I am not bragging in this post, I’m simply counting my blessings!
Thanks to the powers that be this season, I got an opportunity to work four different PWC events so far. And as luck would have it each one of those races I performed a different role as a marshal. That is a massive accomplishment personally in my book. (Log Book if we were doing those things here)
Race 1: St. Petersburg Grand Prix in Florida: Pit Marshal
PWC ran as a support race to IndyCar… and I was there in pit lane.
Race 2: Grand Prix of VIRginia International Raceway (Fire Rescue)
PWC was the headlining event at VIR and I got a chance to ride in the fire truck and tow truck over the 3 day weekend, hooking cars and picking up debris on the hot track!
Race 3: Victoria Day Speedfest at Mosport (Blue Flag Marshal)
PWC sort of competed for the headline event at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park sharing the spotlight with local Pinty’s NASCAR series… I think most people went there for PWC but definitely stock cars brings it’s die fans too. I was there flagging over the weekend.
Race 4: Grand Prix of Lime Rock Park (Backup Starter)
The most recent PWC experience at Lime Rock Park over Memorial Day weekend was a cherry on top moment for me working as a Backup Starter to the series Starters. Ahhmazing!
This really is an awesome time for me in my Motorsport volunteering career. If I were to stop marshaling now I’d feel that I’ve done everything I wanted to do with this hobby!
Of course, as many would say and as I totally firmly believe myself: “The Best is yet to come….”
The 2017 Racing season is in full effect now and it looks like it will be a pretty busy one for me… but with the whole NYC Formula E recruitment woes and the anticipated rejections for Macau GP I’ve been reminiscing about a post I made at the end of 2014 called the “Wish List” and all the events I would love to work… So in this post I’d like to take a look back and totally Trump-style pat myself on the back for all my accomplishments and failures.
Spa 24h at Spa-Francorchamps… Big mission accomplished with this event… for two years in a row actually! The track and the race are some of my favorite events ever… in the world. Period!
Malaysian Merdeka… or perhaps the renamed Sepang 12h race at SIC: Sepang International Circuit. Mission accomplished on that one… almost by chance, because I worked two events in the Middle East but it was too expensive to stay there, so I flew to Southeast Asia to work an awesome 12h race… and then I came back to do it again in 2015 while on a trip to Bangkok for a wedding, which was amazing… highly recommend that event. Especially since it’s affiliated with Blancpain Series and SRO as part of the Intercontinental GT Challenge.
Oak Tree Grand Prix is a massive accomplishment which was totally unexpected… Why? Because on the previous Wish List post I suggested this was a “no thanks!” event since they don’t want volunteers for their paid events. Well, an opportunity came up last year not to flag, but to work as pit fire. I jumped on it and had a time of my life. I loved it so much I returned this year for the PWC race to work with VIR fire rescue and this time I was the “hooker” riding around on a truck and hooking crashed cars to the tow truck. It was soooooo amazing! Would highly recommend this.
DTM! My plan was to work Deutsche Touring Cars in Deutschland… but I got the next best thing working DTM at the Zandvoort Circuit in the Netherlands super close to the beach and just an hour outside of Amsterdam which turned out to be an amazing opportunity and event overall. Mission accomplished for the series, but also added 15th country to my list of places to volunteer. Still would love to do another German track besides the Nurburgring, or better yet schedule two consecutive events involving the Nordschleife and something else. Will see…
Dubai 24h race in the UAE…. I signed up and then didn’t go. And that’s a horrible, horrible thing to do! I hate when people cancel on events they register for. But I did, and it was bad. But I’d like to fix this in the future and participate in the awesome Dubai 24 hour event in the future, perhaps?
Pokka 1000 didn’t happen for me. I even enlisted help of a famous Ukrainian race car driver who was huge in Japan, Igor Sushko… whom put me in touch with the head of marshals at the Suzuka Circuit and I was rejected. Maybe expected. Maybe not. I heard people talking about working there who weren’t Japanese, but to me it was suggested that the track requirements forbid it. Sad! Igor suggested bigger events than Japanese Super GT… for example Formula 1 or MotoGP would be easier to sign up for. But I truly really want to work a Super GT race in it’s current format.
So my 2017 Updated Wish List of places to marshal in the future is:
I want to do this event soooo bad! The Macau Grand Prix is still #1 on my list… Will it ever happen? Maybe…
So this is an interesting one… I wanted to work Super GT at Buriram or wherever it was run in Thailand but that seemed like a one time deal. Now the Asian Le Mans series runs in Thailand and even though the country is super welcoming to tourists it is not necessarily as friendly towards “workers” or “volunteers” for Motorsport. Despite my numerous trips there, I have failed to establish a Marshaling connection to volunteer in this country, and I would really really like to!
MotoGP at Losail International Circuit is really growing on me. But I haven’t made it happen yet. I must do it one day!
DTM at the Red Bull Ring. I established a contact there and was told they would welcome foreign marshals. But it hasn’t happened yet. One day though… it’s a must!
Supercars on the streets of Gold Coast. My last wish list included V8’s around Mount Panorama, the Bathurst 1000 but I think the same cars on the streets of Gold Coast would be a million times better for another visit back to the land down under.
Would be Nice:
Brasil and South America sort of dropped a peg from my previous Wish List. Why? Not quite sure but I certainly wouldn’t turn down an opportunity to work there except I still refuse to pay the outrageous reciprocal fee they charge to get a visa for most of the Latin American countries. So Sao Paolo is on ice. But maybe one day?
Much like Latin America not much is really happening in South Africa. I really really really want to go there. I think it would be a fantastic opportunity but nothing has jumped out at me to sign up and go just yet. It’s on the list, but it’s more of a long term plan than something that will happen imminently.
WTCC goes to Marrakech, Morocco. I’ve been to Marrakech before and it was an amazing experience. Flew there on Ryanair and almost didn’t leave because the Spanish Air Traffic Controllers went on strike potentially leaving us stranded in North Africa. It was a great experience and cars racing on the streets of the beautiful city would be quite a site to see. So if South Africa doesn’t happen to me in the near future, maybe Morocco could be more doable? Who knows… but I wouldn’t mind.
Screw Quebec… Always giving me shit at the border to go to Montreal for F1 and all that jazz at the track about taking pictures, but I would really love to check out two tracks one of them in QC… Trois-Rivières! The other Calabogie, in nearby Ontario. The first track is Northeast from Montreal and holds some cool events I wouldn’t mind marshaling. The other is several hours north of Canadian Tire Motorsports Park which I love to visit and it too holds interesting events. I would love to add them to my list!
Meh! Sure, why not?
Something in Mexico City… Formula 1 or WEC? I thought Mexico would be easy to marshal. It hasn’t been. The people I reached out to in order to sign up for Formula 1 event when it came back to Mexico didn’t help me one bit which really sucked because they sure talked a lot of shit when we worked together in Canada or Long Beach… but perhaps it would happen in the future. I would love to add Mexico to the list of countries I marshaled.
Baku F1 was going to be one of those super practical events because American Airlines treat Azerbaijan as Europe (so does F1 calling it GP of Europe) which means award flights only use a ridiculously low amount of points, half in fact what they charge for Bahrain which is really nearby. But I never got invited here, even though there seems to be a ton of traffic coming to my blog from that area and since there’s such a close relationship with Bahraini marshals. Surprised it didn’t happen yet, but maybe it will in the future?
Despite working with a whole ton of Czech marshals from Le Mans to Spa-Francorchamps I have never heard… “hey, come join us at Brno!” Weird how that happens. But their track looks fantastic, Moto events there seem amazing. Maybe one day?
The problem with Sentul International Circuit in Indonesia is that nothing seems to happen there. I almost booked a flight once to correspond to the Asian Le Mans Series round at Sentul hoping I could volunteer there but the round got moved to Sepang in Malaysia instead. I would love to add Sentul to my list. I’ve been to Indonesia a bunch of times, Bali, Jakarta, Batam (by boat from Singapore)… and it’s a beautiful country. It would be so cool to work an event there. Maybe MotoGP would come back? I know it would be super appropriate there, everyone uses Motorcycles and Scooters.
What else? Am I missing places I should add to my Wish List? Some I have consciously bumped off like Monaco, because why bother? But I’m sure there’s something I’m overlooking. Like Isle of Man… or?
Oh man, I thought I hit the highlight of my marshaling career working Pit Fire at VIR for IMSA last year. This year the bar has been raised as I found my new favorite marshaling role: “Hooker” with VIR Fire Rescue.
First, huge thanks to Cowboy for allowing me this opportunity. The man runs VIR Fire Rescue as a well oiled machine. I’ve never heard anyone more calm and collected and cool under pressure than this man. Every call to dispatch trucks he made was precise and purposeful, a man in complete control of otherwise chaotic scenes around the track. I absolutely loved the experience.
What is the “Hooker” role?
It is the person in the Fire Rescue truck that hooks a stricken car to the truck for a flat tow. This person also assists the Wrecker with hooking a car that requires to be lifted off the ground because of damaged suspension, like was the case with many open wheel cars. And it’s the person that assists the flat bed driver getting a mangled vehicle winched onto the tow truck. That person this weekend was me…. and boy was it an awesome rush of adrenaline!
It wasn’t the first time I worked in this role. Back in 2011/2 I was on the rescue truck in New Zealand working at Hampton Downs. But the situation was a little different. We had a truck full of people and my role wasn’t to “hook-em” but instead to carry a fire extinguisher and help in case something ignites. At VIR it was only me and the driver, so it was totally a much more hands-on role.
VIR fire rescue has several locations to stage. The most visible probably is by pit exit. Another at the half-way point on the Patriot track that could respond from Turn 7 or Turn 14. And finally on the south paddock/pit lane near Turn 12. Throughout the day the trucks rotate positions to get a different view, and an opportunity to respond to different incidents around the track. That was fantastic!
Here’s some pix… Day 1;
On the rescue truck at Turn 7 staged on the Patriot track.
With an awesome view of the uphill esses, the VIR resort and spa, and the Oak Tree turn (missing the Oak Tree which fell down)
Day 2: On the Avalanche fire rescue truck in Pit Out:
A much busier day on Saturday. Got to respond to a massive incident where I actually ran up to the car with a fire bottle… Ended the day by removing a blown off frunk off of the Acura NSX GT3:
A/C so cold in the truck the camera lens was all fogged up…
Day 3/Race Day… no assignment, asked to stay in the office to see if I’d be needed to jump into a rotation somewhere. I pitched the idea of working on a Wrecker since the driver was just by himself, but instead was paired with a Tow Truck driver, which worked out fantastically… we had quite a few incidents to respond to. It was so awesome!
Staged at Turn 12A
I got a whole new appreciation for VIR after having driven the track at high rate of speed. My goodness how much elevation changes this track has. Far more dramatic than other tracks I love because of their hilly nature like Watkins Glen or Mosport in Canada. VIR takes the cake with it’s snaking turns, climbing esses, roller coaster down to the last turn. Just impressively incredible up and down ride. I can see why the fastest cars running here at the likes of GTE in IMSA or GT3 in PWC. I would imagine prototypes would take flight here.
Anyway, I was very privileged this weekend to find myself working in this position. A new learning experience for me. Especially riding in the same rescue truck as the track doctor who shared a lot of knowledge in terms of approaching a driver after a crash. I’m very lucky to have experienced this and am extremely thankful.
Track Familiarization module is a beautiful thing. It’s an opportunity for flag marshals to drive the track at speed and see what the driver’s see (at a higher rate of speed). And I must say with all the things to consider and the visual information you take in while driving the track, the flag station is but a tiny spec that you fly by. That’s why flagging, especially displaying yellow flag in a dangerous situation requires apeshit effort because just dangling a piece of yellow cloth out there won’t get anyone’s attention. I thought that was the biggest lesson to be learned today.
And even though I have absolutely no intention of doing any driving, I learned I had no future as a race car driver long ago, and that marshaling is the closest I ever want to get (it is expensive enough for me and I could barely afford volunteering). Driving on track today totally made my day. What an awesome adrenaline rush!
We staged in the Winner’s Circle before taking to the track, so it’s a great opportunity as any to take some pretty Miata pix:
This lip spoiler is really growing on me…
Oh hey! Another B-spec Mazda.
Heading up the Esses
Going into the Bus Stop
Heading down into the Boot
The final turn
The Starter Stand, looks like you can reach out and touch it, but while working up there the cars seem quite far down
Thank you WGI. Thank you RSI. And thanks to the NASCAR folks for a wonderful weekend at a beautiful race track!
Another enjoyable experience working a new role as a Pit Fire Marshal at Virginia International Raceway for IMSA GT Challenge.
I was pretty excited to take advantage of an opportunity that presented itself to work a track where I had previously only been rejected to work as a flagger… I had a slight concern how I’d fit in among all the other “real” fire fighters on pit lane, as they typically are in places like Pocono where I worked last weekend as spectator marshal roaming the pit lane during IndyCar race and making sure VIP’s don’t get in the way of the teams working.
This time around I had to wear a red fire suit, nomex balaclava, a helmet, boots, etc. The full kit! It was stinken hot, but I enjoyed it more than any of my recent flagging experiences including the one day I spend on flags at VIR for this same event.
Pit Fire is a position I would definitely like to do again. It was awesome!
The calm before the storm… when the Monsoon hit we had to take shelter in the Turner tent because everything else was getting washed out with heavy rain and lightning. The paddock was 2 inches deep under water… my shoes got wet which quickly resulted in blisters forming from walking… one of the track radios got a little wet and stopped working. But other than that I think we weathered the storm pretty well.
Next day it was just sun shine and lovely!
Pit Boss thought I’d get a kick out of working the winner’s circle, victory lane… after the two winning cars (one for each class) just spent nearly 3 hours going flat out around the 3+ mile circuit, the chances of something sparking up were there… and luckily I was standing there with a fire bottle… keeping out of the reach of cameras to not end up on TV unnecessarily. It was great!