We’re on the verge of the Canadian Grand Prix marshal recruitment process. This process is a little different to say Singapore GP which has a narrow window of recruitment in the month of March that is strictly enforced. Canada is looser. Recruitment starts in early March and runs through April. I think the first time I applied it was May before I sent my application for the June event. But as with anything, the earlier you start planning the more prepared you will be.
My favorite features of the event include a number of things that are unique to the Canadian GP. For example, you are rotated through three different station assignments over the three day event. That’s cool! Especially if you have a crappy station assignment on the first day, it will without a doubt improve for qualifying or the race. Similarly, if you get a really good station assignment on the first day, it’s balanced out with something different to experience.
There are two official languages in Quebec: English and French. Or better put French is the primary language but most everybody speaks excellent English. This is evident on comms should you have the radio at any point during the event. Stations communicate with Race Control in their native tongue, so you will hear plenty of French and plenty of English. For any polyglots out there, it’s an excellent way to practice calls in (or at least hearing them) in a foreign language. Canadian GP is always a great place to get used to French on your way to Le Mans per se.
Canadian GP does not issue overalls like most other GP’s. You bring your own Whites or Oranges. I guess most flaggers do wear White. But I’ve seen plenty of Canadians, especially those working recovery wearing Orange. The weather could get cold and rainy so definitely bring wet weather gear. They do provide a great looking event polo-shirt and other knick-knacks. But there is a $30CAD fee to participate. Register at:
Some photos from my two years there (photos I got in trouble for):
Just ordered my tenth custom Formula 1 marshalling book from the Canadian F1 GP. Quite happy with a growing collection though the back cover of this book features a stark reminder just how dangerous motor sports can be, after we lost a marshal to an accident at this event in Montreal. If anyone would like to buy a copy of this book I’m happy to sell it, there are also nine others to chose from.
Formula 1 Participation in 2013:
Formula 1 Participation in 2012:
Formula 1 Participation in 2011:
Very sad news from the Canadian F1 Grand Prix this afternoon. A track marshal was run over by a wrecker after recovering a Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez (Montreal Gazette link) and subsequently died from the injuries sustained.
This was a devastating and tragic news when I read a message from a friend after having finally crossed the US border on my drive home from Canada. Suddenly my anger at the customs and immigration agents that once again detained me and searched my vehicle for the second time on this trip just because my driver side window broke in the Jeep, went away and I was overcome by deep sadness. Volunteer fatalities are rare in F1, but even one is one too many. My condolences go out to the guy’s family.
I’ve been reading various news on the incident and can’t help but feel angry at what is being quoted. From drivers that say the genetic line that racing wouldn’t go on without us, where in reality many attempts are made to cut down on the number of marshals participating at events. Or a smart-ass comment from a fan about marshals tripping over in Canada, referring to another incident where a marshal came close to being struck by a speeding F1 car after falling on track during a debris run. It’s all in poor taste. So much effort is spent around the world scolding us volunteers not to take photos on track where that energy should be redirected on redundantly reminding and facilitating people to focus on safety. You can never be too safe on a race track. This could easily happen to any of us marshalling an event.
I hope in the future more events take a lesson from the Singapore or Australian GP’s where tremendous focus is placed on reinforcing the safety rules. Each marshal is provided with a single marshalling handbook; senior marshals run mock training exercises with their teams prior to practice and race sessions to ensure everyone is on the same page, etc. The guy that died today was a ten year veteran at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve yet it says nothing about what level of experience or training he would have received to work that position. Sure more will be learned from an investigation but it won’t bring the poor guy back. This comment is in no way a criticism of the Grand Prix du Canada or ACIND, its just something I’d like to see done more at North American motorsport events in general.
After another secondary secutrity check and search of my car, I’m back in Quebéc for the Canadian F1 Grand Prix. This event I am working the light panel. The station line up include: turn 4 Friday, turn 9B on Saturday, and turn 14 on Sunday. Yes! The Wall of Champions turn 14.
It will be an exciting weekend, though it rained today and may again rain tomorrow.
Not happy that I did not get to do the pit walk as promissed and the fact I tore my rain pants that split down the middle as I tried to climb the wall to get to station, ugh!
Got to check out the media center which was cool.
Great news again, I’ve been accepted to marshal the 2013 Grand Prix du Canada, at the beautiful Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Ile Notre-Dame in Montréal, Quebec. Next step is to pay the $30 CAD fee to volunteer and start making travel arrangements.
The beauty of the Canadian GP is that as marshals we get to work several different posts and positions over the race weekend. I was lucky last year to work turn 8, turn 14 – the infamous “Wall of Champions” and turn 4a over the three days there, and besides flagging, working safety and comms, got to see action from a number of different angles. The Thursday night party organized by a few American marshals at Hurley’s Bar was pretty cool too, especially since Will Buxton was the guest of honor hanging out with the marshals.
Looking forward to a busy June schedule 🙂
I did not go to Canada to volunteer, because even that is considered working and will result in a lengthy search of your vehicle at the border followed by a thorough interrogation. Leaving your marshal gear in the trunk is probably the strongest case against you but its not illegal to go watch the race while staying with friends in Montreal, and I had a blast watching the race up close… my third F1 GP this season.
Now thanks to the aforementioned friends I was able to have a wonderful time hanging out with all the international marshals Thursday evening at Hurley’s Pub on Rue Crescent. Will Buxton made an appearance and raffled off a bunch of stuff including my donation of a Mark Webber photo book I picked up at the Australian GP. An enjoyable evening.
Friday, the only day when it rained, I found myself closest to turn 8. Saturday was the most interesting at turn 14 above the infamous wall of champions and Sunday at the quiet turn 4A though on a hot and sunny day it was perfect there in the shade. Now if I were to volunteer there as my Canadian twin-cousin did, I’d enjoy the experience greatly because unlike other F1 events in Canada everything goes through rotation. Each of the three days teams get moved around from turn to turn so you are never stuck at one position for the entire weekend. Teams themselves rotate also, so even though one might find themselves on one international team, the members rotate to different turns based on some assignment criteria. Furthermore, within the team marshals rotate through various roles. For example one may be on comms for a support race, switch to yellow or blue flag during another race, go on recovery for F1 to be activated for a debris run, and so on. All roles were absolutely fantastic and give you an unprecedented experience you won’t get anywhere else.
So Canada, merci! See you again next year