Sunday, April 12, 2015

GP of Louisiana - Fan Experience - Day 2

Day 2 at NOLA Motorsports Park had a little of everything; from the good to the bad to the yummy to the downright confusing, but also lots of fun.

We started Day 2 off earlier so we could catch all the racing on the track, and when we got there it was overcast with the sun somehow still beaming through and making things hot. We started off good watching the Mazda MX-5 series put on some good racing, and then the Prototypes put on an interesting race as we started to sample the unique, only in NOLA, concessions.

My brother sampled some crawfish pasta, I meanwhile got a perfect Roast Beef Po-Boy. Normally you expect concessions to be some watered down version of the local food, chicken fingers in disguise or frozen/reheated versions of food, but not at NOLA. They had some good chefs at the helm making sure they served up genuine dishes, and as I stated yesterday, actual local restaurants on sight in the “Taste of LA” section. So that’s the good and yummy for fans, definitely no other track in the world will have food of this caliber.

But lets get back to those Mazda Prototypes, or lack thereof. They had a single car crash on one of the opening laps (maybe lap 3ish), a double wall tap and into the tires but just some back end damage needing a wrecker/hook, yet somehow it took 15 minutes to clean that up. Finally we’re going back to green, and someone screws up that restart and spins out 4 cars. Checkered Flag… whaaaa!?  Yep I guess the slim IMSA crew doesn't share with IndyCar when they are in town and were incapable of cleaning up a wreck in time to let them do more than 4-5 laps of green.

Then we were treated to an awesome GT-3 Porsche series race. One guy spun on the opening lap and went back to 20th place, and we watched him go full rampage mode and work his way to a battle for 5th by the end of the race (without the aide of any more yellow flags). It was a sight to be seen.

Then the confusing came with the mashup of IndyCar Race Officials and ones I assume are first timers to the area. It’s a first year, I don’t expect everything to be perfect but during the USF2000 race fans were ordered to leave the stands because “weather may be on the way.” Those were the literal words on the screen, it was not raining, it was not looking like it would rain for some time, and it wasn't the same dark ominous clouds we had on Friday. AND remember, USF2000 was still out racing on the track, but no one was allowed to see it. Apparently there were several passes for the lead in the final laps but no one will ever know. So alas all fans got removed from the stands at this point, many just left.

Then the silly. For whatever reason, with nothing more than a drizzle, fans started leaving because no one announced anything we were standing around and not allowed back into the stands… IndyCar for some reason sat around for 30+ minutes to see if it would rain? Who knows. On Twiter the word as they were waiting on lightning in the area… only there wasn’t any. My brother runs the power plant 5 miles from the track, as a result his phone explodes with warnings if there is lightning within a 50 mile radius of his plant so they can do preventative measures to the pant. His phone had not gone off, so Race Control was apparently waiting out being afraid of rain or the possibility of lightning eventually getting to the track.

Make no mistake rain WAS on the way, but here we are sitting around and fans leaving. Eventually they finally decided to go out, no one announced anything, we just figured it out and went back into the stands and this is where the waiting came back as foolish. Drizzle turned to rain but nothing crazy. It produced maybe one of the most exciting racing sessions I have ever seen. Literally best session ever, and many drivers said they were loving it.

Qualifying in the rain, the true equalizer, and when you can see the whole track a sight that just has to be seen. Rooster tails going up in every direction, simply amazing stuff and fans were cheering and loving every bit of it! Sadly it got cut short when real lightning finally showed up near the end of Group 2.

Now if you do simple math, round 2 is 10-15 minutes and round 3 is 10 minutes. Almost the exact amount of time IndyCar sat around twiddling thumbs… Basicly had they started on time qualifying would have happened and we would have had a great lineup of cars with drivers who could handle rain at the front. I think in the end officials thought we were going to have a repeat flash storm like Friday but we never did, and it came back to bite them. The fans that stayed got to see some awesome stuff, but how many stayed when we were kicked out of the stands for a second day in a row, and whats happening on race day with drizzle set for on/off all day???

1 comment:

Doug said...

Thanks for that perspective on the weather that day. From afar, and as a meteorologist, I was perplexed by IndyCar's decisions that day, and especially by their "severe weather" statement. I wrote about it here -