Tag Archives: SRO

Kyalami or Bust!

I’ve been researching the possibility of participating in a new endurance race for a few years now: the South African 9 hour. And with recent news of SRO adding a round in Africa to their Intercontinental GT Challenge, this may actually happen for me.

Like most other events SRO hitch their wagon to an established event, and the South African 9 hour has been run for years. While it’s not huge in it’s current form there is some variety like CN prototypes among GT3 field and other support classes. Kind of like the Gulf 12 hour in Abu Dhabi but more locally focussed. The California 8 hour was small too last year. But it was fairly exciting. News of Kyalami being bought and refurbished last year sort of hinted at bigger and better things to come. And this is pretty awesome.

While there’s no guarantees anything will actually materialize, it certainly gives me something to look forward to and plan out. The race won’t be until the end of the 2019 racing season, early November. Plenty of time to save up money with my new job, and request the time off I would need for the 16 hour flight from NYC to Johannesburg. Sign up for some rewards cards to optimize my hotel and airline redemptions. Research the MX5 Miata community to organize a meet. And maybe even plan a side trip to Madagascar or the Seychelles. Who knows? The possibilities are endless.

But for now I’m excited to see what pans out from this. I have participated in most SRO Intercontinental GT Challenge events, Spa 24 hours a few times. Bathurst 12 hours, Sepang 12 hour, California 8 hour at Laguna Seca… Suzuka has rejected me for my first event in Japan but I’m hopeful the South Africans would be more welcoming.

Kyalami or bust!

California 8 hour at Laguna Seca Debut of Intercontinental GT Challenge in America

Welcome to the California 8h the debrief.

Man was I looking forward to this event… not so much because I thought it was going to be a thriller (it was good, but in a genetic GT racing kind of way, fairly predictable) but because I wasn’t sure it was actually going to happen… even a week before race day!

Why do I say that? Because this is SRO’s second attempt at bringing the Intercontinental GT Challenge to America… I specifically signed up to volunteer the PWC season opener at COTA last year just for the Circuit of the America’s 6 hour race… that never happened.

I am glad however that this event took place, and most importantly that it was a success! We only had 19 cars on grid, which is a low number. But the racing was good. One brand dominated… Nobody could keep up with the pace of the Audi’s… not McLaren. Not Acura. And definitely not Porsche whose very reliable 911 GT3 RSR’s started falling lap down first… at one point there was only four cars on the lead lap, which is silly.

Luckily the battles for first were good. Team Land Audi lead for most of the event. Belgian Team WRT took over briefly and then spun out into the kitty litter, going down a few laps by the time it was recovered. And Magnus racing saved the best for last and won. McLaren ran Okay… went down a few times but finished on the lead lap. And Acura didn’t fare so well either. One of the cars DNF’ed… the other finished in fourth or so. I think all of the Porsche 911’s finished a lap down. In GT4 field the Ginetta, Aston Martin and Porsche Cayman had a great battle. And the Invitational Mazda3 V8’s finished a strong 9th and 10th. Which is pretty cool! Those cars were very neat… one was left hand drive, one right hand drive. And featured two shades of the Mazda famous red paint. (while being powered by a Ford Coyote 5.0 liter V8)

So what’s the verdict for this event?

If it happens again, I think it would be tremendously better if more cars show up. That of course could be said about any other event, but in this case it would have made a huge difference.

Anything else they could change?

YES! I hope and pray that SRO or USAC/PWC/SFR SCCA spring up a few bucks to buy some “SC” – Safety Car boards. It was absolutely absurd waving double yellows every time there was full course caution. Who made that decision? It’s Stupid! Any kind of waving yellow flag for no good reason (absent an SC board) waters down/diluted the importance of the safety aspect of waving yellow flags. How much could the boards possibly cost? Can’t SRO just bring their own… I mean they already bring containers full of equipment. Bring the pink Code 60 flag along too! If I could change one thing I would have changed that first…

Post Card from the PWC, SRO, Global MX-5 Cup & Porsche GT3 Trophy Paddock at Laguna Seca

If the title suggests this was a busy event… you best believe it was! Four days of non stop action… which was a complete and total difference compared to last year where PWC ran it’s season finale alone without any support groups.

What was particularly different this year was the debut of the SRO created Intercontinental GT Challenge stop on American soil. An endurance race that joins the calendar this year along the crown jewel of SRO events: Spa 24 hours. As well as the other two races Stefan Ratel hitched his wagon to: Bathurst 12 hour in Australia  and Sepang 12 hour in Malaysia. The California 8 hour is an event they came up from scratch while the other Intercontinental GT Challenge stops have been established forever… some even before SRO got invovled with them.

To me California 8 hour was the main attraction to come out west and volunteer… But there were other surprises. While the Pirelli World Challenge top group: GT/GTA/GTC and GTS classes already ran their season finale the previous month in Sonoma. The lower classes: TC and TCA/TCB were going to have their finale here at Laguna Seca… and for all those pint size racing cars World Challenge came up with a spiffy title: Grand Prix of Monterey! Wow…

But wait there’s more! Global MX-5 Cup had run their season finale a few weeks ago while playing a support role for the IMSA event at Laguna Seca. But they decided to hold a truly Global MX-5 Cup race inviting some European and Japanese drivers to participate alongside their American counterparts. While the purse for winning the event was big, not that many cars signed up to race. But even with the lack of participation their field was larger than that of the main event, California 8 hour.

The best represented group of the weekend was the Porsche GT3 Cup Trophy Series. I completely confused myself thinking these were the West Coast version of our IMSA GT3 Cup… but I was wrong. While some teams/cars participate in both series, the GT3 Cup Trophy isn’t run by IMSA and is a far different series using a whole variety of cars. There were brand new GT3 911’s… some older versions of the car. And a bunch of GT4 spec Caymans too. Cars were distinguished by their windshield banners and the color of their headlights.

So now that I got all that out of the way, here’s a ton of pix I took while roaming around the paddock on Wednesday, the day before the event started:

Laguna Seca is going Hollywood! Last year they added the Hollywood-style “CORKSCREW” sign on the hill overlooking the track. This year the new addition is a Mazda 787B Le Mans winning car cutout at the entry to the track from Route 68/A Road. Which is also joined by a Yamaha Superbike…  it’s cool!

First thing you see arriving at the paddock is the Long Road Racing setup with their Global MX-5 Cup cars… and Enzo!

Lots of MX-5 Cup cars at the event… some raced in the Global MX-5 Cup while others represented the TCA field in Pirelli World Challenge. Easy to tell them apart… the convertible tops were MX-5 Cup series while the hard tops were PWC.

One team brought a souvenir from the season finale that ran with IMSA at Laguna Seca in September

Car looks pretty rough!

Much like the IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car series, PWC TC class still run NC Miata’s… though they are modified with a 2.5L engine and a big wang in the back.

One of two Japanese-driven cars in the event…

The TCB Mazda2’s used to be competitive, but it seems to me the BoP has balanced all the performance out of them. This #08 was the first car to be lapped. (multiple times, too)

The rest of the Mazda2’s ran slightly better, but not much. Certainly no match for the Honda Fit’s in TCB.

The new TOYOBARU Scion FRS GT86 smoked the competition. Won both races… and then got disqualified for some reason. Miata which came in second both times assumed the victories afterwards.

Porsche’s were second best represented cars for the weekend, after the Miata of course. While in TC class I counted 11 BMW M235i’s

The California 8 hour field was ultra thin… 19 cars total!

The Coyote 5.0L V8 powered Mazda3’s by MARC Cars Australia had two 3’s on the road… two different shades of red. One left hand drive and one right hand drive. Because of attrition both cars finished the race in top 10… ahead of all GT4 cars.

The only European SRO team to show up… Team WRT from Belgium.

The Acura team looked fast and very promising but after a few hours nobody could keep the pace of the Audi R8 LMS.

The TCR cars did especially well in the TC race

I was easily distracted walking around the paddock… this Audi especially caught my eye:

I suspect I’ll get an opportunity to watch it race on track this year…

It looks like the IMSA series, but the Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy is an independent west coast version racing similar cars.

When I finished taking pictures of cars, climbed up the hill to take some selfies with the Corkscrew.

I had some Mexican food on the way over to the track… and after spending a productive day there, I craved Mexican again… so I gave another restaurant a try in Seaside after the first place in Salinas. And then watched the sun set over the Pacific.

It was a great day!

 

Gnarly California Trip 2017

Another radical trip in the books… this time I spent nearly two weeks on Monterey Peninsula in Northern California enjoying myself at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

This post will act as a glossary of all of my activities and adventures, which included:

I’ll be writing the individual posts over the next few days so please stay tuned…

The trip went absolutely wonderfully. It’s been a while since the last event so I was well rested and enjoyed the experience very much. Instead of paying for a cheap flight I broke down and burned some frequent flyer miles to get to California. Which meant I could do some crazy routing to finally fly directly into Monterey. On the way over I used my Alaska miles that I got by converting Virgin America points (which Alaska bought out)… luckily two out of the three legs of the trip were actually on VX which was super enjoyable. I love their Airbus A320’s. I flew New York to San Francisco. Instead of getting off the plane and driving two hours, I spent the next four hours in the air over California. First taking another VX flight to San Diego where I connected to an Alaska Air operated by Horizon prop-plane Bombardier Q400 to fly back up to Monterey. My goal was to fly over Laguna Seca and take some shots, but 7:30pm this time of year meant complete darkness… so the only visual I have of the track is what I saw… it’ll stay in my mind instead of captured on a cell phone camera.

Car rentals at MRY weren’t cheap… as expected. But instead of paying $400-500’s for convenience I instead booked a car from Hertz Local Edition in Seaside (and Salinas as a backup)… it was only $162 which is a great deal for a two week rental. Got a Hyundai Accent which got a solid 33mpg! And because I’m so broke I tried not to do too many California road trips… ironically when I returned the car I had put 805 miles on it, which surprised me!

The two events at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca were fantastic!

I got a chance to get a ride in all versions of the NC Miata… the early years NC1 – my buddy Daniel from Gerogia who drove his 2008 all the way cross-country for this event. Then hopped into the same NC2 I drove around the track last year (the owner let me drive it again which was awesome!) And finally my host in Prunedale owns an awesome looking NC3 which I was lucky to ride in again. We met at the Miata’s at Laguna Seca event last year and him hosting me for the duration of the trip was probably the only thing that made this all possible.

I can’t say enough positive things about my Cali visit this year. It’ll probably be a while before I get a chance to go again, so I’m going to savor the memories and share them on this blog along with many pictures.

4 PWC Races, 4 Different Marshal Roles! Highlight of my Motorsport Volunteering Career Thus Far

I am not bragging in this post, I’m simply counting my blessings!

Thanks to the powers that be this season, I got an opportunity to work four different PWC events so far. And as luck would have it each one of those races I performed a different role as a marshal. That is a massive accomplishment personally in my book. (Log Book if we were doing those things here)

Race 1: St. Petersburg Grand Prix in Florida: Pit Marshal

PWC ran as a support race to IndyCar… and I was there in pit lane.

Race 2: Grand Prix of VIRginia International Raceway (Fire Rescue)

PWC was the headlining event at VIR and I got a chance to ride in the fire truck and tow truck over the 3 day weekend, hooking cars and picking up debris on the hot track!

Race 3: Victoria Day Speedfest at Mosport (Blue Flag Marshal)

PWC sort of competed for the headline event at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park sharing the spotlight with local Pinty’s NASCAR series… I think most people went there for PWC but definitely stock cars brings it’s die fans too. I was there flagging over the weekend.

Race 4: Grand Prix of Lime Rock Park  (Backup Starter)

The most recent PWC experience at Lime Rock Park over Memorial Day weekend was a cherry on top moment for me working as a Backup Starter to the series Starters. Ahhmazing!

This really is an awesome time for me in my Motorsport volunteering career. If I were to stop marshaling now I’d feel that I’ve done everything I wanted to do with this hobby!

Of course, as many would say and as I totally firmly believe myself: “The Best is yet to come….”

Memorial Day Grand Prix of Lime Rock Park (PWC) the debrief

To say I had a blast at this weekend’s (Memorial Day weekend) PWC event at LRP would be an understatement… I really, truly, genuinely had an amazing time. And the people I got a chance to work with totally contributed to that experience.

It absolutely makes a difference who you work with and this time I was super lucky. You know someone else is comfortable with you when she refers to you as “dipshit” to her colleague. That happened. Both of my series starters from PWC were amazing, and it was my honor to be working with them as a backup starter at the Start/Finish stand.

I thought the weekend went especially well. The racing was better than usual. We didn’t have too many bullshit crashes that tend to ruin other PWC events. The recoveries were smooth and quick, and there were awesome battles for positions throughout the field in all the classes. That was awesome.

I got to make a lot of calls on the radio. Which was good. I’m happy I didn’t make too many mistakes with that aspect. I was even able to do a debris run picking up a large chunk of debris from the race winning Turner BMW in the TC race. But I also made some rookie mistakes and they were to be blamed on me squarely. There were three instances where I was meant to point out a car to the series starters and I pointed out the wrong car. We did track it correctly, but for whatever reason I pointed at a different car that was similar in appearance. In the TCA/TCB race I pointed to the SAC racing 080 car instead of the race winning 70 car. Both were black with Green accents, but one was Teal and another bright Green… One was ND and another NC. And yet somehow I mucked it up. With the other starter I had real trouble with the Porsche Cayman GT4’s… we were supposed to track 018 car and I (for some weird reason) confused it with it’s sister car 017… luckily the series starter was better than me at identifying cars but it tripped her up too, unnecessarily. Maybe the dipshit comment was right on the money.

I must have not been too terrible, because unlike the series starter last year she greeted me with a hug in the morning, which was an AWWWW moment. She must not hate me. And on race day she gave me a little gift, a pin of a Guardian Angel that one of her colleagues designed. AWWWW again! She doesn’t want me to die. That’s nice. I really enjoyed the weekend and I really hope I get another opportunity to work with these folks again… somewhere!

Pirelli World Challenge was a standalone feature of this Memorial Day weekend. So we only had the GT/GTA/GT Cup, GTS and TC/TCA/TCB cars at the track. What was different was the fact that the field of TC cars grew so large in size that they got to run a race on their own without the usual TCA/TCB addition. This meant that the TCA/TCB ran a race of their own too… and it was clear as day to see how well the Global MX-5 Cup cars performed on their own in this series. I knew they won at VIR and Mosport (both races I volunteered) but since there was a different overall winner in TC class, it wasn’t so obvious who won TCA. The older Miata’s in TC class though qualified super well, they were in row 2 and 3 on the grid, but as soon as the race started they faltered. Many DNF’d. Which sucks! But the cars are getting old, and the newest addition to the field this year, the BMW 235M blew up in size, it seems like they are completely dominating this series. In the GT race there were quite a few incidences, but overall it was super enjoyable to watch and especially neat to be a part of in such an amazing position on the start stand. I’m incredibly grateful!

Best of all I didn’t have to choose between having lunch or taking pictures during our downtime. I was smack in the middle of all the action. I could just walk over to the dummy grid and take a few snaps before heading back on duty and the series starters were happy to help me out with a few selfie style shots to capture the moment of this experience. It was tremendous!

I would love to do it again!

Post Card from PWC Grand Prix of Lime Rock

Greetings from an amazing first day of the PWC at LRP.

I love this track.

I love this series.

I love this assignment.

This is my first time since last year working as a back-up starer for a pro event (or for any event period) and it just so happens that last year it was PWC at LRP as well.

Despite the wet weather and the alternating mist and light rain, the racing has been especially good. Only the PWC series are present though they are broken up in bits to make more racing happen. There’s the Sprint X headliner featuring GT (Pro-Pro), GTA (Pro-Am), GT Cup (Am-Am) and GTS (up and coming Pro’s)… the TC group grew so big with all the new BMW 235M’s that they get to race on their own… I think I counted over 30 cars, and it’s especially nice to see the familiar yellow Turner cars #95 & #96 re-join the series. TCA and TCB round out the support races with a pretty large field as well. Really neat to see this racing up close from the Starter stand. I love it! Didn’t take many pix, but the few I did I’d like to share:

And so my day went absolutely perfectly… I truly enjoy working Start and my PWC series colleagues were awesome to me. Despite the rain I thought the racing was very good. No stupid crashes. It was very competitive, very tight and mostly clean with minor incidents here and there (only a few full course cautions)… so I’m grateful for that. Lime Rock Park fed us at the end of the day and I was happy to spy a bunch of Mazda’s at the track including a Miata parade early in the morning and a few Mazdaspeed 3’s and 6’s in the camping area.

I decided not to tent it in the wet, and instead opted for the 2 hour and 100 mile trek home… which was fine in the evening, but I’m sure tomorrow morning I’ll be regretting it. Oh well… looking forward to another great day at the track!

Victoria Day Speedfest the debrief

WOW! What a fantastic weekend!

Victoria Day Speedfest was my first International event volunteering this year. As such I was really looking forward to the experience and the racing didn’t disappoint. It certainly helped too that everyone was super friendly and welcoming and I took this opportunity to sign up with the local club MMS to finally become one of their members. Motorsport Marshalling Services is a CASC-OR member. Canadian Automobile Sports Car Association – Ontario Region is an FIA accredited ASN. My plan is not to renew my SCCA membership next year and rely solely on the CASM membership to volunteer future international events. We’ll see how that goes.

So having done this event before meant I knew what to expect and took advantage of most of the opportunities which presented themselves. First I took lots of pictures on arrival on Thursday so that I don’t get in trouble (or even the urge) to take any pictures the rest of the weekend.

I had my usual run to get some delicious poutine, and I was set for whatever came my way over the course of the weekend.

Every morning I would stop at Tim Horton’s to get a box of Timbits (Munchkins for those that prefer Dunkin Donuts) two XL French Vanilla Cappuccino’s and a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast.

The Timbits of course were a big hit with the local marshals, as expected. I was happy to share. Right around 3pm though I really needed a Timbit or two for a sugar rush, otherwise I’d get tired.

I CouchSurfed on this trip, so every evening I would rush back to Bowmanville to have dinner with my host… and what a dinner it was:

They spoiled me rotten with amazing home cooked meals, yumm!

The morning meetings were clearly communicated in advance. Details of the day’s events were laid out concisely and precisely. It was fun and every day a new station was assigned.

Day 1: Turn 2A

We were short so I was rotating on Yellow/Green flag. Good thing I wasn’t on Blue flag because we had a massive impact with a roll over right in the area where the Blue flagger normally stands. That would have turned ugly real quickly. That was also the first of two massive roll-overs of my weekend.

Day 2: Turn 9

This time I was on Blue flag working closely with the mirror station for Yellow/Green flags. This time we were a little less lucky as two Micra Cup Nissan’s smashed into the tire wall at our feet basically sending a ton of debris our way as they rolled. It was nuts!

I walked along the spectator fence to use a porta-potty near Turn 8 and the Canadian fans were a jovial bunch. Until someone caught some debris from our rolling car. I assume a drunk person started screaming for help when rescue services arrived by the rolled car. Weird people would do that instead of reaching out to the medical services available for spectators. I guess there ought to be more education available for spectators about what to do in case of injury without heckling the track services on a hot track.

Day 3, Race Day, Turn 6

Turn 6 isn’t really a Turn, it’s a straight away with elevation change preventing Station 5C from seeing Station 7. It is a fantastic role for a Blue Flagger because the cars go their fastest on this part of the back stretch. Unfortunately someone from Race Control wasn’t happy with us standing next to the catch fencing and instructed us to go behind it… which predictably completely obscured our view of the track. I wish the people at Race Control would come out and work a race or two behind the catch fence and see how much they value their life after that. I would much rather see an incident coming and make moves in reaction to that. Rather than stand behind obstructive barriers that block you from seeing approaching danger and wouldn’t help all that much in case a crash occurs and sends small debris and hot fluids through the fence into you by complete surprise (because you can’t see the fucking crash coming). It just makes me angry when people make decisions that affect your personal safety (negatively I might add).

But enough about that… I joined the MMS… it only cost $10 bux for the membership, so I spend another $10 to invest in some warm clothing for the cold weather… a toque:

Hopefully this membership works well overseas!

Happy Anniversary Canada!

Hopefully I can come back this year again for the Labor Day weekend… to work the NASCAR Trucks around a proper circuit.

Why No “Sim Flagging” in Sim Racing on iRacing?

I always wondered, with the popularity of Sim Racing among Motorsport fans and race car drivers of all skill levels (from amateur to Formula 1), and visibility of video games like iRacing at many American and international events, why don’t the series/clubs incorporate the “Marshal” role into the experience?

iRacing bills itself as “the most authentic racing experience…”

At first glace I would agree… Yep! looks realistic as fuck. But there’s something missing, isn’t there?

No marshals… I see fans. But where’s the flaggers?

And that is a missed opportunity. The way I see it, not only would video game designers/programmers/marketing companies coax more users to their already popular products, but they would serve a very useful purpose too by incorporating this role into the games. For the drivers, whether professional or amateur, it would feel more realistic because you’d have the human factor in there… another real person who could do something with a flag. This would be far more real-world than a pre-programmed computer role that follows real rules instead of a human that interpret what they see and make decisions based on their common sense, which may not necessarily be consistent among all participants. The implications of having an actual human flagger represented in the game could change outcomes of races, as they do in real life.

But most importantly to me, this sim flagging could be used as training material for real Motorsport volunteers that want to get more involved in the sport but have limited access to a race track. If you only do one event a year, like say Singapore Grand Prix, I think it would be most helpful to practice on a simulator at your own leisure or through organised iRacing events, to bring your skills up before the actual F1 GP. The value of Sim Flagging would be tremendous. Besides training I think it would be a useful recruitment tool to get the young (and young at heart) video game players who didn’t know it was possible to volunteer to try the real thing. Everyone wants to be a Race Car Driver, but not everyone playing video games may be able to follow through with this dream. When it comes to Flagging, a much greater percentage of Motorsport enthusiasts that play video games could actually make the transition to real life events. Volunteering is cheaper than racing. It’s (theoretically) less dangerous, and it’s just as enjoyable  to be on the race track looking at race cars, up close and personal.

I think this is worth pursuing!

PS. a disclaimer… I personally don’t play video games. But if there was a Simulator to practice flagging, especially learning new concepts like Code 60… or Slow Zones in Le Mans. I would totally embrace the idea myself, and I’m sure others would too.

How about it iRacing?

(or others)

Why Is Everyone Ditching SCCA Pro Racing? First Global MX-5 Cup in Favor of IndyCar and Now Pirelli World Challenge to USAC

For those of you reading this blog post looking for some in-depth analysis or insider information as to why everyone is ditching SCCA Pro racing, go look elsewhere. This post will express my opinion on the matter which is just that, an opinion. It is based on my personal experience of a mere marshal volunteering for both series mentioned in the title and the three sanctioning bodies involved. My treatment as a volunteer could and definitely may be different than that of other volunteers so take the opinion at face value.

That said… and the many frustrating posts I’ve made over the past few years, I can’t say I am surprised that SCCA is being ditched. I have had plenty of personal experience of maltreatment by assholes within the club to which I pay/paid a hefty membership fee for all these years. Perhaps I’m not the only one that thinks this sort of treatment isn’t acceptable and there are other options.

What am I talking about?

Today PWC leadership made an announcement at the Performance Racing Industry Show in Indianapolis, Indiana that after 27 years of being sanctioned by SCCA Pro (a body that created the PWC series) it will now be sanctioned by USAC – the arch-rival of Sports Car Club of America from way back in the day. USAC is United States Auto Club which I’m sure people reading this blog would be familiar with because I’ve had many kind things to say about them from my experience marshaling at Indianapolis Motor Speedway which is staffed by USAC volunteers (not SCCA).  For more info about this story check out this Racer Magazine article:  racer.com/more/viewpoints/item/137087-insight-the-state-of-pirelli-world-challenge

Speaking of Indy, about a month ago the leadership of Global MX-5 Cup, which also had been sanctioned by SCCA Pro for the past 11 years, announced their move to IndyCar sanctioning. Read all about that story here in this Racer Magazine article:  racer.com/scca-home/mazda-mx-5-cup/item/136029-pruett-indycar-s-new-mazda-matrix

IndyCar of course is the famous American dumbed-down version of Formula 1. IndyCar, like NASCAR has in recent years build up a ladder system to feature various lower support series at their events. They call it the Mazda Road to Indy or MRTI for short. Even though Mazda doesn’t actually race in the big leagues with IndyCar where Chevy and Honda engine powered Dallara chasis compete. Instead Mazda provides pretty much all the engines for the lower series including Indy Lights, the Formula 2000 and 1600 series and Pro Mazda series. Not quite sure exactly how those series differ from similar SCCA club F1600 and F2000 series, but they are very similar save for the sanctioning bodies. The Mazda connection made sense for IndyCar’s sanctioning of the Global MX-5 Cup, even though that is the only non-open wheel series they sanction (I think). USAC sanctioning something as big-time as PWC though is a stretch, especially since the only thing I’m aware of USAC sanctioning previously are dirt racers throughout the MidWest.

But I guess we’ll see how that will go.

Good news is that PWC will open TCA class to the Global MX-5 Cup, which already features previous gen NC MX-5 Cup cars. Now we’ll get a mix of NC’s and ND’s… good variety!

I was getting excited this year volunteering for Pirelli World Challenge because of Stefan Ratel’s involvement with this American series. He is famous for the Blancpain Sprint and Endurance Series in Europe as well as the Intercontinental GT Challenge which he was going to bring to America after big success in Asia (Sepang 12h) and Australia (Bathurst 12h) and of course their crown jewel event, the Spa 24h in Belgium (at one of my favorite circuits: Spa-Francorchamps). Maybe with PWC moving to USAC the SRO will have more say in the way things are done in US, which I assume would have created tensions with SCCA… (because of course everything creates tensions with SCCA, speaking from personal experience here). I hope to see the series succeed under USAC.

Besides the IndyCar and USAC sanctioning bodies, the two series are actually run by WC Vision for PWC and Andersen Promotions for the Global MX-5 Cup… so I’m not sure how much input either IndyCar or USAC will have on either. But I’m sure at the very least both MX-5 Cup and PWC will probably continue to prop up IndyCar events in the future (as they have already done in the past)… which is a good thing! The only thing different for me volunteering will be the fact that I will not earn SCCA worker credit for volunteering those big weekend events now. Oh well!

Who’s left to ditch next? Will Trans Am jump ship too?

2017 will be quite interesting.

Hopefully there will be enough change in the future that won’t require me to pay $60 to Topeka for SCCA membership. Then again USAC charges $30 per event at Indy, or a discounted rate for multiple events. This business of shaking down volunteers for the privilege of volunteering is just wrong to me. I still think that it should be like the rest of the world, a small nominal fee to cover supplies like plastic membership cards and postage to mail them to the members every year. Anything more is a rip off. Maybe after losing a few more series they’ll come to their senses. Or maybe they’ll become even more greedy… who knows?

pwc lime rock memorial day weekend 2016 grand prix of lime rock 2

UPDATE December 12, 2016; Formula Race Promotions (FRP) whom run Formula Atlantic, Formula 2000 and Formula 1600 have announced that they’ve ditched SCCA as well in favor of USAC.  atlanticchampionshipseries.com/news/972-usac-to-sanction-atlantic-f2000-f1600-championships.html

Seems like only Formula 4 remains under SCCA Pro sanctioning body, which makes absolutely no sense considering F4 is a European FIA rules/spec series (which had a real hard time starting up in the US this year). We’ll see if they stick around…