Tag Archives: stefan ratel

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.

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 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…

Total 24 Hours of Spa Blancpain GT Feature Race of Intercontinental GT Challenge at the Circuit Spa-Francorchamps

What a way to end an amazing month in Europe by volunteering the best endurance race in the world: the Total 24 hours of Spa at Circuit Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.

I was looking forward to Spa 24h for the whole year since I have worked last year’s event. This year the race did not disappoint. My Belgian or rather Flemish friend Pol was kind enough to chauffeur me around for the past few weeks, and Spa-Francorchamp visit was the last stop on our journey. The first order of business was to go to Spa city center for the driver’s parade and autograph session. To me that’s the most amazing thing the series does, instead of bringing spectators to the circuit they bring the cars and drivers to the people. It was super packed, as usual, and the cars were amazing.

At the track we were assigned Posts 11 and 12 at the exit of Double Gauche (Double Left) turns about in the middle of the course. It was a super active section of the track with the first red flag popping out as a result of a smash of Piquet Jr. into our station. We had a few more major crashes, several big fires. It was nuts.

My favorite part as always was making it out to the Pits to check out the cars up close and personal (even though I got very close in town also during the parade).

spa 24h spa-francorchamps 22

spa 24h spa-francorchamps 20

spa 24h spa-francorchamps 17

spa 24h spa-francorchamps 16

spa 24h spa-francorchamps 15

spa 24h spa-francorchamps 14

spa 24h spa-francorchamps 13

spa 24h spa-francorchamps 12

spa 24h spa-francorchamps 11

spa 24h spa-francorchamps 10

spa 24h spa-francorchamps 9

It was nice to finally see the new Mercedes-AMG SLS GT3’s which cheated during qualifying grabbing spots one to six… they were penalized and started from the back with a five minute penalty… the nice thing many of them still finished in the top ten at the end of the 24 hours.

spa 24h spa-francorchamps 5

spa 24h spa-francorchamps 3

spa 24h spa-francorchamps 2

spa 24h spa-francorchamps 1

I love this place… can’t wait to return to Spa-Francorchamps!

spa 24h spa-francorchamps 8

Second Post Card from the PWC Memorial Day Weekend at Lime Rock

Second Day on the Start Stand at Lime Rock for the PWC Grand Prix of Lime Rock. And since I didn’t stay at the track choosing instead to commute the 110 miles / 2 hours to New Jersey it felt like a completely different day on Saturday/Race Day so I’ll share another photo post from today.

The day consisted of only six sessions, 3 warm ups and 3 races; but unlike yesterday which seemed to fly by, today dragged on for a while. A major part of the delay was due to an incident that I actually managed to observe and one which almost turned tragic. I hope race fans keep the racers involved and their families in their prayers if religion is something they participate in, otherwise that’s about all I’ll mention on that subject matter. I was very sad to see it happen.

But the show carried on, and I’m glad to see racing continue after Connecticut State Police wrapped up their investigation. We had a lot of action throughout the day, and fortunately there was plenty of really good and close racing. I was especially glad to see so many Miata’s do well. The MX-5 race cars are the reason why I bought my car so I’m really grateful to Motorsport in America for choosing to use this machine on such a grand scale… Here are some pix:

pwc lime rock memorial day weekend 2016 grand prix of lime rock 1

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

pwc lime rock memorial day weekend 2016 grand prix of lime rock 5

pwc lime rock memorial day weekend 2016 grand prix of lime rock 4

pwc lime rock memorial day weekend 2016 grand prix of lime rock 3

pwc lime rock memorial day weekend 2016 grand prix of lime rock 6

pwc lime rock memorial day weekend 2016 grand prix of lime rock 7

pwc lime rock memorial day weekend 2016 grand prix of lime rock 8

pwc lime rock memorial day weekend 2016 grand prix of lime rock 9

pwc lime rock memorial day weekend 2016 grand prix of lime rock 10

pwc lime rock memorial day weekend 2016 grand prix of lime rock 11

pwc lime rock memorial day weekend 2016 grand prix of lime rock 12

The field of KTM’s grew by one car this weekend, with ANSA adding a third car to their line up. Great to see that!

pwc lime rock memorial day weekend 2016 grand prix of lime rock 13

The Power Ranger Miata’s didn’t disappoint taking wins in multiple classes of racing during the Touring Car race.

pwc lime rock memorial day weekend 2016 grand prix of lime rock 14

pwc lime rock memorial day weekend 2016 grand prix of lime rock 15

pwc lime rock memorial day weekend 2016 grand prix of lime rock 16

pwc lime rock memorial day weekend 2016 grand prix of lime rock 17

Most of the events I’ve attended over the past few years I remember watching John and Dina Weisberg’s struggle… not today, John took a very close second missing out on first by… not-much.

pwc lime rock memorial day weekend 2016 grand prix of lime rock 18

pwc lime rock memorial day weekend 2016 grand prix of lime rock 19

pwc lime rock memorial day weekend 2016 grand prix of lime rock 20

pwc lime rock memorial day weekend 2016 grand prix of lime rock 21

pwc lime rock memorial day weekend 2016 grand prix of lime rock 22

I was led to believe that the difference between the TC Miata and a TCA Miata was a 2.5L engine vs. the 2.0 that comes in the cup car… but the motor in this #33 TC car looks like a standard block to me. Although to be fair, I’m not sure what a 2.5L should look like.

pwc lime rock memorial day weekend 2016 grand prix of lime rock 23

pwc lime rock memorial day weekend 2016 grand prix of lime rock 24

pwc lime rock memorial day weekend 2016 grand prix of lime rock 25

pwc lime rock memorial day weekend 2016 grand prix of lime rock 26

pwc lime rock memorial day weekend 2016 grand prix of lime rock 27

pwc lime rock memorial day weekend 2016 grand prix of lime rock 28

I learned about a new SCCA flag…  white with a red diagonal stripe… It is displayed at start only and means an emergency vehicle somewhere on track.

pwc lime rock memorial day weekend 2016 grand prix of lime rock 29

pwc lime rock memorial day weekend 2016 grand prix of lime rock 30 baseball bat

I’ve never worked a flag station before where the flags were kept in a gold bag and had a baseball bat prominently positioned in the bag amongst all the starter flags… Hmm!

Post Card from the Grand Prix of Lime Rock, Pirelli World Challenge Weekend Minus Formula 4

Today went by in a flash… I was fortunate enough to work my first Pro-weekend as a backup starter at Lime Rock Park for the Pirelli World Challenge event dubbed the Grand Prix of Lime Rock.

I didn’t even think it’d be possible, but sure enough Andy Smith the flag chief for this weekend granted my wishes to work closer to the paddock so I could sneak out for lunch to take some pictures of the cars without having to choose between doing that and eating lunch. It doesn’t get better than working start. From my previous experience at the Glen I figured there would be a team of Starters and I would have a very small role to play monitoring the radio while the “pro’s” do the work. I was wrong. It was me and only one other person: the official PWC Starter… a guy from California that does many of the official starts for PWC travelling around the country with the series. That was pretty cool… I didn’t expect it at all. Besides working comms on the backup net, the official starter had me put out the white flag for any vehicle leaving pit lane during the practice sessions. The reasoning being that cars flying at speed would know about a slower car entering Turn 1. For the races the starter handed me the while flag to wave on the final lap just before he threw the checker. That was really neat too. I got to call every Green flag that was thrown as well, first and last cars to take the checkered, and a variety of incidents along the front straight… so for someone who was going to just monitor the flagger net and relay messages to the official starter, I sure did have a lot of exciting work… I loved it!

Being on start also gave me the opportunity to wander the paddock before the event and during lunch… below I will share some photos:

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 1

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 3

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 4

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 5

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 6

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 7

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 8

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 2

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 9

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 10

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 13

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 11

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 12

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 14

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 15

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 16

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 17

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 18

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 19

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 20

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 21

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 22

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 23

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 24

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 27

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 28

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 29

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 30

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 33

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 34

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 26

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 25

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 36

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 37

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 38

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 35

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 39

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 40

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 32

At the end of the day we got a good worker feed… nice warm food:

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend 31

A nice Lime Rock Park sweatshirt, although not suitable for today’s 90F weather, but very nice nonetheless:

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend sweatshirts

And I got to check out a whole lot of Mazda’s everywhere:

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend tower

It was such a brilliant experience I cannot wait to get back to the track tomorrow and do this all over again! So much Fun!

PS. This weekend was supposed to feature the US debut of FIA Formula 4 sanctioned by the SCCA Pro and to be raced around the US. Unfortunately that race series got bumped to another weekend at New Jersey Motorsports Park and in their place we got all the amazing TC and TCA class Miata’s…. I felt really happy with that!