Ferrari Challenge, MoHud Style! (aka, A view from the Pits)
When I heard thru the grapevine that MoHud was given the responsibility to staff the Ferrari Challenge weekend at Lime Rock this year, I immediately emailed Harry Adalian and asked him to tell me it wasn’t true. When Harry’s reply was that it indeed is true, my response was “I had so much fun last year at that event I wasn’t even going to attend this year’s edition, much less work it!” This was the beginning of Harry’s recent heart attack, I guess. All of a sudden he was wondering what MoHud had gotten itself into. Had we gotten in over our heads? Panic!
You see, last year (2003) was a 3 day event, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. I’ve worked most if not all of these Ferrari events at Lime Rock and they kinda drag on. Especially 3 days! Last year was a chore staying awake. It was hot and I was helping Dennis Curley working the grid for NNJR. There was no-one working the pit lane as I was tired of being the only one there, so it was grid for me. The first day, one of the touring drivers entered the pits by making a U-turn off the track into pit exit, so one of the stewards staffed pit out from then onwards. I stayed on the grid and by the end of day 3 I vowed it was the last 3 days I’d ever work for this event!
So now what? MoHud is putting it on and I can’t say no, so it’s time for an attitude reset. How can I pull this off so that anyone I cajole into helping me (or any of the other specialties) doesn’t go away having the same experience I had last year? The good thing is that so few MoHudians had ever worked this event (probably only Dennis and I recently, I think Dave Hathaway gave up on it some years ago) so they had no past history to go by!
I was now on a mission to make sure the event was a success in the worker arena. Talk it up, find things out (ie: pester everyone with questions about this and that, from my old friend Mark Raffauf at Grand Am to Marnie at Lime Rock!) Spread the word, invite everyone to come and work (not an SCCA event so membership is optional!). After a few weeks, Lime Rock left us off the hook for Thursday and the region only needed to staff Friday and Saturday. Great news… (I happened to be one of the lucky ones on Thursday, flagging them at station 6).
So here we are at the event! On Friday I had 6 pit marshals including myself (just a guess, but I think we’re all “retired” guys). I even let Dave McClumpha who offered to help (staff #7) go help Dennis on the grid. This is a fantastic number of people since I wanted to have enough staff to allow people to tour the paddock and hillside and see what’s happening, not be stuck in pit lane all day. Great! We even got Paddock Parking passes so our cars could be in short walking distance and not parked in the Z lot across track where we couldn’t get to them for items we may discover we need. Wow! Go MoHud! On track activities? Nothing too exciting, but this was a great opportunity for the new-to-the-pits workers to learn a few procedures at pit-out and in the lane. A few incidents on track occurred and we were able to quickly react and do what was necessary. We even cleaned up some anti freeze and oil spills! Good work, team!
Saturday was similar, activity wise. We increased our numbers to 9, even with Dave
Hathaway not returning, Dave McClumpha and John (? last name) from
The weather was great, clouds and sun, not too hot which helped a lot. There were only a dozen or so challenge cars in that group and under that in each of the 2 historic groups, although there were many more in the paddock that didn’t go on track. The touring groups, one faster than the other, caused maybe the most trouble as their driving skills were so varied. A few crashes and a few reprimands to some drivers by the head Ferrari guy.
Thanks everyone! Dave Hathaway (MoHud Pit marshal), Ernie Riggi (MoHud Pit mashal, ace crew member and photographer), Carleton Foster (MoHud Tech worker), Alvon Macauley (MoHud formerly EMS worker), Big Joe (NNJR Tech), Jim DeGuire (who I flag with for Skip Barber race series events), Jack Nogueira (new MoHud pit worker and my High School classmate), Linda Loui (NNJR T+S), Bart Carlevaro (NNJR Pit worker, future NNJ chief). The mix as really nice and we all got to know one another better. Thanks also to Dave McClumpha and John who went to the Grid to help out Dennis Curley there!
MoHud seems to have an easy going attitude compared to the other regions (and more generous with paddock parking passes). This was very compatible with this event, the way it should be. People in every capacity seemed to notice, from the track employees to the workers. However, when talking to several of my flagger friends I was told they’d be hard pressed to return to work another of these (ho-hum) events. Some mentioned that while on station they were hoping a bear would come out of the woods and attack one of the cars, just to get some excitement! Seriously! I don’t know what we can do to improve on that, it seems the series itself needs more interest, more cars. It’s almost as if each group was a touring group, some faster and less/more controlled than the other. Another complaint was that last year the Ferrari organization donated more “stuff” for the workers. Schumacher hats, model cars, event tee shirts, etc. The MoHud polo shirts were nice, perhaps “2004 Ferrari Racing Days” on them would have been nice…
We don’t know if MoHud will be in this position again in 2005, but if we do I’d suggest we need to ask for even more participation of our membership. Learn to work the corners, folks! I feel that MoHudians need a bigger incentive to help staff these critical events at Lime Rock. Failure to perform well can be disastrous for the Region. I discussed this with Harry and will follow up.
Do it again next year? Only time will tell. If I can assemble the same group of pit marshals, I’ll gladly do it again!
Pictures from the event (more will be added later) and more are on my website at http://www.cwnicholls.net/limerock/2004ferrarichallenge/