CHAMPCAR/CART: Laguna Seca corner worker report

>From: Jeong, Victor <victor.jeong@lamrc.com> Hey y'all, I'm just getting back into the american racing scene after living a few years in Europe. I got my Flagging and Com license reissued a few weeks ago and started working...

>From: Jeong, Victor <victor.jeong@lamrc.com>

Hey y'all, I'm just getting back into the american racing scene after living a few years in Europe. I got my Flagging and Com license reissued a few weeks ago and started working corners again. Got my invite to work Laguna Seca For CART weekend had vacation planned for the weekend and PCCRC at Sears Point this coming weekend. Well the weekend started early for me left work at 3 on Thursday, sneaked out the back door when nobody was looking. Went to the storage yard and picked up the motor home, which had a massive fuel leak caused by old and decrepit hoses, twenty minutes later I was down the road with new hoses installed and heading home to load up. Got home loaded up the "temp" home with all the essentials, food, my whites, and reading material (autoweek). Had dinner waited for traffic to die down and got on the road at 10:00 p.m. Got to Laguna Seca around midnight and went to worker camping. Set up home and went to sleep around !a.m. now. Friday!!! 6:30 the alarm goes off and I'm thinking do I really want to get up? I get up walk over to worker transport and went down to registration, signed in and went up to turn 11 for the worker meeting. I got assigned to turn 5, and was there all weekend. We developed into a really great crew, and we really did have fun at times. Nothing really exciting happened Friday, people were just out practicing. I was getting to learn that them there formula cars really look quite the same when they're heading straight for you, and learned how to differentiate the cars by the paint on their noses or wings. It really messes with you when they paint two or three cars the same design and just one small patch in the front helps you to distinguish between the cars. They also ran the Touring cars this weekend they came out to play, but they could do with about 20 or 30 more car's. Friday ended and went to worker beer....many beers and a bit of food later I crawled into bed . Saturday , the Alarm goes off at 6:30 and I 'm thinking god why ? Back up to turn 11 for the morning meeting and off to turn 5 again. The day's getting hotter I'm blue flagging the Indy lights, Atlantic's, and the Barber Dodges this weekend. Towards noon I'm blue flagging and I notice that the track is startting to change. Like the verticle going out in a telivision set. Now this is a challenge to blue flag formula cars while the track is doing a snake dance for you. After that session I mentioned it to one of the communicators and they said I was dehydrating, and start drinking more water fast. Today we determined that going on five minutes, was for all intense and purposes going on five " Skippy " time units; which means that it could be anywhere from five minutes to 35 minutes. "Skippy " is short for Skip Barber Racing, where their time has been known to slip a lot. Around towards 4:30 we're informed that the day is probably going to end around 7:30. We're all in disbelief. Of course some of the remarks that came after finding this out were all that's left is to sell us; being the last thing you can do to slaves nowadays.... Some time around 5 ish the Atlantics were having their race, and a very infamouse driver meeting was about to happen. We along the way lost one of our atlantics during qualifying when he drove over another slower (much slower) car in the corkscrew. That's all the story I got from our communicator . Well the Atlantics start their race and thing's are going pretty well, I'm blue flagging the shit out of the slow car, who just didn't have a clue as to how to go fast. It's hard to not blue flag a good dice when all the cars look pretty much the same but oh well. Towards the end of the race one of the RED race cars spins in our turn and high centers himself. We could tell there was pretty much no problem except to get him off the berm. Since I'm blue flagging I get to watch this whole thing happen, since the yellow flagger has turned to face traffic. What happens next will be remembered for a long time. Our corner is crewed not only with cornerworkers but we have emergancy and the Tow crew stationed there too. Well when the pace car has picked everybody up we get the tow crew out there. The truck gets behind the car , and one of the Hookers hop off and tells the driver, " We are going to pull you back, then we will pull forward to unhook you do not move until I tell you to! " . The truck is chained to the car and pulls the car off the berm, it moves forward.......... at which time the driver of the car tries to take off!! The hooker proceeds to get the drivers attention by slapping him upside the helment and yelling , " God DAM IT what did I tell you!!!! " had the truck come forward again and this time the driver got it right and did not move until he was told he could go. Of course this has all transpired in front of yours truly and the rest of the corner crew. And when he did get back in it was to a bunch of cheers from us!!! Next came the Barber Dodges, nothing really fun happend durring their race for our corner. It's about 7:00 now and we still have the Touring cars to go. Weell the touring cars came out, and there were some pretty fast ones, and then there were some pretty slow ones. One being a Pontiac some thing that looks like somebody went down to the dealership the night before and welded up a cage and stuck fat tires on. Another being a honda Accord driven by a " Mirko ". the car looked pretty well prepared but not of the money of the front runners. He was slowing way too much for turn five and wasn't carrying the speed up into the straight towards 6. At about 7:20 we were trying to figure out if there was a turn on your headlights flag. At 7:30 we were off the track and the beer never looked so good. Sunday!!!!!!! The big day! It's 6:30 and I'm thinking just one more hour. Well up to 11 for the morning meeting. Off to the turns. We have the Indy lights qualifying nothing much happened. Then Indy cars came out to practice. This was for the slow cars, to either practice or qualify, I don't remember. Practice went well, we didn't have many things happen in our corner. Checkered flag came out we're waiting for the last car signal, pretty muched relaxed, waving to the drivers (who didn't wave back). As we're watching one of the last cars come by, we see that he's slowing way down and is proceeding to exit his car in front of us at a very rapid pace! We all see the flames I reached down to grab the bucket of water and run over to the car and proceed to toss the bucket over the back of the car as my partner is spraying the rear of the car down with the fire extinguisher!! NOTE: Indy cars/ CART prefers that corner workers uses water to put out fires since dry chem can do thousands of dollars worth of damage to the car, and effectively puts that car out of commission for the weekend. It was intresting to note that SCCA corner workers responded faster and correctly than the CART safety crew stationed in our corner. (Volunteer's vs. Paid!!) Not to say that they don't care about the drivers or equipment but............ After that most of the day was pretty down hill. The indy race went as scheduled. As the drivers passed by before the start , P.J. Jones , the driver who pulled up with a flaming car did wave to us!! Funny how that works. We were satisfied! The race started and things seemed to be pretty unevent ful. But then as the pack was going threw our corner Paul Tracy tried to dive for the inside line and came up short and spun into the wall at the exit of 5. As a side note I noticed that all the photographers that like to hang out at that section of the track for most of the weekend seemed to be now missing. Chicken or what? ;-) The race ended with that BANSI move at the corkscrew, which I guess will be the new line for the IT drivers. Vasser got to take a victory lap because the guy in charge of the pits open or closed lost his comm, so opened the pits one lap late. This time Vasser did wave to all of us. After much media celebration, the Champion was to be taken for a pickup ride around the track. At our turn we decided to do a F1 end and wave all the flags!! We waved all the flags, cheered and hollered, and as They passed by Chip Ganassi turns and say's Thank You!. Yeah it has been a lot of media hype but, seldom is the championship decided at Laguna Seca. After all this the Touring cars came out and there was some good racing going on. It was quite interesting to see the Millen Toyota driving down the track sideways but hey it was fun. After all this was worker beer, then the Long DRIVE home........

Victor FFord owner hoping to drive it over here one day.... Proud new owner of an Invader cart. exowner IT MGB#42

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Paul Tracy , P.J. Jones , Skip Barber , Chip Ganassi