Motorsport needs young volunteers.
The number of volunteers just about anywhere you go in the world is not very impressive. Typically racetracks run short on personnel necessary to put on an event safely. Even tracks that pay marshals for their services tend to operate with minimal numbers for cost savings. So what’s the solution? To recruit new, younger marshals!
“Aren’t you proposing to recruit your replacement? Wouldn’t you miss out on events if there were plenty of other people volunteering, especially those younger and more athletic than you?” Sure… but there is a significant benefit to having more marshals at each event, especially younger ones, and I’ll explain why.
I am using photos and graphics in this post from the Australian CAMS YO TEAM (Young Officials Team) project, because unlike US and many other parts of the world, Australia has got it figured out. I was also lucky enough to work with CAMS and the YO TEAM at several events during my visits to the land down under, so I am especially eager to share the news of this program in hopes other countries, including US and Canada adapt similar programs in our club and pro-racing to promote Motorsport Volunteering.
So what is CAMS doing that other ASN’s aren’t? They are actively recruiting young volunteers to marshal their events. And the events they are lucky to experience first hand are not rinky-dink, obscure club events but pretty much the entirety of the V8 Supercars calendar, including their exhibition race alongside Formula One cars during the Australian Grand Prix. Not bad, eh?
This level of dedication to Motorsport Volunteering is why CAMS is contracted to train officials around the world, including Singapore, United Arab Emirates, India, South Korea, and even Russia. Why can’t ACCUS have a similar program? It would give me and other Americans something to work towards, a goal. Something to look forward to. But as far as America is concerned we are the best, and who cares about the rest of the world.
We are not the best in the US. We could be, but we’re not quite there! We have a collection of very experienced individuals that through a combination of miss-matched experience and luck manage to get through events, but often the quality of the racing is compromised with excessively long or completely unnecessary safety car periods. Shortened races, etc. Young Marshals can be a solution. Younger officials, under the supervision of more experienced marshals can do debris runs under a local yellow. Safety pulls under a local yellow. And a number of other tasks that current marshals have given up on because they are physically not capable of doing these tasks. Greater numbers of volunteers, especially younger marshals would result in a safer operation of a particular station. People can rotate through the various jobs. People can take breaks. It’s a safer concept all around.
Recruitment of young marshals is only half the battle though, training them is equally as important. And there are a lot of experienced marshals in the US that are hardly qualified to train anyone. This was my experience when on my very first event marshaling at what would become my home track, I was rudely informed that the senior post chief wasn’t happy with me being there. “How did they let you marshal a pro event? We normally keep new marshals at club events for the first three years before letting them marshal a pro event” he said. Which was a complete and utter bullshit. Nobody is kept anywhere when volunteering. Anyone with a pulse can sign up for the United States Formula One Grand Prix and marshal in their first year of volunteering. Their first fucking event, even. Sadly, this idiot is the same person that typically oversees an international team of volunteers at both US and the Canadian Grand Prix. Talk about a cancer at the very top of the volunteering structure. Who would come back to marshal alongside that kind of a dickhead?
Not too many young people therefore volunteer in US or Canada. There are certainly some young people, but they are typically track brats – kids of current marshals or friends of the family that come along with the experienced marshals. But their numbers are extremely low and relying on this concept is completely unsustainable.
Changes need to be made. And the natural progression of things as I see it is very similar to what CAMS is doing.
- Actively recruit new/young volunteers.
- Train them properly and professionally.
- Create a welcoming atmosphere to make sure they return again!
And what’s in it for the young recruits? Motorsport volunteering is an excellent way to develop an impressive skill set. You get to work with people from various walks of life. From around the world even. You pick up on different cultures. Different techniques. You become a professional as an individual and as a team player. You learn important life skills like confidence, punctuality and responsibility. Time management. Asset and Resource management. People skills. Safety, just to name a few. You can travel the world and without speaking the local language can become a critical component of a safety team. How cool is that?
I know currently it’s up to the local clubs around the world to recruit new volunteers, but I firmly believe organizations like the FIA and FIM should take the global lead. There are current projects like the FIA Women in Motorsport that is very popular. But they need to expand it further. Promote everyone’s participation in Motorsport!
CAMS YO TEAM on facebook: f/CAMSYoungOfficialsTeam
YO TEAM graphics by Artifact Design Group: artifact.com.au/projects/cams-yo-team-logo/
The goal of this post is to promote the recruitment of young marshals around the world. For information on how to join browse this web site or contact via facebook. There is a wealth of information out there to marshal just about anywhere, in multiple languages if English isn’t convenient.
As far as the training goes, I absolutely love the videos made available by the Motorsport Safety Fund: myroadtrip.net/motorsport-safety-fund-videos/ I have highlighted some on this page, or visit them directly: motorsportsafetyfund.com/films/