensory overload in every sense. The trip was so much more than just cars on race track, it was a road trip, a foodie tour, a chance to hang out with awesome people and of course race cars on track. So besides thanking Jessie from SponsorAFlagger.com for her contribution to my personal happiness I’ll also use this post as a preview of follow up posts about all the other aspects of the trip.

WARNING! There will be a ton of Miata pictures in all the posts.

WARNING! There will be a ton of foodie pictures in some posts.

So I’ll start at the beginning. The three hour trip to Jessie’s place in Massachusetts turned into a full day of driving, stopping multiple times along the Connecticut coast to sample their delicious and very fresh lobster rolls:

lobster roll tour of connecticut lobster landing

I’ve never met anyone that has ever said: “Oh… I’m so full on lobster!” never happens… so I arrived Massachusetts nice and hungry in time for dinner with Jessie and Jason and that was a hell of an experience trying a nice Vietnamese restaurant in Worcester with Durian shakes on the menu.

thompson speedway ner scca 2

My first impressions of Thompson Speedway Motorsport Park were very good. It reminded me a lot of tracks in New Zealand with their relatively flat setting, lots of turns in the course to fit into a small area, to a point that most of the track is visible from any marshal stand. Of course Thompson has a speedway that’s partially used in the road course which is not like any Kiwi track, but still. I’ll talk more about my impressions of Thompson in greater detail, and be sure to mention their delicious ice cream.

thompson speedway ner scca miata

Jessie now owns a Miata! Well, technically it’s Jason’s Miata but it didn’t stop Jessie from taking it to the track so we could do a few shots of our cars on the Speedway… and by a few shots I mean like bazillion of them. It was so cool comparing the NC1 and NC2 miatas, and all the differences between the GT and a Sport model, a PRHT and a soft-top… believe it or not there were plenty of differences. I’ll talk more about it in it’s own post.

And finally I’ll conclude the series with a chat about another 450 mile road trip in my marshaling rig. Once again got great gas mileage, had a very comfortable ride… and took a ton of pics along the way. Stay tuned for the posts to be published in the coming days.

road trip miata BP gas station great gas mileage

Signed Up to Marshal the New England Region SCCA at Thompson Speedway

Noticed Jessie from SponsorAFlagger.com seeking volunteers for next week’s New England Region SCCA club racing event at Thompson Speedway, so I signed up.

Between the two of us, it took a good ten minutes trying to force MotorsportReg.com web site to allow me to register. On my own I was getting all kinds of warning and error messages highlighted in Red and Yellow, either preventing me from registering or making the event invisible altogether. I guess it helps that Jessie is the NER Assistant Flag Chief now and dismissed the idea of me being banished from working SCCA club events as a silly notion, as I did.

I’m looking forward to working Thompson Speedway for the first time. I have not been to that track yet. It shall be my 15th circuit I’ve volunteered in the US, and 37th worldwide. I’m also going to push my luck and try to see if I could observe the Starter there to learn a new skill marshaling. That is if they’re not desperately short on people by next Friday, in which case I’m happy to work whatever station Jessie assigns me.

If things go to plan I may even check out some fisherman’s towns along the New England coast line whether in Connecticut or Rhode Island… sure it’s a bit out of the way, but I’ve driven up for their delicious lobster rolls before… and this time I have race cars as an excuse to go there.

Can’t wait!

For anyone with free time, do consider volunteering at Thompson Speedway yourself. The link to the event is here:  http://www.ner.org/race-volunteer/volunteer-news/ Or try your luck directly on MotorsportReg following this link:  http://www.motorsportreg.com/events/worker-registration-for-july-10-11-ner-races-tsmp-thompson-speedway And if the system fucks with you, then I’ll feel very happy that I wasn’t the only one, contact Jessie on facebook and she’ll see to it that you’re added to the list. Cheers!

Grand-Am season finale at Lime Rock

An exciting weekend draws a close on a fantastic race weekend, championship year, and over a decade long series. The next iteration of Grand-Am will be part of the USCC – United Sports Car Championship along with ALMS – American Le Mans Series, but until then we had one last shot at it at Lime Rock with Tim and Jessie of SponsorAFlagger.com

lime rock grand am 6

We were lucky enough to work together both days of the event, on turn 1 for Friday’s practice and turn 4 for Saturday’s qualifying and race. I have already given a sneak peak from Friday so I’ll focus on race day here. It was a thrilling race, we had an excellent view that was almost too close to the action as the #99 Red Dragon went off track along our station spraying us with rocks and dust, slightly injuring Jessie in the process. But we soldiered on, and I selfishly hogged the blue flag which the other two made fun of me for not waving it aggressively enough 🙂 I nearly shredded that canvas off the wooden stick again.

lime rock grand am 1

lime rock grand am 2

lime rock grand am 3

lime rock grand am 4

Perhaps an overshadowing story from the weekend, wasn’t the racing but the amazing work Tim and Jessie did for SponsorAFlagger.com With my guestimate, they contributed nearly $1,000 bux to all the flaggers that worked the event thanks to contributions from a number of Grand-Am teams. And that figure is nothing to sneeze at. Ultra impressive and credit must be given where credit is due. In that light I wish to personally thank all the contributors starting with Marc Miller of CJ Wilson Racing who not only gave an impressive presentation of driver changes and a team Q&A about his racing Mazda MX-5, but also gave away swag and gas cards for participants in his driver’s change demo! Flaggers got to sit in and strap in the race car, while I timed their driver change attempts. Freaking awesome!

lime rock 1.5

lime rock 1

Peter Baron of Starworks Autosport came through big time with Target Gift Cards for every flagger this weekend. He had mentioned doing something like that when I last met him at Laguna Seca a few weeks ago, and he certainly did not disappoint. We are huge fans of the Starworks team #2 and #8 cars sporting the SponsorAFlagger.com flagger chick proudly on their body work in recent victory photos, and we wish them the best of luck in the future!

lime rock grand am 5

Kirk Spencer of CKS Autosport also surprised us with a generous gas card donation on our late night wander through the Grand-Am paddock, for which we are again incredibly thankful!

This event was a great conclusion to an excellent season at Lime Rock for me, and a very sad one to think that there won’t be any major pro-racing there next year on the same level as I have enjoyed for the last two years. Oh well… I will certainly miss the pit walks at this bullrink!

Northeast Grand Prix ALMS debrief

I was not feeling it. The whole atmosphere of this year’s Northeast GP was somehow off. It was supposed to be amazing. After all I had just returned from Europe working the actual Le Mans… I was going to work with my friends at Lime Rock, what more could I ask for? Well Friday night I was just one bad decision away from going home and not returning.

Luckily I stayed. Saturday morning, on race day I was still out of it. I asked my buddy Tim where he and Jessie were stationed and he was like: “we’re together dude!” which made me feel a lot better, I mean we were team JRT after all, even though I was totally thirdwheeling the entire weekend. I also found out we were at Turn 1, which made me go “WOW!” that’s one hell of a station to work for ALMS. And finally when the flag chief called station assignments I discovered I was made corner captain, which just made me laugh. Why me? Usually Tim likes this sort of thing… but at least I knew I wasn’t going to be stuck doing something I wouldn’t enjoy. In that spirit, I made station assignments based on people’s requests. It may sound a lot looser than it actually is, but I know from my experience when I’m doing something I enjoy doing, the time flies.

Thanks to the heat the time didn’t fly during the race though. It felt like the exact 2 hours and 45 minutes that it was. Unfortunately for Tim and Jessie, they were marooned across track at the outpost for the entire race. I tried to “create” opportunities to cross with the only full course yellow until that point occurring at our station thanks to a high-sighted prototype challenge car, but it wasn’t happening. All in all, the race was OK… not the greatest ALMS race I’ve been to, not even as good as I remember last year’s race to be, but it was good. Something was holding it back from being amazing. Not sure what.

The station assignment was quite perfect though. We were able to do the grid walk for the Le Man’s style start, and mingle with teams and drivers before the big event. It gave Tim and Jessie a final opportunity to sticker up cars they didn’t get a chance to over the past few days, and they did a spectacular job doing it. These guys have some serious balls doing what they did… I on the other hand would be contacting the organizers, the team head offices, etc. and probably getting rejected at every step of the way, while they went there and had the driver’s put the stickers on the cars, that’s about as good as it gets.

It will be sad not to see prototypes racing at Lime Rock Park next year with the United SportsCar Series… its the second track I’ve lost in my home area in two years, after NJMP lost Grand-Am… but I guess I’ll have to travel elsewhere to volunteer…

alms lime rock 5

alms lime rock 7

alms lime rock 8

alms lime rock 4

alms lime rock 2

alms lime rock 1

alms lime rock sponsoraflagger

The highlight of the weekend was a call I requested that Brendan make to Race Control in the early stages of the race. Pat from Watkins Glen had complained that the blue flag was shredding off the handle, every time we used it. And at turn 1 we used it aggressively. I had a quick look at it, and told him that that’s how flags generally are with the NY SCCA region… but being corner captain and allowing myself to start and finish the race on blue flag, I found my right hand was cramping after only 15 minutes into the race, because I was clinging onto the cloth part of the flag. The grip was so tight because I worried I’d lose the flag when waiving it in a spirited fashion to allow the prototypes to zoom past the slower GT/GTC traffic. Brendan reported our blue flag catastrophic failure to Race Control whom promptly delivered a new flag for us to flog 🙂