Tag Archives: Formula One

“Rock Star Marshaling” Few Thoughts on a Post in “A Life In Orange” by British Marshal Blogger

I’d like to share a few thoughts after reading a fellow marshal’s blog post about “Rock n’ Roll Marshalling”

Though I’ve never met Rob Lee, the publisher of “A Life in Orange” blog chronicling his experiences volunteering in the UK and elsewhere. I do admire his efforts, because like me, he seems to devote a considerable amount of time promoting this hobby to others. In fact I fall far short of the effort he puts into his articles with my immigrant English and rampant spelling and grammatical errors… I’m not sure whether I completely agree with the post I’m commenting on here, but I’ll try to outline my reasons below from a few angles based on my personal experiences.

So few items jumped out of the page at me in his September 14th post here:  alifeinorange.com/2017/09/14/rock-n-roll-marshalling/

  1. Glitz, Glamour, that Rock and Roll lifestyle
  2. Spotlight on marshaling vs. Drivers/Teams
  3. Celeb-Hero matrix
  4. Martin Brundle Orange Army TV comments
  5. Kids perceptions on Rockstars/Drivers/Marshals apeal
  6. Different location every weekend/travelling aspect
  7. Quirky shit
  8. Share, share, share!

 

Point one… glitz, glamour, rockstar-lifestyle is fiction.

It may appear that way if you follow someone’s social media account, posts and photos on facebook, twitter or instagram. But the reality is hardly that cool.

Do “perceptions” really recruit people to marshal? I’m not sure… I remember watching the Gumball 3000 events a decade ago. The glitz, the glamour there… the wannabe drivers racing on city streets telling cops that wrote them tickets in the videos that they’re on a rally not a race, etc. It looked so cool. But the more I looked into that event and other copy-cats like it, most participants didn’t even own the exotic cars they were driving… those were rentals. Similarly, the marshals participating in those high-profile, professional events are generally poor slobs having to rough it out in a tent somewhere. Waking up at the crack of dawn, first to show up at the track, last to leave. Working long hours, mainly standing in one spot in all kinds of weather. Hardly glamorous, is it? Sure some may get away for a little bit to take some of those amazing pictures of high-tech cars on grid. Rubbing shoulders with celebrity drivers, and real celebrities, and some other really important people. But not all marshals are even able to do this. Having to choose between eating lunch in most cases or taking pictures by making a hike to the grid from whatever post they are stationed at…. hoping they get back in time for the start of the race without getting in trouble. That’s the reality. And reality is hardly rockstar-like lifestyle. It is what you make it. You could request post assignments. You could make personal choices to allow yourself to participate in the glitz and glamour, but usually there’s a price to pay. Personally I’m careful promoting the idea of marshaling as glitzy because new recruits see right through it if their first pro event isn’t all you cracked it up to be. Expectations should be realistic!

Point two… I don’t agree with the idea of throwing marshals and teams, drivers into the same basket. They couldn’t be more fundamentally different. Remember that teams and drivers get paid to go to Motorsport events. Most volunteers have to pay their way to marshal those same events. And if the organizers had their way I’m sure they’d try to charge those otherwise “non-paying spectators” for access to the best viewing spots on the circuit. The other issue with teams and drivers is that their participation at lesser pro/club events is fickle at best. Lose a sponsor, you’re losing your seat or a trip to the race. Crash a car, the team packs up and leaves if they don’t have a backup vehicle, even if this happens on the first day of the event. Comparing volunteers to racing teams and drivers is comparing apples to oranges.

Point three… It’s no secret that many marshals like the celebrity aspect of their line of work… they’re practically rubbing shoulders with the multi-million dollar earning champion racers at the same events with the best seat in the house. Many Brits seem to push this “Hero” idea that marshals are the unsung heroes of the racing world. I don’t know if I buy that either. WE, as volunteers, are at Motorsport events to do a job. If we were not willing to do it, we’d just be spectators paying our way to watch the racing. The organizers know this. The sanctioning bodies know this. Most do a really great job of cutting us out from TV coverage unless of course something major happens and we do a really good job with the incident or a really bad one. If we do something wrong we have a great chance of making it on TV. Less so if we do something really right. Do we deserve to get more TV time and being acknowledged that we are “someone” doing important work. Perhaps… but there’s little value for organizers/TV to push that line so I see why they don’t do it.

Are we Heroes? That’s debatable. Real heroes are too humble to refer to themselves as such.

Point four… is very much tied to the Celeb-Hero matrix idea above. Martin Brundle giving a shout out to the Orange Army every broadcast is something. Is it enough… Yeah, probably. Do we want more? Of course we do, it does wonderful things for our ego’s! Should he do it? Well, that depends on what the TV producers think about that.

Another famous announcer in the world of Endurance Racing: Radio Le Mans announcer John Hindhaugh or Hindy for short does a fantastic job mentioning the marshals and other volunteers in all of his broadcasts. But he’s also called out several recent incidents in my own experience working IMSA races where he made false claims that I… yes I! was doing something wrong, even though when watching the video replay of the incidents everyone and their mother could clearly see his statements were inaccurate. So how the fuck do you deal with something like that? A well-intentioned broadcaster making you look like a foo… an amateur… I’m a Pro dammit! (right?) Second guessing your actions. Wrongly… It’s not right! But that’s the issue of Celebrity and the whole actions of Heroes debate. No matter what you do, someone will question it. It’s human nature. Best thing to do is continue doing the right thing, no matter what people comment about it. It’s all about perception.

That said I do think it’s important that TV announcers should continue to promote Motorsport volunteering. And they ought to do it more often!

Point five… Kid’s perceptions. I agree with Rob wholeheartedly that we need to recruit kids. Young marshals are key to the success of Motorsport of the future. This idea is not necessarily what current marshaling clubs rely on. It’s been my experience that here in North America the business model generally speaking is to focus recruitment on older folks… people that are retiree’s… people that have the time and money to travel to events to volunteer.

Yes, those people are needed. But I also think clubs and sanctioning bodies like the FIA or FIM, or IMSA or NASCAR need to cough up some cash to promote volunteering to younger folk. Provide the tools needed for the youngsters to succeed. Provide training. Provide incentives to volunteer often. Provide some support.

And it’s important to remember that kid’s perceptions of actual Rockstars and Race Car drivers whom Rob compares to Rockstars is not necessarily a realistic expectation of kid’s perceptions of volunteers. As I mentioned before comparing the two is akin to comparing apples to oranges. I think some experienced Motorsport marshals could be perceived as Rockstars for their actions on track. I have a number of people I look up to myself because of the way they do their job. But the way I look at them isn’t the same as I look at celebrity drivers. Then again I’ve learned long ago I have no future as a race car driver… so I don’t look up to any race car drivers at all.

Point six…. I love this point! Even before my family moved from Ukraine to the United States of America, it has been my dream to travel. I couldn’t wait to take my first trip to Czhechoslovakia (yep, it was still one country back then) or Poland… In high school in New Jersey I was determined to find a job that would allow me to travel. When that didn’t materialize I went travelling on my own, lived in Australia, Singapore, New Zealand… picked up this marshaling hobby while in Singapore and the travel bug exploded even more.

And to think there was a time when I’d read FlyerTalk.com forums and take flights to anywhere without any purpose for the only reason that the flight was cheap. Now marshaling has given me a purpose… a mission. A travel to a destination around the world so I could volunteer for a Race. Motorsport tourism is life! And I promote the shit out of it on this blog and to anyone that would listen to me whenever I meet people… it’s the only thing that comes out of my mouth when I’m given an opportunity to share some opinions…. sometimes I bore people to death with the idea. But I truly believe in it.

So yes! Different event every weekend is possible. It’s exciting. And it will probably drain your bank account like it has done to me. But it is extremely addictive and I love every minute of it!

Point seven… Quirky shit I don’t get. I don’t agree with it. I don’t think I fully understand it. But whatever, people do it, I’m cool with it. Continue doing it. All those racing bears. The wombats. The sheep. Whatever. When I take selfies I use my own face. I don’t need to use a plush animal to satisfy the same want… of taking a picture to remember an event.

I suspect, and I could be wrong… people use toys as an excuse to take a picture of something to promote this hobby.

Point eight… Sharing is essential! Social media. Facebook. Twitter. Snapchat… Instagram. Shit I don’t even use. You should continue using to promote this hobby. Because it’s worth it. I’ve written many times that the more there are of us the more enjoyable this hobby gets. It goes without saying that this is critical… For anyone that has learned anything about SEO, searth engine optimization, on the Internets… sharing stuff makes it go up in ranking on search engines which results in more traffic. Sharing info about events, opportunities to marshal, sharing volunteer opportunities will make the idea more popular and solicit participation. Greater participation will attract more participants. And that’s what it’s all about. Strength in numbers means better training because there are more of us doing this. More swag. More rewarding experiences. More fun!

So to wrap this up and make a long post even longer… I want to say marshaling is what you make it! If you want to feel like a Rockstar, sign up for some exotic races. Of the fifteen countries I was lucky to work, there’s something attractive about each and every one of them. But if you’re chasing opinions of your facebook followers, I can say with certainty that events in Southeast Asia or the Middle East take the cake… Yas Marina Circuit was one of the most incredible circuits I got to work. I was visiting on my own when a bus load of Brits was brought in at the request of the series, so I got a local experience while they were wined and dined by the series. Seek opportunities like that to make yourself feel real important. It sure is a boost to anyone’s ego. Singapore is a great place to feel important too, and there’s so much stuff you can share with your jealous friends on facebook from the tiny city state. The glitz, the glamour! The makan makan…

But more importantly go in with realistic expectations. Experiment with different volunteer positions. It’s not all about being a track marshal. Try flagging. Try working comms. Consider being a Fire Rescue marshal. Take the crash and burn school. Work in Pit lane. Starter is one of my favorite positions, and one you probably have to bump someone out of the way to get an opportunity to work.

There are so many possibilities.

But manage your expectations.

Volunteering won’t make you a millionaire. But the experiences you have the potential of witnessing are priceless!

Share… share… share!!!

 

Thanks Rob Lee for an opportunity to comment on your opinions.

COTA is Recruiting Marshals for Formula 1 USGP this October, Sign-up by Oct 19, 2016

Though I doubt I’ll be signing up myself, I’m excited to receive the invite so I could share it with others. For anyone interested in volunteering for the 2016 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas… now’s the time! (although you have until two days before the GP starts to sign up really…)

Here’s the e-mail I got from Sydney Davis Yagel:


Good evening,
I apologize if you’ve already received this email, but we wanted to make sure we didn’t leave out any of the past several years of experienced marshals.
We thank you for your past support of the United States Formula 1 Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas, and we are excited about this year’s event. Registration for returning marshals is now open and will be done online.
Volunteers will be emailed through MotorsportsReg.com for all communications, so please be sure to use a working email that you can check on a regular basis. Additional information, including a confirmation email from your specialty chief, finalized schedule details, and updates will be sent through this system.
AVAILABLE VOLUNTEER SPECIALTIES:
Flagging & Communications: operate yellow flag, blue flag, and radio communications
Intervention Marshals: assist with on-track incidents and manual labor operations, must be able to carry a 20 lb. fire bottle, run long distances, and feel comfortable on a hot track
Hospitality: behind-the-scenes volunteer helping with supply and lunch deliveries, registration/check-in, and more
Pit/Grid, Tech & Start are by invitation only. Your specialty chief will send you a password to access registration.
*Please note we have separated the F&C & Intervention Marshal specialties in to two separate options during registration. Please be sure to select the specialty you prefer. We will do our best to honor all requests, but understand we may need to shift people around.
PERKS OF VOLUNTEERING:
Dry camping and RV spots are available
Discounted hotel rates with shuttle to and from
Parking for those driving from other hotels and local residences
Three-day general admission guest pass for a friend or family member. You and your guest are welcome to attend the Taylor Swift concert on Saturday
Swag bag full of COTA gear
Some meals provided: breakfast and lunch each day, plus a few dinners.
SCHEDULE (all times are tentative and based on previous events, subject to change):
Please note that participation is required for all three event days. Thank you for your understanding and commitment.
Wednesday, October 19- POTENTIAL Registration for Intervention Marshals & Training
Thursday, October 20- Registration; Intervention Marshal Training during the morning & F&C Training during the afternoon; kick-off dinner
Friday, October 21 – HOT TRACK! – 8:00 am – 6:00 pm (morning meetings held 1-2 hours before hot track)
Saturday, October 22 – HOT TRACK! – 8:00 am – 5:00 pm (morning meetings held 1-2 hours before hot track)
Sunday, October 23 – HOT TRACK! – 8:00 am – 4:00 pm (morning meetings held 1-2 hours before hot track)
To apply to work this year’s event, please visit: http://msreg.com/F1USGP16-new
Should you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Thanks,
The Race Admin Team
Jeanie Caulfield, Bill Armitage, and Sydney Davis Yagel

Good luck folks!

PS. Major massive props to COTA for offering Intervention and F&C training on the Thursday leading up to the event. While some may dismiss it as Marshaling 101, I see it as an invaluable endeavor to get all these wonderful and completely different people from around the world to participate on the same wavelength throughout the event, considering none of the US-home based training includes F1 specific “stuff” … way to go COTA, I totally think it’s awesome!

What Should My 15th Country To Marshal Be?

As I’m soaking in the sunshine in South Beach, Miami admiring all these beautiful people from all over the world, I can’t help but wonder what should the Fifteenth country for me to marshal be?

It’s quite the anniversary and an accomplishment in my book, but it’s also frustrating to figure out what to do. The best course of action, so to speak.

So what are my options?

I’ll start with what I’d like my options to be, and it’s something I’ve written about before. And they are the most unlikely places that I’d really like to marshal but that haven’t allowed me to marshal there yet. And they include Macau and Japan. Macau or Macao would be amazing to experience the Guia Circuit (which I’ve visited as a tourist before) during the Macau Grand Prix where all sorts of Motorsport takes to the street course over the same weekend, including Open wheel cars, Touring cars, and Motorcycles. That would be fantastic, but unlikely because 1. I don’t speak Cantonese to work there, 2. I don’t live in Hong Kong or Macau and don’t have the appropriate work visa to volunteer and 3. I cannot make any of their training sessions to qualify as a local volunteer, and they’re not open to visiting marshals which is a shame. It’s a similar situation in Japan to volunteer for the SuperGT series at Suzuka for example for Pokka 1000 which I thought would be a really cool event. Main issue there is I don’t speak Japanese and none of the locals are keen to babysit a foreign marshal even though there are Japanese marshals that travel to other countries to volunteer, they don’t reciprocate.

I have considered reaching out to the Bahraini marshals to see if I could join them for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku. That seems like a destination that would be quite memorable to visit. But I don’t know how likely they are to accept me as a volunteer.

Recently I considered Mexico as a convenient place to go to next. I’ve worked with a number of Mexican officials at the Long Beach GP, the Canadian and US GP’s and other events in the US. But when I reached out to my Mexican contacts I was made to understand that it was “impossible” to volunteer in Mexico because they were oversubscribed on marshals as soon as their GP was announced. Bummer!

Perhaps Brazil would be a logical choice? Well, the only thing that has stopped me from going to Latin America so far is the outrageous VISA fees. I can’t imagine paying $160 or $180 dollars for a visa when I normally don’t spend that much on flights. So that’s not really at the top of my list thus far.

So the logical choices that I’m left with are the Netherlands or Austria which both host a series I am extremely interested in: DTM. I would love to do the German touring car series in either one of the countries because I’ve already made contacts with both organizers and have worked with plenty of Dutch and some Austrian marshals to know I would be able to manage my volunteering trip there quite easily and conveniently. But which one should I focus on?

That’s the dilemma I’m faced with before I walk a few steps to the amazingly warm waters of the Atlantic and float around for another hour enjoying the opportunity I jumped on to book a cheap flight. Note to self, I ought to sign up for the Miami ePrix to have a better excuse to come back to South Florida to marshal Formula E, although last year that opportunity seemed quite hush hush, because only select few were invited, treated well with hotels that the organizers provided and payment for their work, which is pretty unusual in US volunteering…. maybe that’s why I wasn’t invited?

Post-Race Praise for Jeanie Caulfield the Motorsport Operations Event Manager at COTA

I have major praise for Jeanie Caulfied the Motorsport Operations Event Manager with the Circuit of the Americas for a job well done at the Lone Star Le Mans this weekend.

In this blog post I would like to express my gratitude to Jeanie for the awesome work she has been doing, from a marshal’s point of view. That work is greatly appreciated because it makes a big difference for those of us that are visiting marshals. Those that don’t live in the Central Texas area and those investing significant amount of time and money to be able to volunteer the events that COTA puts on.

lone star le mans swag 1

I’ve had the privilege of meeting Jeanie on my very first trip to COTA for the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix in 2012. Since then, I’ve been back to Austin a number of times including several Formula 1 and a few WEC events. There were also a few that I almost participated in but things didn’t materialize on my end, most notably MotoGP this year, as well as Pirelli World Challenge and ALMS – American Le Mans that became the current version of IMSA TUSC series. And over the years I’ve learned that the most important person at COTA for the marshals is Jeanie. I made an earlier post praising Brent McNaul for his excellent work as a flag chief for the Lone Star Le Mans, but the majority of e-mails Brent forwarded onto the rest of us marshals actually came from Jeanie. So big thumbs up to her for the open communication channels and being a great person to seek information from about a particular event or the track itself.

I’ve been learning about Jeanie’s job(s) and the multiple hats she wears during a particular event purely from observation. I’ve seen her transport marshals to and from station during the F1 and WEC weekends. She is a great shuttle train driver, pulling several trailers behind a Ford Super Duty in true Texas style. She’s brought us a Kubota quad this weekend to make a quick getaway from station at the end of the day so we don’t impede scheduled track activity that didn’t require marshals. That was very thoughtful so we didn’t have to be stuck on track for another hour at the end of an already long day. Thanks for that!

The track services staff work directly with Jeanie and for anyone that likes food like I do, could appreciate her efforts in organizing lunches and drink runs to all the stations especially on hot days like this weekend. Track food is always a hit or miss. I’ve written posts about us volunteering for a soggy sandwich or how Singapore GP has the worst food I’ve ever had track side by offering Délifrance as the least-likely-to-spoil option in the heat of Southeast Asia (when distributed in the morning sign-on meeting and meant to last to the end of the day without refrigeration on station). But Jason’s Deli that COTA has been offering marshals for the past few years is quite tasty and the variety offers something for everyone. So thumbs up for taking care of us, when all of our attention is on the race cars on track!

I’ve even seen her ride around the ring road with the track services people delivering lunches and drinks with a water gun spraying unsuspecting marshals. So she’s got a great sense of humor to boot.

Jeanie has also been very creative in rewarding volunteer participation with excellent marshal swag. I think this weekend’s Lone Star Le Mans was her best work yet with a very stylish t-shirt design. A useful cooler bag with COTA branding. A participant patch customized to show the year of the event. And a neat poncho which we luckily didn’t have the need to use… but it made for a cool and useful keepsake.

lone star le mans t-shirt

lone star le mans swag 2

Besides being really good at her job she’s also a very pleasant person to talk with. She’s always friendly, polite and courteous and that’s important. Especially when arriving at the track at 5am and leaving after a double shift at 10 or 11pm like this weekend. I know I have a tendency of getting cranky especially when things don’t go my way, but Jeanie has a big smile on her face at the start of the day when you see her during the morning meeting, during lunch delivery or shift relief drop offs, or at the end of the day when we’re dropped off at the marshal tent. Thanks for always smiling!

Thank you very much Jeanie!

 

In true Austin style, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jeanie bring live music to the marshaling tent at a future event… some almost famous dude or a chick with a guitar playing a catchy tune at morning sign-on… yep! totally see that happening.

Motorsport Safety Foundation: Safety Car Deployment Survey

The Motorsport Safety Foundation  [a non-profit organization founded by Henrique Cisneros of the TRG Porsche fame to honor the memory of his colleague Sean Edwards who was tragically killed in a crash in Queensland, Australia while instructing an amateur driver (www.motorsport-safety.org/)], is conducting a public survey about safety car deployment at various Motorsport events. The survey is targeted at Fans, Drivers and Race Officials (safety marshals):   www.surveymonkey.com/r/safetycars

motorsport safety foundation survey

 

I filled out my opinion and when hitting “Done” it took me right back to the survey page. Not sure if the survey is broken, so I’ll just share my opinion here instead.

As a safety worker that has received formal training to be a flag marshal, track marshal, fire marshal, recovery marshal, communications marshal, etc. I think it is acceptable to have safety vehicles including wreckers/tow trucks/manitou cranes etc. to respond to incidents under local yellow conditions.

I think a Virtual Safety Car or the traditional Safety Car should only be deployed in circumstances where the incident obstructs a large percentage of the track making incident response dangerous under a local yellow condition. I think circumstances should dictate what percentage of the track blockage should call for a safety car, it will of course depend on the part of the track, the visibility at the corner, weather conditions, etc.

The drivers of course have to buy into the concept of safety respecting Yellow flags shown and not trying to push their luck gaining advantage while testing the marshal’s observation skills (getting called in for passing under yellow) or dismissing yellow flag warnings and carrying on at unreasonable speeds through the incidents.

But the most important suggestion I have that I wrote in the comments section is to call for universal and professional training for all marshals that participate at pro level events. If the fans, the drivers and people responsible for organizing safety marshals truly care about safety at the event, they must provide the training to the people that marshal… all of them. Period!

I’ve written a number of blog posts over the years criticizing the lack of training and all that got me was a lot of hatred, malicious treatment at the track and vicious rumors spread about me because I was going against the club or the racing series that I volunteered for. I have cut back my participation and obviously the series continue to race, nobody gives a fuck whether I participate or not. Marshals are dime a dozen, whenever one drops off someone else will take their place. Whether a marshal drops off as a result of negative treatment, injury as a result of the poor training or even death, doesn’t matter. The show will go on. And with the millions if not billions of dollars slushing around in the Motorsport world to put on races, paying for safety training would be such a detrimental thing to the people with money there’s just no debating about it. Volunteers better offer their services for FREE or else the racing series will suffer from the tremendous costs of properly training the volunteers… and we can’t have that. Right?

Well, I certainly don’t think so.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It is the job of the FIA to recruit marshals for F1 events and to provide sufficient training to meet the FIA standards. It is the job of IMSA to recruit marshals for TUSC events and provide sufficient training to meet the IMSA safety standards. Are they doing it? Hardly… the FIA outsources this job to local ASN’s and some do a spectacular job like the Singapore GP organization, while others don’t (the US – because there is no F1 specific training, at all). IMSA does indeed offer marshal training through the NASCAR track services program, but who is that program available to? Not too many marshals I know. I was lucky enough to participate through my membership with RSI at Watkins Glen but I suspect the majority of the people working the Detroit GP at Belle Isle didn’t. And a marshal got seriously hurt in that race suffering broken bones and significant injury to a number of vital organs. Is that good? No, it is not! I’m sure some will argue that the injured marshal had to have received NASCAR training being one of the recovery personnel assuming that’s who got injured – I don’t think the identity of the injured marshal was made public. But I’m willing to bet a cookie that the flag marshals covering the incident did not. And that resulted in the waving of blue and yellow flag simultaneously… Blue to hurry up and finish the race at competition speed, and Yellow to be sure to slow down in time for the incident at Turn 1 after the Checkered flag. It’s absurd scenario but we’ve had a series of absurd scenarios where people that “Mean Well” totally fucked up putting lives in danger.

It should be noted that when I volunteer I expect a certain element of danger. I know I could die while marshaling, there’s always that risk. But I don’t volunteer so I can get injured or die because some fool makes a poor decision “meaning well” but placing my life in unnecessary or avoidable danger.

So no matter how much I will continue to get shunned by people that don’t like my criticism of their incompetence whether intentional or unintentional. I will continue to demand training for marshals. Whether I marshal myself, or get banned from doing it as a result of my opinions.

If some of these  dedicated safety officials, fellow marshals, could enforce the “no-photo!” rule so vigorously (though very selectively), the same idiots could focus on providing the necessary training. If only they truly focus on the important aspect to facilitate the “safety” in our job as marshals, I think good things will happen.

I hope the Motorsport Safety Foundation gets some results out of their efforts. Even if it’s a non-profit, it’s still a business and they look out for their business interests in the business of Motorsport safety. But looking from my perspective as a non-paid volunteer, I think they should pick up the ball on training where IMSA and FIA have dropped it, and offer a valuable service that would undoubtedly make the sport safer and therefore better. Because if they don’t, who will?

 

And for the record, the training I call for should include some or all of the following:

  • Pro Training Manual – at the very minimum
  • Online Training – to teach concepts/theory and videos of incidents
  • On Site Training – around the country to draw more marshals
  • Specialty Training – pre-event morning meeting refreshers
  • Recruit more marshals so we don’t work with skeleton crews
  • Have a mentoring program or apprenticeship
  • Make sure trainers are capable of teaching (aren’t assholes)
  • Open feedback loop so that grievances aren’t kept secret
  • Training and re-training for people/areas that require it
  • Frequent and open communication about training opportunities
  • Good record keeping of training received/grading system
  • Regular training every year to cover new technology
  • Multiple training opportunities to accommodate schedule issues
  • Focus on training and professionalism (when people buy into this concept there would be no need for “no-photo” enforcement, marshals will embrace it and self police themselves and others).
  • Safety should be Priority #1!

 

PS. The Motorsport Safety Foundation should recognize that “years of experience” is a very unreliable metric. If I volunteer for one F1 event per year, my experience level is very different compared to someone who volunteers six F1 events per year, or a mix of thirtysix pro/club events per year.

 

Best Foodie Experiences during Grand Prix of the Americas in New Jersey

How do you plan for a Formula 1 Grand Prix that has been on and off the official calendar for a few years now without any conceivable hope that it will actually ever happen? By scouting out decent foodie experiences in the area for the race that may just become the highlight of the F1 circus one year!

We all acknowledge that the NYC skyline will be the selling point of the race being staged on the New Jersey side of the Hudson river. And you can easily cross the bridge or one of the few tunnels to dine in the city, but that’s $14 bux in tolls alone not to mention the inevitably high parking bill. Even parking on the Jersey side and spending $10 on public transport to get somewhere isn’t the most convenient thing. So let’s focus on the best that New Jersey has to offer. And with my 20+ years living here in the Northeastern part of the state just minutes from where the race “would” one day take place, I’m sure I can recommend a few of my favorite places.

I decided not to do a Top 10 list because that isn’t descriptive enough. Not accurately anyway. Top 10 of what? If you like sushi but hate BBQ would my higher ranking of an American restaurant over a Japanese joint seem fair to you? Probably not. So I’d rather present my choices in a “Best-of” format. The best sushi option, best BBQ, best Thai, Mexican, Korean, etc.

So without any further delay, here are my favorite restaurants you should definitely check out when in town for the Grand Prix of the Americas at Port Imperial in Weehawken and West New York, NJ:

  • American:

Cubby’s BBQ – Hackensack, NJ cubbysbarbeque.com/ famous for their ribs, steak and burgers, my favorite is their house BBQ sauce and anything that goes with it. The ribs are pricey at $25 a rack but well worth it. The deluxe burgers come with a generous portion of fries which can be smothered in absolutely delicious gravy.

Seafood Gourmet – Maywood, NJ seafood-gourmet.com/ famous for their fresh seafood counter at the front and a tiny dining area in the back. My favorite is the New England Clam Chowder which they sell by the Quart. Not the cheapest seafood place but definitely the tastiest in the area.

White Manna – Hackensack, NJ wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Manna famous for their little burger sliders. Made in front of you while you wait in a cozy little diner, with seats surrounding the cooking area. The strong smell of onions whafting in the air. Authentically Jerzey place for sure. Have a bunch of them.

  • Colombian:

Pollo Mario Steak House & Seafood – Hackensack, NJ www.pollosmario.net/ this is a chain restaurant with another convenient location just about a mile from the proposed circuit on i495 in Union, NJ leading out of the Lincoln Tunnel/New York City. Amazing selection of grilled meats, fantastic rotisserie chicken and seafood served with traditional rice and beans. Yumm!

  • Cuban:

Casual Habana – Hackensack, NJ www.casualhabanacafe.com/ famous for its Ropa Vieja and the Cubanos and that’s what I tend to order. I’ve tried other items, but my favorite are the classics and they are absolutely delicious. Another store is opening in New Milford, NJ

  • Italian:

Cosmo’s Salumeria – Hackensack, NJ famous for his cold cuts, but the little deli gets crowded in the lunch time when everyone orders sandwiches to go. My favorite is the #2 Prosciutto with Mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar on crunchy Italian bread. Goes really well with a bottle of Stewart’s Root Beer which Cosmo sells.

Roman’s Pizza – New Milford, NJ www.romanpizzarestaurant.com/     I don’t like their pizza, but the Calzone’s and Strombolli are outstanding. Get they with the extra marinara sauce and grab a bottle of Boylan’s Creme Soda to wash it down. Excellent combination of amazing flavors.

  • Japanese:

Kumo Japanese Cuisine – Ridgewood, NJ kumo55.com/ famous for their three roll lunch specials when you pay cash. But even when dining in, the sushi is made to order, using very fresh ingredients and the taste is outstanding. Great decor inside and the green tea will warm up your soul while you wait.

  • Lebanese

Tabboule Fine Lebanese Cuisine – Ridgewood, NJ  www.tabboule.com/  I started going to this place because they participated in the Frequent Flyer dining program where I got miles for every dine, but unlike other places I keep coming back because the food is actually great. Fresh ingredients, made to order, a little pricey but very very good Middle Eastern food.

  • Malaysian:

Penang Malaysain & Thai Cuisine – Lodi, NJ this is a chain that specializes in Malaysian, Singaporean and Thai food, but despite being a chain it is outstanding. Food is a bit pricey but properly prepared and very authentic tasting. Portions are good and the selection is awesome.

  • Mexican:

Pancho’s Burritos – New Milford, NJ www.panchosburritosnj.com/ the most authentic of Mexican tasting places I’ve come across in New Jersey. A little pricey but the food is great. They use fresh ingredients, and fairly large portions. My favorites depend on the mood, but the tacos, burritos and chimichangas are really, really good. Get a bottle of Jarritos there too.

  • Spanish:

Segovia Steakhouse & Seafood – Moonachie, NJ www.segoviarestaurant.com/ we go to this restaurant to celebrate birthdays and special occasions with the family. The sit down atmosphere is excellent and their catering is awesome too when you feel like ordering a few trays to serve at your own house party. They do meat well. They do seafood well. The lobsters are outstanding. The little hot bread they serve at the start of the meal is outstanding. The sangria is outstanding. Like a lot!

Iberia Peninsula Restaurant – Newark, NJ www.iberiarestaurants.com/  we used to go to this place a lot more often when I studied in Newark. But they take advantage of the large Spanish and Portuguese population living in the Ironbound district of Newark to prepare outstanding Spanish and Iberian food. Their massive trays of mixed seafood with yellow rice is to die for. Highly recommend.

  • Thai:

Bangkok Garden – Hackensack, NJ www.bangkokgarden-nj.com/ the most authentic of anything from Thailand I have ever come across in New Jersey. The dining area is nicely decorated in traditional Thai decor but the food is simply outstanding. A little pricey but well worth it. My favorites are basic red curry dishes or Pad Thai. Their little egg rolls are really good, and the orange peel sauce is fantastic. They do spicy well.

  • Turkish

Lisa’s Mediterranean Cuisine – Ridgewood, NJ famous for it’s home cooked style dishes, this is an excellent restaurant to bring your friends and family and spend the evening together in the heart of the Village of Ridgewood. My favorite dish would have to be the lamb kebob served with the really fresh salad… all the dips that accompany various meat dishes are amazing!

 

If you agree or disagree with the choices above, or if there are some obvious options I missed, please do share your comments below.

I will do a separate post of my favorite foodie places in NYC later.

PS. this list will be periodically updated as new places appear and old places unfortunately go out of business (like one of my favorite local Brazilian Rodizio places)

Why is Singapore GP oversubscribed with volunteers? Because they advertise! #SGPmarshal

Singapore GP does not need my help recruiting marshals, in a sense that sharing this news on this blog will not result in a spike of exposure for their recruiting efforts. They do an excellent job of recruiting themselves, and specifically by posting this message on the “official” Singapore Grand Prix facebook page:

source: SGP facebook page
source: SGP facebook page

Check it out here: www.facebook.com/SingaporeGP

The official page has just over 100k Like’s and about 1.5k visits /check-in’s. That’s a pretty significant pool of candidates of which historically over 3,000 candidates would submit their applications to fill approximately 1,200 spots. All volunteer in various capacities though some are highly specialized, just look at the poster above: the people in Green have to have a medical background whether doctors or nurses, and the people in red have to be Firefighters. They have to show a certificate of proof to be assigned that role.

This post was made on March 8:

SGP recruiting on their facebook

And as of March 18 it has received 260 likes, 29 comments and 128 shares. One of those shares was me contemplating this blog post with my facebook friends, I don’t know what the other 127 shares discussed but obviously they were interested in some capacity of volunteering for the 2015 Singapore GP. The hashtag SGP created for this campaign is #SGPMARSHAL and was used along with other hashtags like #F1, #SingaporeGP and #F1NighRace, all relatively trending topics. Singapore GP organization has way more marshals that it knows what to do with and yet they are continuing to recruit to keep existing marshals on their best behavior and have a supply of reserves to keep the numbers up year after year.

So the real reason for this blog post isn’t Singapore, it is to ask the question: why doesn’t the United States Grand Prix or COTA –  Circuit of the Americas do a similar marketing/recruiting exercise for it’s own marshaling force?

Circuit of the Americas www.facebook.com/CircuitofTheAmericas  in comparison has 292k Like’s or almost three times as many as Singapore GP, and 45k visits/check-in’s or thirty (30!!!) times as many visits… That’s a ridiculously higher number of exposure in both categories. Not to mention instead of a single Night Race, COTA hosts a full calendar of high profile events from the Pirelli World Challenge sports car event to WEC – World Endurance Championship / IMSA Tudor United SportsCar Championship double header. From MotoGP to F1! And a number of smaller events and track rentals that could seriously benefit from a larger pool of volunteers (or even paid workers for that matter).

So why don’t they do it?

I think… and I could be completely wrong… but I really think that at all levels of management starting from the big wigs running COTA to the smaller wigs running the marshaling services, and the hired wigs that help with the recruiting for individual events like MotoGP, WEC or F1 have way too much “ego!” at play when it comes to the advertising aspect of the volunteer positions. There are too many assumptions that advertising requires too much time, money or effort… or basically resources they don’t have. Or are short on, or don’t really care too much about. There seems to be some foolish reliance on making due with what little they have… the richest country in the world, with the newest and most expensive circuit in the land is willing to cut corners in the safety department by running skeleton marshal crews, because they don’t have enough budget (time, money, effort). There’s the presumption that the volunteers must be experienced instead of assembling eager amateurs/ Motorsport enthusiasts and training them to the standards that the FIA requires for WEC or F1, or FIM requires for MotoGP… Oh no, we must only rely on trusted and experienced SCCA marshals because they’re the best… So much ego! So much wrong with this picture!

Why not take a page out of  the  SGP playbook/ best practices/ success stories? Why not advertise to the audience COTA already has? 300,000 fans is an incredible pool of people, many of whom would probably love to plan a trip to volunteer a weekend in Austin, Texas whether for F1 in October/November, or WEC in September, MotoGP in April or PWC in March… there are so many people that could potentially pick this hobby up and continue volunteering throughout the year closer to where they actually live. Be it within the US or internationally. Plenty of Mexican visitors to the USGP and they’re about to host their own GP again. Plenty of Aussies willing to travel to America to volunteer in Austin. Why not recruit them? I really hope that the 2015 United States Grand Prix marshal recruiting process doesn’t start too close to the event date. I hope everyone that is interested in participating in the event is given the information they need to start making their plans early instead of waiting until the last minute just for an opportunity to apply.

I should point out that COTA has created a facebook page just for their marshals: www.facebook.com/cotatrackmarshals and while it is certainly a plus to have something so specific, at 411 Like’s and 55 visits/check-in’s (at the time of the writing of this post) it doesn’t really compare to the audience of 300,000 facebookers on the main COTA page. That should be used for recruiting volunteers more than anything else. It could be done in conjunction with the official page on the COTA web site:

www.circuitoftheamericas.com/volunteer

 

I will also acknowledge that writing this post can be construed as criticism of both the United States F1 Grand Prix as an event and Cicrcuit of the Americas – the race track that hosts it… and while that is not my intention I know there are ego’s at play and I can’t prevent them from thinking the worst. I have already experienced what people told me was punishment while volunteering for the US GP last year  where I was assigned a position where I couldn’t see anything. I wrote a post complaining about that experience and all kinds of people got all bent out of shape about how dare I criticize such a wonderful event. I certainly didn’t see the need to paint a rosy picture which I’m sure would have been very welcomed when the reality didn’t correspond to it. The same people that got ridiculously offended were also the ones that promised to prevent me from marshaling ever again, so I don’t know how much stock I would put into that promise. I know for a fact though that I wouldn’t volunteer my time, spend a bunch of money on travel and accommodation, just to be “punished” , for whatever reason. I’d rather stay home. But I would get over my own ego and support all of COTA’s recruitment efforts because I know it would improve the sport and the marshaling situation in the US which is dismal, we are very short on people. The more new marshals that volunteer, the more training there would be offered for all of us, the more we all benefit. Much like what Singapore GP has been experiencing for years. My fingers are crossed with the hopes of improvement, and that improvement starts with better advertising. Use your facebook page for good Circuit of the Americas! Please advertise all the available volunteer opportunities and continue doing it often…

I have taken the liberty of creating some useful hashtags for such a campaign, feel free to use them: #USGPmarshal, #USF1marshal, #COTAmarshal, #WECmarshalCOTA, #MotoGPmarshalCOTA, #PWCmarshalCOTA, #F1marshalCOTA etc. the possibilities are endless!

2015 F1 Season Spotter Guide FREE Download

Andy Blackmore of Andy Blackmore Design has released his latest creation for the 2015 Formula 1 Season, in time for the Australian GP behold the 2015 F1 Spotter Guide! Free download on Andy’s web site: http://www.spotterguides.com/portfolio/15-f1/

I’m a huge fan of Andy’s work, and as a marshal found his spotter guides to be most useful especially when working as an “observer” to call in vehicles involved in incidents.

The coolest feature of the spotter guide? Andy’s attention to detail:

andy blackmore design 2015 F1 season spotter guide

Thanks Andy for your awesome work! And thanks for making the downloads available for FREE for anyone that wants them.

Download link: http://www.spotterguides.com/portfolio/15-f1/

Jim Swintal Motorsports | jimswintal.com

Many of the marshals reading this blog already know Jim. If you’ve volunteered any of the major events in the US including Formula 1, IndyCar, IMSA Tudor United SportsCar or American Le Mans Series before that, you’ve heard him on the radio from Race Control. Some may remember Jim from his chief starter days with Champ Car / CART, as this Motorsport.com article captions he was “CART’s most visible official outside of CEO…” But besides being an accomplished marshal he’s also an amazing artist with a focus on motorsports and that’s what I wanted to share with everyone reading this regardless where you are in the world.

Check out that art work:

jim swintal motorsports poster 1Notice the attention to detail on this Laguna Seca “Corkscrew” print, with the detailed portrayal of the marshals working the turn.

jim swintal motorsports poster 2jim swintal motorsports poster 3

You can buy copies of his paintings as Lithographs and Posters, or Giclées Prints that are very reasonably priced through his web site:

http://www.jimswintal.com/

 

Of all the personalities I’ve met in this hobby, I have genuine admiration and respect for Jim. I really look up to him as a cool, calm and collected voice on a network when all hell is breaking loose or we’re dying of boredom on the track. And though we’ve never really communicated directly, he seems really down to earth at all the events that I’ve had the pleasure of working with him, from races at Laguna Seca in California to COTA in Texas and Sebring in Florida.

FIA International License

Excellent news from the World Motor Sport Council 2014 held in Doha, Qatar earlier this week. According to this press release: fia.com/news/world-motor-sport-council-2014-doha there will be an FIA license available to volunteers and officials as soon as end of 2015:

VOLUNTEERS AND OFFICIALS COMMISSION
An International Licence for all persons designated by the FIA to act as officials at an event will be launched at the end of 2015, as well as a FIA web platform dedicated to volunteers and officials.

Thanks to our fellow marshal Paul from California for pointing out this little gem. What does this mean for volunteers like me and you reading this?

I think it means that anyone participating as a volunteer race official or marshal will be recognized by the FIA directly and not just by the local club providing marshals for each FIA event, be it Formula 1 Grand Prix or a WEC endurance event (and everything inbetween). Furthermore, a web platform will be developed to allow for registration of volunteers for each event. This will centralize the process of volunteering for races, again taking some of the responsibility of local ASN’s to recruit marshals and opening it up to everyone using the same system to apply and participate.

I see it as a fantastic opportunity.

Now if only FIA offered / mandated identical training for all participants I’ll be the first in line to sign up to receive such training because that will make us all better race officials.

Can’t wait to participate!