Tag Archives: Education

NASCAR / IMSA / WGI & RSI Motorsport Safety Seminar

Haven’t seen much publicity about this event, but next week Watkins Glen International and Race Services Inc. are hosting their annual Motorsport Safety Seminar presented by NASCAR (and IMSA) people for all specialties of Motorsport volunteers (though primarily focused on rescue and track restoration services that work directly with NASCAR people during their events).

I think this is a particularly important event, and will be attending.

For anyone interested in Motorsport volunteering in the Upstate New York area, please consider attending also. Would be a great time to join RSI as I’m sure the club would love to have more folks volunteering with them. Lots of interesting events happening at WGI this year!

nascar fire school rsi watkins glen 4

I’m especially looking forward to another session with a fire extinguisher, haven’t pulled a pin on one since last year’s event.

MSS is at WGI April 9 and 10.

What other ASN’s could learn from CAMS: Confederation of Australian Motor Sport

There’s much we could learn from CAMS: Confederation of Australian Motor Sport and I would hope all international ASN’s are taking note of the things this club is doing RIGHT.

The latest Officials Newsletter ticks all the right boxes for me:

cams officials newsletter marshals wanted marshal training online marshal education

First, there’s a call for action: Marshals Wanted!

I really applaud this national ASN reaching out to their entire membership base, including those of us who are overseas / international marshals and asking for help at a particular event. It is not below them to ask. They aren’t losing any face doing it. There are positions to be filled and they are doing the right thing seeking help from the obvious resource: their licensed members. Kudos!

Second, there’s information about Training!

Brilliant. CAMS is one of the few organizations that I’ve had the privilege of working with that push sophisticated and regular (constantly updated) training modules onto it’s membership base. How appropriate! There’s an organization that recognizes that things change in the Motorsport industry, the change is constant. And they make sure that the membership stays abreast of the all changes by offering standardized training from the national organization down to the individual clubs on the ground like those in the state of Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and others.

Third, the most convenient of training modules: e-Training!

One of the hardest things for any club to organize is to bring its membership together at a time and place for a particular event of significance like Training. Solution? Offer Online training! Simple, effective and convenient to both the organizers and the individuals taking advantage of the opportunity to brush up their skills from the comfort of their own home on their own terms (time/place/mood?).

This is why I like CAMS!

It’s not just because they have trained me from the very beginning of my marshaling career. But because they continue to offer me opportunities to further my career in this hobby by doing things right. And not a lot of ASN’s out there take the time or make the effort to keep their membership base engaged and wanting to participate more.

The last e-mail notice I got from my current local club was a reminder to pay my dues…

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!

#MarshalHandbook | Pro Marshal Handbook

UPDATE:

The 2015 Pro Marshal Handbook completed thus far, please choose:

Events Series Clubs Circuits
29 races 9 series 6 clubs 23 race tracks

 

2015 will be a year where I, thanks to some very unfortunate collection of circumstances, will not get to volunteer many or in fact any Motorsport events.

But this hobby has consumed my life for a better part of the last four years and I would like to do some research to better my experience and the experience of my friends and colleagues by compiling publicly available information into a simple template that could be used when organizing a trip to volunteer for an event. I know this information will be especially useful for an international marshal.

The Formula I came up with consists of 4 components and several basic questions that I will hopefully be able to find appropriate information to answer. For example, at this time the only thing I know about the upcoming NOLA Grand Prix is where New Orleans Louisiana is. But by the time I’m finished with my research not only will I know basic information about the event I’ll be able to share it in a concise and easy to understand format with others.

The 4 criteria are:

  1. Event
  2. Series
  3. Club
  4. Circuit

Each criteria will answer the following Questions:

  • Event:

When is it?

Where is it?

How do I get there?

How can I save money getting there?

When can I register?

Who do I register with?

What should I bring to the event if selected and what’s provided?

  • Series:

What role will I play?

What are the flag rules?

What are the communications procedures?

What are the response procedures?

What are the full course caution and restart procedures?

  • Club

What organization is organizing marshals for the event?

Can I participate with that organization with my club?

How do I register with them?

What are their contact details?

  • Circuits

Where is the circuit?

How do I get there?

Where is the registration and credentials collection?

Where is the morning meeting?

Where can I park for the event?

Where can I stay or camp?

What are the track specs?

Where are the marshal stations?

What should I bring to the event and what’s provided?

 

That’s it! Basic, elementary information that I’m sure anyone has asked themselves when attempting to participate at a new event for the first time. Keep in mind that since the information researched is pulled from publicly available information, it may be completely inaccurate so the best thing to do is to always ask the flag chief of the event for specific details. But chances are the information will give you guidance on what to expect, and if you do have questions prepare you for what questions to actually ask. You can’t ask questions about something you don’t know about, right?

Please stay tuned for the links to follow shortly, and if you can contribute with any helpful information I would greatly appreciate it. The events I will talk about in detail are those I identified in my last post about “How I would go about writing a marshal’s handbook” this project is that Marshal’s Handbook 🙂

See what I have come up with so far: 2015 Pro Marshal’s Handbook

PS. How is this different from what I normally blog about? Typically, I blog about events I’ve already done or am about to do. With the handbook I will research information for events that I will not be doing or may not be necessarily allowed to do as you will notice many tracks rely solely on their employees and not clubs to staff events. I will talk about it in some detail.

How I would go about compiling a “Pro” Marshal’s Handbook

The SCCA Marshal Handbook is 30 pages long. It covers most of the basic rules for club racing, but does little to help a marshal working a “Pro” event especially one sanctioned by the FIA, IMSA, IndyCar, etc.

So to supplement the current lack of actual pre-event training (if you work club events you get really good with club rules which are different than individual series rules) I will compile a Handbook to help those marshals interested in working “Pro” events.

First I must identify what pro events there are on 2015 calendar.

They are:

F1 – Circuit of the Americas, TX (10/25)
MotoGP – Circuit of the Americas, TX (4/12)
MotoGP – Indianapolis Motor Speedway, IN (8/9)
WEC – Circuit of the Americas, TX (9/19)
SBK – Laguna Seca, CA (7/19)
Formual E – Miami, FL – 3/14
Formula E – Long Beach, CA – 4/4

IndyCar – St Petersburg, FL (3/29)
IndyCar – NOLA Motorsports Park, LA (4/12)
IndyCar – Barber Motorsports Park, AL (4/26)
IndyCar – Indianapolis Motor Speedway, IN (5/9)
IndyCar – Detroit Belle Isle, MI (5/31)
IndyCar – Toronto, ON (6/14)
IndyCar – Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, OH (8/2)
IndyCar – Sonoma Raceway, CA (8/30)

TUSC – Daytona International Speedway, FL (1/24)
TUSC – Sebring International Raceway, FL (3/21)
TUSC – Long Beach, CA (4/18)
TUSC – Laguna Seca, CA (5/3)
TUSC – Belle Isle, MI (5/30)
TUSC – Watkins Glen International, NY (6/28)
TUSC – Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, ON (7/12)
TUSC – Lime Rock Park (7/25)
TUSC – Road America, WI (8/9)
TUSC – Virginia International Raceway, VA (8/23)
TUSC – Circuit of the Americas, TX (9/19)
TUSC – Road Atlanta, GA (10/3)

PWC – Circuit of the Americas, TX (3/8)
PWC – St Petersburg, FL (3/29)
PWC – Long Beach, CA (4/19)
PWC – Barber Motorsports Park, AL (4/26)
PWC – Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, ON (5/17)
PWC – Road America, WI (6/28)
PWC – Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, OH (8/2)
PWC – Miller Motorsports Park, UT (8/23)
PwC – Sonoma Raceway, CA (8/30)
PWC – Laguna Seca, CA (9/13)

AMA – Circuit of the Americas, TX (4/12)
AMA – Road Atlanta, GA (4/19)
AMA – Virginia International Raceway, VA (5/17)
AMA – Road America, WI (5/31)
AMA – Barber Motorsports Park, AL (6/14)
AMA – Indianapolis Motor Speedway, IN (8/9)
AMA – NJMP, NJ (9/13)
AMA – Laguna Seca, CA (7/19)

NASCAR – Sonoma Raceway, CA (6/28)
NASCAR – Watkins Glen International, NY (8/9)
NASCAR – Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, OH (8/15)
NASCAR – Road America, WI (8/29)
NASCAR – Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, ON (8/30)

Trans Am – Sebring International Raceway, FL (3/1)
Trans Am – Homestead-Miami Speedway, FL (4/12)
Trans Am – Road Atlanta, GA (5/9)
Trans Am – Lime Rock Park, CT (5/23)
Trans Am – NJMP, NJ (6/14)
Trans Am – Brainerd International Raceway (9/27)
Trans Am – Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, OH (8/15)
Trans Am – Road America, WI (8/29)
Trans Am – Virginia International Raceway, VA (9/27)
Trans Am – NOLA Motorsport Park, LA (10/11)
Trans Am – Circuit of the Americas, TX (11/8)
Trans Am – Daytona International Speedway, FL (11/14)

Ferrari Challenge – Daytona International Speedway, FL (1/25)
Ferrari Challenge – Homestead-Miami Speedway, FL (3/8)
Ferrari Challenge – Sonoma Raceway, CA (4/26)
Ferrari Challenge – Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, QC (6/7)
Ferrari Challenge – Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, ON (7/26)
Ferrari Challenge – Mont Tremblant, QC (9/13)
Ferrari Challenge – Laguna Seca, CA (11/1)

Lamborghini Super Trofeo – Laguna Seca, CA (5/1)
Lamborghini Super Trofeo – Watkins Glen International, NY (6/26)
Lamborghini Super Trofeo – Virginia Int’l Raceway, VA (8/21)
Lamborghini Super Trofeo – Circuit of the Americas, TX (9/17)
Lamborghini Super Trofeo – Road Atlanta, GA (10/1)
Lamborghini Super Trofeo – Sebring Int’l Raceway, FL (11/19)

Seems like a lot of stuff going on, but if you narrow it down by circuits you only get 20 circuits, 17 in the US and 3 in Canada:

Circuit of the Americas, TX
Indianapolis Motor Speedway, IN
Laguna Seca, CA
Sonoma Raceway, CA
NOLA Motorsports Park, LA
Barber Motorsports Park, AL
Mid-Ohio Sporst Car Course, OH
Homestead-Miami Speedway, FL
Daytona International Speedway, FL
Sebring International Raceway, FL
Virginia International Raceway, VA
Road America, WI
Road Atlanta, GA
Miller Motorsports Park, UT
Watkins Glen International, NY
Lime Rock Park, CT
New Jersey Motorsports Park, NJ
Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, ON
Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, QC
Mont Tremblant, QC

And 5 temporary or street circuits, of which 4 are in the US and 1 in Canada:

St, Petersburg, FL
Miami, FL
Long Beach, CA
Detroit Belle Isle, MI
Toronto, ON

Once you take into consideration that many “Pro” events act as support races for other “Pro” events on the same weekend at the same track, the calendar is reduced even further. Therefore further simplification and narrowing down is required.

Second I would use event information to identify the organizers:

They are:

SCCA
USAC
RSI
USARM
ACIND
MMS
Circuit of the Americas, TX
Virginia International Raceway, VA
Miller Motorsports Park, UT

…and possibly other clubs or tracks that organize their own marshals.

Third I would compile procedural information for each series.

This information includes:

Flag Rules including Light Panel Instructions/Procedures
Full Course Yellow Procedure and Restarts
Communication Guidelines
Response Rules, including vehicle specific info like Hybrid systems kill switches, extinguisher switches, tow procedure, lifting of vehicle, and general differences between open wheel, sports car, or moto events.

Fourth I would compile available supplemental info for each series.

That includes:

Spotter Guides
Vehicle Distinguishing Features Info/Class System
Driver List / Number / Names
Team Information
Series Information, etc.

Fifth and final section I would compile pertinent track information.

General description of each Road Course
General description of each Street Course
Specific information unique to each facility.
Any pertinent information for marshals like morning meetings, locations, lunches, where equipment is kept, flags/fire bottles,  etc.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of information for the “Pro” Marshal’s Handbook, but it is a good outline of where to start. I would envisage that with each year information would be updated as necessary – whether added or deleted. However, all in all it would be a solid point of reference for anyone using the Handbook at any “Pro” event they choose to volunteer without alienating one club over another, one series over another or one circuit over another.

This is also something that does not currently exist.

“PRO” Marshal’s Handbook

For the price of a couple of cases of beer or some soggy sandwiches served to the marshals at a “pro” level event, I think a far better perk can be distributed that may contribute to the better quality of work provided by the volunteers: a “Pro” Marshal’s Handbook.

I understand training isn’t cheap. United States is a vast country and it’s hard to organize training to each marshal in each region that makes up the various clubs that staff workers and volunteers for different events. So for the sake of consistency I think all the stakeholders should collaborate on the creation of a “Pro” Marshal’s Handbook that will cover the very basic of concepts relevant to each organization, each sanctioning body and each racing series.

Who are the stakeholders?

First: the series. NASCAR (for the two road courses that they do that require volunteer marshals). IMSA probably the most famous one with it’s different racing series from TUSC to CTSCC, as well as Ferrari Challenge, Lamborghini Super Trofeo and the very exciting Porsche GT3/Carrera Cup. IndyCar has the main and it’s Lights series that use marshals on road courses. SCCA Pro or WC Vision with it’s Pirelli World Challenge as well as Trans Am and the Playboy MX-5 Cup Series. And even NASA with it’s 25 hours at Thunderhill which draws professional races to an excellent endurance event.

Second: existing clubs. Sports Car Club of America is the main one because they hold the monopoly on issuing marshal licenses, especially if you as a marshal ever wish to work overseas, you must hold a valid SCCA license. United States Auto Club is an important one as they staff Indianapolis events both car and bike. Race Services Inc in Watkins Glen because of it’s unique and historic importance in American motorsports. USARM because of their involvement in motorcycle events at Laguna Seca. And I’m sure there are others that exist but I may simply be unaware of.

Third: race tracks. There aren’t all that many tracks in the US that host Pro level racing events. Probably the most famous and the most advanced track in the US is the Circuit of the Americas, but it’s not the only one. I would get Daytona International Speedway, Sebring International Raceway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Road Atlanta, Road America, Lime Rock Park, Watkins Glen International, Laguna Seca, Mid-Ohio, VIR and all the others on board for a chance to shape the “Pro” marshal handbook, as legitimate stakeholders because they too hire their own marshals to work everything from track rentals to Pro events.

Fourth: expand all of the above to International bodies. Whether the race track in Canada like the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park or ACIND / Quebec club responsible for staffing their Grand Prix where SCCA marshals are significantly represented every year. Perhaps there are some clubs or organizations in Mexico that may come on board. Or even input from the MSA in the UK, RACB in Belgium, RACE in Spain, ACO in France, AvD in Germany, ATCUAE in the Emirates or CAMS from Australia. If the drivers can race in any series worldwide, why can’t the marshals work officially anywhere worldwide, like many of them already do?

Fifth: the FIA/FIA Institute of Motor Sport Safety. As a global governing and sanctioning body, FIA must be involved in some way, shape or form. That’s an absolute given even when the FIA representative in the US is a simple committee under the ACCUS umbrella made of representatives from each one of SCCA, IMSA, IndyCar, NASCAR, etc.

I have seen efforts by other individuals contributing training materials to their respective clubs. And I want to give credit to those people in the US that do conduct on-the-job training. Capturing their experience in a proper handbook would benefit all of us that may not take advantage of the face-to-face interaction/learning.

What would something like this cost to produce?

Peanuts… literally, small potatoes compared to what proper classroom training costs to set up. But its a critical step in organizing better training opportunities for a place with antiquated systems currently in place.

It may be a long term project but I think I will start my own “Unofficial” Pro Marshal Handbook training manual and use it as a template to approach SCCA, USAC, IMSA, NASCAR, IndyCar, and all the others to get them on board. What have we got to lose from better training?   Nothing!  There’s literally NO side effects from making this improvement to the training program.

pro marshal's handbook

Other countries already offer this. Why shouldn’t we have it too?

I could really use other people’s help with this project. Please Help!

Race Car Drivers Should Demand Better Trained Safety Marshals

There’s one thing I have always wondered: Do race car drivers care about the quality of the marshals that are responsible for track safety? Ultimately, their safety?

I’m not a race car driver, so I can’t answer that question with confidence. I have asked a few friends that race on an amateur and professional level and the answer is an overwhelming “Yes!” especially from those that have had some marshaling experience as they were coming up in their racing careers. But seeing how training is limited especially here in the US, I wonder if the drivers are aware of the situation and should they be concerned? Shouldn’t they demand better training for marshals? To me it only seems logical.

This concept isn’t limited to pro racers, amateur racers participating in club events have just as much stake in the quality of training as some of the famous F1 or WEC celebs. Everybody has a stake, it’s safety we’re talking about here, human lives! And it doesn’t matter if you are getting paid millions of dollars to jet around the globe and put on a show for the TV audience and all those fancy sponsors. It doesn’t matter whether you have the best quality kit: helmet, fire proof suit, gloves, shoes and underwear. Neck restraints, arm restraints and state of the art roll cages, strong carbon fiber cockpit, etc. If you’ve crashed you’d want the first responders – the closest marshals to you, to know what to do rather than just call for help from race control. Sure depending on the severity of the impact a simple call to race control may be an appropriate action (it usually is), but if the scenario isn’t given sufficient priority or there is a delay in dispatching rescue crews to the incident, someone could be severely hurt. That’s you: the race car driver I’m talking about!

So what can be done?

Two things in my view: 1) awareness and 2) discussion.

Awareness is not the same as paranoia. I think many drivers, especially those that were either wronged by a bad call from a marshal about a particular incident, or those that had their car damaged more by the rescue crews than what the car sustained from the impact of the accident itself, are already aware that there are some marshals better than others. But I could only speculate they assume that the event organizer, or the sanctioning body that pays for the marshaling services to the organization that provides the marshals, would improve the quality of the marshals. In my opinion that doesn’t always happen. It’s like outsourcing. The FIA requires marshals for F1, they outsource this task to the local ASN. The local ASN turns around and compiles a crew from it’s own clubs and any other clubs it works with. And the clubs recruit (hopefully) people to make up their numbers to facilitate the requirements of the ASN. So the F1 marshal at US GP does not work directly for the FIA who pays for their services, but instead for USAC, SCCA, RSI, or directly for COTA. As a result, depending on who the marshal actually volunteers/or works with determines the quality of the training that marshal received. In the US nobody is trained specifically for F1. Sometimes your corner captain may forward you some FIA regulations passed on to them from the ASN, but that’s not always the case. So you as a marshal are on your own. Does a Formula 1 driver know this? Should they be concerned? And this is not limited to F1, MotoGP in Indianapolis is even looser with whom they let work as marshals for the Grand Prix, being a motorcycle enthusiast might be the only prerequisite it seems.

Discussion therefore is the appropriate solution I can recommend. We’ve all seen the movie SENNA and how the drivers have a direct impact on whether a race takes place. If the drivers aren’t comfortable with racing in a monsoon for safety reasons, perhaps the race could be delayed. If the drivers aren’t comfortable with the set up of a tire wall in a dangerous corner, they can get that wall modified to better suit their needs. If the drivers are aware that there isn’t consistent marshal training, they can certainly request it to be done.

How can drivers demand better trained marshals? Simple, ask to see what training material is used to educate marshals.

In this day and age, teaching marshals word-of-mouth with on-the-job training is primitive, especially in the US. There’s got to be supplemental materials created for each series, not just FIA F1… but WEC, IMSA, WC VISION (SCCA PRO), FIM MotoGP/SBK Superbikes, IndyCar, NASCAR, etc. It is the responsibility of each series to facilitate learning for the marshals that take part in their events, assuming the marshals have common sense and learn shit from Club events is foolish! Many drivers, especially the famous ones race in multiple series. Go nudge whomever it is responsible for trackside safety in each one of the events you do, to better prepare the marshals that have the potential to be the first responders at YOUR crash site wherever you race, and tell them you want them to be sufficiently trained. Demand better training. Often times marshals don’t have a voice because they are mere volunteers. Well, race car drivers certainly have a voice… use it!

SCCA U – The 3 R’s: Recruit, Retain, Recognize

I have spent a considerable amount of time and effort placing employment ads, taking applications, conducting interviews and providing training to a number of people over the years only to watch them leave because the job wasn’t what they had thought it would be.  Or they felt under-appreciated because they either didn’t make enough money or felt they deserved better assignments, or just wanted a pat on the back from time to time in recognition of their efforts to go above and beyond what their work called for. It may sound familiar to some individuals within a volunteer organization like the Sports Car Club of America, yet my example is from my day job managing a Limousine company in the NYC metropolitan area.

What does a Limo company have to do with SCCA?

More than you think, I bet. In this post I will illustrate the very important concepts of the Three (3) R’s. That is Recruit, Retain and Recognize listed in the “Back to Basics” section of the training manuals I downloaded from SCCA.com web site, something that really needs to be pointed out to the people responsible for this task within the club because as I’m about to show it really works!

Now, while I only have a mere four (4) years experience volunteering, three (3) of them with the SCCA, I may not be qualified to tell the powers that be what they should consider doing. But when it comes to the ground transportation industry, I’ve spent sixteen (16) years in this business. I had my first limo job in high school, before I even got my driver’s license. And while most people think that working in the limo business only involves driving, that is only one of the many tasks I experienced (and typically in emergency situations when I absolutely ran out of drivers and had to go on the road myself because we don’t leave any customer behind or stranded). I have worked both in the USA and Australia and have published a few articles in respected industry magazines sharing my experience with other managers. I know my way works but I’m always open to learn new things. Never stop learning!

That said, I don’t need to tell the powers that be (the ones that could really put the region on the path of improvement instead of continuing with the status quo) anything. Great information is readily available from SCCA University. It is unfortunately buried in the uploads section of the File Cabinet, so the least I can do is bring light to it because I feel it really is beneficial.

limo sydney 1

So let me start by saying that instead of talking about how each “R” is critical, let me instead point out that no matter how much effort and budget you spend on Recruiting people, if they don’t Return because time and again they were not satisfied with their treatment, your competence, or lacked Recognition for a job well done assuming it was appropriate, your advertising dollars were wasted! It’s as simple as that. The goal of any organization, whether it’s providing a chauffeur position or a volunteer marshal role, is to make sure that the candidate buys into the “job” and wants to come back/return again and again to continue working.

Driving like marshaling attracts different people. The companies I’ve worked with over the years didn’t employ 100% professional drivers, or people that chose as their career to be a limousine driver. More than 50% of the drivers, and that number went up as high as 80% on the weekends, were people who did this job part-time, and just wanted to make some extra money for whatever reason. We’ve had teachers drive, construction workers, accountants, real estate brokers and salespeople, students, you name it. Much like the demographics of volunteer marshals. I’ve worked with people that couldn’t afford to fill up their car and only put enough gas as their money allowed them until the next paycheck. I’ve also worked with people that had a fleet of exotic cars at home, and to them money was no object (so to say). People volunteer for different reason, and that’s the beauty of the variety of personalities that it creates completely disregarding the individual backgrounds, financial, social, ethnic, etc. Motorsport brings together people from all walks of life and every corner of America (or the world). When you recruit you don’t focus on one demographic, you try to appeal to all of them. The more the merrier. Keeping in mind that the Motivation to facilitate Retention will be different to each individual and could very well be based on their socioeconomic status or background. In the limo industry we welcome all, SCCA regions do the same… but they must focus on continuous recruiting. If a potential candidate for a job doesn’t know that the job exists, he’s not really a candidate. Recruiting only at motorsport events is akin of shooting fish in a barrel. Chances are spectators know what volunteering entails and they are not the best candidate to recruit (especially if their idea of watching a race is kicking back with a beer in hand).

It’s not cheap to recruit new people. In the limo industry the turn over is pretty big. There are plenty of amateur drivers that bounce from company to company based on recruitment efforts of those companies and the promises of greener grass by the recruiters. But ultimately most limo companies are very similar. Most companies pay the same (reasonably speaking), retention can be therefore improved by compatible personalities between the drivers and the managers, recognition of performance, etc. We often try to recruit brand new drivers, those that have not worked with multiple companies before, people with NO experience. They are most expensive to recruit because it takes a lot of time and money to train them. But considering the drivers are the face of the company, and you are only as good as the last ride you provided, it’s important to train well. (It’s said that you can provide 99 perfect rides but if you screw up on 1, the customer will leave and use another limo company). This is very similar to recruiting volunteers. SCCA is not the only game in town (even though often I hear people pretend that they are). Marshals can work with USAC for Indianapolis events. They can work with RSI for Watkins Glen events. Or they can work directly with the tracks if they live near NJMP, COTA, and now Lime Rock whom hire marshals directly, no SCCA membership required. People can also work for event organizers, for example Andretti Autosport is the organizer of the NOLA Grand Prix, they are staffing the event with their own marshals, not with SCCA marshals from the Southwest Division. BUT since SCCA is the only organization within the USA capable of issuing a marshal license that is recognized internationally and may be seen as a prerequisite to volunteer overseas, it is therefore the responsibility of SCCA to recruit and train marshals so they can represent the organization even when they choose to work events with USAC or Andretti.

Finally, Recognition is important but from my experience it is either too trivial to implement or too expensive. We’ve never had “Employee of the Month!” award with any of the companies I’ve worked with. But several Limousine Conventions/Seminars I attended not only recognized companies that did have such a program, but also implemented their own Recognition Awards and Gala’s. Operator of the Year! International Operator of the Year! etc. People feel all warm and fuzzy inside even when they are presented with a piece of paper and a gold star on it saying, “This Certificate Recognizes The Recipient for the Specific Achievement Described Below” I mean people go nuts over it! It’s a boost to an individual’s ego, a pat on the back, something they can show their friends and family. Something they can hang on their wall at home. SCCA does this with a “Volunteer of the Year” award. I know this because my good friend Jessie was a worthy recipient last year. And I applaud her region for recognizing her work. I framed four or five “Certificates of Appreciation” I received from volunteering F1 Grand Prix in Singapore, Australia and Malaysia. They look like university diplomas.

limo nyc 2

Ultimately, driving a limo or waving a flag as a marshal is not rocket science… as a cliche saying goes: “Anybody can do it!” But not everyone wants to do it! Few want to be on call for a 12 hour shift and not get a single run because it’s a slow day for travel. Nor do they want to drive to the airport first thing in the morning with the second job late in the afternoon. While other people love the freedom it gives them to do their personal stuff in between jobs, a perk few 9 to 5 office jobs offer. Similarly, not everybody wants to stand on the side of the track from the crack of dawn to dusk, often seeing nothing happen in their corner. It’s boring, it’s unexciting. It would put off even the most enthusiastic Motorsport enthusiast. But somebody’s gotta do the job. And it’s important to Recruit, Retain and Recognize the people that do it! Relying on skeleton crews is dangerous, it places a ridiculous amount of strain on the few volunteers that work alone. I have no idea how event organizers get away with such abuse in a country that has OSHA!

In my next post I will talk about how Race Car Drivers, both club and professional should demand that the volunteers provided to work as safety marshals are qualified to do the job. And to qualify they must be trained, continuously. Nobody is an expert without regularly brushing up on their skills by learning changes in technology, both car and track safety features, etc. Stay tuned.

I was wrong about the SCCA

Over the past three years of my SCCA membership I have been very critical of the organization on many occasions because of things I perceived wrong. It turns out the criticism I voiced was misdirected and I was wrong to blame the organization, when the real culprits are those people I have been in contact with that don’t take guidance given to them through SCCA University seriously, and ultimately don’t take sufficient action to help the organization grow and improve.

But this post is not about blaming more people. The things I posted before still apply, just remember to strike the name SCCA in those posts and replace it with incompetent managers and supervisors that just happen to be responsible for the running of the local SCCA regions. Instead, it was pointed out to me some resources available for members on the SCCA.com web site that posses a wealth of information that if used would really help this organization going forward. The key is for people to use it. And for people to use it they must be aware that such information exists. At present it is buried among many uploads of various importance, documentation about various rules, forms, training manuals, etc. I must add that this information (and it seems to be quite old) is no different from the excellent training other countries ASN’s provide like CAMS in Australia, Singapore GP organization, ATCUAE and the many British clubs under the MSA. You read that right, SCCA training is no different than the FIA accredited training, the only difference is that the foreigners actually implement the ideas in their volunteer programs.

So to start I will point out the relevant slides from each of the two presentations I found. There may be more presentations that exist, and if anyone would be kind enough to forward me the copies I’m happy to talk about them in future posts. The presentations I stumbled upon are quite brief at 30 slides each, and cover very common sense concepts with the very goal I have been pushing for in my criticism, including training and learning opportunities.

VM101 Working with Volunteers & VM103 Volunteer Motivation

Seminar Presentation found on SCCA.com Download it by logging into the web site, going to Resources and selecting the File Cabinet.
Seminar Presentation found on SCCA.com Download it by logging into the web site, going to Resources and selecting the File Cabinet.

 

The presentation does not list an author, so if anyone has information on whom it is I should give credit to, please contact me and I would be happy to list their name here. At present the information is available for download for SCCA members by logging into the web site and following the link from the top menu to Resources and then the File Cabinet. You will also find many seminars on Leadership (which I think is very important) but this is very basic and critical to all of my arguments from day one.

Seminar Presentation found on SCCA.com Download it by logging into the web site, going to Resources and selecting the File Cabinet.
Seminar Presentation found on SCCA.com Download it by logging into the web site, going to Resources and selecting the File Cabinet.

The most important slide from VM101 is this nugget. Pretty much all of the argument against my suggestions for more training have been to state that SCCA regions offer “on-the-job” training. That, as you can see above is only part of the bigger picture of all training possibilities. I can’t stress it enough how dangerous “on-the-job” training is, especially for someone just starting out as a volunteer, but isn’t limited to newbies: being at the track is dangerous. Anyone, anywhere on the track can sustain serious injury or death whether they’re working as marshals or just spectators. Cars crash, debris flies, there are better and just as important training resources available that should be used first! (before throwing newbies to the sharks in the real world)

Seminar Presentation found on SCCA.com Download it by logging into the web site, going to Resources and selecting the File Cabinet.
Seminar Presentation found on SCCA.com Download it by logging into the web site, going to Resources and selecting the File Cabinet.

This is equally as important slide because from my personal experience I have had complaints made against me without being told what they were. Essentially I was accused and convicted by the “powers that be” without having a chance to defend myself. This blog and my posts on the facebook discussion groups are my way of defending myself, even when most people reading my posts criticize me that I have a bad attitude and refuse to listen to suggestions. (suggestions that are common sense. I already use them and would use more if only I was given feedback, instructions, clear expectations and given credit for stuff I do correctly!)

Seminar Presentation found on SCCA.com Download it by logging into the web site, going to Resources and selecting the File Cabinet.
Seminar Presentation found on SCCA.com Download it by logging into the web site, going to Resources and selecting the File Cabinet.

Motivation is a ridiculously effective factor that is practically most important with volunteers. If I’m not motivated to participate I don’t go to an event. SCCA as an organization loses out if people don’t show up. This is a continuous phenomena with the constantly small crews that man both club and pro events. People’s motivation is a legitimate concern and shouldn’t be scoffed off as something that can’t be satisfied with the limited budgets and strict organizer rules. Taking a few pictures motivates me. If I can’t do it while cars are on track, I want to be given an opportunity to do it in the paddock. As a basic example of my motivation.

Seminar Presentation found on SCCA.com Download it by logging into the web site, going to Resources and selecting the File Cabinet.
Seminar Presentation found on SCCA.com Download it by logging into the web site, going to Resources and selecting the File Cabinet.

From previous example, picture taking is not the only motivation I have. At some point (working six F1 events in one season for example) there are too many pictures of the exact same thing so that motivation loses it’s appeal, and there are other factors that motivate me. This is where Leaders and Managers should recognize the continuous evolution of motivation and expectations. People I’ve argued with tend to hang up on one argument when I’ve already moved on to the next. That is not to say that others aren’t still motivated by picture taking and it’s an important perk of volunteering.  Similarly working Pro events motivates me more than working club events. That’s a given! Is it wrong?

Seminar Presentation found on SCCA.com Download it by logging into the web site, going to Resources and selecting the File Cabinet.
Seminar Presentation found on SCCA.com Download it by logging into the web site, going to Resources and selecting the File Cabinet.

Ultimately it is important to recognize why people volunteer in the first place, no further explanation needed.

The only question remains: why isn’t this information public? Why aren’t these guidelines used in practice like other countries do?