Tag Archives: Circuit de la Sarthe Le Mans

Happy Volunteers Day!

Congratulations Motorsport Volunteers… tomorrow, May 12th you are getting your very own day of recognition. Go ahead and pat yourselves on the back for giving up your time for this hobby!

The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile has posted this:  http://www.fia.com/2017-fia-volunteers-day-resource-page

2017 FIA VOLUNTEERS DAY…

Announcement

The first FIA Volunteers Day will take place on 12 May, celebrating those who dedicate their time to make motor sport possible around the world. Capitalising on a packed weekend of FIA competition – six headline race events will raise awareness and give thanks to the volunteers who carry out the wide variety of essential roles without which the events would simply not happen.

Throughout the day, the entire motor sport community – from volunteers and officials to fans, drivers and members of the media – are encouraged to join in and show their appreciation on social media. Using the hashtag #FIAVolunteersDay on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, people can share photos and stories of themselves in action on the day connecting motor sport volunteers at all levels from all around the world – from club events to world championships.

“This is an opportunity to embrace the day as an occasion to thank all volunteers who support our events at all levels,” said FIA President, Jean Todt. “It will also promote the positive benefits that they gain from their involvement in motor sport, and help attract new people to get involved.

“It is important for the FIA to give the appropriate recognition and publicity to acknowledge that each volunteer’s commitment is an essential part in ensuring the safety and success of every motor sport event.”

yada yada yada…

What does this mean?

Will the FIA finally take my suggestion to recruit and train marshals at the grassroots level for major events and then have a great pool of trained professionals available to volunteer for other non-FIA events? Nope… not that. I guess the volunteer numbers are so damn low around the world, the FIA had to come up with a gimmick to push local ASN’s to promote the volunteering business with FIA graphics.

What a shame!

Probably the biggest insult is the FIA using a picture of a Monaco marshal for this V-day promotion. Monaco is not hurting for volunteers. Monaco is typically oversubscribed. Monaco is pretty arrogant about who they choose to work their events from a very small pool of very local volunteers.

Ugh…

To be perfectly clear, I fully support Volunteering in Motorsport. I mean that’s basically the whole point of my blog. I volunteer around the world and share my experiences to encourage others to do the same… but the FIA has done very little to “help” me in my endeavor to volunteer even when I reached out to them time and again. Only certain contacts within the ASN’s of the individual countries I wanted to visit were helpful. And that’s a good thing because without local contacts I’d be shit out of luck. But it would be so nice if the FIA helped with (at the very least) establishing or facilitating the contacts for me and others to use. The FIA should take the leading role on that!

And then there’s the US of A. America doesn’t give a fuck about the FIA… The SCCA… America’s only ASN that provides marshal licenses recognized by other ASN’s that recruit international marshals for FIA events… definitely doesn’t give a fuck about the FIA. I haven’t heard anything from the SCCA to promote FIA Volunteer day on May 12th….    USAC an ACCUS/FIA member didn’t share any news about this “promo” either. Wouldn’t it be nice if the whole world (of Motorsport) was on the same page and recognize these dwindling numbers of Volunteers and done something about it, even if paying lip service to it like the FIA V-day hashtag they created for May 12th? I for one would really love to see more done.

Good luck to the FIA!

And have a very happy V-day Motorsport Marshals of the World…

#FIAVolunteersDay

May 12

mark your calendars for the future…

Get Closer to the Action! Become a Motorsport Marshal Volunteer!

Russ found a new hobby in 2011: Motorsport volunteering.

Since then he has worked in 15 different countries and for all sorts of racing from Formula 1 to MotoGP.

Russ likes to encourage others to volunteer also.

Get in touch with Russ to find out how.

 

 

some shortcuts:

How to Become a Marshal?

by Series

by Event

by Circuit

by Country

Young Marshals Wanted!

 

Events Russ Marshaled

Circuits Russ Marshaled

Post Card from Lone Star Le Mans at Circuit of the Americas 2016 WEC & IMSA

Greetings from sunny Central Texas and the Lone Star Le Mans at the Circuit of the Americas. This time I’m volunteering F&C. Thursday at Station Alpha directly across from Pit Exit and the rest of the event at Turn 4 in the Esses.

Wonderful event, awesome experience and perfect weather (albeit a little HOT). Enjoy the pix:

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The only WEC car I got a picture of as the team garages were closed during our paddock walk… boo hoo!

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For the Kiwi’s:

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Lots of Mazda stuff for me to enjoy:

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Lots of new LMP3’s on display:

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Probably the ugliest LMP3 on display from Riley:

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Thanks to one of the HOPS crew, I got a chance to test drive the new ND Miata at the COTA Lot H… seemed pretty sluggish on acceleration, more so than my car… hmm!

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Love the pre-race FIA inspection trackside…

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Pre-Race Praise to the Lone Star Le Mans Flag Chief Brent McNaul for his Work Organizing Marshals at COTA

I have high praise to the Lone Star Le Mans flag chief Brent McNaul for the way he has been organizing the marshals for the upcoming event at the Circuit of the Americas. I want to recognize his efforts in this post because often I blog about people doing things wrong and how much I don’t agree with their approach, and it’s too easy to be critical. In this situation the man deserves high accolades long before the event has even started because he’s been doing everything right. And I really appreciate it!

For those of you reading this you may remember the post I made a while back about the perfect registration page set up for Lone Star Le Mans on MotorsportReg.com It was detailed, thorough, and intuitive. It communicated well what’s involved with the event and encouraged you to be a part of something big, a PRO event, something to be proud of. That attention to detail has continued in the months that followed leading up to this weekend. Brent has been communicating constantly with frequent e-mail blasts keeping the registered marshals abrest of important details pertaining to the race weekend, flag rules, new procedures, etc.

What I liked most about Brent’s e-mail communications:

  • Acknowledgement that the days would be long, as they tend to be on such a race weekend where cars are on track from dawn to dusk, and beyond. In early July Brent sent out info about working in shifts to break up the work load. Personally I can’t get enough of endurance events so I volunteered to work both shifts.
  • Marshal evacuation plan. Who thinks about that right? We had a simulated evacuation a year or two ago at COTA. We were loaded onto the “train” shuttle and taken to the safety of an underpass to wait out a storm. Nobody knew really what was going on, it seemed as the shuttle drivers were following instructions from whomever came on their hand held radios. Now we have a detailed plan of action direct from COTA management.
  • Detailed schedule of the event and the confirmed race entries were provided for those of us interested in the participants of the event in late August.
  • Specific flagging rules were provided as the IMSA rules differ from the FIA rules used during WEC. Specific instructions were provided about the use of boards including NEXT SLOW, SLOW zone, and FCY – Full Course Yellow. While the boards appeared at last year’s event they were not used. The information provided in Brent’s e-mail prepares us as marshals to know what to expect if Race Control calls for a specific board or a series of boards like the progression of NEXT SLOW to SLOW zone, and FCY.
  • Captain prep e-mail was sent out to those of us expected to carry out the captain roles during the event. I was fortunate enough to be selected and am looking forward to fulfilling my duties. I am especially looking forward to incidents happening in my sector so that I could put my training to good use with execution and learn from my response for future incidents.
  • Information about registration, morning sign-on and even early registration times and locations was sent out. This is especially useful since I will be without a personal vehicle being a pedestrian sucks, but allows me to rely on friends to go and register early so that the morning of the event I could go straight to the morning meeting.
  • Station assignments. This one was my favorite especially since last year I left COTA with a sour taste after getting stuck in the same part of the track for several consecutive events. Well, not anymore. I am thrilled with my station assignments thanks to Brent because I will be working some new portions of the track that I haven’t done yet and I am very much looking forward to this experience!

So major props to Brent McNaul for his efforts to keep the Lone Star Le Mans a well oiled machine of an event that I’m sure it will be. The work he’s doing is greatly appreciated not just by me but everyone else, and that’s important. Furthermore I wish more people would learn from Brent to put this amount of effort into their events that they flag chief. He is certainly setting a good example, and I thank him for it!

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source: swiped from the e-mail signature of Jeanie at COTA

2015 Le Mans 24h Spotter Guide by Andy Blackmore available for download

Andy Blackmore has made the 2015 Le Mans 24h spotter guide available for download well ahead of the event for those of you attending, watching remotely or marshaling the event to get familiarized with.

Andy’s spotter guides are my absolutely favorite, and even though I won’t be attending the event, I can’t help but recommend others to check out his work for themselves:

spotterguides.com andy blackmore le mans 24h 2015

The level of detail is outstanding as usual, and here’s the breakdown what all that information means:

andy blackmore spotter guide nissan nismo gt-r le mans 24h 2015

 

Click the images above or visit Andy’s SpotterGuides.com for download directly: http://www.spotterguides.com/portfolio/15lm/

Thank you Andy for a job well done!

 

Changes coming to Le Mans 24h Signaleurs & Commissaires

Le Mans 24h is like the Stig on Top Gear

Some say… Ah, nevermind.

You don’t choose to work Le Mans… Le Mans chooses you!

OK, enough. It is important to know that changes are coming to the way marshals are assigned to the various posts around the track, primarily the way the marshal posts are set up around the track. Apparently, gone are the days of crossing the track just to get to your station. Starting this year, the posts will be set up in such a way that would allow marshals to take their positions without crossing the hot track during the 24 hour race (an activity that was particularly exciting, especially at poste 106 bis where I was stationed because of the way the track crossings were executed, especially at night). That said, my old post #106 (or 10.6 km from Start line) is no more, it’s now Sector 28 to be controlled by one post chief on Driver’s Left and another on Driver’s Right.

So no more hot track crossing unless there is an incident.

In addition to that, there will be less response to incidents. The marshals will be primarily concerned with flagging an incident while rescue crews in vehicles will respond to them. This is again a bit of a departure from the way things were done, and more closely resembles what happens at the Tudor United SportsCar Series races in the US, and to some degree what has been done at the Nurburgring 24h event for ages. Hot pulls. Rescue truck response, etc. Is this a good thing? I don’t know. It took me by complete surprise for example when I responded to my first big Le Mans crash in 2012 along with my American partner. We pushed one car out back on track, but the second one was too mangled to continue. Both I and my partner were convinced that vehicle intervention would be needed as we were powerless to push the car to safety. But we were wrong. As our colleagues watching the race on TV in the marshal campground during their time off started rushing to our aid, soon there was no place for me to put my hands to help push the car. But push the car they did, for a good 100 meters to a cutout in the fence, where the vehicle remained until the end of the race. That was amazing! But apparently that is no more.

The ACO sent out a detailed description of the changes and the new station assignments that I won’t be sharing in this post. But for whomever is interested in the event I urge you to sign up now! Especially with the front engined and front wheel drive Nissan GT-R LMP1 car making it’s debut, and the 25th anniversary of McLaren taking to the track during the exhibition activities, 2015 would be an excellent year to participate. Sadly I won’t be there, but you have fun!

Some photos from my last two years at Le Mans:

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Le Mans 24, France 2013
Le Mans 24, France 2013

Lone Star Le Mans Debrief

What a great, great, great! weekend the Lone Star Le Mans turned out to be. Not that things didn’t go awry, weather was a bit miserable and I ended up in the Medical Center at COTA. But it’s how all the issues along the way were resolved that left a very pleasant memory from this trip and I want to share my experience with you to encourage your participation at future COTA events including the return of WEC and TUSC series next year.

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Post event I am completely exhausted. Beyond that actually, I was exhausted on the first day of practice, and combining the extra long days, bad weather and the way I booked my travel my ass was thoroughly whipped this weekend. But it was awesome. As everyone knows I love putting together a great deal, and this was a steal. I took a 3.5 hour bus from NYC to Boston overnight to take an early morning direct flight to Austin. Set up my tent so I didn’t have any transportation or accommodation expenses over the race weekend. COTA provided all the food and drinks I would ever need. And I left my tent with one of the marshals I worked with in Austin to use it again for the F1 weekend. On the way back the trip got even more convoluded because I took a 3.5 hour bus ride down to Houston. Had an amazing lunch at Pappas BBQ before heading to Hobby airport and taking a 3.5 hour flight to Boston, then a 3.5 hour bus ride to NYC which meant I spent more time travelling on the return that I did coming back from the Singapore GP the past few years. But boy did I have a great time! And I saved a ton of money.

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That aspect out of the way, I will focus on some health issues that I had to overcome which did at times interfere with my performance over the race weekend. Mainly, I went through a bout of food poisoning the day before leaving for this trip. And even though I spent the day in bed with severe puking every few hours in a sequence of many hours. I felt confident I’ll get over it once I get to COTA. That assessment was mainly wrong. I arrived at the track with a serious pain in my stomach, more than that… my entire rib cage hurt. I had to be careful what I eat and when I eat it to avoid any issues while on station from 6am to 11pm and beyond some days. But I soldiered thru. It amazed me that I had such difficulty sometimes being at my best, but there were people older than me who were expected to stand on their feet at attention for the duration of the event with little or no relief. Sure the flag chiefs offered to give some time off, but one of the flaggers on my post used a cane for support, I didn’t understand how he could be so strong throughout the event. Things shouldn’t be this way. It’s not safe and in a country where OSHA has so much say in the business world I don’t know how the volunteering world gets away without providing the bare minimum number of personnel to work such a demanding race weekend. Since I was the turn captain I tried to take one for the team and give my guys as much rest as possible with short 30 minute stints including breaks after every hour.

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But since I wasn’t in top shape myself as soon as the contractor fired up the flood light compressor with it’s exhaust pipe pointed directly at our station from about 10 feet away, I felt ill right away. Ultimately, after some arguments and few calls to race control we made it through the night. But my work day ended in the Medical Center with an IV drip in my vein, and a stack of pills to bring my temperature down. It was a hell of an experience and since I had gone to a medical center before at Silverstone, this time I walked in asking specifically for pills to help with nausea.

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The visit to the doctors was as important to get something done on station as it was to help me with my well being. We heard someone on the radio calling for help in a similar situation the day before. One of the flag chiefs made some demands to rearrange the flood light system to avoid CO2 blasting the hard station (the flood lights were on wheels and could be moved, while the hard flag stations could not) But in our case nothing was done and the contractor responsible for the lights wouldn’t talk to us reasonably or in a polite fashion to be frank. So doctor intervention demanded the track takes action, and I’m so thankful they did.

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Now to the racing… WoW!

For a sports car fan like myself this was heaven. Not one but two world class sports car series that is WEC (World Endurance Championship from FIA / ACO / Le Mans) and TUSC (Tudor United Sports Car Championship) from IMSA with it’s supporting series of Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge and the Porsche Carrera Cup. The action on track was fantastic. I had a ton of blue flag I indulged myself with on Friday when I was the turn captain there on Thursday. While Friday and Saturday I had to compete for blue flag with the two newbies that really seemed to like this role. I taught them what I knew about best blue flag practices and throughout the actual race they were right on the money, doing an excellent job. I felt soooo proud of myself and yet jealous I didn’t get as much blue flag as I was hoping for myself.

I didn’t get any opportunity to shoot Marshal Cam interviews over the weekend which was a bummer. But since it was raining a lot and we had ridiculously long days on station with minimal group down time (except for this one evacuation drill where we were herded off stations and into one of the tunnels hiding from lightning) I didn’t interview anyone that I was hoping to get a video of. Oh well, until next time. The highlight of my trip was the pit and paddock walk on Wednesday, especially having the opportunity to take the photo of team Porsche and all their celebrity drivers. Loved the event and I’m glad I chose to do it vs. Singapore GP.

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Media from 24h of Le Mans

Huge… absolutely massive thanks to my good buddy Julio, the Spanish marshal at Le Mans, who very generously snapped a few awesome shots while we were acting as spectators at Le Mans 2014. I had the pleasure of working on the Spanish team again at poste 106 and these guys treated me absolutely and genuinely well.

I would love an opportunity to work with Julio and his friends again and again whether at Le Mans or Spa 24h in the future.

But without any further ado, here are the pix:

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As you can see in the photos this year was definitely the year of the Porsche. So many classics on display. So many amazing cars I only wished I saw in action when they were racing similar Mercedes and BMW prototypes. We even got a private tour of the Porsche garage as a few of Julios mates work as engineers for the team. Fantastic experience for sure! Thanks again Julio….

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Au revoir France! Le Mans 24 was an incredible event. It was wet, it was sunny. It was sad and full of joy simultaneously. I learned new things, met new friends, and got to do a little intervention. Very impressed with the entire operation.

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PS. I learned of two new people that read my blog, one of them is pictured above: Julio from España. Hopefully he will chime in and make some posts about marshalling in spain and europe.

Bonjour Le Mans! Postcard from the 24h of Le Mans

Salut Le Mans!

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I am thrilled to participate in this little event.

I’m stationed at Poste 106 bis, between Arnage corner and Porsche Curves. So far we have had the Toyota Hybrid of Buemi visit on Wed and a Ferrari Challenge 458 caught on fire on Thu. Plenty of action.

For race day I will be on these shifts, from 6pm to 9pm, from 2am to 4am and from 9am to 12pm.

I love it so far! Making good friends with all the Brits, Frenchys, Chechs and Germans on my station. As well as a few Spaniards and a single American from VIR.