Category Archives: UK

“Rock Star Marshaling” Few Thoughts on a Post in “A Life In Orange” by British Marshal Blogger

I’d like to share a few thoughts after reading a fellow marshal’s blog post about “Rock n’ Roll Marshalling”

Though I’ve never met Rob Lee, the publisher of “A Life in Orange” blog chronicling his experiences volunteering in the UK and elsewhere. I do admire his efforts, because like me, he seems to devote a considerable amount of time promoting this hobby to others. In fact I fall far short of the effort he puts into his articles with my immigrant English and rampant spelling and grammatical errors… I’m not sure whether I completely agree with the post I’m commenting on here, but I’ll try to outline my reasons below from a few angles based on my personal experiences.

So few items jumped out of the page at me in his September 14th post here:  alifeinorange.com/2017/09/14/rock-n-roll-marshalling/

  1. Glitz, Glamour, that Rock and Roll lifestyle
  2. Spotlight on marshaling vs. Drivers/Teams
  3. Celeb-Hero matrix
  4. Martin Brundle Orange Army TV comments
  5. Kids perceptions on Rockstars/Drivers/Marshals apeal
  6. Different location every weekend/travelling aspect
  7. Quirky shit
  8. Share, share, share!

 

Point one… glitz, glamour, rockstar-lifestyle is fiction.

It may appear that way if you follow someone’s social media account, posts and photos on facebook, twitter or instagram. But the reality is hardly that cool.

Do “perceptions” really recruit people to marshal? I’m not sure… I remember watching the Gumball 3000 events a decade ago. The glitz, the glamour there… the wannabe drivers racing on city streets telling cops that wrote them tickets in the videos that they’re on a rally not a race, etc. It looked so cool. But the more I looked into that event and other copy-cats like it, most participants didn’t even own the exotic cars they were driving… those were rentals. Similarly, the marshals participating in those high-profile, professional events are generally poor slobs having to rough it out in a tent somewhere. Waking up at the crack of dawn, first to show up at the track, last to leave. Working long hours, mainly standing in one spot in all kinds of weather. Hardly glamorous, is it? Sure some may get away for a little bit to take some of those amazing pictures of high-tech cars on grid. Rubbing shoulders with celebrity drivers, and real celebrities, and some other really important people. But not all marshals are even able to do this. Having to choose between eating lunch in most cases or taking pictures by making a hike to the grid from whatever post they are stationed at…. hoping they get back in time for the start of the race without getting in trouble. That’s the reality. And reality is hardly rockstar-like lifestyle. It is what you make it. You could request post assignments. You could make personal choices to allow yourself to participate in the glitz and glamour, but usually there’s a price to pay. Personally I’m careful promoting the idea of marshaling as glitzy because new recruits see right through it if their first pro event isn’t all you cracked it up to be. Expectations should be realistic!

Point two… I don’t agree with the idea of throwing marshals and teams, drivers into the same basket. They couldn’t be more fundamentally different. Remember that teams and drivers get paid to go to Motorsport events. Most volunteers have to pay their way to marshal those same events. And if the organizers had their way I’m sure they’d try to charge those otherwise “non-paying spectators” for access to the best viewing spots on the circuit. The other issue with teams and drivers is that their participation at lesser pro/club events is fickle at best. Lose a sponsor, you’re losing your seat or a trip to the race. Crash a car, the team packs up and leaves if they don’t have a backup vehicle, even if this happens on the first day of the event. Comparing volunteers to racing teams and drivers is comparing apples to oranges.

Point three… It’s no secret that many marshals like the celebrity aspect of their line of work… they’re practically rubbing shoulders with the multi-million dollar earning champion racers at the same events with the best seat in the house. Many Brits seem to push this “Hero” idea that marshals are the unsung heroes of the racing world. I don’t know if I buy that either. WE, as volunteers, are at Motorsport events to do a job. If we were not willing to do it, we’d just be spectators paying our way to watch the racing. The organizers know this. The sanctioning bodies know this. Most do a really great job of cutting us out from TV coverage unless of course something major happens and we do a really good job with the incident or a really bad one. If we do something wrong we have a great chance of making it on TV. Less so if we do something really right. Do we deserve to get more TV time and being acknowledged that we are “someone” doing important work. Perhaps… but there’s little value for organizers/TV to push that line so I see why they don’t do it.

Are we Heroes? That’s debatable. Real heroes are too humble to refer to themselves as such.

Point four… is very much tied to the Celeb-Hero matrix idea above. Martin Brundle giving a shout out to the Orange Army every broadcast is something. Is it enough… Yeah, probably. Do we want more? Of course we do, it does wonderful things for our ego’s! Should he do it? Well, that depends on what the TV producers think about that.

Another famous announcer in the world of Endurance Racing: Radio Le Mans announcer John Hindhaugh or Hindy for short does a fantastic job mentioning the marshals and other volunteers in all of his broadcasts. But he’s also called out several recent incidents in my own experience working IMSA races where he made false claims that I… yes I! was doing something wrong, even though when watching the video replay of the incidents everyone and their mother could clearly see his statements were inaccurate. So how the fuck do you deal with something like that? A well-intentioned broadcaster making you look like a foo… an amateur… I’m a Pro dammit! (right?) Second guessing your actions. Wrongly… It’s not right! But that’s the issue of Celebrity and the whole actions of Heroes debate. No matter what you do, someone will question it. It’s human nature. Best thing to do is continue doing the right thing, no matter what people comment about it. It’s all about perception.

That said I do think it’s important that TV announcers should continue to promote Motorsport volunteering. And they ought to do it more often!

Point five… Kid’s perceptions. I agree with Rob wholeheartedly that we need to recruit kids. Young marshals are key to the success of Motorsport of the future. This idea is not necessarily what current marshaling clubs rely on. It’s been my experience that here in North America the business model generally speaking is to focus recruitment on older folks… people that are retiree’s… people that have the time and money to travel to events to volunteer.

Yes, those people are needed. But I also think clubs and sanctioning bodies like the FIA or FIM, or IMSA or NASCAR need to cough up some cash to promote volunteering to younger folk. Provide the tools needed for the youngsters to succeed. Provide training. Provide incentives to volunteer often. Provide some support.

And it’s important to remember that kid’s perceptions of actual Rockstars and Race Car drivers whom Rob compares to Rockstars is not necessarily a realistic expectation of kid’s perceptions of volunteers. As I mentioned before comparing the two is akin to comparing apples to oranges. I think some experienced Motorsport marshals could be perceived as Rockstars for their actions on track. I have a number of people I look up to myself because of the way they do their job. But the way I look at them isn’t the same as I look at celebrity drivers. Then again I’ve learned long ago I have no future as a race car driver… so I don’t look up to any race car drivers at all.

Point six…. I love this point! Even before my family moved from Ukraine to the United States of America, it has been my dream to travel. I couldn’t wait to take my first trip to Czhechoslovakia (yep, it was still one country back then) or Poland… In high school in New Jersey I was determined to find a job that would allow me to travel. When that didn’t materialize I went travelling on my own, lived in Australia, Singapore, New Zealand… picked up this marshaling hobby while in Singapore and the travel bug exploded even more.

And to think there was a time when I’d read FlyerTalk.com forums and take flights to anywhere without any purpose for the only reason that the flight was cheap. Now marshaling has given me a purpose… a mission. A travel to a destination around the world so I could volunteer for a Race. Motorsport tourism is life! And I promote the shit out of it on this blog and to anyone that would listen to me whenever I meet people… it’s the only thing that comes out of my mouth when I’m given an opportunity to share some opinions…. sometimes I bore people to death with the idea. But I truly believe in it.

So yes! Different event every weekend is possible. It’s exciting. And it will probably drain your bank account like it has done to me. But it is extremely addictive and I love every minute of it!

Point seven… Quirky shit I don’t get. I don’t agree with it. I don’t think I fully understand it. But whatever, people do it, I’m cool with it. Continue doing it. All those racing bears. The wombats. The sheep. Whatever. When I take selfies I use my own face. I don’t need to use a plush animal to satisfy the same want… of taking a picture to remember an event.

I suspect, and I could be wrong… people use toys as an excuse to take a picture of something to promote this hobby.

Point eight… Sharing is essential! Social media. Facebook. Twitter. Snapchat… Instagram. Shit I don’t even use. You should continue using to promote this hobby. Because it’s worth it. I’ve written many times that the more there are of us the more enjoyable this hobby gets. It goes without saying that this is critical… For anyone that has learned anything about SEO, searth engine optimization, on the Internets… sharing stuff makes it go up in ranking on search engines which results in more traffic. Sharing info about events, opportunities to marshal, sharing volunteer opportunities will make the idea more popular and solicit participation. Greater participation will attract more participants. And that’s what it’s all about. Strength in numbers means better training because there are more of us doing this. More swag. More rewarding experiences. More fun!

So to wrap this up and make a long post even longer… I want to say marshaling is what you make it! If you want to feel like a Rockstar, sign up for some exotic races. Of the fifteen countries I was lucky to work, there’s something attractive about each and every one of them. But if you’re chasing opinions of your facebook followers, I can say with certainty that events in Southeast Asia or the Middle East take the cake… Yas Marina Circuit was one of the most incredible circuits I got to work. I was visiting on my own when a bus load of Brits was brought in at the request of the series, so I got a local experience while they were wined and dined by the series. Seek opportunities like that to make yourself feel real important. It sure is a boost to anyone’s ego. Singapore is a great place to feel important too, and there’s so much stuff you can share with your jealous friends on facebook from the tiny city state. The glitz, the glamour! The makan makan…

But more importantly go in with realistic expectations. Experiment with different volunteer positions. It’s not all about being a track marshal. Try flagging. Try working comms. Consider being a Fire Rescue marshal. Take the crash and burn school. Work in Pit lane. Starter is one of my favorite positions, and one you probably have to bump someone out of the way to get an opportunity to work.

There are so many possibilities.

But manage your expectations.

Volunteering won’t make you a millionaire. But the experiences you have the potential of witnessing are priceless!

Share… share… share!!!

 

Thanks Rob Lee for an opportunity to comment on your opinions.

Flag Marshal Training Videos (new) from the Motorsport Safety Fund

Over the past few months the Motorsport Safety Fund out in the UK has uploaded a bunch of new Flag Marshal training videos to their YouTube page, and they are bloody brilliant! I firmly believe they should be mandatory training material to all flag marshals regardless where you live in the world, even as a refresher.

Go. Watch. Now!

The videos are very brief and to the point, and quite enjoyable to watch. Even if you feel you know everything there is to know about flagging, it’s worth watching them again. I would highly recommend these especially to American marshals looking forward to marshaling in Europe to see the little differences we have with them. Check them out please!

MX-5 Miata Road Trip

I launched a new Facebook Page for my favorite pastime: MX-5 Miata Road Trip’s: www.facebook.com/MiataRoadTrip

I’ve been blogging quite frequently about the trips I’ve taken in my NC Miata, mainly to get to a race track Upstate New York or up to New England. But that hobby is about to take me internationally, with a trip to Southeast Asia booked in early December 2015 and another to the Pacific in February 2016. I’m making it a priority to meet up with any and all MX-5 owners I can on the road. Hence the MX-5 International Road Trip.

I’m hoping that the facebook page would allow me to make new connections as well as to share some pictures from my meetups without mixing the content with my Motorsport hobby that I also blog about frequently: Marshal Cam (#MarshalCam) as well as the Foodie Tours that I enjoy very much and also blog about separately. I have a feeling people visit this site for each of the things that interest them most and perhaps not all of them want the Marshaling, Foodie Tours and Miata stuff mixed.

For the International trips, except of course for my future drive up to Canada, I won’t be taking my car. So my goal is to meet other owners and take as many pictures and videos of their cars as they would let me. I am also planning on perhaps renting a few MX-5’s and sharing those experiences in the blog and on the facebook page as well. I think it would be pretty awesome to read and based on a few searches I did thus far, there’s nothing like it out there (except one kiwi page from a few years ago that promoted MX5 Roadtrip’s – it was hard to find perhaps because of “roadtrip” used as one word).

So hopefully this works!

Go ahead and like the page to have all that content pop up on your Facebook feed automatically. www.facebook.com/MiataRoadTrip

mx-5 rmiata oad trip

Where Can I Rent the New ND MX-5 Miata?

With several trips coming up in the near future, I’m curious to learn where is it possible to rent the new Mazda MX-5 Miata for a few days of driving?

It might sound like such a simple idea but save for a few “MX-5 rental” exclusive places like those in New Zealand or the UK, I haven’t really come across many major rental car chains advertising the new ND Miata in their fleets. I’ve read about the possibility of renting a track spec Miata for the big Mazda MX-5 get together at Laguna Seca in California, which is neat. I’ve also seen plenty of other track rental Miatas like those pictures I posted from Flatout Racing at Thompson Speedway, but nothing from Hertz or Avis, Budget, National, Europecar, Sixt, etc.

Why?

I would really be interested in considering a Miata rental while, say in the Cook Islands. One of the TripAdvisor reviews mentioned a tourist talking about their green MX-5 convertible hire in Rarotonga. How cool would that be. How expensive would it be? The rates posted on the Kiwi MX-5 Hire Car web site on the North Island of New Zealand were in the $50+/day which is crazy expensive. On the other side of the spectrum, South Florida is where I regularly rent cars for $10-$20/day and while searching for my own Miata have come across a number of cars on eBay with “Fleet” designation on their car history report. But when it comes to rental car companies, I can’t say I’ve seen any MX-5’s as rentals in a sea of Chevy Camaro’s, Ford Mustang’s and of course the Ferrari and Lamborghini exotics that you can easily find on every corner of South Beach. Who’s got the Miata’s?

Would love to find out more about this…

Marshal Podcast #MarshalPodcast #MarshalChat

I am looking for a few volunteers to help me with a Marshal Podcast project I’d like to introduce to the marshaling community.

There were a number of positive responses to the thought I shared on the Flag Marshals of the World facebook group, but to make it happen I need a couple of people that would actually engage in conversation with me about various topics as they relate to volunteering in Motorsport through video chat.

Google Hangouts seems like a reasonable technology that we could use, to set up a meetup and record our conversation that would automatically be posted to YouTube.

From that I would also like to create downloadable audio files that people could sync onto their smart phones and listen to their leisure without draining their bandwidth or cellular data.

The way I envision the format of this #MarshalPodcast is to have three (3) to five (5) people call in and talk about up to three (3) pre-determined topics. The discussion would not be scripted in any other way than having introduced the topics in advance so the participants could think about what they would like to say before actually talking about it during the podcast.

The topics I would like to talk about could range from “how do you participate at a certain event” to “what was your experience at a particular event” or “what do you think about this safety feature when marshaling” etc.

I would imagine that participants would change from episode to episode, so that would keep the discussion nice and fresh. The discussion would certainly be open to everyone, so it would be nice to see various international marshals from around the world. As well as people that make guest appearances to discuss a particular event, or to invite marshals through the podcast to participate at the event they are affiliated with.

Participant introductions. Background stories, unique experiences, and other banter would keep the podcast interesting. And I think it could easily be used to promote marshaling to Motorsport enthusiasts that didn’t know this activity was possible.

If anyone would like to join this podcast please reply below or contact me through facebook to organize our next episode. Topic ideas and material is always welcome. I have a feeling we would rely heavily on the Flag Marshals of the World facebook group for content and subjects to discuss. Even doing a digest of things posted on the group would easily fill up a 30 to 60 minute format of the podcast. Anything longer than that would be way too long.

Ideas?

 

Visit Flag Marshals of the World facebook group: click here.

Top 10 Foodie Experiences while Marshaling (International)

Three important components make up this wonderful hobby that I blog about while volunteering in Motorsport: 1). Racing, 2). Travel to get to the Races and 3). the Foodie experiences along the way.

Here are my Top 10 Foodie experiences (cheap, greasy, delicious!) while marshaling, that I would absolutely go back for just to sample the awesome food again. This post will be divided into three sections, because I could and totally will give my Top 10 Foodie experiences while marshaling just in the USA alone. This part is the  International foodie experiences at each venue. And then the places you may transit through just to get to the event (both domestically and internationally).

#10 Canada: Poutine

canada poutine

When marshaling in Canada, you should try Poutine –  french fries, covered in cheese curds and smothered in gravy.

Although a Quebeci cuisine I haven’t really been all that crazy about it while marshaling the Canadian GP in Montreal. Instead it was the food of choice for me in Ontario during the ALMS races at Mosport. I tried to stick to a strictly “poutine” diet which meant trying quite a few different poutine trucks every day, and my favorite by far was one located at a little gas station just north of the Candian Tire Motorsports Park.

The best experience so far was sharing a few big portions with friends right at the track, which we all immediately regretted feeling bloated and full, so we decided to walk the entire length of the circuit to “walk it off” and that I will always remember! You have to try it for yourself.

alms mosport 6

#9 Australia: Fish & Chips

foodie australia fish and chips

When marshaling in Australia (or New Zealand for that matter) do try their Fish & Chips.

While traditionally a British thing, I think it would be foolish not to call Aussie style Fish & Chips an Aussie thing especially when you do have an opportunity to visit a proper fish and chips place along the Indian Ocean like say driving the Great Ocean Road, or on your way to Phillip Island because there’s a beautiful assortment of excellent and very outstanding fish and chips places that serve ridiculously fresh fish. Typically served with malt vinegar or tartar sauce which is my favorite.

The fries are really good, but the fish will be the highlight of that quick and tasty meal. Legend has it they deep fry flake which apparently is shark (gummy shark). And I don’t know about you but tasting shark is exotic and generally awesome.

#8 Germany: Veal Schnitzel with Gravy

foodie germany schnitzel

When marshaling in Germany you must have the Schnitzel!

Whether you go for chicken, beef or veal you won’t go wrong because they’re all equally tasty. I’ve sampled a lot of delicious food in Germany from their wonderful sausages to the delicious sandwiches (pretzel bread = yumm!) But a nice warm veal schnitzel served with fries and smothered in mushroom gravy is finger licking good. Especially when you are walking distance from your post at the Nordschleife on a cool summer’s day.

So when going to work at the “Green Hell” that is Nurburgring add a schnitzel to your list. My favorite joint is Giulia’s in Adenau which is a stone’s throw away from Post 120. And no meal would be complete without a stein of WARSTEINER beer. Seeing it served instantly brought memories of classic cars I saw on TV and later in person at various historic races around the world sporting the WARSTEINER sponsored logo including those beautiful E30 BMW M3’s, the Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR of the mid 2000’s and of course the Porsche prototypes of the much older vintage era.

foodie germany beer nordscheleife

#7 Bahrain: Shawarma Malgoum

foodie bahrain shawarma malgoum

When marshaling in Bahrain you must try a Shawarma Malgoum!

So the french fry theme continues except this time it is engineered in to a delicious shawarma served on a busy street corner in a little village outside of the capital of the tiny island of Bahrain in the Arabian Gulf. I got really lucky to have an opportunity to marshal WEC in Bahrain and one of the marshals that drives a course car offered to show me around and give me a little sample of what the local food scene is like. It’s tough otherwise to find proper Bahraini food in Bahrain because of the dominance of all the western food chains and typical Indian joints that are readily available in the Middle East. But a cheap and compact shawarma really gave me a culinary peak at something truly local. You must experience it for yourself.

I did get a chance to go out for some lamb chops and other well made meats served with humus and pita bread, but I don’t think anything hit the spot like the Malgoum. Why do they call it that? and why is it a very Bahraini thing? Well because it’s an “everything” shawarma stuffed with all sorts of goodness from diced tomatos to generous portions of beef (chicken or lamb, whatever you prefer) some salad, and chili sauce.

Quickly made. Cheap and best enjoyed with friends late night. Typically followed by smoking some hookah at a juice bar. An experience I can’t wait to repeat in the future.

foodie bahrain hooka

#6 Singapore: Chicken Rice

foodie singapore chicken rice

When marshaling in Singapore you must have Chicken Rice!

It’s impossible to come to Singapore and not be overwhelmed by all the amazing culinary variety. You’ve got your traditional Chinese food, Malay food, Indian food, Thai food, Indonesian food, and plenty of Western food options too. But what MUST you try on your visit? Chicken rice, no if’s, and’s or but’s about it! Why? Because it is the simplest and the most readily available foods found on the island. It is also one of the cheapest. And most importantly it’s one of the best things they have to offer both locals and visitors alike.

Chicken rice or more properly Hainanese chicken rice is exactly what the name suggests, a simple cup of white rice served with poached and steamed chicken with some sweet chili, ginger and molasses like black substance that adds a very unique flavor to the dish. Often accompanied by a little bowl of the broth that the chicken is cooked in to sprinkle on your rice while you eat it with a fork and a spoon (using the fork to pile spoon-full’s of chicken and rice mix for each bite). I would highly recommend chicken rice for anyone as basic as it sounds it’s the one thing I really crave the most after living in Singapore for a while.

Don’t forget to get some freshly cut fruit for desert after your meal. Readily available at just about every Kopitiam on the island, the fruit is as important as the dish itself, to me at least. Especially with the exotic options like dragon fruit, starfruit, mango, papaya, pineapple, green/red apple, banana, strawberry and kiwi’s. Try it! Love it!

foodie singapore fresh fruit

#5 Malaysia: Nasi Lemak

foodie malaysia nasi lemak banana leaf

When marshaling in Malaysia you must have Nasi Lemak!

Nasi Lemak to me is the most Malay of the Malaysian dishes I’ve sampled, and I’ve been fortunate enough to try a few. It is coconut rice cooked with your choice of chicken, beef, cockles or even livers covered in spicy fish paste and topped with an egg all wrapped around in a banana leaf.

Traditionally eaten for breakfast, I’ve learned to love this dish at Sepang when one of my fellow marshals would make a morning run to pick up enough for our entire team. It’s true that coconut rice has a tendency to drive your stomach crazy afterwards, but the food is so delicious it is well worth all the funny business that may happen after you’ve digested it. It is phenomenal. You must try! And whenever possible have some Ipoh white coffee to wash it down. Ipoh coffee is served with a hefty serving of condensed milk which makes it white’ish in color and is absolutely amazing with a perfect amount of sweetness that I really love.

foodie malaysia nasi lemak

#4 South Korea: Anything with Kimchi

foodie korean bbq kimchi

When marshaling in South Korea try anything and everything that comes served with Kimchi!

I’m sure you all know what kimchi is so there’s no point explaining why this fermented spicy cabbage goodness is amazing. But when volunteering in Korea, like the Korean Grand Prix of the past or any of the current events held in the country. Whatever you eat that’s served with kimchi will leave you with an excellent memory to take back from Korea home, wherever you may live.

On my last visit I was lucky enough to experience kimchi with a several “guides” that showed me around. I first used CouchSurfing and people were kind enough to show me around the Seoul market, trying food all along the way, from Korean Sushi to Korean BBQ.

Then when we made our way to Mokpo with a fellow marshal he spoiled me for choice with the food options on the way and at the Marshal hostel that served us food for breakfast and dinner. Whatever the food: from delicious meat to fish, kimchi highlighted the dish and made me crave it more and more. I can’t wait to have it again on my next trip to this beautiful country. You should try it too!

foodie south korea kimchi

#3 Malaysia: Fish

foodie malaysia fish rice

When marshaling in Malaysia and if you’re lucky enough to have someone knowledgeable show you around… try the Fried Fish!

There’s a little village not far from the Sepang Circuit that I’ve had the pleasure to frequent after long days of working at the track. The whole rescue team that I camped together with at the track would go out every night for a relaxing evening to socialize with fellow marshals and share a delicious meal. Needless to say I was the only foreigner there, but I felt extremely welcome and more importantly I was absolutely in love with the fish they served at this little Muslim Thai restaurant that basically specializes in a very unique dish I haven’t tried anywhere else in Malaysia or Thailand on my travels, and I always make it a point to sample as much food as possible whenever I am in Southeast Asia.

What is the fish called? I have no idea. It is grilled to make the skin crispy and then smothered in the most delicious sweet chili sauce, served with rice. I always get a cup of Ipoh coffee or two to go with it, which is white coffee I described with my Nasi Lemak dish above, or coffee served with condensed milk. My favorite!

PS. the name of the fish dish is: “ikan kembung masak pedas

#2 New Zealand: Meat Pies

foodie new zealand meat pie

When marshaling in New Zealand (and Australia) you must try the Meat Pies!

Much like fish and chips, which I also really really like, Meat Pies are a British import to the Pacific but one that has gotten a flavor of it’s own and I much prefer the Kiwi meat pies to anything I tried in the UK. The meat pies are typically stuffed with chicken, beef, pork, livers, veggies, and a variety of other combinations like black pepper steak or curry chicken. And I love them all. I really do!

The best part about meat pies you get them served at the track while marshaling so you don’t really have to go looking for them at a specific restaurant or bakery. Although while driving on the way to Hampton Downs or Pukekohe on the North Island I’ve always made it a point to stop at Pokeno to stock up on their delicious goodness.

The pies were also readily available to buy frozen and heat up at home by brands like Big Ben who also sponsored local racing. But nothing compares to freshly made kidney liver pies or chicken curry pies I’d get on the way to the track. I loved it, you’d love it too!

foodie new zealand kiwi meat pie big ben

#1 Singapore: Durian

foodie singapore durian

When marshaling in Singapore the #1 meal you should try is Durian!

The highlight of my life in Singapore and pretty much every subsequent visit since has been to sample some fresh Durian. I don’t know if people would ever understand the craving I have for such an infamous fruit. But I definitely crave it! And you can’t just have any durian you stumble upon the street. Hell they sell them in Chinatown in Manhattan or San Francisco. But apparently there’s nothing worse than bad durian. You have to have it in season. You have to ask for the Malaysian durian which is smaller than the big Thai durian and therefore more potent, tastier.

Other products with durian are a hit or miss. I’ve tried durian ice cream and absolutely hated it, but also tried durian moon cakes during Chinese New Year celebration and absolutely loved them. But there really isn’t a substitute for the real thing. And if you do end up going to the Singapore GP I would highly recommend spending one evening exploring Geylang with a local marshal who would surely be able to point you in the right direction to try the “King of Fruit!”

Of course your experience may be way different from mine. I’m happy to share my favorite American Top 10 Foodie Experiences… and I think the Malaysian and Singapore Top 10 Foodie Experiences will follow, so stay tuned!

Formula E recruiting marshals for London ePrix

For those of you in Europe or more specifically in the UK interested in participating in the very first Formula E race in London, you better hurry and sign up with Motorsport Vision Racing (MSVR). The three day two race round event will be held on June 27-28, 2015

london formula e street circuit

For information on Formula E London ePrix visit the official web site: http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/calendar/2015-london/london-circuit.aspx

For additional information about MSVR: http://www.msvracing.co.uk/london-eprix-marshals.aspx

Good luck!

Visit to Saint Lucia, British West Indies

It’s been a long time since I’ve taken a family vacation. So to start 2015 I took advantage of an excellent deal with American Airlines to fly to Saint Lucia in the British West Indies with a little stop over in Miami on the way. This was a fantastic trip like nothing else I had experienced until now mainly because of my one year old nephew being the highlight of the entire experience. For the $197/per person we definitely got our money’s worth because of the Blizzard of the century that we managed to escape early… the blizzard didn’t quite happen but we got an extra day in Miami to visit the Everglades and Zoo Miami as well as sample some of the finest Cuban cuisine South Florida has to offer.

new jersey snow

I am not a big fan of the snow, so beating the winter storm was a great adrenaline rush especially since we managed to do it before the airlines started cancelling flights on the day of our scheduled day of travel. Upon arrival in Saint Lucia the first surprise was my little Suzuki rental car.

saint lucia west indies

Not quite what I had in mind when I booked a small SUV but it turns out they had run out by the time we got there. For the next six days we realized why having an SUV is crucial on this island with it’s crazy offroading opportunities just to reach some of the more secluded beaches, but we had a great time doing it in our more fuel efficient Suzuki. The views around the island were absolutely stunning. Driving up the steep and twisty mountains was amazing and I can totally see the country hosting a rally or a hillclimb competition in the future. But with only two roads encircling the island it might pose a bit of an inconvenience for the locals and the tourists that are looking for a relaxing time.

saint lucia suzuki

We certainly had a blast. Besides the sulfur mud baths, and a steaming volcanic crater in the interior of the island, we got to visit the botanical gardens and water falls. It was there that I tried fresh cacao fruit for the first time. And even though I’ve had coco tea before that I didn’t much like, it turns out I prepared it completely wrong, so it was nice to have it served properly on the island.

st. lucia cacao

I’m so glad we got a chance to drive around most of the island ourselves because the alternative would have been taking a boat or one of the souped up Taxi vans. Though I’ve seen plenty of Toyota Hiace’s in Asia and the Pacific, these were definitely prepped for off road use with a serious offset wheels that stuck out several inches beyond the body of the car:

saint lucia hiace taxi

st. lucia hiace taxi

I don’t know how practical this larger footprint was but they were certainly flying around the single lane road catering to the cruise ship crowd of tourists.

st. lucia flag

One of the coolest experiences of the trip for me, besides the quiet bay we called home for a week in Marigot Bay was visiting Soufrière where we had some authentic seafood and really delicious drinks. The local people were incredibly friendly and it was really pleasant to watch them interact with the baby. We made a lot of new friends and would love to have an opportunity to come back to this part of the Caribbean again.

Thank you Saint Lucia for the warm hospitality!

PS. I would highly recommend St. Lucia to anyone looking for an amazing island with a true “undiscovered” feel to it, but keep in mind it is ridiculously expensive. Food, car rental, accommodations were far pricier than what I had experienced in Aruba or Saint Martin – Sint Maareten (both French and Dutch sides). Saint Lucia was not suited for my budget, that’s for sure. My sister put it best, the people that visit on their big yachts dictate what the pricing, and there were a lot of massive yachts just outside of our resort which was only reachable by a small private ferry. Do try the passion fruit flavor Piton beer, it was an outstanding soft drink alternative.

Addendum: we started and finished our trip in Miami, Florida. And besides being my favorite part of the country to visit in the US, I was so glad my little nephew got to experience some of the things I love most about it like visiting South Beach in Miami Beach.

FREE Marshal Training Videos

There is little doubt in my mind that the better marshals are trained the better quality racing we get to enjoy as Motorsport enthusiasts. And while not every organization or club offers regular training to their volunteers, there are organizations out there providing valuable training material FREE of charge for everyone to benefit from. It is up to you to take advantage of such generosity!

I am of course talking about the Motorsport Safety Fund (motorsportsafetyfund.com/) And even though I have talked about their helpful videos before, and have plastered permanent links to those videos on each page of this web site, it’s worth the effort to promote the videos time and again especially in the winter off season when many of us Motorsport volunteers have too much free time on our hands, because we’re not trackside.

Lets start out with an introduction to Motorsport Marshaling:

fast forward to minute marker 13:28 to watch Race Marshaling if you wish to skip Rally Marshaling information (though its very useful).

Vehicle Recovery: Safety

Vehicle Recovery: Initial Response & Assessment

Vehicle Recovery: Snatching

Vehicle Recovery: Straight Tow (Flat Tow)

Vehicle Recovery: Lift Tow

Vehicle Recovery: Flatbeds / Tilt Bed

Vehicle Recovery: Full Lift (Wrecker)

Vehicle Recovery: Reprise (for the Racing Driver!)

Vehicle Recovery: New Circuit Operators (Truck Drivers/Not Marshals)

Vehicle Recovery: Radios (Communications)

Motorsport Fire Fighting:

There are a number of other useful videos from the Motorsport Safety Fund that I have omitted from this post to keep it concise and focused on circuit racing. Plenty of marshals volunteer for rallies which the Motorsport Safety Fun does a great job in capturing best practices on video to help you be a better marshal. The ones I posted above are a great start, but remember even if you know exactly what you are doing it’s worth refreshing your knowledge by watching these videos. Keeping in mind that some tracks do things differently, though following the advice in the videos you would be very smart to ask whomever you are working with on the game plan for a particular response or plan of action.

I hope you find these videos as useful as I think they are, and remember to spread the word and share the videos with your friends and colleagues to make all of us better marshals working for the same goal: SAFETY in Motorsport!

Motorsport Safety Fund: youtube.com/user/MotorsportSafetyFund

The Best Marshals!?!

As my Facebook Timeline is flooded with real-time photos from the beautiful Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, with F1 cars taking to the track for the final time this season. Or from Putrajaya street circuit in Malaysia, with Formula E cars making their debut in my favorite Southeast Asia destination. I wanted to share a thought about the notion of “the best marshals” out there, many of whom are sharing these photos with me and the world. I will also make some comparisons to myself, and tell you – the reader, why I am not the best. And if you’re also a marshal, why you probably aren’t either. But we certainly can become better!

According to a recent article quoting Mohammed bin Sulayem, the famous Arab rally driver and an influential FIA official who claimed UAE marshals are ready to prove they’re the best in the world, you would be right to think that they  probably are. Of course if you ever watched a broadcast of any race from the UK, they would certainly have you believe that the British marshals are the best in the business. I have written extensively about the quality of the marshaling Australians tend to provide, as they are constantly contracted to train and supervise newbie marshals throughout the Asia Pacific region, including most recently Russia. So who is really the BEST?

Well, as I see it: the BEST marshals are the one’s that are trained well. Which pretty much eliminates me from that candidacy because in the past year of volunteering I have not attended any training sessions in my local region. Not because I didn’t want to. But because it wasn’t offered. So there you have it. If you live in a region that doesn’t offer regular training you have little chance of honing your skills to become a better marshal. Of course I’ve nagged my region to offer training, not just to me but to the entire marshal base of my region. And the most common response I’ve received was to organize it myself or travel to another region. Fair enough! (or not fair, considering I pay an annual membership – presumably for something?) Lets say I take the initiative and organize my own fire training with my local fire department, or first aid training with the local ambulance corps. But then I have to translate this into my Motorsport volunteering, and hardly all road accidents are similar to what we see in racing. So the optimal solution is to travel to receive training where it is actually relevant.

Bernie Ecclestone, the F1 boss everyone loves to hate, once said that if you don’t have the money to race in Formula One – you shouldn’t! And I think the same applies to marshals. In a sense, if you can afford to travel to various events around the world, you become a better marshal because you pick up skills new to you. Assuming something actually happens in the post you have been allocated so that you either see a proper handling of the incident taking place or you are actually involved in it, hands on. If you don’t see anything happen, you haven’t learned anything new. So training is still paramount to your “quality” of skills as a marshal. The “quantity” of events you have attended is only relevant if you have hands on experience. Classroom training, demo’s and simulations are critical. So does it make sense to travel to receive proper training? Yes! But it depends on whether or not you have the funds to do it. Personally, I would rather spend my hard earned money on a pro event with the hopes of having a hands on experience I can learn from, than spending the same amount to travel somewhere where I’m guaranteed to learn something. Is it wrong? Probably… but when applying or registering for events to marshal, you are asked what events you’ve worked previously and not what training sessions you’ve attended. Maybe that’s wrong on the part of the organizers to assume that attendance = experience?

So what can I and others do to be considered “better” or “best” marshals out there? Well, as I pointed out above some factors are well within my control and some are not. For example, I think I would be a much better marshal if I was just a little bit taller, just a few inches. But that ain’t gonna happen. Likewise, I would definitely be a better marshal if I lost some weight. It is totally within my control though talking about it is far easier than actually doing something about it. Ultimately, the best motivation to become the best marshal possible is having training provided. It encourages you to do many things, and most of them positively improve your skill set. And as I’ve written before about the CAMS Young Officials program in Australia, it’s up to the top level of Motorsport organizers to push down to the grassroots level. If the FIA demanded better “quality” marshals for it’s events, and coughed up some money around the world to facilitate such training. The marshals it would create would not only shine for the single F1 or WEC race held in their area, they would certainly seek other events available around them to keep them busy throughout the year, including other pro races and club events. They would probably travel to volunteer races outside of their area. And all in all the “quality” of the pool of marshals worldwide would be improved.

In closing, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that the best marshals are not necessarily those that are the most experienced but those that have the means to travel to and participate in various events. Yas Marina marshals will prove to the world they are the best this weekend not just because they receive amazing training locally, but because the organizers welcome a whole army of visiting officials from around the world that will help the locals prove their worth. There are plenty of British, Canadian, American, Australian, Hungarian and many other nationalities represented alongside the Emiratis in Abu Dhabi this weekend to help the ASN run the event smoothly and professionally. It would be nice then in the future to not hear that the UAE or British or Australian marshals are the best in the world, but that the FIA marshals are the best in the business… I would love to receive some FIA training to make me a better marshal because relying on my local club certainly hasn’t resulted in much.

 

Photo credit (Bernie Ecclestone) unknown, if it belongs to you please provide a hotlink that I could link to giving you credit. Thanks!