Tag Archives: the glen

Watkins Glen Motorsport Safety Seminar by NASCAR

The 2017 Watkins Glen Motorsport Safety Seminar is in the books, and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to participate.

Training is crucial in this highly dangerous hobby that we choose to do, and not a lot of places provide it on a regular basis. Certainly none is offered by the SCCA in the New York City metropolitan area, but five hour drive north at Watkins Glen International, RSI and NASCAR put a very thorough and educational program together every year to both teach the newbies and refresh the skills of the old hands that attend. There were newbies for all specialties, from flaggers to fire fighters. And there were plenty of old hands who wanted to handle a fire extinguisher which we seldom get a chance to do with “on the job” training. The fire rescue folks had about half a dozen cars they got to cut up with the jaws of life, AMKUS tool – the official tool of NASCAR. People from Pocono Raceway helped with the training and rescue folks came from as far as Calabogie Canada to receive this training. It was essential and awesome at the same time. I really enjoyed it!

This is a two day event. Day 1 it snowed… not much when I arrived, but there were icebergs and fresh snow on the ground at the track.

It was also freezing!

The beauty of this training, whether for fire fighters or us flaggers, many of the things taught were meant not just for the track, but everyday life. Street cars were used for extrication practice to show how they ought to be cut correctly… whether for road accident or track accident (for track and club days, non-pro events). similarly caged cars were cut to practice specifically race car extrications.

I cashed in a favor and CouchSurfed in downtown Watkins Glen.

My host invited me to check out their neighbors barn bar… it was pretty awesome. Always nice to nibble on venison sausages and beer! These are real NASCAR fans… “So who’s your driver?”

Day two was significantly warmer. We got to shoot the extinguishers:

Same cut-away car from two years ago, but it works well!

That’s me.

Not sure what this fella was up to.

Chief really knew his shit, and presented it in understandable manner.

The wind was coming in from the front, blowing the extinguisher powder back at us. So some adjustment in positioning was required.

Everyone had a go… I went last.

By the time I got the bottle there was barely enough pressure to reach the fire.

So I sprayed, and I sprayed, and I sprayed… and I have a feeling one of the fire fighters cut the propane so the flame went out on its own.

But boy was it fun just doing it. Pulling the trigger. The excitement of fighting a fire. Better to do it under these circumstances and knowing what to expect than during a racing event when a car pulls up on fire and you’re the closet one with a bottle there. It’s nice to know what to expect from it once you’ve called for help.

Thank you RSI. Thank you WGI. Thank you NASCAR!

Cheez-It 355 NASCAR at Watkins Glen New York Sprint Cup, Xfinity Series and K&N East Stock Cars

Fourth weekend in a row volunteering, the morning after arriving home from Europe I was on the road again driving Upstate New York to work NASCAR at Watkins Glen International.

Despite what people say about NASCAR, it is one of the most amazing racing series out there especially when they hit the track on a proper circuit (not a speedway). The sound of 40 cars going past you (just a few feet away) at full blast is incredible!

RSI was awesome with station assignments for me, letting me work Turn 5 at the entry to the Bus Stop the first day, Turn 10 the last turn before the Start/Finish on Saturday and Turn 1a after the Ninety and before the Esses on race day. I was blessed!

We had action, we had fun. It was awesome.

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Race day we had full stoppage right in front of us due to a big incident in the Bus Stop.

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Can’t wait to go back to WGI again soon!

SCCA Majors Super Tour at the Glen the debrief

This is weekend 8 out of 9 in a row (second month straight) volunteering for a Motorsport event around the US where I’ve driven to the circuit. Watkins Glen International was playing host to Majors Super Tour for SCCA Club Racing. On paper it was supposed to be a spectacular event, but in reality things were brought down a few pegs real quick. I’ll share the good the bad and the ugly in this post.

First the good. And there was a lot of good happening. The weather was good! That’s always a plus. The car turn out was good, there were tons of cars in each field, and by tons I mean high twenties were the smallest field. I counted upwards of forty cars in some fields. The station assignments were good. I got to work some of the best stations there are at WGI and it was really enjoyable. The food was good. SCCA Glen Region offered tasty lunches and some finger foods at dinner time which was very much appreciated. My car got good gas mileage using Sunoco Ultra 93, that was good.

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Next, the bad. While I enjoyed my assignments very much it wasn’t really what I requested. I was hoping to practice working Start a bit more and it didn’t seem like that request was even up for consideration. But I guess it pays to be persistent. Another bad thing was the fact that despite advertising (pictures included) some amazing cars that were supposed to be at the track this weekend, they didn’t actually show up. That’s not good at all. But both of these bad things I could live with.

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And finally, the ugly! Some of the racing was pretty ugly. I don’t know what it was that made so many people have so many avoidable incidents. In fact for club racing it was very much uncharacteristic to have so many bad wrecks, but I think people were encouraged a bit too much to set new track records on the newly re-paved racing surface so they pushed their cars way beyond their driving abilities. We had multiple incidents where cars were destroyed badly, whether in single car incidents or multi car incidents. The crashes started happening on Test day Thursday long before any official racing could take place on Friday. It was so unnecessary. At one point a piece of ARMCO had to be replaced delaying one race group for a whole day because of the severity of the impact. There were several cars going airborne. One flipped over, another flew over second car. The racing was dirty, and at some points dangerous… especially when drivers involved ran on the track to scold the other driver. Luckily nobody got seriously hurt but a lot of private cars will have to undergo major reconstruction to be in a position to race again.

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I’m sure people would think that crashes are good for spectators and to make time fly faster for the marshals because something exciting is happening. But in reality all that contributed to was shorter racing, way too much downtime and reduced fields of cars per group. The attrition rate was atrocious. And that’s no fun.

But anyway. Both Glen Region SCCA and RSI folks did an awesome job of making me feel welcome. We had a visitor from San Fran Region in California that felt very welcome too. I got to use my tent to camp at the RSI compound which was very convenient.

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I also got to drive on track to get to my station assignment on Saturday, that is always enjoyable!

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Got to see a ton of Miata’s though I’m most interested in the NC – 3rd Gen model, and there were only a few of those, including this car with PA plates that must have belonged to one of the SCCA Stewards. (NC3 Club Edition)

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The last time I saw this NC racer it was a decomissioned IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge car, now it has gone some serious upgrades:

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All in all an awesome weekend, and I was definitely missing out by not volunteering Club events in the past. Though I wish there would be a little more consistency in the future. The only thing that was consistent this weekend, was the great food!

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After 500 miles put on my car this weekend I’ll be repeating the trip again next weekend to do the IMSA Six Hour at the Glen.