Here you are some highlights from SBK Motorland.
Three days before the Devil in the Dark 12 hour endurance race at the Thunderbolt track of New Jersey Motorsport Park I get a peculiar invitation by e-mail:
And although I cannot commit to Saturday because of work, I was contemplating heading down to volunteer on Friday. But today, two days before the event I get another e-mail from the flag chief of my region pointing out that since I requested additional training this would be a good opportunity to learn on the job. Now I’m definitely not going.
I made a fuss about training because my flag chief complained that I caused severe disruption to a professional event, which I thought was absurd. Especially since I was never told or reprimanded for this alleged offence, and the only reason I found out was because I asked for a release to volunteer overseas, as is standard procedure with SCCA. The training I requested was for the benefit of our whole group, not just me personally. Something like a fire school would have been useful. On the job training at a 12 hour endurance race when they are desperately short on flaggers is a ridiculous idea. Even when paired with the best they have to offer (and as I can recall from last year, it was me and another guy on station) all you will learn is to make due with what you have. Which isn’t much, it’s just you and the other guy. Sure you can probably keep one person on flags and have the other respond to an incident, but then you’re really training yourself… or more likely are the one holding the damn flag.
So thanks but no thanks Mister flag chief.
The incentive to come when they are so desperately short is rather pitiful also. Win a 39 inch HDTV! Wow! Get two AutoX passes in the SCCA SOLO program. Great! I tried getting involved with SCCA SOLO at the Meadowlands a few times now. They don’t need volunteers. And I’m not interested in being a customer, I don’t have a car to flog around their parking lot circuit.
Why not offer real incentive that people can actually appreciate? It costs me a tank of fuel, which at today’s rates is about $70, and about $15 in tolls to come down to NJMP. Covering that would be pretty helpful. No? What am I going to do with another flat screen TV?
As much as I like endurance racing, and last year’s event was pretty exciting I will not be returning this year. But you should… go ahead and register at the DLB racing web site: http://www.dlbracing.com/clubs/workers.aspx?LMID=2926&EventID=5543
No… not mine. But it’s still rather harsh to hear a story of a fellow marshal losing his personal property while volunteering for a MotoGP event at the Circuit of the Americas.
It could have been me. It’s not a secret that I have taken photos at previous events. I share them on this very blog. I hope that they help in promoting what we do – marshalling to others who may not have known volunteering in motorsport is possible. Certainly the marshalling clubs don’t do enough to recruit new people, this is quite evident through the dwindling numbers of marshals/corner workers. And after the news of this confiscation I bet more racing fans will be turned away.
Is it wrong to take pictures at the track? Some say “Of Course!” unequivocally. But to me it is one of the perks of being so close to the action, of being a volunteer. I’m not saying I or others should take pictures the entire race. But certainly during our downtime it must be one of the privileges of the job. One of the perks. A way to make a keepsake memory. The whole idea behind the photo books I publish after each F1 race. It preserves my memory.
I’m afraid the current attitude of the folks that have been marshalling for many years: “I’ve seen everything, it’s just another race.” There’s no excitement in this logic. They do their task like robots. Without much appreciation for what they are a part of. And yet watching the social media pages of people who always preach the no photo rule, they tend to have a great deal of their photos in action from each event. What about the little guy? The newbie trying to get started in volunteering. We all want memories, and not just mental ones.
I strongly disagree with what took place at COTA. Whether FIM or Dorna confiscated the GoPro, or one of the COTA officials. I feel that by not returning it to the marshal after the event they send the wrong message. You want to teach someone a lesson, kick them out of the event before the start. The person was caught red handed, punish them right away. Don’t steal their $500 camera equipment. That is wrong on so many levels!
Motorland Aragón is ready to host the second World Superbikes round of this season… and I’m going there. It’s gonna be my first race after such a long and boring winter.
According to the weather forecast, it will be fine this weekend, sunny and a bit windy.
Have a nice weekend!! I’ll be back next week with my usual postcard and pictures.
As I have now started my first full week – working again (two jobs, ugh!) I’ve had the time to reflect on the recent racing I’ve done and the fact that I’ve been ‘forced’ not to register for future F1 events including Canada and Singapore. It was not an easy decision to make, to be sure, but a necessary one. This hobby is not cheap… even while living on a shoe-string budget and traveling with minimal expenses it still adds up. It adds insult to injury when you come back from an event in a bad mood, because of the treatment you receive.
Watching a “Thank You Marshals” video from Australia did make me smile though…
…because despite feeling unappreciated, taken advantage of and often times downright abused by the organizers with all the rules and ridiculous expectations, we are an integral part of motorsport and I wish more people would consider volunteering in the future.
It would be better for all of us.
A few thoughts about my last event marshalling the big American race: 12 hours of Sebring.
To start, I had missed the last two Sebrings because the event falls on the same weekend as the Australian F1 Grand Prix, and I chose to do those instead. I heard amazing things about this race, so 2014 was the year I committed to doing Sebring finally. Did it live up to the hype? Not particularly. I mean, the event was significantly better in comparison to my experience at Daytona a few months earlier, that’s for sure. But it was not exactly the best event I have ever done in my life. It certainly wasn’t AGP. I will list the things I liked and disliked about my experience at Sebring.
First the things I liked. I was placed on a very good crew of local Central Florida SCCA marshals at turn 15, which proved to be quite active and very exciting for blue flagging. It was perfect. The atmosphere was very relaxed, everyone was professional and it was a joy, simple pleasure to work with everyone. We did have a mishap during a race when just as we changed shift there was an incident that could have been flagged better, and it was as much my fault as the next guy’s, but these things happen. We could have handled it better, and yet it could have been worse too. My favorite part about the team was how accommodating they were about keepsakes in the form of photos. We were given opportunity to take a few shots on our off sessions which was greatly appreciated. I had the pleasure of working with the official CFR photog who took some shots of me in actions that I’ll include below:
Thank you Dave from www.flagtoflagphotography.com for the memories!
The things I didn’t particularly like were not unique to Sebring, in fact AGP suffers from them also. But there’s no reason we as volunteer marshals should be treated like shit repeatedly and then expect to return year after year and give 100% just to continue to be treated like shit. There’s something wrong with that approach/expectation form the organizers. So my biggest gripe is with the unnecessarily early starts when the morning meetings could have been held a bit closer to the start of activities. The days were tremendously long, which happens anywhere the schedule is full of support events, but with so few people participating it’s quite hard on the body to be up on your feet for fourteen hours a day. I realize marshalling is not rocket science, anybody could do it, but just standing idle waiting for something to happen takes a toll over a long period of time. I feel our marshalling organization should do a better job of recruiting more volunteers. Offer some incentive to join. Make it fun! At the very least reduce the amount of hostility there is from those highly experienced marshals to the newbies. We all do this for fun! Lets not forget.
The other gripe was with the series and their procedures towards our response to crashed vehicles. The unnecessarily long safety car periods which resulted in the spectators yelling their displeasure in our general direction on post as we were displaying the double yellow flags. And the artificial un-balance of performance for cars. I’m really not happy to see the P2 Le Mans Prototypes struggling to keep up with Daytona Prototypes.
Overall it was a good experience. I got to couchsurf with several hosts on this trip including in places like St. Petersburg and Okechobee. It’s a shame that the St. Pete Grand Prix wasn’t a week after Sebring or I would have surely stayed to marshal there as well.
Yes, I’m sure that you’re thinking the same… This is such a loooong and booooring winter!! Well, here we go again with a new racing season. I’m planning some trips abroad, but it’s not easy… Anyway, I’ll keep telling my marshal experiences. At this moment, I can confirm my engagement to the “Grand Prix de Pau” and “Le Mans 24 Hours”.
We have a new facebook link. You may search in facebook ”Puesto 3 - Jarama” , and you can find our marshals crew in Jarama Circuit. You may see, comment and share all that we do, our races, our plans, our philosophy, our point of view…
Greetings from Spain,
Greetings from sunny Florida where for the second time this year, including Daytona 24 hour, I was both sunburned and freezing cold simultaneously. The Sebring 12 hour race resembled amateur hour. Lots of incidents, lots of angry spectators yelling at us, the marshals for their disguist with IMSA safety car duration.
But my team at turn 15 was fantastic. A great bunch of mainly Central Florida Region SCCA folks whom I enjoyed working with very much.
Some pix to come…
So excited. After waiting for almost three months the parcel I mailed to myself from my Middle East Road Trip last December finally arrived. The contents: a few t-shirts from Bahrain WEC event along with a nice souvenir license plate and a flag from the UAE since the emirates were celebrating their 42nd birthday on one of my transit visits through Dubai.
I was so excited I made a video blog entry, one of the first one using my new GoPro.
Good practice so far, and hopefully many more videos to come.
The final two additions to my F1 photo book collection have been ordered. Thanks to Shutterfly I now have a memorable souvenir from every Formula One event I have ever marshalled around the world. The Singapore Grand Prix book has already arrived and the United States Grand Prix from the Circuit of the Americas will be here shortly.
Below is the growing collection thus far:
Formula 1 Participation in 2012:
Formula 1 Participation in 2011:
Posting these books publicly has also gotten me in significant troubles with the organizers who are absolutely against any photo taking at their events. So if you’re going to follow this idea for your collection, do keep it discreet.