Tag Archives: TC

Grand Prix of Monterey PWC at Laguna Seca the debrief

Grand Prix of Monterey, not to be confused with the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix, was a PWC season finale last weekend a few weeks after a similarly named IMSA race took place (just ahead of it’s season finale at Petit Le Mans in Georgia (Road Atlanta)).

This was a weird event because the big boys, the GT-class including amateur version GTA and GTC as well as the standalone GTS series had already run their season finale a few weeks prior at Sonoma. This meant we wouldn’t see Cadillac ATS’s race around this weekend, or the Nissan NISMO GT-R’s, or the Bentley Continental GT’s or the volume of cars we had last year at this very event. Some (very few) GT’s showed up for the California 8 hour, but I’ll write about that event separately.

So Touring Cars were having their Grand Prix. There were so many cars in the top TC class they ran separately from the smaller and less powerful cars TCA’s and TCB’s. The TC field had a very strong presence of the new BMW M235i’s which had 11 vehicles on the grid. There was a nice sprinkle of European TCR cars in the form of Audi S3 LMS widebodies, which did remarkably well. And then there were my favorite’s… The NC-gen Mazda MX-5’s with a 2.5 liter engine and a big wang in the back to distinguish them from the Miata’s in the lower TCA class which are more stockish. There were three MX-5’s in TC class this weekend. The #54 car which did remarkably well and finished second in their first race. And John Weisberg’s #5 car which ran mid-back for both of the races. There was also a late commer #17 car which came out for the first race, was smoking a lot and didn’t return for the second race.

A very familiar car from BERG Racing from Upstate New York.

This car ran super strong, finishing second in the first race. Amazing feat considering all the competitors it raced against that seemed much stronger.

The TCR cars were very well represented! And one of the Compas 360 cars won both of the races and subsequently the championship.

As usual the BMW field was best represented in TC class.

There were also several Honda Accords running their front wheel driver machines which seemed to really struggle around Laguna Seca circuit. Both suffered wheel failures at some point during the race weekend.

In the TCA/TCB races the Toyobaru BRZ/GT86 thing couldn’t be touched, it smoked everyone else… and then it came out the car was disqualified and a Miata which followed this car some distance to second actually took over the first place. Hmm!

The funny looking hard-top Miata’s did remarkably well in their races. Running very strong. The finish had a great mix of cars in it: Toyota followed by a Mazda, followed by a Honda… so no one brand dominated. Of course the Toyota ended up getting disqualified and it’s teammate retired before the end of the race.

This fella ran out of brakes in the first race, but had a much stronger finish in the second .

And finally the TCB field is being retired next year, so no more Mazda 2’s on this level of racing… I’m sure they’ll still have a long life of racing on the club level though.

I had an awesome time working this event. Though I wish that the Touring Cars ran alongside their Grand Touring cars on the same championship weekend. Having TC cars run their own “Grand Prix” dilutes the idea of a GP of Monterey weekend. They were after all a support series.

Another Post Card from the Grand Prix of Monterey and the California 8 hour at Laguna Seca

I wanted to share a few pix from the actual flag points during the PWC and SRO weekend at Laguna Seca… so here it goes.

My goal was to work in pit lane for this event. I was introduced to someone who chiefs that specialty and that person never replied. So to not miss the event, I decided to volunteer as a flagger and instead of requesting a specific post to work (like I did in previous years, like Turn 8 Corkscrew or Turn 2 last year for this very event) I just asked to be put wherever they needed me. And lucky for me they needed me in some very cool place. I got to work for two days in the beginning at Turn 3 which was amazing… and for the last two days of racing at Turn 11 which took the cake!

1957 was an amazing year it turns out… Lime Rock was built in 1957 and are celebrating their 60th this year. So is Laguna Seca apparently, and even VIRginia International Raceway was built in ’57 except that track went on hiatus for a bunch of years recently.

View from Turn 3 towards Turn 2 above and Turn 4 below.

A super convenient station which allowed me to sneak out to do another paddock walk to take some pictures during lunch time on Thursday. My awesome coworker helped me out by grabbing lunch for me at the Social tent which was delicious… I wolfed it down before the practice resumed in the afternoon.

The only European team in attendance. Belgian WRT Audi which “almost” won this event if it didn’t take aggressive actions against another fast Audi that lead most of the race and spun out into the gravel going down several laps before it was pulled out.

Pretty car though…

The Audi R8 that lead most of the race… they also had their Daytona 24 hour IMSA car on display in the paddock. Lead most of the race but were overtaken by Magnus Racing Audi towards the end.

Winner winner, chicken dinner.

Mazda of course had a prominent display in the paddock including their Miata “halfie” street/race car. And the new RF fastback.

I did some shopping before coming to the track so I had plenty of snacks to much on during the weekend…

Oh look “CARS” stamped fishies…

It was cooler in the mornings but the temps went up during the day, and the sun was pretty brutal especially at Turn 11 where I was without any cover during race days.

San Francisco Region SCCA did a fantastic job as usual feeding us.

Though I didn’t win this t-shirt that I really wanted, my buddy Ron who did win for some crazy reason offered to me. I’m super grateful!

On Friday evening SRO had rolled out all it’s cars for a group photo…

A very small group of only 19 cars to race for the 8 hour endurance, most of which typically only race sprint 2 to 3 hour races with PWC. team WRT of course and MARC Cars Australia have more endurance racing experience with Spa 24 and Bathurst 12 hours under their respective belts (along with many others I’m sure).

Thank goodness I had a bunch of bandanas to cover up so I didn’t fry my face… on Sunday it turns out Fort Ord conducted a controlled burn which scared the crap out of a lot of fellow marshals. Especially people working pit lane when ash started raining down (near fuel rigs). Oops!

My buddy Adam who hosted me for the weekend and who also works for SCRAMP came to visit me at Turn 3 and Turn 11.

Monday morning it was a wrap… a wrap of my two week California getaway. Speaking of wraps, I love the cover Adam is using on his Miata, and should probably invest in one for my car. Fits like a glove.

We grabbed one final lunch at my favorite diner in Salinas that severs the freshest salad I’ve ever had: Elli’s (get it, like Ellis Island)

And I headed back to return my 2017 Hyunday Accent at Hertz Seaside before heading back to Monterey.

I’m used to seeing Canadian flags here in New York at most places, but in California obviously the Mexican flag is more prevalent.

Then caught a $2.50 bus ride to the MRY – Monterey Regional Airport just a few miles away from town… where Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was prominently on display encouraging people to visit.

It was such a fantastic trip. I would love to go back…

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 the Dummy Grid at Memorial Day PWC LRP Grand Prix

Fantastic Memorial Day weekend at the races… Lime Rock Park was fantastic to me. I have grown to absolutely love the Pirelli World Challenge series. And best part I got to work as a backup starter… so there was a lot of downtime. I was in the prime spot to see the cars up close, and as a result there was ample opportunity to take some pix. So this is my Saturday Race Day mega gallery… enough talking here’s the pix:

Free breakfast for the marshals how thoughtful! Thanks Skip Barber

Miata Racing is the main reason I signed up to do this event!

They split TC from TCA/TCB races, so it was much easier to see the current MX-5 Cup cars winning a race…

New flavor of SAC racing skittles cars…

Hhhmm… I didn’t know Volvo and GM had a relationship… I knew about SAAB/Scania but Volvo GM – WHITEGMC is news to me… kind of cool though!

This is such a beautiful and completely appropriate paint job… for this event!

Selfies!

The driver of this #70 also raced (and won in) the TCA MX-5 Cup car

Thanks to Chris Booth for taking some pix of me with the cars in the paddock during lunch time.

He sells Miata parts apparently 🙂

…after doing donuts in Turn 1 and returning to pit lane counter race

The series starter gave me a small gift: A Guardian Angel… Awwww!

I am so grateful to everyone that made this weekend possible for me. Thanks to the folks at Lime Rock Park, to the series: Pirelli World Challenge and of course Chris Booth for taking some pix for me. Thank you all very much! See you at the next one.

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!

Mazda MX-5: Winning PWC TC Cup Cars and My Miata

Thanks to VIRginia International Raceway Fire Rescue folks who gave me VIP treatment at this year’s Pirelli World Challenge debut at their amazing track with paddock parking, I managed to sneak into the SAC racing area as the team was packing up to take some close up shots of my car with their winning race cars:

I don’t think the SAC crew was too thrilled with me getting in their way of packing shit up, but after passing a similar opportunity to take some side-by-side shots at PWC Mosport Grand Prix last year, I didn’t want to blow this moment.

Love the way these pix came out. Just goes to show how similar the MX-5 Cup cars are to production Miatas.

Thanks SAC Racing for the reluctant opportunity. And good luck!

Old Stuff at Sebring 12h: Conti Challenge Miatas

One thing that hasn’t changed in ages about IMSA is the NC Miatas racing in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge… in fact the cars precede IMSA’s current Continental Tire Challenge altogether since they used to run and kick ass in the Grand Am Conti Tire Series.

As someone that likes new and shiny things I’d complain about something so clearly stale and out of date. But since these cars look exactly the same as my own Miata, I love seeing them race. In fact I’m glad to see the NC Miata’s still racing in such high profile series, probably the best, the top, sports car racing series in America.

Again I was lucky enough to take some shots on my break from working in the pits…

and again on the grid prior to their race:

The cars were a bit off pace from the leaders. The Murillo Miata acted as a Piñata with multiple GS class cars smashing into it from the very beginning of the race onwards. The Freedom Autosport Miata once again acted as a hero and pushed an ST class Cayman over the finish line (much like pushing his teammate at COTA).

Also the #34 Murillo Racing is obviously the restickered #34 of Alara Racing Miata from last season. Funny how cars change hands. And another peculiar thing about this race car, notice the parts car in their paddock space… despite the IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge stickers, that is a TCA car from the competing Pirelli World Challenge series…

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:

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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!

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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

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

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

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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!

Post Card from Mosport: Victoria Day Speedfest at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park

Howdy from Canada, eh?

Another most excellent weekend in the books… Lots of racing action, good passes and spectacular crashes that I got to wave some flags for. Since this wasn’t  my first time to CTMP I knew what to expect and capitalized on the opportunities that presented themselves… I’ll do a more detailed debrief later, but for now some photos:

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Apparently Pinty’s Series is the Canadian version of NASCAR which was at some point in the past called…. CASCAR 🙂

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I got to work three different stations over the three day weekend, blue flagging from each point at Turn 6 (which is actually a big uphill climb on the back stretch), Turn 10 (which is the very last turn before Start/Finish) and Turn 5 (which is a double-apex hairpin). Besides blue flagging the SCCA Pro series including PWC GT/GTA/GT Cup class, GTS class, Sprint X class which included GT/GTA/GTS, and the TC/TCA/TCB class; and the local Canadian Touring Car Chamipionship CTCC; I got to blue flag NASCAR Pinty’s Series which is the Canadian division of NASCAR and requires similar flagging as we do in Watkins Glen where blue flag means local caution (where for every other series we would display a yellow) and yellow flag means full course caution.

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Canadian ingenuity? creativity?

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Turn 10, with Petro-Canada Ultra 94 ad tempting me to refuel there.

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Flag stand at Turn 6 on the back straight.

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Turn 6 is also the Black flag station we got to throw a few Meatballs.

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The stations layout at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

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Logo looks familiar? Nope, that’s not SCCA.

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From Turn 6 looking towards Turn 7.

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Can’t wait to go back to Canada for another event at Mosport!