Believe it or not, today January 30th is Mazda’s 99th Birthday…
As a current MX-5 owner and a future CX-5 owner, I’m celebrating 😉
Happy B-day Mazda!
Believe it or not, today January 30th is Mazda’s 99th Birthday…
As a current MX-5 owner and a future CX-5 owner, I’m celebrating 😉
Happy B-day Mazda!
The 2017 Racing season is in full effect now and it looks like it will be a pretty busy one for me… but with the whole NYC Formula E recruitment woes and the anticipated rejections for Macau GP I’ve been reminiscing about a post I made at the end of 2014 called the “Wish List” and all the events I would love to work… So in this post I’d like to take a look back and totally Trump-style pat myself on the back for all my accomplishments and failures.
Spa 24h at Spa-Francorchamps… Big mission accomplished with this event… for two years in a row actually! The track and the race are some of my favorite events ever… in the world. Period!
Malaysian Merdeka… or perhaps the renamed Sepang 12h race at SIC: Sepang International Circuit. Mission accomplished on that one… almost by chance, because I worked two events in the Middle East but it was too expensive to stay there, so I flew to Southeast Asia to work an awesome 12h race… and then I came back to do it again in 2015 while on a trip to Bangkok for a wedding, which was amazing… highly recommend that event. Especially since it’s affiliated with Blancpain Series and SRO as part of the Intercontinental GT Challenge.
Oak Tree Grand Prix is a massive accomplishment which was totally unexpected… Why? Because on the previous Wish List post I suggested this was a “no thanks!” event since they don’t want volunteers for their paid events. Well, an opportunity came up last year not to flag, but to work as pit fire. I jumped on it and had a time of my life. I loved it so much I returned this year for the PWC race to work with VIR fire rescue and this time I was the “hooker” riding around on a truck and hooking crashed cars to the tow truck. It was soooooo amazing! Would highly recommend this.
DTM! My plan was to work Deutsche Touring Cars in Deutschland… but I got the next best thing working DTM at the Zandvoort Circuit in the Netherlands super close to the beach and just an hour outside of Amsterdam which turned out to be an amazing opportunity and event overall. Mission accomplished for the series, but also added 15th country to my list of places to volunteer. Still would love to do another German track besides the Nurburgring, or better yet schedule two consecutive events involving the Nordschleife and something else. Will see…
Dubai 24h race in the UAE…. I signed up and then didn’t go. And that’s a horrible, horrible thing to do! I hate when people cancel on events they register for. But I did, and it was bad. But I’d like to fix this in the future and participate in the awesome Dubai 24 hour event in the future, perhaps?
Pokka 1000 didn’t happen for me. I even enlisted help of a famous Ukrainian race car driver who was huge in Japan, Igor Sushko… whom put me in touch with the head of marshals at the Suzuka Circuit and I was rejected. Maybe expected. Maybe not. I heard people talking about working there who weren’t Japanese, but to me it was suggested that the track requirements forbid it. Sad! Igor suggested bigger events than Japanese Super GT… for example Formula 1 or MotoGP would be easier to sign up for. But I truly really want to work a Super GT race in it’s current format.
So my 2017 Updated Wish List of places to marshal in the future is:
I want to do this event soooo bad! The Macau Grand Prix is still #1 on my list… Will it ever happen? Maybe…
So this is an interesting one… I wanted to work Super GT at Buriram or wherever it was run in Thailand but that seemed like a one time deal. Now the Asian Le Mans series runs in Thailand and even though the country is super welcoming to tourists it is not necessarily as friendly towards “workers” or “volunteers” for Motorsport. Despite my numerous trips there, I have failed to establish a Marshaling connection to volunteer in this country, and I would really really like to!
MotoGP at Losail International Circuit is really growing on me. But I haven’t made it happen yet. I must do it one day!
DTM at the Red Bull Ring. I established a contact there and was told they would welcome foreign marshals. But it hasn’t happened yet. One day though… it’s a must!
Supercars on the streets of Gold Coast. My last wish list included V8’s around Mount Panorama, the Bathurst 1000 but I think the same cars on the streets of Gold Coast would be a million times better for another visit back to the land down under.
Brasil and South America sort of dropped a peg from my previous Wish List. Why? Not quite sure but I certainly wouldn’t turn down an opportunity to work there except I still refuse to pay the outrageous reciprocal fee they charge to get a visa for most of the Latin American countries. So Sao Paolo is on ice. But maybe one day?
Much like Latin America not much is really happening in South Africa. I really really really want to go there. I think it would be a fantastic opportunity but nothing has jumped out at me to sign up and go just yet. It’s on the list, but it’s more of a long term plan than something that will happen imminently.
WTCC goes to Marrakech, Morocco. I’ve been to Marrakech before and it was an amazing experience. Flew there on Ryanair and almost didn’t leave because the Spanish Air Traffic Controllers went on strike potentially leaving us stranded in North Africa. It was a great experience and cars racing on the streets of the beautiful city would be quite a site to see. So if South Africa doesn’t happen to me in the near future, maybe Morocco could be more doable? Who knows… but I wouldn’t mind.
Screw Quebec… Always giving me shit at the border to go to Montreal for F1 and all that jazz at the track about taking pictures, but I would really love to check out two tracks one of them in QC… Trois-Rivières! The other Calabogie, in nearby Ontario. The first track is Northeast from Montreal and holds some cool events I wouldn’t mind marshaling. The other is several hours north of Canadian Tire Motorsports Park which I love to visit and it too holds interesting events. I would love to add them to my list!
Something in Mexico City… Formula 1 or WEC? I thought Mexico would be easy to marshal. It hasn’t been. The people I reached out to in order to sign up for Formula 1 event when it came back to Mexico didn’t help me one bit which really sucked because they sure talked a lot of shit when we worked together in Canada or Long Beach… but perhaps it would happen in the future. I would love to add Mexico to the list of countries I marshaled.
Baku F1 was going to be one of those super practical events because American Airlines treat Azerbaijan as Europe (so does F1 calling it GP of Europe) which means award flights only use a ridiculously low amount of points, half in fact what they charge for Bahrain which is really nearby. But I never got invited here, even though there seems to be a ton of traffic coming to my blog from that area and since there’s such a close relationship with Bahraini marshals. Surprised it didn’t happen yet, but maybe it will in the future?
Despite working with a whole ton of Czech marshals from Le Mans to Spa-Francorchamps I have never heard… “hey, come join us at Brno!” Weird how that happens. But their track looks fantastic, Moto events there seem amazing. Maybe one day?
The problem with Sentul International Circuit in Indonesia is that nothing seems to happen there. I almost booked a flight once to correspond to the Asian Le Mans Series round at Sentul hoping I could volunteer there but the round got moved to Sepang in Malaysia instead. I would love to add Sentul to my list. I’ve been to Indonesia a bunch of times, Bali, Jakarta, Batam (by boat from Singapore)… and it’s a beautiful country. It would be so cool to work an event there. Maybe MotoGP would come back? I know it would be super appropriate there, everyone uses Motorcycles and Scooters.
What else? Am I missing places I should add to my Wish List? Some I have consciously bumped off like Monaco, because why bother? But I’m sure there’s something I’m overlooking. Like Isle of Man… or?
Leaving the restaurant after celebrating my dad’s birthday my sister noticed a new Fiat 124 Spider in the parking lot and commented: “Hey, that’s a nice Miata!”
I explained the concept of Fiata to her and thought it would be an excellent topic to research and share in this blog. I like Mazda’s. I like their badge engineering efforts with other major companies. And having lived in Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia I’ve been exposed to some of their other popular OEM agreements with Ford primarily, but also Suzuki, Nissan and most currently Toyota.
So here’s my attempt at explaining some of the “shared” platforms between Mazda and others.
Mazda Roadster / Mazda MX-5 – Fiat 124 Spider / Abarth 124 Spider
This is my favorite tie up because obviously the MX-5 started my relationship with Mazda and at some point I would love to buy a Fiat just for variety’s sake.
Mazda Tribute – Ford Escape
I almost bought a Ford Escape once to replace our family’s aging Ford Explorer. Tribute would have been an option before I decided to focus my search on CX-7 & CX-5
Ford owned a big chunk of Mazda so there were lots of badge engineered vehicles. They go so far back I can’t even find pretty pictures to display here, so I’ll just list them all:
Mazda Premacy – Mazda5 – Ford i-MAX
It’s worth noting that Mazda uses different model names based on the market. Therefore a Demio is also Mazda2 which replaced Mazda 121 of the past.
Mazda Demio – Mazda2 – Scion iA – Toyota Yaris iA
This is the most recent relationship with the world’s largest car manufacturer which started off as a Scion brand that Toyota decided to fold into the parent company and now it’s the Yaris replacement. An odd scenario considering how many Yaris & Echo’s Toyota sold on it’s own over the past many years of making the little cars. Why outsource this production to Mazda now?
Mazda AZ-1 / Autozam AZ-1 / Suzuki Cara
The Suzuki – Mazda relationship stretches back many generations. Including their famous AZ-1 / Cara project which was marketed under Mazda’s Autozam nameplate. Besides Autozam Mazda also launched Eunos which was originally one to market the Roadster in Japan known as MX-5 Miata everywhere else. Amati and efini brands which were meant to be the luxury divisions of Mazda much like Lexus was to Toyota, Acura to Honda or Infiniti to Nissan. Ford had it’s Lincoln brand and Cadillac did the trick for GM long before.
The list of Mazda – Suzuki mini-micro kei car collaborations:
Autozam AZ Wagon – Mazda AZ Wagon – Suzuki Wagon R
Mazda VX-1 ~ Suzuki Ertiga ~ Proton Ertiga
I could be wrong but it seems to me that Mazda rebadged every Suzuki made on the Japanese market. Which is interesting…
Mazda Familia Van – Nissan AD Expert
The Mazda Nissan relationship seems very interesting in that Mazda builds the Lafesta minivan for Nissan, along with the commercial Bongo rebadged to Nissan’s Vanette models. But Nissan provides the rebadged AD Expert marketed by Mazda as a Familia Van… Mazda’s Familia in Japan is marketed as Mazda 323, Mazda Protegé and more recently Mazda3 or Mazda Axela and none of the Mazda models look anything like the Nissan version… but, whatever works!
Mazda Sentia – Kia Enterprise
This luxobarge was a rebadged Mazda for the Korean market before Kia/Huyndai started getting all fancy with their own big car designs.
Besides this product there was also Kia Pride which was a rebadged Ford Festiva just like Mazda 121 and Mazda Soho.
This is going way back but Mazda used to sell Australian Holden’s in Japan as Mazda Roadpacer – rebadged from Holden Premier. Apparently Holden shipped the whole car minus an engine where Mazda shoved a rotary under the hood and put it on the market. It was not terribly successful.
The next Mazda pick-up truck will be a rebadged Isuzu. Currently Isuzu and GM have a partnership where Isuzu’s rebadged D-Max trucks sell as Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon.
I will update this page as I find more Mazda collaborations out there.
Why don’t some countries allow foreign marshals to participate in their events, when they clearly allow and promote foreign driver participation in the same events?
I want to marshal a SuperGT race in Japan.
And yet, the few contacts I’ve made in Japan at various circuits seem set against it to allow foreigners to marshal with the Japanese.
The photo above came from an article where the SuperGT (GTA) boss Masaaki Bandoh issued a challenge to WEC organizers to have three teams race their GT500 cars at the Fuji 6 hour event. The GT500 cars from SuperGT look far more GT-like than the LMP1 and LMP2 prototypes in the Word Endurance Championship series. According to the article the GT500’s are quicker than the pace set by the Audi R18 eTron, though slower than the Toyota or Porsche hybrids, but faster than the privateer teams like Rebellion LMP1’s. Anyhow, the quickness of the GT500 cars is irrelevant to the fact that the Japanese circuits I contacted only allow Japanese speakers to participate/volunteer in their events. Why not? Surely the multitude of foreign drivers many of them English speakers (but others whether French or German are still more likely to speak English then Japanese) don’t actually speak Japanese should they crash and need to interact with the local marshals.
Mr. Bandoh apparently didn’t stop with the challenges there, he issued another challenge to the German manufacturers to step up their game in the GT500 field (they currently participate in the GT300 field with GT3-spec machinery like the Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS, BMW Z4 GT3 or the Porsche 911 GT3). And the manufacturers are expected to comply, according to the article. Why not open up the doors to the opportunity for foreign travelling marshals to volunteer at Suzuka, or Montegi, or Fuji? It’d make perfect sense to me and plenty of other people too. I’m sure we’d all take the Japanese Automobile Federation up on their offer to work with our Japanese colleagues like we do with our German colleagues, or our French colleagues, or our Australian colleagues, etc.
I don’t speak many languages of the countries I’ve volunteered at. In Belgium French is the official language of the circuit, but many of the marshals, including many Belgians, speak Flemish. There were plenty of Dutch marshals there too. Plenty of Brits. Plenty of Czech’s, etc. I’m sure most of them don’t speak French but we all got along nicely and worked professionally as expected. I didn’t speak French working at Le Mans. I didn’t speak German working at the Nurburgring. French was one of the official languages in Canada even though the other official language was English. I didn’t speak fluent Singlish to work the Singapore GP. Definitely didn’t speak Bahasa Malaysia working at the Sepang Circuit. Or Korean working in South Korea. Point being, I don’t speak most of the foreign languages at places I have volunteered successfully. But I did my job the way I was supposed to, and I would love to return to work there again and again.
The excuse that the local language is required to work an event isn’t valid, and it’s a shame that the Japanese circuits I contacted use. Surely there are some marshals there who speak some English and I would partner up with to work under their supervision and some translation when necessary.
I suspect that the reason we get rejected as foreign marshals is that the Japanese organizers don’t want to babysit a foreigner. It’s a lot easier to say “NO!” than to accept a marshal and than have to worry about a myriad of questions like where that person should stay (lodging), how he should get to the track (transportation), what that person must eat and how prepared he should be (food). Communication in general. Following the dress code. Having a helmet that fits. etc. It’s much harder to say “YES!”
But I wish they would.
If there is anyone in Japan that would help me facilitate my wish to volunteer at one of the SuperGT events at Fuji, Montegi, Suzuka or any other track, please get in touch. I would probably need your help translating the application (and the whole process indeed). Some advice about transportation getting to the track, on time. Where to eat, where to sleep, etc. It would be most helpful!
One day I will do SuperGT… it’s at the top of my wish list, like DTM!
Link to the quoted article: http://www.racecar-engineering.com/news/super-gt-challenges-lmp1-dtm-to-fuji-showdown/
UPDATE: The “Roadster” badge has been purchased/installed. Click here for the latest post: JDM “Roadster” badge.
I’m debating whether to add or replace the stock badge with a JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) “Roadster” badge on the trunk of my MX-5 Miata.
The badge would either replace or be added above the standard “MX-5” badge on the right side of the trunk or replace the “Mazda” badge on the left side of the trunk. Like so:
or like so:
The badge is available for sale from a few places. Password:JDM sells it for $21.50 plus $5.50 shipping. eBay has a US seller listing it at $39 + $6 shipping, and a Japanese seller listed $30 + $17 shipping. Someone on Miata.net pointed out a Japanese company that lists it at a more realistic $13.45 + whatever shipping may cost.
I’m tempted to order it to further personalize my car. After these little touches there will be other more performance oriented mods/repairs. But at this point I think I’ll stick to the aesthetics.
Read about this post from December about the initial personal touches to my Mazda: Personal touchest to my Miata.
The Motorsport Safety Foundation [a non-profit organization founded by Henrique Cisneros of the TRG Porsche fame to honor the memory of his colleague Sean Edwards who was tragically killed in a crash in Queensland, Australia while instructing an amateur driver (www.motorsport-safety.org/)], is conducting a public survey about safety car deployment at various Motorsport events. The survey is targeted at Fans, Drivers and Race Officials (safety marshals): www.surveymonkey.com/r/safetycars
I filled out my opinion and when hitting “Done” it took me right back to the survey page. Not sure if the survey is broken, so I’ll just share my opinion here instead.
As a safety worker that has received formal training to be a flag marshal, track marshal, fire marshal, recovery marshal, communications marshal, etc. I think it is acceptable to have safety vehicles including wreckers/tow trucks/manitou cranes etc. to respond to incidents under local yellow conditions.
I think a Virtual Safety Car or the traditional Safety Car should only be deployed in circumstances where the incident obstructs a large percentage of the track making incident response dangerous under a local yellow condition. I think circumstances should dictate what percentage of the track blockage should call for a safety car, it will of course depend on the part of the track, the visibility at the corner, weather conditions, etc.
The drivers of course have to buy into the concept of safety respecting Yellow flags shown and not trying to push their luck gaining advantage while testing the marshal’s observation skills (getting called in for passing under yellow) or dismissing yellow flag warnings and carrying on at unreasonable speeds through the incidents.
But the most important suggestion I have that I wrote in the comments section is to call for universal and professional training for all marshals that participate at pro level events. If the fans, the drivers and people responsible for organizing safety marshals truly care about safety at the event, they must provide the training to the people that marshal… all of them. Period!
I’ve written a number of blog posts over the years criticizing the lack of training and all that got me was a lot of hatred, malicious treatment at the track and vicious rumors spread about me because I was going against the club or the racing series that I volunteered for. I have cut back my participation and obviously the series continue to race, nobody gives a fuck whether I participate or not. Marshals are dime a dozen, whenever one drops off someone else will take their place. Whether a marshal drops off as a result of negative treatment, injury as a result of the poor training or even death, doesn’t matter. The show will go on. And with the millions if not billions of dollars slushing around in the Motorsport world to put on races, paying for safety training would be such a detrimental thing to the people with money there’s just no debating about it. Volunteers better offer their services for FREE or else the racing series will suffer from the tremendous costs of properly training the volunteers… and we can’t have that. Right?
Well, I certainly don’t think so.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It is the job of the FIA to recruit marshals for F1 events and to provide sufficient training to meet the FIA standards. It is the job of IMSA to recruit marshals for TUSC events and provide sufficient training to meet the IMSA safety standards. Are they doing it? Hardly… the FIA outsources this job to local ASN’s and some do a spectacular job like the Singapore GP organization, while others don’t (the US – because there is no F1 specific training, at all). IMSA does indeed offer marshal training through the NASCAR track services program, but who is that program available to? Not too many marshals I know. I was lucky enough to participate through my membership with RSI at Watkins Glen but I suspect the majority of the people working the Detroit GP at Belle Isle didn’t. And a marshal got seriously hurt in that race suffering broken bones and significant injury to a number of vital organs. Is that good? No, it is not! I’m sure some will argue that the injured marshal had to have received NASCAR training being one of the recovery personnel assuming that’s who got injured – I don’t think the identity of the injured marshal was made public. But I’m willing to bet a cookie that the flag marshals covering the incident did not. And that resulted in the waving of blue and yellow flag simultaneously… Blue to hurry up and finish the race at competition speed, and Yellow to be sure to slow down in time for the incident at Turn 1 after the Checkered flag. It’s absurd scenario but we’ve had a series of absurd scenarios where people that “Mean Well” totally fucked up putting lives in danger.
It should be noted that when I volunteer I expect a certain element of danger. I know I could die while marshaling, there’s always that risk. But I don’t volunteer so I can get injured or die because some fool makes a poor decision “meaning well” but placing my life in unnecessary or avoidable danger.
So no matter how much I will continue to get shunned by people that don’t like my criticism of their incompetence whether intentional or unintentional. I will continue to demand training for marshals. Whether I marshal myself, or get banned from doing it as a result of my opinions.
If some of these dedicated safety officials, fellow marshals, could enforce the “no-photo!” rule so vigorously (though very selectively), the same idiots could focus on providing the necessary training. If only they truly focus on the important aspect to facilitate the “safety” in our job as marshals, I think good things will happen.
I hope the Motorsport Safety Foundation gets some results out of their efforts. Even if it’s a non-profit, it’s still a business and they look out for their business interests in the business of Motorsport safety. But looking from my perspective as a non-paid volunteer, I think they should pick up the ball on training where IMSA and FIA have dropped it, and offer a valuable service that would undoubtedly make the sport safer and therefore better. Because if they don’t, who will?
And for the record, the training I call for should include some or all of the following:
PS. The Motorsport Safety Foundation should recognize that “years of experience” is a very unreliable metric. If I volunteer for one F1 event per year, my experience level is very different compared to someone who volunteers six F1 events per year, or a mix of thirtysix pro/club events per year.
It’s been a while since I had my log book signed.
Oh you’ve never heard of a log book? Well, marshals around the world record their event participation in a little book which they bring to the track to get signed each weekend by their flag chief or post chief, to validate that they indeed volunteered the event.
You may have tinkered with the idea on the SCCA web site if you volunteer in the US and are a member of the club. Because you get a worker incentive for participating in club events. Work 12 cumulative days and get $45 discount on your membership renewal. Work 8 days get $30 bucks credit, etc. But what about those pro events you worked? Nobody cares right? Wrong!
Registering for events thru DLBracing.com or Motorsportreg.com keeps track (a historic record) of events you signed up to work through those web sites. But again there’s no One/central database of all the events you volunteered: pro, club, international, etc.
It’s time to create a new Digital Marshal Log Book… I’ve been a long time user of several flight tracking databases like ba97 and OpenFlights for years, and there’s no reason such a simple solution can’t be used to quickly and conveniently keep track of all my Motorsport volunteering. Of course automating this process is a little beyond my programming skills so I’ll definitely need some help from the readers of this blog. But I have put together some samples manually, and the results are stunning!
So the simple list view of my Motorsport volunteering is:
Google Docs list: click here.
But here’s the cool part… the Analytics! You want to know the stats of Circuits by Days I spent at each event? I do:
Google Docs: click here. The pie chart is interactive. Go ahead and play with it! Interestingly 7.7% (18 days) of all of my days spend at the race track happened at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut and at Hampton Downs in New Zealand. 6.4% (15 days) at Circuit of the Americas, and 6% (14 days) at Watkins Glen International.
How about Circuits by Frequency of returning to that track:
Google Docs: click here. Looking at these stats 10.6% (9 times) of all the time I returned to a particular circuit, it just happened to be to Lime Rock Park – my home track in the US. 7.1% (6 times) to Hampton Downs my former home track in New Zealand and to Watkins Glen International in New York. 5.9% (5 times) to both Circuit of the Americas in Texas and Summit Point in West Virginia. Quite a different perspective considering most events at Lime Rock are 2 day events, while the rest of the world it’s typically 3 days because there is no racing in Connecticut on Sundays.
How about Country stats by Days worked? Let’s see:
Google Docs: click here. It turns out more than half of all the time (123 days out of 234 days total) I spent trackside, happened right here in America! (‘murica!) 15.2% (35 days) in New Zealand which is an amazing number considering I only spent less than half a year there and have been marshaling in the US for over three years now. And 7.4% (17 days) spent in Australia, which is cheeky because most of that came from the one month long trip I made down there in 2013 where I did something like six back to back events in a row.
How about Country by Frequency of participation:
Google Docs: click here. Number of times in the country correlates to the number of days on track. 56.5% (48 times) of all the events I’ve marshaled were in the US. 15.3% (13 times) in New Zealand. 7.1% (6 times) in Australia. 5.9% (5 times) in Canada. 3.5% (3 times) both in Malaysia and Singapore. Go ahead play with the interactive charts by following the Google Docs links, and see all the other stats.
I am working on integrating Circuits and participation onto Google Maps, but it’s a slightly more complicated process here are samples:
If you have any suggestions for creating fancy stats please share in the comments below and I’ll be happy to post them. More importantly if you’re really good at writing Google Docs Scripts I’d love to get some help in creating a usable Form and subsequent database that I will make available to all the marshals around the world. It’d be amazing to see people’s stats from Brazil, Singapore, Malaysia, France, the Netherlands, the rest of Europe, Asia, the Pacific and of course the Americas.
Remember to use #MarshalLogBook on Twitter and Facebook to spread the word. And like the new facebook page I created just for this project: facebook.com/pages/Marshal-Log-Book/910500628968577
With a crappy station assignment for the upcoming USGP in Austin the thoughts of “is it still worth it?” loom as I’m about to depart for Texas early next week. Of course it is! One potentially disappointing trip will not deter me from continuing to volunteer. Especially when there is something better to look forward to. This post therefore is my “Wishlist” – the events and places I would really like to marshal in the near future, in no particular order.
I believe I have narrowed the list down to just five (5) items. However before I proceed to list them, I should cover a few places and events that, while I’d love to volunteer I probably most definitely could. And some that I have lost interest in for a variety of reasons. This should illustrate the way I look on volunteering at this point in time, which would be an interesting concept to revisit at a later date especially to compare how feelings change with time and experience.
To start, there are a few places I’d really really really like to marshal. High atop that list is the Spa 24 hour race – the feature event of the Blancpain Endurance Series (BEC) at the famous Spa-Francochamps circuit in Belgium. I can totally see myself going there if only I could get all the ducks in correct order. Malaysia Merdeka 12 hour endurance is definitely high on that list of races I “could” marshal also. I love Malaysia! I love everything about it and cannot wait to work with my friends again in Sepang. And to visit Thailand or Singapore on the way over there. The Bathurst 1000 would be nice to do, because it too is the pinnacle of Australian V8 Supercars series. I have yet to do the Dubai 24 hour race, my first visit to the UAE made a great impression and I genuinely look forward to returning one day.
The “would be nice” list:
There are also events which I would NOT bother pursuing. Chiefly among them is Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. I feel that way not just because it was a total pain in the ass experience the last time I attempted to put my name on the volunteer list there. But mainly because there are much better events at the Yas Marina Circuits that I would focus on. And to be honest I would return to do the Gulf 12 hour in a heartbeat, because I really enjoyed the circuit and the racing the last time I worked there. Monaco Grand Prix is also not on my list at all, even though everyone suggests it as a “dream” destination. I wouldn’t event attempt it, not just because it would require to learn French, lose a lot of weight and have to audition through a very physical obstacle course with a heavy fire bottle on my shoulders. That actually sounds like fun. But more importantly because of the arrogant atmosphere surrounding the recruitment process and the perceived recruitment processes spread like fire word of mouth at events I’ve participated at already. I have found myself enjoying Sports Car events far more than I do Formula 1. I would however, totally do a new (to me) F1 circuit like the Hungaroring especially since I was invited directly to participate there. Similarly, I would love to volunteer at the Virginia International Raceway (VIR) since I’ve been invited to marshal there many times now. But the one event I would like to start with isn’t actually open to volunteers like me and instead is handled by VIR employees which bumps this track off my wishlist.
The “no thanks” list:
I think since I started my marshaling hobby in Singapore, there are two prominent places on “The Wishlist” in Asia and both have rejected me. But, I will not be deterred and aspiring to volunteer there will hopefully get me a more welcoming result in the future. As I’ve mentioned before since Western teams eagerly participate in the series there, there’s no reason for a non-local to marshal there either. So without further ado, I present to you…
The Macau Grand Prix – Guia Street Circuit is a very desirable destination for me personally. I have visited, driven on (albeit on a shuttle bus) and walked the actual street circuit used for this fantastic event. It is one of two country Grand Prix in the world that are not affiliated with Formula 1. And I have done the other one already, which just happens to be New Zealand Grand Prix. It is also one of the few events in the world featuring both car and bike races over the same weekend. Not only that but you have sports cars, open wheelers and motorcycles using the same circuit to compete. Talk about variety!
Pokka 1000 – Suzuka Circuit also turned me down because I don’t speak a lick of Japanese. Boo Hoo… Despite a very international field of drivers participating in this SuperGT endurance race who like me, probably don’t speak a lick of Japanese either. But what a fantastic event it is. You’ve got the best of Japanese technology on display with the GT500 field and a healthy mix of European and Asian tech in the GT300 field. Would totally love to be there one day wearing orange overalls and a white helmet with a big smile on my face.
DTM! The German spec supercar series is like a dream to marshal even though everyone I have spoken with about it, suggests that the atmosphere is reduced to Formula 1 style dictatorship where everything is controlled and mostly forbidden by the organizers. The good news, my not speaking German would not be a deal breaker. So there’s a shimmer of hope and a strong desire to volunteer for a DTM race in it’s current glory before it is completely changed… (like the upcoming races for the Australian V8 Supercars series). Worst case scenario I could probably marshal DTM without a language barrier at the Moscow Raceway. But I’d prefer Germany.
Stockcar! The Brazilian Stockcar is no NASCAR of South America. While a Chevy Sonic or a Peugeot 206 stuffed with a big V8 obviously differentiates it from the American Toyota Camry, watching clips of the Brazilian races on YouTube makes me want to participate. Sure the language would be a problem, but much like Germany I think the locals would be welcoming and allow me to play. The location doesn’t particularly matter to me, though Interlagos in São Paulo would be an obvious choice for a number of sentimental reasons. One day I shall make it happen.
The African 6 hour. There’s something about South Africa that really intrigues me. I’ve had the pleasure of working with a bunch of people from there at various Australian, New Zealand and British events (and by British I will lump the Gulf 12 hour into this experience as the busload of Brits were imported to marshal at Yas Marina circuit specifically for that event). And I can’t wait to visit the actual country and some of their famous circuits. There was a time when even Formula 1 ran there, but with current level of competition between Asian, Middle East and American circuits… it seems SA has been forgotten. The African 6 hour keeps the legacy alive, featuring a good grassroots level machines from Sports Cars to Prototypes in a form of I guess Radicals and home grown variety. I really want to go there and join the team in orange at least once in the near future.
For those of you that enjoy sports car racing as much as I do, you will no doubt be familiar with Andy Blackmore Design & Spotter Guides and his excellent Le Mans, WEC and ALMS/Tudor SportsCar prototype/GT as well as the occasional DTM, F1 and other racing series spotter guides. I enjoy them so much, I make sure to get one of the freebie ones that are put in each station’s “book” from every event I marshal. The collection is growing.
I liked the idea of the spotter guides so much I created a Motorsport Marshal Spotter Guide with help from Andy Blackmore, who generously provided an excellent template, as well as fellow marshals that posted reference photos on Ten-Tenths Marshal Forums and Flag Marshals of the World Facebook Group.
A sample of the resulting spotter guide is here:
Of course there are about a hundred more that I will add while I’m not trackside (read: at work). So stay tuned for updates. I think this is wonderful recognition for people that are meant to be invisible when you go to a racing event. Unless of course something happens. Now you can easily recognize which marshal comes from where when you see them at an event or on TV.
Please share any unique finds (including TV race screen shots) of marshals that I don’t have on the spotter guide and I’ll be adding them to the growing list.
I have created a permanent page on this site devoted to the International Motorsport Marshals Spotter Guide (click here) The spotter guide will also be used on various facebook groups as well as on Ten-Tenth’s forum and MarshalsGuide.com wiki.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to be rejected… And yet when it comes to Motorsports rejection is quite a common thing. It’s important to manage your expectations when attempting to volunteer for various events because rejection is a definite possibility.
My only real rejection letter (e-mail) so far came from Singapore GP. I know what you’re thinking, how could that be…. you’ve worked the past few SGP events. This is true, but when I first applied I received a response stating that I was not selected but that I was added to a waiting list and should a spot open up I will have an opportunity to join the organization as a marshal. I could only but speculate why I received such a response, and whether or not it’s a common tactic used to make the event seem far more oversubscribed than it really is, but it certainly worked for me. Rejection makes you desire something even more when it’s harder to obtain. A forbidden fruit.
I’ve caught a lot of flack for criticizing ATCUAE the organization behind the marshals at the Abu Dhabi GP in the United Arab Emirates for preventing me from applying in the first place. It sure felt like a rejection even though I didn’t even fill out an application, a crucial first step and requirement to be properly rejected. Since voicing my complaints I’ve learned that the way the process works there is each applicant receives a tabard number and even though not everyone gets selected or more importantly actually follows through with their commitments to show up as a marshal, once that finite number of applicants is reached no more are accepted as candidates for the “security clearance” and that was my case. Did I decide to apply too late? Not really. I first learned of an opportunity to marshal in Abu Dhabi from a British expat working there whom I met while marshaling the Malaysian GP. He suggested I join him at the UAE event and who was I to say “No?” I was quite happy with the idea of exploring a new country. But as the event drew closer and I never heard back I began to make my own inquiries, and that’s when I learned I couldn’t apply. I have to say I was really glad when I wasn’t rejected for the Gulf 12h. Granted I wasn’t strictly going to the UAE but instead wanted to piggyback the event onto an already exciting trip to the Bahrain 6h of WEC and my first Asian Le Mans Series event at Sepang in Malaysia, Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi made a fantastic impression on me.
Sometimes you get rejected even when they ask you to come back. This happened to me with the Canadian GP. Last year and the year before it, I documented my trip by taking and sharing photos on social media and this blog alike. This was not to the liking of my post chief who nearly a year after the event took place complained of my camera use (and by camera I mean a discreet cell phone shot here and there, and not a full blown Digital SLR like one of our Canadian colleagues on the rescue team who had that thing whipped out for an entire F1 session at a time, and no one said a peep even though everyone saw it) So I was invited to come back (please come back and bring friends who can marshal we really need you) but only on condition that I never take pictures again, a probation if you will. What’s the sense in returning to that? Part of the perk of volunteering is keeping a visual memory of your participation in the form of pictures or video. I’m certainly not condoning blatantly mocking the rule, but I’m not spending the money to travel and the aggravation of getting harassed at the border year after year just to take mental pictures. (as was suggested) No thanks!
More recently I wanted to try my hand at marshaling for the SuperGT series on their home turf in Japan. Pokka 1000 an endurance race held at the famous Suzuka Circuit was my goal. I reached out to some folks I knew and was introduced to the person organizing the marshals there who quickly and confidently rejected the whole idea I could join their team as a visiting marshal. “Not possible!” Why? officially because I don’t speak Japanese. And would not be able to make any of their prior training sessions to be up to par to their standards. But more realistically I will venture a guess that nobody wants to deal with a liability. And being a foreigner pretending to know how a particular organization runs, in any official capacity – as a volunteer marshal, makes me a liability. Nobody wants to be stuck babysitting a guest, who doesn’t speak the language, will probably require help finding accommodation locally, and need to be transported to and from the track to make the early morning meetings. It’s a lot easier to say “No!” than to say “Yes!” and then worry about the logistics.
Similarly, now that the United States GP and Macau GP don’t share the same dates for their race weekend, I reached out to the organizer of marshals for the Guia Circuit to see if they’d have me, but the response was very similar to that from Japan. Since I don’t speak Cantonese and will not make any of their training modules, I am not a welcome guest to their marshaling crew. And that’s that.
Ironically it took a lot of convincing for me to finally volunteer the Malaysian GP. There not only language but religion were a major obstacle which were overcome because when it comes down to it, the role of a marshal doesn’t change from country to country. I’ve worked alongside people whom speak different languages in many countries, including the United States. English is a pretty universal language nowadays in Motorsport and most of the drivers and riders racing along the streets of Macau can only be addressed in English in an emergency situation, I’m fairly sure strictly speaking Cantonese to them will have little effect. If racers are encouraged to perform their craft abroad so should the marshals.
I have been to Japan during the Japanese GP weekend, and while I watched the race from Suzuka on a big screen at a Toyota Superstore in Tokyo, I’ve always thought that one day I may come back as a marshal. I got to walk around parts of Guia Circuit on a visit to Macau, even drive down the front straight on a shuttle bus back to the ferry terminal/airport, and there too I thought one day I will come back wearing orange. I guess that day will have to wait.
So if there’s any Japanese marshals currently working at Suzuka who would like to take responsibility for me and help me marshal along-side them (while translating what’s happening) I would love to join. Similarly if there are Macanese marshals willing to do the same for the Macau GP, I would love to hear from you! I will be happy to share my experiences from those events here on this blog in the naive and straightforward fashion I share all my other opinions.
PS. I know marshaling as a foreigner in Suzuka isn’t impossible. I know this because there was an Aussie marshal I worked an SBK Superbikes event at Phillip Island who wouldn’t stop yacking about his experience volunteering at Suzuka. Though as expected he was quite critical of the event due to the lack of language, him and a friend were basically spectators while the locals did everything. Go figure!