Tag Archives: St. Petersburg Grand Prix

Mazda MX-5: 3,500 Mile Spring Break Road Trip South in a Miata, from New Jersey to Florida

Second New Jersey to Florida Road Trip is now in the books. This trip in March over Spring Break was my second year in a row volunteering for St. Pete GP and Sebring 12 hour. It was also my second drive down to Florida this year (first one being for the Roar before the 24). All in all I put 3,440 miles on the car. Burned 102 gallons of 93/Premium fuel. Spent $268 dollars on gas using BP, ExxonMobil and Sunoco gas cards (which with the 7% discount that I paid for them, I actually only spent $250 on fuel). Averaged 34mpg which was an improvement of 1mpg over last year, and got my best fuel economy yet with 38mpg’s over two consecutive fuel ups on the drive down… Yay! I noticed gas prices were almost a dollar per gallon more than last year… And in all I did about 500 miles more since I based myself in Daytona Beach during this trip and took multiple drives out of the Daytona area for various events, from a Miata meet in Jacksonville, to St. Pete GP in the Tampa Bay area, to Sebring in Lake Placid area, and to Orlando Miata meet much like last year. It was a fantastic trip!

Interesting option of No-Ethanol fuel in South Carolina…

Hit a 60k milestone on this Road Trip

When leaving for the trip I couldn’t sleep the night before so instead of tossing and turning I jumped in the car at 1am and headed down. The night drive was great because there was hardly anyone else on the road, which meant I could take it nice and slow. Driving in the 60’s rather than 70’s the gas mileage improved tremendously… so averaging 36mpg vs. 31mpg meant that on the 3 tanks that it took to get to Florida from New Jersey I extended my range by 150 miles! Or basically had to refuel less often.

Much like last year I used the Gas Buddy App to check fuel prices to strategise my drive. Virginia and South Carolina had the lowest gas prices for premium fuel. While Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia and even Florida were the priciest. The most I paid for gas was $2.86 in Florida and the least was $2.39 both in South Carolina and Virginia. There’s a Sunoco I really like in St. George, South Carolina that always has low prices and a few BP’s in the stretch of i81/i66 where for some reason the prices for premium gas are 50 cents less per gallon than anywhere else in Virginia. (Greenville area)

I want to live in a place that has Palm Trees!

My first order of business when arriving in Daytona was mounting my eBay lip spoiler… which turned out really great. Not sure if this thing contributed to my great gas mileage, but I’m glad that it certainly didn’t hurt!

I decided to get to Florida a day early because of some severe weather moving into the Northeast, which worked out really well because it allowed me an opportunity to “discover” Daytona more than I’ve done in the past while volunteering there. So I visited a race team based in Holly Hill, a few miles from the Speedway: BSI Racing.

Next day I was off to St. Pete… I left early enough so I can volunteer for the half day in the afternoon right after registration.

This year’s PWC racing was outstanding! IndyCar wasn’t so bad either and I especially enjoyed it from my new position in pit lane.

I CouchSurfed while in St. Pete and my host was awesome. Just a few blocks north of the track which getting there early in the morning was a breeze. Literally took me less than 10 minutes to drive down, and that’s because I had to stop at a few traffic lights.

Got some real IndyCar goodies for my Miata in pit lane… the official Firestone tire caps… No idea what team they came from but I picked up a bunch to give out as souvenirs when I travel. They sure are a lot lighter than the bag of NASCAR lug nuts I took to Australia and NZ.

Mailed my Miata buddies in Southeast Asia some #MRTI goodies from St. Pete GP.

I headed back to Daytona Beach right after the race, and the next morning left on a scenic drive along A1A towards Jax Beaches, on my Minorcan Clam Chowder foodie tour. I’m in love with my newly discovered attraction of St. Augustine (America’s oldest city!) the scenery was great and the food was delicious.

Lots of Spanish influence in this area, including the Minorcan Clam Chowder… Minorca of course is the smallest of the three Spanish Islands in the Mediterranean with the larger ones being the much better known Majorca as in Palma de Majorca and Ibiza.

I ran into a Lancia – Martini Racing photoshoot while on the trip where a Brit photographer basically booted me from taking pix:

From there I rushed to join the First Coast Miata club at their monthly meeting at yet another seafood place.

Was so good to see my friend Arved there who inspired me to buy the eBay lip spoiler to begin with. It’s nice to go to Miata events like this because they inspire you to do mods to your car.

Next day I was off to Sebring!

Lots of Mazda’s there. Absolutely awesome event. I had a blast working in pit lane there. One of my best experiences of Sebring yet!

Right after the race I headed back to Daytona Beach… but much like last year returned to the Orlando area for an Orlando Roadsters monthly meet at Tijuana Flats in Winter Park (near University of Central Florida). For a Monday night meet it was a big one, about 30 cars showed up over the course of the event… it was super enjoyable!

And so my time in Florida came to a close… the two weeks flew quick, I would really want to come back and stay for good. Staying in Daytona Beach area was very cool because I got to hang out with a few marshaling buddies I really respect, including visiting some fine dining establishments with them…

Florida is really the best place to go for fresh seafood…

On the drive home I stopped at my favorite South Carolina BBQ place in Rock Hill called Dixie Pig to pick up a couple of orders of their famous Pig Wings in parm & garlic sauce. Brought it all the way home to share with my parents and nephew… they loved it too!

I’ll be doing another one of these Southern trips next month hopefully with another two week volunteering tour of Barber Motorsports Park for IndyCar and VIR for PWC. Stay tuned…

St. Pete GP Spotter Guides

I was really hoping to share a spotter guide from the Pirelli World Challenge Championship round #1 starting tomorrow but it doesn’t seem to be ready yet. So touche… but IndyCar, the headlining series of the St. Pete Grand Prix have released their spotter guide and it’s available for download here: http://www.gpstpete.com/ and here:  http://bit.ly/2mG1zqh

I’m not all that partial to IndyCar and part of the reason is the stale nature of the cars themselves… I don’t think the design changed much forever… neither have the paint jobs. Most of the teams have sported the same stickers for a few years now, so there’s that.

But since I am very interested in PWC, I’m just going to describe some of the stuff I’m really looking forward to seeing tomorrow in the paddock:

Panoz Avezzano GT is making a debut, and so is Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R which looks pretty mean from the pics I’ve seen so far.

The St. Pete GP round will only see GT, GTA and GTS cars race, which is some of the best sports cars out there (no Miatas though)

The variety from the entry list seems incredible, check it out:  http://files.world-challenge.com/events/2017-03-stpt/2017-PWC-STPT-EntryList.pdf

  • Mercedes-AMG GT3
  • Cadillac ATS-V.R
  • Audi R8 LMS
  • McLaren 650S
  • Acura NSX GT3
  • Ferrari 488 GT3
  • Porsche 911 GT3 R
  • Aston Martin Vantage GT3
  • Bentley Continental GT3
  • Ferrari Challenge Evo
  • SIN R1 GT4
  • Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR
  • Porsche 911 GT3 Cup
  • KTM X-bow GT4
  • Ginetta G55
  • Ford Mustang BOSS 302
  • Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R
  • Panoz Avezzano GT
  • McLaren 570S GT4

In all there are 45 entries, 13 GT cars, 10 GTA, 2 GT Cup, and 20 GTS! That’s going to be a hell of a street race.

Hope they release a spotter guide soon.

 

Postcard from the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Greetings from the Sunshine State!

The very Sunshine City: St. Petersburg, Florida where I’m volunteering my first Grand Prix of St. Pete.

What a fantastic opportunity to flag another street course. I really missed the closeness of the action you get at city courses like this, and this trip didn’t disappoint. I was paired with an awesome partner who right off the bat offered to let me stay on blue flag for as much as I wanted to, so I was in the top mood for the entire weekend. We spent three and a half days trackside, first half being on Thursday working in the afternoon for the PWC test session (much reduced field from last week’s appearance at COTA), but it was a lot of fun!

For the duration of the rest of the weekend we were stationed at 9R which is a mirror station for Turn 9 located driver’s right half way between Turn 8 and 9. Lots of visibility of action at Turn 8, quite a few cars went into the run off, a bunch crashed into the tire wall, and a few brushed the wall as they passed by us. It kept us busy.

St. Pete is probably my favourite city in Florida right now edging out Ft. Lauderdale and even Miami Beach. I would love to move here.

Weather was great. Company was great. Racing was a bit amateur but also pretty great. No complaints from me.

Oh yeah, there were IndyCars on track too…

Some pix:

st pete grand prix turn 2 indycar pwc 1

First half day on track working Turn 2, which has the exit to pit lane right under our noses. With the track being so green we got pelted by sand and asphalt as the cars entered track and picked up all that debris towards us.

welcome to florida mazda mx-5 miata

For a moment I thought I may not make the opportunity to go trackside because my 7 hour trip from Columbia, South Carolina turned into an 8.5 hour ride. But luckily PWC was running behind schedule which was just fine by me.

st pete grand prix turn 9r indycar pwc 1

The view from 9R looking towards Turn 8.

st pete grand prix flag to flag photography dave green

Big thanks to Dave Green from CFR SCCA for this professional shot, check out his web site www.flagtoflagphotography.com

st pete grand prix paddock usf2000

The only opportunity we had to see some cars in the paddock was on the first half day when there was delay in getting marshals to stations, luckily we pulled in thru the support paddock where we saw a few of these USF2000 cars getting shuttled around.

st pete grand prix paddock pwc lotus 1

st pete grand prix paddock pwc lotus 2

Of course I was most interested in the PWC GT cars, and there were some beautiful models on display getting ready to start their session.

st pete grand prix paddock pwc audi tt 1

st pete grand prix paddock pwc maserati 1

st pete grand prix paddock pwc maserati 2

st pete grand prix paddock pwc roush mustang 1

st pete grand prix paddock mazda road to indy usf2000

The shuttle bus ride along the track gave me an opportunity to snap some shots. It looked pretty tight and challenging which resulted in some messy races over the weekend. But I’m a big fan of this setup.

st pete grand prix indycar pwc airport runway turn 1

Oh yeah, and the front straight is an actual airport runway… cool!

I’m surprised I haven’t done this event before, with the experience from this weekend I would love to come back again.

IndyCar Spotter Guide 2015 Grand Prix of St. Pete

IndyCar designer Ryan Long has released the latest IndyCar spotter guide for the 2015 season, in time for the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in Florida this weekend. Thanks to Andy Blackmore Design for the heads up on the FREE download:

indycar spotter guide 2015

Download Link: https://d1b8ufspcmikd1.cloudfront.net/~/media/Files/2015/IndyCarSeries/02-STP/indycar_spotterguide.pdf?vs=1&d=20150323T152844

You could also view detailed driver/car info on the IndyCar web site: http://www.indycar.com/Drivers and there’s even a page for the Holmatro Safety Team that travels around following the IndyCar circus: http://www.indycar.com/Fan-Info/INDYCAR-101/Safety/Holmatro-Safety-Team

There doesn’t appear to be any links to pages about the ordinary Flag & Track Marshals or how to volunteer in those roles on the site, too bad!

I’m hoping to make an IndyCar event this season.

Sebring 12 hour debrief

A few thoughts about my last event marshalling the big American race: 12 hours of Sebring.

To start, I had missed the last two Sebrings because the event falls on the same weekend as the Australian F1 Grand Prix, and I chose to do those instead. I heard amazing things about this race, so 2014 was the year I committed to doing Sebring finally. Did it live up to the hype? Not particularly. I mean, the event was significantly better in comparison to my experience at Daytona a few months earlier, that’s for sure. But it was not exactly the best event I have ever done in my life. It certainly wasn’t AGP. I will list the things I liked and disliked about my experience at Sebring.

First the things I liked. I was placed on a very good crew of local Central Florida SCCA marshals at turn 15, which proved to be quite active and very exciting for blue flagging. It was perfect. The atmosphere was very relaxed, everyone was professional and it was a joy, simple pleasure to work with everyone. We did have a mishap during a race when just as we changed shift there was an incident that could have been flagged better, and it was as much my fault as the next guy’s, but these things happen. We could have handled it better, and yet it could have been worse too. My favorite part about the team was how accommodating they were about keepsakes in the form of photos. We were given opportunity to take a few shots on our off sessions which was greatly appreciated. I had the pleasure of working with the official CFR photog who took some shots of me in actions that I’ll include below:

sebring green1

sebring green2

Thank you Dave from www.flagtoflagphotography.com for the memories!

The things I didn’t particularly like were not unique to Sebring, in fact AGP suffers from them also. But there’s no reason we as volunteer marshals should be treated like shit repeatedly and then expect to return year after year and give 100% just to continue to be treated like shit. There’s something wrong with that approach/expectation form the organizers. So my biggest gripe is with the unnecessarily early starts when the morning meetings could have been held a bit closer to the start of activities. The days were tremendously long, which happens anywhere the schedule is full of support events, but with so few people participating it’s quite hard on the body to be up on your feet for fourteen hours a day. I realize marshalling is not rocket science, anybody could do it, but just standing idle waiting for something to happen takes a toll over a long period of time. I feel our marshalling organization should do a better job of recruiting more volunteers. Offer some incentive to join. Make it fun! At the very least reduce the amount of hostility there is from those highly experienced marshals to the newbies. We all do this for fun! Lets not forget.

The other gripe was with the series and their procedures towards our response to crashed vehicles. The unnecessarily long safety car periods which resulted in the spectators yelling their displeasure in our general direction on post as we were displaying the double yellow flags. And the artificial un-balance of performance for cars. I’m really not happy to see the P2 Le Mans Prototypes struggling to keep up with Daytona Prototypes.

Overall it was a good experience. I got to couchsurf with several hosts on this trip including in places like St. Petersburg and Okechobee. It’s a shame that the St. Pete Grand Prix wasn’t a week after Sebring or I would have surely stayed to marshal there as well.

Registration for Sebring 12 hour & St. Petersburg Grand Prix

Great news!

I just submitted my application for my first Sebring 12 Hour race this March in Florida. And you should too!

I have missed the last two Sebring events because I was on the other side of the world volunteering for the Australian Grand Prix. It’s a shame there are overlapping motorsport events, but such is life, you can’t be in two places at once. This year I’m choosing to cut back on my F1 marshalling in favor of both: Sports Cars and Endurance Racing. These two things have become my favorite form of racing.

So to register visit the Central Florida SCCA web site: http://www.cfrscca.org/

And check out my latest video about Sebring and Autosport Calendar which features the majority of global racing series in a very usable calendar form to help you plan your next event to participate it. I love this web site and use it often!

Autosport Calendar web site: http://autosportcalendar.com/

Rolex 24hr at Daytona application

The application for the 24 hours at Daytona, 12 hours at Sebring and St. Pete Grand Prix has now been open on the Central Florida Region SCCA web site: http://www.cfrscca.org/?page_id=1766

I have applied for the 24 hours of Daytona, the Sebring and St. Petersuburg races, as interesting as they are with American Le Mans Series, Indycars and World Challenge, the dates clash with Formula 1 in Australia and Malaysia on those same weekends in March. Looks like Grand Am is the only one I’ll be able to swing this year. Though I’ve heard rave reviews about Sebring! Wish it was on another weekend 🙁

Some of the interesting terms and conditions as well as prerequisites include:

ATTENTION ALL F&C WORKERS:
1 PURPOSE: As all of the Event Organizers have continued to reduce the number of credentials provided to the club for staffing purposes, the CFR staffing team has a limited number of positions to fill. Due to the diminishing number of credentials available, turn assignments will be based on qualifications, experience, ability, attitude, dependability, and willingness to do what is necessary to make the event safe and successful. These workers must be willing to work during their assigned shifts EVERY day of the event as well as performing the duties assigned to them. Workers will be required to attend ALL flag meetings and MUST comply with the organizers’ supplemental regulations.
2 EVENT SPECIFIC: To help F & C assignments for the each pro event, all potential F&C personnel MUST complete and return the Central Florida Region Pro Race Worker Application form. This form is event specific therefore a new form MUST be completed for each Pro event that CFR is charged with staffing.  Events included are (1) Rolex 24 at Daytona (January 24-27. 2013), (2) Sebring 12 Hours (March 12-16, 2013), and (3) St Pete Grand Prix (March 21-24, 2012).
3 THIS APPLICATION IS FOR INDIVIDUALS ONLY — ALL MEMBERS OF A GROUP MUST SUBMIT AN APPLICATION INDIVIDUALLY FOR CONSIDERATION.  To eliminate delays in the processing of applications, ALL questions must be completed. Application acceptance may be delayed if pertinent information has to be requested.
4 NATIONAL/DIVISIONAL LICENSE HOLDERS: National and Divisional F&C license holders or other equivalent license holders (based on organization) in good standing with their own regions/organizations and in good standing with the CFR F&C Specialty team, will be given first consideration.
5 REGIONAL LICENSE HOLDERS: Regional F&C license holders or other equivalent license holders (based on organization) may be considered with the approval of the applicants home region/organization F&C Specialty Chief.
6 REVIEW PROCESS: Your application will be reviewed by the CFR Staffing Team. You will receive written notification of your status from the Event Flag Chief. Please be sure to add CFRProrace@gmail.com to your allowed senders to ensure receipt of any and all emails regarding the application process.
7 PRIORITY: The first priority will be to properly staff ALL turns. Therefore, it is important to be aware that we cannot and will not be able to honor all turn requests. Turn assignments will be assigned on a first come, first serve basis. Once a turn is determined sufficiently staffed, the next critical turn will be addressed. Due to the limited number of credentials, we are no longer able to justify overstaffing one turn while understaffing others. Assignments may be changed throughout the event based on the circumstances and needs of the specific event.
8 REGISTRATION: ALL workers must present current membership and license in order to receive event credentials. DUE TO LIABILITY ISSUES, THERE WILL BE NO EXCEPTIONS.
9 ABUSE OF CREDENTIALS: Credentials are for working personnel only. For example, if you have committed to working all days of the event, then fail to report for any of the assigned shifts without the notifying the CFR Flag Chief, your credentials may be revoked for the remainder of the event and may include possible exclusion from future Pro Events that CFR is charged to staff.
10 WAITING LISTS: Applicants not selected in the initial assignment process will be placed on a waiting list. If a position becomes available due to a cancellation, the next applicant will be notified in writing by the Event Flag Chief
11 GENERAL SCHEDULING/FOOD SERVICE CONCERNS: For the 24 Hour event, each station is divided into 3 teams. Each team will work 4 hours on/8 hours off. The actual shift assignments will be made by the Corner Captain. Thursday and Friday schedules will also be determined by the Corner Captains.
12 DEADLINE FOR APPLICATION SUBMISSION: Friday, January 4, 2013, 6:00 PM EST is the deadline for the 2013 Rolex 24 at Daytona.  Friday, February 22, 2013, 6pm EST is the deadline for the 2013 Sebring 12 Hours.  Friday, March 1, 2013, 6pm EST is the deadline for the 2013 St Pete Grand Prix.
13 DEADLINE FOR CONFIRMED PARTICIPATION: For the Rolex 24 at Daytona the deadline is Friday, January 11, 2013, 6:00 PM EST.  For the 2013 Sebring 12 Hours it is Friday, March 1, 2013, 6pm EST.  For the 2013 St Pete Grand Prix it is Friday, March 8, 2013, 6pm EST.  The applicant MUST CONFIRM participation by the cut off date. Failure to do so will result in loss of their position on the roster. The Event Flag Chief will the assign the next available worker on the waiting list. ”
If you have read and understand the above rules and policies, click ACCEPT (below) to continue to the application process.