Tag Archives: British Grand Prix

Marshaling in Pain What it’s like to Get an Acute Gout Attack at the Track

In the past two weeks I had two acute gout attacks, one a few days before departing for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and second the morning after it finished. As lucky as I was that I didn’t have to marshal in the pain of this unfortunate disease, it has hit me before right smack in the middle of a major event and a few of them international at that.

What should one do when that happens?

Well the logical solution is to treat the problem. But what if you’re like me and don’t have medical insurance? My gout was self diagnosed and I have been treating it based on my own research and a few suggestions at various medical centers I visited during my race participation (abroad). The problem is a bit tough to handle, especially when one doesn’t have the money to treat it correctly.

Should a person quit marshaling when they have a disability?

I sure hope that’s things don’t get that bad for me. I would really hate to give up this hobby and more importantly give up eating the delicious food that typically trigger my gout attacks. But there’s got to be a reasonable solution.

Before I self-diagnosed my gout, I had a very painful attack at the British Grand Prix where I made it to the race medical center whom didn’t suggest there was a bigger problem other than confirming a less scary diagnosis that features the same symptoms: a twisted ankle (which was certainly plausible).

What’s worse the Brits didn’t even offer any medication or pain killers to help me deal with the excruciating pain I was experiencing until the second visit to the medical center on the final day of the event. Not only was my foot swollen, I could not sleep a wink for two nights because any kind of movement or even brushing my foot with the sleeping bag while camping would send shocks through the whole body, it was intense. I didn’t want to miss out on the race, even though I couldn’t contribute much to the actual marshaling aspect I got to watch from a shed on my post with ice on my foot to help relieve the swelling and some of the pain.

It took almost two weeks for the pain to go away, long after I returned home to New Jersey. But thinking back on this situation, I know exactly what triggered this gout attack… It was the delicious fish & chips meal I had at Milton Keynes after visiting the Red Bull F1 team offices before proceeding to Silverstone.

Earlier last year sushi triggered a strong gout attack before my trip to Australia and New Zealand. And once again I was marshaling in pain at the Bathurst 12 hour race on Mount Panorama. Luckily I was assigned a position which didn’t require climbing over a tall rail or a wall and one that was accessible by walking over smooth surfaces from our camping area near the paddock.

Even more recently I had a really painful acute gout attack in Germany during the WEC 6 hour of the Nurburgring after sampling delicious herring fish in Amsterdam. This time the pain was so strong I had to go to the medical center… twice. And the Germans doctor took really good care of me offering not only medication that helped relieve the pain and allow me to sleep at the camp site, but also offer meaningful medication which I have since started using at first signs of gout coming on.

The medicine I bought in Germany helped me get over the recent gout symptoms in just two days… unfortunately they came right back after the Daytona 24 event. But once I arrived home I started the treatment again and it’s working well. It’s a shame though that this keeps on happening.

I suspect I am not the only one that suffers from some sort of ailment when it comes to Motorsport and it would be very interesting to hear how other people are handling their medical issues while at a race track.

Do comment below with your opinions and advice.

British F1 Grand Prix debrief

Its not easy to volunteer major international events like the Formula One World Championship. Like many others, in order to be selected for the British GP I had to fill out forms, provide letters of recommendation, wait for a decision, etc. And when the time came to get dressed and perform at the top of my game, I fell flat on my face!

So when does a good intending marshal with an injury become a liability? I feel my presence at the British GP came close if not crossed that line. Was I useful? Not at all. Despite my best intentions, I feel I was getting in the way of other marshals doing their job, and that sort of distraction shouldn’t happen when dangerous tasks are performed at a racing circuit (especially at professional events, when there are cameras everywhere).

Am I thankful for the powers that be to allow me to remain there? Of course I am. I had come a long way to marshal in the UK, and to be asked to leave would have been devastating. But standing there cringing with excruciating pain, wasn’t a much better alternative. This experience reminds me to remember to carry a first aid kit, the one item I had left out from my luggage this time. Of course being more careful is the plan for all future racing, including ALMS and World Challenge at Lime Rock this weekend.

british gp 6

british gp 1

british gp 4

British F1 Grand Prix nomination

With all the bitching and moaning about how terribly the marshals are treated by the organizers at the British Grand Prix on the ten-tenths forum, I put my name forward to be considered. In the application process I ticked off both flag and track disciplines, and put forward both my SCCA membership and that I am part of the Singapore GP team. In fact Singapore GP is the one that provided the recommendation letter as is often accustomed to be considered for such an event.

So what happened?

British GP organizers, the MSA (Motor Sports Association United Kingdom) released the names of the nominations in PDF format on their web site:  http://www.msaevents.co.uk/bgpmarshals.php where I appear to be the only SCCA member to be listed as a nominee. Cool! Furthermore, it seems I’ve been assigned the incident/course role nomination which is the second of the two options that I ticked, since they’re often short on flag marshals I was hoping for that role; but it wasn’t meant to be.

According to the latest bitching and moaning on the forum there appears to be an abundance of track marshals and still a shortage of flag personnel. So it will be interesting to see if I get selected or not after all. Maybe powers that be dismiss my application altogether after reading this rant, though I was truly hoping to be a flag marshal at BGP especially if I could make a trip to Europe to do Le Mans and F1 back to back.

The decision will be made in late January.