My road to volunteer in the Emirates was not without setbacks. I first got invited to marshal the Abu Dhabi GP by a British expat that I met marshaling my first Malaysian GP. I thought I’d jump on the opportunity but I lost contact with him and when I tried to follow up directly with the organization that provides the marshals Automobile and Touring Club UAE (ATCUAE) I was prevented from even registering officially. The reason given was the fact that their organization attaches an ID# including international passports to each tabard dedicated to the GP. By the time I contacted them all the tabards were spoken for on paper. Even though in reality the actual marshal turnout was never that high.
This rejection really pissed me off. In a way I was riding a wave of getting accepted to almost every event I applied for at a time when all I did was travel the world to volunteer (I could not find paid work). But at the same time I wanted to experience Yas Marina Circuit for myself and when an opportunity presented itself with my trip to Bahrain, I jumped on it.
This time I had a much better luck registering. As I later found out I was among very few marshals that signed up through the local marshaling body as the rest were basically imported with the series from the UK who got paid to travel and work there during the Gulf 12 hour race. I had a blast working this event because for a few days I was the only person manning my station, and working with my British colleagues was pretty awesome.
To me, Yas Marina Circuit is the best track when it comes to marshal comforts. Each station has a purpose built marshal’s stand complete with a built in bathroom and running water. A shelter from the sun. A built in light system similar to the one used by the FIA for F1. Good flags and other marshaling essentials that are perfectly organized at each station in a special storage shed. I mean it has absolutely everything you could possibly need when marshaling.
I absolutely loved my experience in Abu Dhabi and wished I stayed a few weeks longer to experience the Dubai 24 hour race at the Dubai Autodrome, but that event will have to wait for another trip. Marshals in the UAE get paid for their services, not much but it’s a nice bonus. They are also offered free transportation from Dubai to Abu Dhabi over the race weekend, which helps for those that don’t drive. International marshals from Australia said they were even put up for the weekend during the Abu Dhabi GP.
If you’re not convinced you should marshal in the UAE, you should really give it a go. Visit the ATCUAE web site for info: http://www.atcuae.ae/