2010-12-06

I survived 25 hours of Thunderhill!


Don't ask me why, but I volunteered to work as pit marshal at the Twenty-Five Hours of Thunderhill this year. I rolled my Miata out of the garage and set up camp inside. Not exactly princely, but better than sleeping in a car. Particularly when the car has no fully reclining seats.


My first shift was right at the beginning, so I got to hang out and watch the teams get ready, then clear the track. Then the iconic phrase "start your engines" fell, and off they went onto formation lap.

Green flag! You could feel the electricity in the air.

My job was to walk along my portion of the hot pits and ensure that only authorized people were there, working on the cars. Also, there are a few rules about what can and cannot be done during a pit stop, and what activities cannot overlap. For example, when the car is being fueled, no other work is allowed, except for driver change. Keep an eye out for fuel spills. That sort of stuff.


All of the volunteer pit staff (and probably most other if not all volunteer workers) got to eat unlimited free meals from the Thunderhill Grill. The menu changed at least four times in the twenty-five hours, so I never had to eat the same thing twice.


There was some carnage of course. Like this car. Thankfully, it was a right-hand drive, so the driver was on the other side. The incident happened during my second shift, but I was unable to find out much about it. I hope the driver was okay.


The weather was nasty, but not miserable, at least during my shifts. We had some drizzle coming down, and some fog, but all in all, I did not really suffer.

The club gave us really handy hand and foot warmers, and I used them for each of my shifts. Boy, do they make a difference! I did not freeze for a second!

I had four three-hour shifts, and slept as much as I could between them, in my tent. I could hear the race engines zoom past while falling asleep. Didn't get to take many pictures, because I was mostly busy working when awake. A number of better photographers did, though, so not a huge loss to humanity.


This here is my back with a backpack in the picture on the left. Everyone is heading across the hot pits to the pit wall to watch and wave and cheer and applaud for the last lap of the race. My job at this point was to make sure that everyone cleared the pit area when it was time for the cars to come in and pit after the checker fell.


Finally, the race winner.

I stayed just long enough to scarf down a lunch and an energy drink, then picked up my tent and headed out before the trophies.

Next year, I hope to get to play on track for the race!