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).
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.
I love this place… can’t wait to return to Spa-Francorchamps!
Most race tracks out there want racing fans to come to the circuit to check out the beautiful machinery racing there. Not Spa 24h. At 4pm on the Wednesday leading up to the big endurance race a number of race cars leave Spa-Francorchamps under their own steam to drive a few kilometers to the center of Spa along roads lined with spectators taking pictures and admiring the incredible GT3 machinery. Instead of having people come to the track, Spa 24h organizers bring the cars to the people and the city center gets pretty crowded as a result.
I was one of the spectators in the center of Spa eagerly awaiting the arrival of the race cars. My friend Pol and I had just arrived from Flanders and this was going to be the first glimpse of the race cars I’d get for this event. Spa was abuzz with excited people like me. We sat down at one of the outdoor bars for an ice cold Kriek beer surrounded by race fans, members of the crew from various teams, and even drivers. It became obvious we were surrounded by drivers when a fan with a thick stack of pictures of race cars started walking around asking for autographs from young kids wearing team t-shirts.
I asked Pol to snap a few shots of me with the famous background, and then the cars rolled in, parked and the huge crowd of people quickly started swarming them with their cameras clicking away.
Big thumbs up to the SRO, the RACB and Spa for doing this parade!
I just returned from one of my most incredible trips marshaling anywhere, ever! What an amazing experience Spa 24h proved to be. Here I’ll share a preview of the posts to come describing my participation as a marshal at Spa-Francorchamps on the Belgian Marshal Team 31 working the top of the Radillion after the famous Eau Rouge.
If I got your attention with the corner names I’m sure you’re going to enjoy reading about the famous Belgian hospitality I received working this event. The various procedures Belgian marshals used when marshaling, and all the marshal toys available to them at the circuit.
I will also talk about the side trips I made on this journey. First visiting Rome for a couple of hours during my layover in Italy. And concluding with the stopover in Chicago on my flight home back to USA. It was an incredible sightseeing and foodie tour, to be sure.
I’ll write about meeting Teddy the marshal mascot from the Netherlands and what role I think these things play in the world of Motorsports. And I will be sure to share many pictures from the event and the trip overall.
Please stay tuned, much goodness is to come after this incredible event!