Earlier I completed the online training modules from IMSA Track Services, and out of all the quiz’es I only got 1 question wrong (and only because I misinterpreted the language of the question). While attempting to go through the much larger catalog of courses offered by NASCAR Track Services, I started out with a 60% score, getting 4 out of 10 questions wrong on the module about the “99” or responding physician during a NASCAR event. How could that be? I followed that module up by failing the next module on the first attempt, out of 20 questions I only answered 15 correctly, and in this case 75% score meant I had to do the module over. No big deal, I got 20 out of 20 that time, but received no credit for both modules that had to do with Cars Extrication (for the Truck Extrication I got 90% passing grade).
How in the world is that possible? I am not used to failing, especially on tests. But that was the reality, I got too many questions wrong. And it illustrates the lack of confidence on some questions where I should have known better while others genuinely fooled me in misinterpreting the question as it was presented. But if nothing else, this proves that even something so common sense as a standardized/universal language of NASCAR takes time to get used to, comprehend and accept as the proper way of thinking when working in the safety position especially for a NASCAR event. This experience taught me the importance of learning – continuous learning, even of subjects that I thought I knew well. Especially since I had done so well with a similar IMSA module earlier in the week.
NASCAR training is very comprehensive. What fooled me initially was the way modules were presented on the learning management system. The lessons were arranged in alphabetical order, from top to bottom, instead of order of relevance and complexity. A few times I clicked to enroll into a lesson only to be told that a pre-requisite lesson must be completed first, and that pre-req was listed further down the list. Once I realized that my passing grades improved tremendously, getting no more than one or two questions wrong and scoring in the 80% to 100%
I am so glad I have finally discovered this NASCAR Track Services Learning Management System because as far as I am concerned this should be mandatory training for anyone wishing to volunteer their time for any Motorsport series. Knowing the NASCAR approaches even when some of the cars are drastically different in other series would not hurt a marshal to study the correct approaches to safety.
The amount of time it took me to leisurely watch the lessons and answer the Quiz’es at the end stretched over a two week period, one to two days a week with a solid few hours dedicated to the LMS system. I’m certain that I was not meant to take every course as the area of coverage includes Track Rescue, Fire, EMS, Extrication, Restoration and Wrecker/Rollback services. I’m pretty sure that each person depending on their assigned role should focus only on their dedicated lesson, but I thought I’d benefit from doing them all. I’m ashamed I didn’t take the “extrication” lesson seriously enough to pass it on the first attempt, that really took me by surprise. But I’m more surprised that I passed all the other modules that I have no experience with whatsoever like EMS and Wrecker/Rollback operation. Similarly I aced the Fire services tests which is one area that I am especially interested in getting more proficient in. Of course to be hired on as a NASCAR fire fighter, much like Singapore GP fire marshal volunteers requires a person to be an actual fire fighter. So that is not a likely scenario for me.
I am also very much looking forward to the instructor based, on location training at Watkins Glen International next week with the rest of the Race Services Inc crew. It should be fantastic. And now that the Miata is fixed, I am also really looking forward to my first Road Trip in that car!
PS. Some more observations about the lessons. I love how each module is broken down in length from less than 5 minutes to no more than 25 minutes, which means that each module is extremely manageable and keeps the viewer attentive and engaged (ie. not boring). I like the repetitive nature of the lessons. Especially by doing all of them back to back, there was constant regurgitation of information, which had I planned the taking of the lessons better I would have fared better because the same questions are asked of EMS as extrication, and it’s more natural to remember the concepts through the EMS lesson, I found than the extrication lesson. The Red Bull cars #4, #83 and #84 made an awful lot of appearances which is interesting for a brand that no longer participates in NASCAR as far as I’m aware. I love the focus that the LMS placed on openness, integrity and professionalism. I like how NASCAR values were described in a realistic true to life manner identifying stakeholders and guests and promoting the notion of respect towards them. Without any of them we wouldn’t have this kind of racing. Ultimately I’m hopeful I get to do more of this kind of training year by year. And maybe some opportunities open up at tracks closer to me than Watkins Glen like Pocono Raceway.
And finally, seeing how NASCAR managed to create a comprehensive, efficient and effective training program through their Learning Management System I see no reason why clubs like SCCA do the same for their events and their marshals or the FIA do for their events requiring volunteer marshals. And each should issue a certificate like NASCAR does that would act as proof of completion of the very basic training required prior to participating in an event.