Tag Archives: ST

Post Card from the BMW Endurance Challenge Grid Walk during Rolex 24

Greetings from Daytona International Speedway, my first event of 2017 season volunteering during Rolex 24 weekend. First up is the support race to the 24 hour enduro, which in itself has become somewhat of an enduro race… the BMW Endurance Challenge they called it where all of the familiar machinery from years past and some new additions raced on Friday for four hours, significantly longer then their previous 2 hour 45 minute events.

I was volunteering with the Pit & Grid CFR team which for this event was responsible for “crowd control” in the paddock. Being so close to the garages and pit lane was heaven, but unlike all the previous times I flagged this event and took a million pictures, I noticed that this weekend I hardly took any. In fact for the support race the only pix I took were during their grid walk just before the race.

Super happy to have had this opportunity, though a little bummed out that the Mazda MX-5’s didn’t do so well… anyway, here’s the photos I took in pit lane:

This series has turned into something quite exotic, much like their competitors Pirelli World Challenge… this year the McLaren GT4 joins the top “Gran Sport” class alongside the new Porsche Cayman GT4 that was added last year. It ain’t Mustangs vs. Camaros no more. I love what this series has turned into. Also love the fact they are still racing NC Miatas! Makes me feel like I have a fairly “current” model back home.

Second Post Card from the Roar before the 24 at Daytona Int’l Speedway

What an amazing opportunity!

Weather was freezing cold… literally! 37F for the final day of practice on Sunday. It was sunny but windy. But the day went by fairly quickly, we finished pretty early for a day at the track and before returning our equipment to Central Florida SCCA compound we made a dash for the paddock to take some more pix.

I’m so glad we did because the pix came out great, and there weren’t too many spectators in the way of the cars to take good shots. Enjoy:

I’m really happy with this whole trip so far, everything I wanted to do I managed to accomplish and it’s a great feeling. Can’t wait to come back for the 24 hour race at the end of the month!

New Track, New Role! Working GT Challenge at VIR as Pit Fire Marshal

Another enjoyable experience working a new role as a Pit Fire Marshal at Virginia International Raceway for IMSA GT Challenge.

I was pretty excited to take advantage of an opportunity that presented itself to work a track where I had previously only been rejected to work as a flagger… I had a slight concern how I’d fit in among all the other “real” fire fighters on pit lane, as they typically are in places like Pocono where I worked last weekend as spectator marshal roaming the pit lane during IndyCar race and making sure VIP’s don’t get in the way of the teams working.

This time around I had to wear a red fire suit, nomex balaclava, a helmet, boots, etc. The full kit! It was stinken hot, but I enjoyed it more than any of my recent flagging experiences including the one day I spend on flags at VIR for this same event.

Pit Fire is a position I would definitely like to do again. It was awesome!

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The calm before the storm… when the Monsoon hit we had to take shelter in the Turner tent because everything else was getting washed out with heavy rain and lightning. The paddock was 2 inches deep under water… my shoes got wet which quickly resulted in blisters forming from walking… one of the track radios got a little wet and stopped working. But other than that I think we weathered the storm pretty well.

Next day it was just sun shine and lovely!

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Pit Boss thought I’d get a kick out of working the winner’s circle, victory lane… after the two winning cars (one for each class) just spent nearly 3 hours going flat out around the 3+ mile circuit, the chances of something sparking up were there… and luckily I was standing there with a fire bottle… keeping out of the reach of cameras to not end up on TV unnecessarily. It was great!

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Can’t wait to do this again! (somewhere)

vir fire rescue imsa gt challenge weekend in pit lane as pit fire marshal

Woo Hoo! I got to Flag at VIRginia International Raceway Leading into the Oak Tree Turn

I’m going to chalk this one up as an accomplishment. It’s been a while since I had my mind set on volunteering one of the big pro events at VIR… but lo and behold none of the contacts I reached out to were willing to help… in fact, people told me it was impossible to flag here unless you get a job with the track. And so I gave up on the idea.

Until of course I saw a Mazda Motorsport facebook post promoting the event and my desire to marshal here sparked up again.

I reached out to my “friends” in SCCA who as expected gave me the typical response: “Impossible!” It pissed me off to no end that the club I’m a part of and pay annual dues for does nothing to help. And by club I mean high ranking local club members like flag chiefs who wouldn’t lift a finger to help, but who are selfishly boasting that they are working this event because in addition to their role at SCCA they are also employed at the track… Gee good for them! I was hoping for a little bit of help but apparently there’s politics involved why VIR doesn’t rely on general SCCA membership. Except of course those that are SCCA and work for the track directly. Whatever!

I remembered the IMSA race control folks advertising the idea of working some of their other events at various IMSA races I’ve done earlier this year. So I jumped on the opportunity to reach out to them. And just as quickly I got an official response (my mail was forwarded onto the track) from VIR saying all positions were filled.

It wasn’t until someone from RSI, the club that staffs marshals for Watkins Glen International, posted about openings that still required staffing one week away from the race, that I got my chance to participate by reaching out. Once I was in, I was in… it was VIP treatment from then on. I had no trouble signing in, picking up my credentials, I even got the Paddock parking pass which came in very useful for my pre-race picture snapping during the promoter test day. It was fantastic. And it was at that time I learned they still needed more flaggers, and that’s what I’d be doing on Friday.

Great!

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I really enjoyed the flagging experience at VIR. The stations that I had seen and personally experienced were nice gazebo’s providing some much needed shade on a stinken hot southern summer day. They were elevated and provided excellent view from flag post to flag post. I was amazed with all the elevation changes around the track, and how many drivers found the turns challenging. We had quite a few spins I had to put a flag out for, and even a light impact.

It was great! I would love to have another opportunity to flag here again… but my favorite part was being in pit lane for the rest of the weekend… I’ll talk about it more in the next post, but will share some pix from day one, here:

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Nice camping area near the north paddock, with a good shower and some trees providing much needed shade. I’m so glad the new tent held up under the monsoon we had on Saturday.

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global mx-5 cup racing at vir

I already shared the Global MX-5 Cup car pix, but there were also several NC MX-5’s racing in Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.

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And some of my favorite shots above pit entry, looking from the second story above the pit garages.

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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

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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 ­čÖé I nearly shredded that canvas off the wooden stick again.

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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!

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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!

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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!