Tag Archives: Tudor United Sports Car Championship

Post Card from Road Atlanta, Petit Le Mans 10h TUSC 2014 Season Finale

Only one word can describe this entire trip: Perfect!

Absolutely, positively perfect trip to Road Atlanta to volunteer at Petit Le Mans, the 10h TUSC season finale. Let me tell you why, and if you get a sense that I’m just tripping over myself with joy after a fucking miserable start to the year with Daytona and Sebring, you’d be correct in getting that sense, I’m as happy about this trip as I could ever be. Loved it, absolutely loved every minute of it!

So lets start at the beginning. The flight was cheap. The destination was unique. I picked Savannah flying JetBlue because it was really cheap, like few hundred dollars cheaper than flying direct into Atlanta. Why did that make me happy? Because a day after I booked my trip, JetBlue offered 20% discount, and I was able to call back and re-book at the even cheaper rate with no questions asked. And that made me really happy. The car rental too was cheap. I typically monitor the prices and rebook constantly to get the best deal. Well I got a steal of a deal, because the price dropped by half from the first time I booked to the one I actually kept. And I got a ridiculous amount of miles for my rental with Southwest, which means I’m within range of getting a free flight next time I fly a short hop. How can I not be super excited about that? FlyerTalk would be proud of me. And when I arrived at Savannah to pick up my car, I got a brand spanking new Nissan Note with 500 miles on the clock. I was the first to roll that car over 1,000 miles and got 37.2 mpg doing it on my little Road Trip, which just made me super happy.

Arriving at Road Atlanta I was welcomed by my fellow volunteer Robert who hosted me in a very comfortable pop-up camper. Much better experience than camping on the ground in a tent, that’s for sure. Especially with the rain and cold weather that inevitably rolled in. But no rain could piss on my parade, I was constantly surprised with positive experiences and was just glowing with excitement.

turn 5 road atlanta petit le mans 2014

My first day marshaling I got to work with the legendary Willy Perez as my captain at Turn 5. What a blast that was. Fantastic blue flag opportunities all day, three unique views by rotating from 5 Flags downhill and 5A uphill. And I got to interview Willy for #MarshalCam , incredible!

For the remainder of the weekend I was bumped to Turn 1 again with Nancy. I was besides myself. I got an opportunity to work Turn 1 last year for race day only and had nearly 10 hours of blue flag there, how lucky for me to end up there the whole weekend? Very lucky! I loved it so much because Turn 1 is amazing at Road  Atlanta. You’re right at the exit of the pit lane, with perfect view of everything going on there. Walking distance to the paddock, so I got great photos roaming around during my off time. I must remember to request Turn 1 at other tracks because it had such a positive effect on my overall well-being and happiness volunteering this weekend. As luck would have it though, for race day I saw an even better opportunity to flag at Alpha which precedes Turn 1, is on the main straight just after the Starter stand, but an even better post for blue flag. I agreed to work 10 hours there without relief, so I would not compete with anyone else from Turn 1 for blue flag (there were 8 on station), but Starter sent people every hour to partner with me, so we shared the blue flag duties. It was incredible. I want to do Start in the future so to watch them work was a great learning experience. Although at the end of the event Nancy criticized me for blue flagging on restarts which I thought I was well within my rights to do. Nancy was super cool giving me a #MarshalCam interview also, so I’m forever grateful to her and others on station that participated also.  You can see my station (Alpha) right over my shoulder from these grid walk photos:

petit le mans grid 2014

Love the new aero package on the DeltaWing:

deltawing petit le mans 2014The fun didn’t stop at the track, during the worker dinner and party on Friday night I got super lucky with the prize drawing winning some much desired Mazda and Mazdaspeed swag:

mazda mazdaspeed swag petit le mansNow I have some hats to wear when I finally buy my Miata MX-5 and a t-shirt sized for my future girlfriend (size S) wink wink…

If you think I’m going to stop ranting and raving about Petit Le Mans and Road Atlanta here you’d be wrong… The event was fun, but post event touristy stuff was even more fun! I got a perfect opportunity to have a very nice breakfast with Tim & Heather, Robert and Brendan at an Atlanta suburb Waffle House. Laughter never stopped, and we got more Waffle House edition #MashalCam interviews done there. Freaking awesome!

But that was not the end. Five hour drive later back to Savannah I was hosted by a really friendly and welcoming lady who besides CouchSurfing also had some paying AirBnB guests. The fun continued there exchanging stories, and even sharing some sightseeing and foodie experiences with a young lady from Portland that we spend the next two days together roaming around Tybee Island, Hilton Head, SC and downtown Savannah being tourists. I won’t bore you with details of all the fun we had, but just drop some of my favorite photos below:

seafood feast at crab shack tybee island

Seafood sampler at the Crab Shack on Tybee Island, GA

chicken and waffle savannah

Chicken and Waffles at Loc’s in Savannah, GA

bbq savannah

BBQ sampler: ribs, chicken and pulled pork. Savannah, GA

You can hate me later after you stop salivating. I tried so many good and delicious dishes from various BBQ meats, to Seafood samplers, Crab Cakes and Conch Fritters, Chicken and Waffles, Grits and Hashbrowns, Biscuits and Gravy…

Oh man… I just want to go back already!

Registration open for 2014 Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix

For anyone considering marshalling the 2014 Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, the registration process is now open through the Detroit Region SCCA web site: detroit-scca.org/e107/e107_plugins/survey/survey.php?8

Over the past two years Detroit has been an excellent event for me personally. It was one of the first major events I registered for when I returned from New Zealand in 2012. It’s a great opportunity to visit friends in Michigan, and we’re always treated well by the organizers. You can see Canada across the river and quick trip across the border for a plate of poutine is doable… did it last time.

Rolex 24 at Daytona, Tudor United Sports Car Series debut

Tudor United Sports Car Championship got off to a good start with the Rolex 24 at Daytona last weekend. I realize my last post left a lot to be desired but instead of removing what I felt about the weekend personally I wanted to focus on the series itself and how good the racing was. For one, the fields were huge. Not just the Tudor Series but the Conti Challenge as well. The Ferrari Challenge was as always entertaining, and things were going impressively smooth. I wanted to link to the loooong /Drive /Shakedown video for some excellent chatter and interviews with Leo Parente’s post-race debrief:

The things that affected my outlook on the race personally were a combination of factors, starting from the weather (it was miserably cold) to the people I was hanging out with, down to the people in charge of my assigned post (corner captains) which resulted in me getting kicked out of my station in the 23rd hour. I know I owe a lot of apologies to people I have offended at the event, but after working nearly the whole 24 hours non-stop there were aspects of other people’s behavior that got to me. It would be nice if there was a standardized training offered to the marshals in attendance so that instead of having fifty people doing their own thing, we’d have everyone focus on the same approach to the task. But that may be a lot to ask.

But back to racing and the series at hand. I was massively impressed with how open the paddock was for us to walk around. I have gotten quite a lot of good footage from the pits and the paddock using my GoPro that I’m going to put together in a short video soon. But overall I felt extremely welcome at Daytona. Like previous Rolex events we didn’t really walk away with much Tudor mementos, instead Mazda came by and offered some goodie bags, there was an Central Florida SCCA social with swag giveaways but nothing Tudor branded, at least none that I saw. It would have been nice to walk away with something from the inaugural event, that other places around the country didn’t get. Though I have a feeling we are more likely to have that happen at Sebring or Long Beach. We did of course get our usual Rolex 24 patch, which was nice.

daytona grid

I was hoping that the Le Mans P2 cars would be stronger than the Daytona Prototypes. With the balance of performance it seemed that the balance was quite off, with the first six positions of the race held by DP’s at the end of the race. Muscle Milk’s Nissan P2 was running a respectable 5th but was obviously struggling against the much faster DP’s. Luckily, GTLM cars were significantly faster than the GTD cars, which was expected. With the amount of blue flag time I got volunteering at turn 3 I could really appreciate the speed differences. Though I can already see people having an issue with similar cars in both GTLM and GTD categories when it comes to blue flagging, especially if those people had less exposure to the two series in the past. The hardest to distinguish were the Ferrari’s in LM and D, as well as the SRT Vipers, even though they’re different colors, in the right light conditions they look identical from the front.

I noticed that the same incidents appeared differently depending on where one was observing it from. For example the first lap spin of the PC car looked different to me observing it from behind than to someone watching the cars head on. In that moment, and potentially in the cloud of dust that was created, I lost sight of GTLM cars being overtaken by GTD cars and it was quite surprising to me how they came around in that order on the second lap. I had a good view of the big crash involving a DP Corvette and a GTLM Ferrari, but others on my station reacted differently to it. I have a feeling that the last lap controversy for the victory in the GTD race was again left to the interpretation of the marshals which resulted in controversy. I think if most of us walked around with GoPro’s and somehow those cameras broadcast to Race Control, decisions about incidents would be far more accurate. Maybe one day this will be a reality.