[i'm not going to go in chronological order here, but instead talk about the different tasks that we did at the World Challenge event -- there were a bunch of things going on, and we switched from job to job as the schedule went forward]
for the practice sessions (total of 4, 2 for the touring class and 2 for the gt class), Paul Little (a friend who is a north jersey region tech inspector) and i set up at the flagging station by Pit In with a radar gun, to get trap speeds for the cars as they exited the downhill, which at lime rock is the fastest corner on the track, and which leads on to the main straight.
another pair of workers, GeeDub and his son Wes as i recall, headed to station 2 under the bridge near the end of the main straight to get speeds there as well.
for major events, lime rock lengthens pit lane by moving some jersey barrier, shortening the distance from the downhill to pit in, and increasing the exposure and risk at the pit in flag station. this is a fairly exposed place, and once we got a good look at it, we started trying to figure out which way we were going to run if things went south. when in an iffy place at a race track, it's always good to figure out your path(s) out in advance, as you don't really want to have to stop and think when a 3000 lb car is flying in your direction.
we were sharing this location with a tv crew doing their setup. there were a number of interesting differences in attitude. the scca workers (tech and flaggers) were wearing long pants, all of us had worked out escape routes, and all were watching what was going on around us rather carefully. the tv crew, by comparison, was dressed in shorts (different insurance, i guess), and were busy working away setting up a camera platform, and not watching the cars very closely at all. our radar gun was showing us that cars were exiting the downhill at 100mph on the slow side and 117mph for the fastest cars (the GT class Caddys). additionally, as practice progressed and the drivers confidence increased, the cars started getting more and more squirrelly at the track out point, and we started seeing some fairly lurid twitches in the back ends as the drivers worked to hold it on the pavement. the obliviousness of the tv crew was a sight to behold, but not i think one to emulate.
after practice was over, we compared notes with GeeDub and Wes, and found out that they were seeing speeds in the 140s at the end of the straight (keep in mind that lime rock's front straight isn't very long.)
next posting, i'll talk about some mechanical tech issues we were dealing with...
i should also add that it's not difficult to become an scca worker, although there is a learning curve, and you shouldn't assume automatic entry to all those wonderful pro events.
first, you need to join: http://www.scca.org/. i admit it's not cheap, but the money is going (among other things) for a really outstanding insurance policy (remember: race tracks are dangerous places.) you will need to figure out what region you should join. if you don't have a specific reason for picking one over another, just pick the one you actually live in. once that's done, think about what kind of work you are interested in doing -- there is a brief summary of some of the worker jobs HERE. then, you call up the scca office in topeka and ask for central licencing. tell them you want a regional license added to your membership (and have your membership number handy). since licensing is part of members services, you could reasonably combine joining and getting a license in one phone call.
note that no experience is required -- we do on the job training. you will want to dress appropriately, for example, flaggers generally wear all white, long pants and sleeves, and avoid nasty flammable synthetic fibers (all cotton is a good starting position.) grid workers and pit marshalls tend towards blue shirts with white pants. any job that involves a hot area generally requires long pants. tech may or may not be hot, but tech workers do from time to time need to enter hot areas, so dress accordingly.
bring your membership card to the track; you need it every time. they may be able to laminate it into a photo id while your there.
be aware of what time your speciality starts up; tech often opens early, registration usually opens early, flaggers start a little bit later (but not too much later.)
expect to spend two years developing a basic knowledge base. you may be technically saavy about cars, for example, but becoming a tech inspector involves learning a lot of rules and procedures on top of understanding the cars -- and a modern formula atlantic is a lot different from the hot rod in your garage.
a brief aside before i write some more about working the WC race at Lime Rock -- one of the perks of being a club racing official is that you often get into the pro races of one kind or another to work there. i have variously worked trans am, world challenge, vintage, and even nascar busch north (when they visit Lime Rock) over the years, and i have friends who regularly work F1 in north america. we work the club races because we love the club races, but the allure of working the pro stuff is certainly there...
here's a little more on that event. July 4th is one of Lime Rock's major event weekends (along with memorial day, labor day, and the nascar busch race that is currently in early october.) lime rock races are usually restricted to friday and saturday, but when there are significant holidays, the consent decree sometimes permits monday and/or tuesday racing. this is always the case for labor day and memorial day weekends, and sometimes happens july 4th. it did happen on july 4th this year.
in general, worker support is supplied by some host SCCA region. mostly these have been New England Region (NER) and North New Jersey Region (NNJR) in recent years, but for reasons not entirely known to me, New York Region (NYR) has a 3 year deal starting this year to supply all the workers and local SCCA support for the major weekends.
this affects me because I'm new york region's chief of tech, and so for those major weekends where support by tech is requested, i'm the man in the barrel.
in the case of july 4th, there were two major pro sanctioning bodies, SCCA for world challenge (running friday and saturday), and IMSA, running all three days (friday-saturday-monday.) as the race card was thin on monday, NYR added two SCCA club races running under SCCA Pro insurance. IMSA didn't require any SCCA tech help, but SCCA Pro likes to have it, plus i needed to perform standard chiefing duties for the Club Races (an ITS/ITA race with actual cash on the line, and a Spec Racer Ford Race.)
So on Friday and Saturday, the club guys (like me) were spear carriers, and on monday we ran our own pair of races in the morning.
i've decided to keep these short, so that's it for now.
july 4th weekend, i worked tech as a regional volunteer at lime rock for the scca pro guys running the two world challenge races (rumor has it that i can be seen on one of the speed channel broadcasts of that event.)
anyway, i just wanted to say that while i've always known that the new caddys are big and ugly, i can now testify from personal experience that they are pretty damn fast. on friday (practice and qualifying) i worked with a friend of mine, Paul Little, using radar to record speeds at the exit of the downhill (turn 7) and they were noticeably quicker than the other cars in the GT division.
i'll probably post more about that weekend later, it was pretty interesting.