Tag Archives: Tudor United SportsCar

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!

Lone Star Le Mans Spotter Guide

Andy Blackmore Design & Spotter Guides has released the latest edition of the Lone Star Le Mans spotter guides featuring cars from the FIA WEC and IMSA TUSC / CTSCC series.

WEC COTA IMSA andy blackmore spotter guide

Download yours today from: http://www.spotterguides.com/nissan-nismo-wec-tudor-uscc-spotter-guides-cota/

cota imsa spotter guide

Be sure to like Andy’s facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SpotterGuides

Petit Le Mans Registration is now Open

Dear friends,

Registration to volunteer the 2014 Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta is now open. Road Atlanta has also released a rather spiffy brochure:

Road Atlanta Poster Petit Le Mans

Promoting the event, while also including some interesting info.

Petit Le Mans Powered by Mazda

To download your copy of the brochure click here: http://www.roadatlanta.com/images/Fall-2014.pdf

Read more about Petit Le Mans and Road Atlanta here: http://www.roadatlanta.com/

Register as a marshal for Petit Le Mans here: https://www.motorsportreg.com/

Getting Paid to Volunteer

A week after flagging the watered down Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park featuring the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge a nifty check in the mail showed up signed by Skip Barber.

Is it right to get Paid to Volunteer?

Sounds counter intuitive doesn’t it… but is this the way of the future?

lime rock paycheck

I’m not sure but I will share my observations of it anyway.

It’s been a few years now since I started making noise about the lack of training. And while the US organizations have done little in the way of correcting this issue… (at least in the NYC metropolitan area where I live) save for an Introduction to Flagging school for new recruits offered at Lime Rock recently, other more established organizations like the Motorsport Safety Fund in the UK have released their training videos online for anyone to see and learn from.

This is fantastic on so many levels because doing the videos yourself, like I was contemplating of doing, while asking people for help on 10Tenths forums, is incredibly expensive and time consuming. And requires cooperation from racing series and circuits that we hardly ever get.

The other campaign I was actively promoting was Jessie’s SponsorAFlagger.com web site. Which felt like an excellent idea and still is. Despite the little proceeds from the campaign that trickled down to select people at various events, it was a lot of fun trying to promote something on such a grassroots level. Lime Rock was the place where during Grand Am season finale in 2013 Sponsor A Flagger gave away over $1,000 worth of gift cards, many thanks to the generosity of Starworks Team, as well as CJWilson Racing.

This year the activity on SponsorAFlagger.com has been toned down, maybe as a result of tracks like Lime Rock Park now offering to pay flaggers for their services. Which is a good thing, I think. Gone are the excuses that we don’t take this seriously. If you do a particularly bad job you will not get paid, or at least not be allowed another opportunity to participate in order to earn that paycheck.

So finally lets focus on my latest campaign: Marshal Cam. A grassroots way to promote marshaling to automotive and motorsport enthusiasts who may enjoy seeing race cars up close in person. The social media has been a great tool to help spread the word but only time will tell how effective it will be.

However, race tracks like Lime Rock offering to pay people for flagging, as an incentive may be far more effective. Even if, when you break it down, you’re barely making enough money to cover the cost of fuel getting to the event, it certainly is much better than nothing.

So thanks Skip Barber!

PS. you really do get paid to volunteer, because no matter what they pay it will never be competitive enough to be considered as a job. Take Lime Rock’s $50/day rate for IMSA weekend to NJMP’s $125/day rate for AMA Superbike weekend as a comparison.

Sebring 12 hour debrief

A few thoughts about my last event marshalling the big American race: 12 hours of Sebring.

To start, I had missed the last two Sebrings because the event falls on the same weekend as the Australian F1 Grand Prix, and I chose to do those instead. I heard amazing things about this race, so 2014 was the year I committed to doing Sebring finally. Did it live up to the hype? Not particularly. I mean, the event was significantly better in comparison to my experience at Daytona a few months earlier, that’s for sure. But it was not exactly the best event I have ever done in my life. It certainly wasn’t AGP. I will list the things I liked and disliked about my experience at Sebring.

First the things I liked. I was placed on a very good crew of local Central Florida SCCA marshals at turn 15, which proved to be quite active and very exciting for blue flagging. It was perfect. The atmosphere was very relaxed, everyone was professional and it was a joy, simple pleasure to work with everyone. We did have a mishap during a race when just as we changed shift there was an incident that could have been flagged better, and it was as much my fault as the next guy’s, but these things happen. We could have handled it better, and yet it could have been worse too. My favorite part about the team was how accommodating they were about keepsakes in the form of photos. We were given opportunity to take a few shots on our off sessions which was greatly appreciated. I had the pleasure of working with the official CFR photog who took some shots of me in actions that I’ll include below:

sebring green1

sebring green2

Thank you Dave from www.flagtoflagphotography.com for the memories!

The things I didn’t particularly like were not unique to Sebring, in fact AGP suffers from them also. But there’s no reason we as volunteer marshals should be treated like shit repeatedly and then expect to return year after year and give 100% just to continue to be treated like shit. There’s something wrong with that approach/expectation form the organizers. So my biggest gripe is with the unnecessarily early starts when the morning meetings could have been held a bit closer to the start of activities. The days were tremendously long, which happens anywhere the schedule is full of support events, but with so few people participating it’s quite hard on the body to be up on your feet for fourteen hours a day. I realize marshalling is not rocket science, anybody could do it, but just standing idle waiting for something to happen takes a toll over a long period of time. I feel our marshalling organization should do a better job of recruiting more volunteers. Offer some incentive to join. Make it fun! At the very least reduce the amount of hostility there is from those highly experienced marshals to the newbies. We all do this for fun! Lets not forget.

The other gripe was with the series and their procedures towards our response to crashed vehicles. The unnecessarily long safety car periods which resulted in the spectators yelling their displeasure in our general direction on post as we were displaying the double yellow flags. And the artificial un-balance of performance for cars. I’m really not happy to see the P2 Le Mans Prototypes struggling to keep up with Daytona Prototypes.

Overall it was a good experience. I got to couchsurf with several hosts on this trip including in places like St. Petersburg and Okechobee. It’s a shame that the St. Pete Grand Prix wasn’t a week after Sebring or I would have surely stayed to marshal there as well.