Florida Region - Sports Car Club of America
We share the
Auto Racing is the Pits!
||I went to my first 12
hours of Sebring race in 1976. It was a 3 day event and we camped at the track
in an area coined "The Zoo". I got hooked on racing. Jeanie and I were always
fans of motor sports and Sundays were Racedays. NASCAR, IMSA, Drags, MotoX, any
kind of racing. It was the TV, recliner, munchies, and surround sound racing.
In the 90's my friend Brian Wade and I were fortunate to know professional
drivers like Preston Henn and Rick Haberson as friends. We went to the 12 hour
events with "Crew" credentials allowing us into hot areas we otherwise couldn't
go. We took pictures.
|Jeanie's sister Mandy
and her husband Sam Bass had been involved with the Central Florida Region of
the Sports Car Club America for a few years and in 1992 introduced us to the
grass roots of the sport. We were invited to attend a race called the Turkey
Trot at Sebring. An event is a whole weekend. We didn't really know what to
expect but we went as visitors and left as club members
Sam and Mandy were
Pit Marshals. Their responsibility was anything that happened in the Pits and
on Pit Road. When the track is hot (cars on track) there's never a dull
|It takes a lot of talented people to
run a race and there are a lot of different positions to work
a list of specialties click here)! Jeanie and I decided on the Pits. We
started with a Regional (R) License. The R license allows you to learn to work
at a specialty position in that region and it's not a short learning curve. The
next license is a Divisional (D) license. When the chief of a specialty thinks
you are competent enough at your position you will be upgraded to a D license.
This shows you are qualified to work that position at any SCCA event
|| The Chief of any
specialty holds a National license and is qualified to "chief" that position at
any event sanctioned by SCCA. The Central Florida Region Chief of Pits was Mary
Jean Wesche. Mary Jean trained pit workers for about 8 years and also worked as
a Managing Editor for several magazines including Super Ford, Mustang Monthly,
and 5.0 Mustang. Sam and Mandy Bass had each earned a National license so when
Mary Jean retired, Sam became the Chief.
||Two years later
Mandy was elected to be Chief of Pits. Her main focus was to be sure that every
worker in the pits was qualified to work in any position. Pit road is a
dangerous place. Cars can come in too fast, without brakes, and sometimes on
fire so training was very important. As a workers gained more skill their
responsibilities grew. Under Mandy and Sam's guidance those with a Div license
that were schooled in fire, communications, and emergency medical training
learned to chief at regional events. It took Jeanie and I six years of training
to earn our National license. We worked nearly every event including drivers
schools and pro races and we took every class offered. We were really into
We stayed active in the club and in the Pits for
10 years. Trying to balance race dates with business obligations was tricky.
Both of our careers required a lot of travel and usually in different cities.
Often we would fly home, catch 5 hours of sleep and head to the track.
Sometimes, we'd just fly to the track.
|Jeanie owned her own corporate events company called Spectre
Management. She and her photographer Kevin Smith, also an SCCA Marshal,
traveled the U.S. on concert tours with the Cranberries, Collective Soul, and
others for Ford Motor Company and J. Walter Thompson. Ford and Rolling Stone
Magazine sponsored the concerts for the Susan G. Coleman Foundation Race for
CFR hosts two national events
during the year, the January race at Sebring and the May race at Daytona. The
race at Daytona usually falls on my birthday and I usually chief that event. We
stayed at the Holiday Inn down at the beach. We usually stay close to the track
because we have to be there so early in the morning.
and Kevin were in the middle of a tour for Ford and Rolling Stone magazine.
They had just arrived the evening before the race and needed to relax before
taking off again on Monday. She needed some down time at the beach so the next
morning Kevin, Sam and I went to the track and Jeanie and Mandy stayed at the
hotel on beach Patrol.
The following pictures are from May
6-7 2000. There was a Lot of sun but it wasn't too hot. We met Sam and Mandy on
Friday night for registration at the track. We usually hang out at registration
for a while and visit because it's a good chance to visit with the "race
family". Jeanie and I have made a lot of friends and of all the hobbies we've
had this was the most exciting!
Daytona - May 6-7 2000 - SCCA National
Here are the GT class cars lined
up on the false grid. It's called the "false" grid because they are not
actually on the track or Pit Road. Pit road and any area of the track that
there is racing or fuel are considered "hot" areas.
| We were
"light" on marshals this weekend. Kevin Smith was working at Pit In when a Spec
Racer came in totally in flames. Kevin, a chef in real life, kept the flames
off of the driver long enough for him to get out of the car. The Daytona fire
marshals came to Kevin's back up and the fire was put out without injury to
anyone. I am sitting here debriefing Kevin after the fire.
| These are Spec
Racers on the grid getting ready to race. They are called "Spec" racers because
they are all prepared the same. This type of racing stresses driver skill
rather than relying on exotic and expensive solutions for speed.
|During the race
there is ONE driver that we
all have to watch out for - JACK!!! Jack drives
the pace car.
| Everyone knows
that in the manley sport of auto racing it's the ladies that really run the
| After the
cars have run for qualifying times the grid marshals place them in their proper
position on the grid. A pit marshal will consult with the driver on the pole
position as to which side of the track (inside or outside) he wants to start.
The marshal is working a position called a "Splitter". The cars will enter the
hot pits from the grid in single file headed towards the splitter The splitter
is responsible for maintaining the grid order while dividing the cars into two
rows. If the pole driver requested "drivers left" then the next car will line
up to his right and so on...
| We like to
involve (recruit) as many folks as we can to work on pit road. This is our
"Guest Splitter" Susan. Susan's husband is driving in the race. We are looking
forward to working with her again.
|This is our
Race Board Chairman Jo. I think that she is taking down the names of everybody
that sat with their legs on the wrong side of the pit wall. Doh! Here comes
that pesky marshal!
gets all uppity. I have to remind her that I am the chief this weekend. She
usually settles down after a while.
you'd like to do this? A weekend of racing is tough work. It's physically,
mentally, and emotionally challenging. Working Pit road, you'd better eat your
Wheaties. In the summer time at Daytona and Sebring the tarmac will reach 135
degrees. When cars are on the track Pit workers are on the tarmac. By the way,
there's no shade. At the end of a weekend you will be exhausted and muscles
will ache. You also have an indescribable sense of satisfaction and it lasts
for days. Here's a link to the CFR SCCA