Tag Archives: Melbourne

Aussie CAMS Officials Newsletter Why aren’t more ASN’s doing this?

I wish I still lived in Australia… back in 2009 I didn’t even know marshaling was possible (on a volunteer basis). Having gone to my very first Automotive Race as a spectator flying across the whole country to watch V8 Supercars around the Barbagallo Circuit in Perth, Western Australia I really thought it was the greatest job in the world. Well, it’s been almost a decade since then and with 15 countries of volunteering under my belt now, I can say nobody does it as well as the Australians, and their latest officials newsletter is a shining example of what should be done to communicate info with their volunteers:

I’ve highlighted and praised their previous newsletters before, to point out what other ASN’s should learn from… and it’s worth doing again this year! Because none of my other international Motorsport club communication looks like this (especially not domestic for that matter)… there’s really no reason why it shouldn’t. I mean come on, look how elegantly simple it is to drive the important points!

But in case it’s not obvious I’ll go ahead and break down the e-mail bit by bit to make it crystal clear how others can copy a successful communications formula.

Step 1: Have a brief introduction, state latest news, wish happy holidays… Boom! Done! Quick! Easy…

Step 2: Promote Training!  Why would you not? It’s important!

Step 3: Communicate club policies, like my favorite… club’s Alcohol Policy!  So far I’ve only heard my North American clubs advertised how shit-faced you can get by coming to their events. How Dumb? But it’s a thing…

I don’t agree with the idea of drinking and volunteering. I believe alcohol abuse has no place in Motorsport Volunteering, or the idea of providing a “Safety” service could be interpreted as a joke… but I know others will disagree. Well, having a proper Alcohol Policy is something all should agree on. Right?

Step 4: Motorsport Volunteering is not just Flagging or Recovery/Response. There are a multitude of groups of volunteers. It’s good to make everyone feel as an equal contributor to the club, and promote club members to consider trying different roles. That is easily done by spotlighting different roles in a newsletter. Boom!

Step 4: Additional updates…. there’s always plenty of general announcements and news.

Step 5: Spotlight some outstanding people that make the club possible… volunteers love praise. Give it to them!

Step 6: Photos! Everyone loves photos… and since we’re not allowed to take some, have photogs help members out by doing a professional shoot at each event, making those shots available to preserve individual marshals memories. Easy thing to do but often overlooked or scoffed at as unimportant. It is important!

And voila… simple recipe to great success.

I encourage ASN’s around the world to use this example from down under… Please!

Team Medical Phillip Island is Looking for Doctors, Nurses, Paramedics and Students (Medical, Nursing, etc.) Great Perks!

If there was ever a time when I regretted making a career choice, this would be it. Why couldn’t I go to medical school? Or why haven’t I followed thru with becoming a Paramedic?

Don’t know… but my Information Systems degree is useless.

If you are however a Doctor, Nurse or a Paramedic. Or even if you haven’t become one yet but are studying to become one, Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit wants YOU!

Check out this ad I saw posted on facebook:

medical team wanted phillip island victoria australia

Unlike the rest of us plebs volunteering for a soggy sandwich and swag, the medics get Accommodation provided, which is a big deal.

If you are local to Melbourne or Victoria in general or have the means to travel there, I’d urge you to sign up! I was lucky enough to work several events at Phillip Island in 2013 including the SBK Superbikes and it was a fantastic experience!

Invitation to Marshal SBK Superbike Championship at Phillip Island, Australia

Every year, without fail, I get a thick envelope in the mail from Australia inviting me to marshal the SBK Superbike World Championship round at Phillip Island. And since I’m invited, you’re invited through this blog post!

It’s such a heartwarming experience opening the envelope and seeing the invitation letter and application forms… it’s awesome! No other organization has had such a great follow up like the team staffing this FIM event at an incredible racetrack: Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit about 2 hour drive outside of Melbourne, Victoria. And I wish I could have tacked on this event to my upcoming trip to Bathurst in 2016, but there’s just too much time between the two events.

sbk superbike world championship phillip island marshal invitation 2016

The last time I participated at Phillip Island for this event was 2013, working rescue at “Siberia” turn. It was incredible!

I highly recommend this event to anyone interested in marshaling. The racing is fantastic. The crowd of spectators is huge and very enthusiastic. And the marshaling team treats you really well.

Interested? Get in touch, I’ll forward on the application paperwork.

Wish I could go…

Happy Birthday to ME! from Confederation of Australian Motor Sport

Well aint’ that something…. I got a birthday card e-mail from the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport, probably the nicest thing anyone in this marshaling hobby has done for me on an ASN level. Good on you CAMS, and Thank You!

We heard it’s your birthday this month…

Dear Russ,

To celebrate your birthday this month the CAMS Shop would like to offer you a special birthday offer: a 10% discount on all purchases over $20.

To redeem this offer, simply enter your own unique code: (want the code? ask me, I’ll share) at the shopping cart screen of the CAMS shop, before the 30th of September.

To access the CAMS Shop, Click here.

This code can only be used once, and cannot be used in conjunction with any other discounts or special offers. Stand 21 Club Series HANS Device and Stand 21 Posts also excluded.

From all of us here at CAMS, we wish you a very happy birthday.


Kind regards,

The CAMS shop

Granted, this is a marketing e-mail, obviously encouraging me to buy stuff from the CAMS shop. And the offer of 10% off is a big deal, Aussies aren’t often as generous as America is with it’s frequent discounts. But I’m quite impressed with their effort to keep the organization relevant in my mind, they keep reminding me that CAMS exists even though they know that I’m an international member and that I live on the other side of the world.

My home ASN, the SCCA couldn’t give two fucks that I exist. No birthday wishes from them. No invitation to marshal local events at Lime Rock, NJMP or elsewhere (except the personal invite from Jessie to help out at Palmer Motorsports Park with the New England Region). Nope, nothing of the sort… except they’re quick to send repeated e-mails reminders when my fucking $95 annual membership (or $65 now that I’m with Guam region) is due. Greedy fucks! I’m sure I’ve offended them deeply by speaking out about the lack of training, sure I did. So the obvious solution is not to offer the fucking training, but to pretend that I don’t exist and that I am no longer welcome in their club, except of course for that time when the membership fees are due, they’re still very happy to take my money… ugh!

I wish I lived in Australia again… that was some of the best time of my life and you don’t even have to pay a membership fee to be a part of CAMS… imagine that!

Invitation to Marshal the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix (MotoGP at Phillip Island)

Every year I get a thick envelope from Australia containing several sheets of an application to register for a Phillip Island motorcycle event. This year I’ve gotten two of them, one for World SBK superbikes an event that I volunteered in 2013 and another for the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix featuring MotoGP on the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit.

This is an incredible opportunity for any Motos fans out there. Australia embraces it’s motorcycling culture (both legitimate and the bikey gang subculuture) and these SBK/MotoGP events are attended in huge numbers.

The event where I worked Siberia corner we had a whole display of spectator bikes parked up behind the turn with all the attendees watching the racing and admiring each other’s bikes. It was so cool.

australian motorcycle grand prix invitation

To apply send me a quick note via facebook and I will forward my application to you. If you are considering this event from outside of Australia or New Zealand consider that Malaysian MotoGP is back to back with the event at Phillip Island. And if you think Australia is bike crazy, you can only imagine how big the event is at Sepang International Circuit (it’s huge both from spectator perspective as well as from the marshal’s point of view).

Go register now!

You will absolutely enjoy it.


Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix web site:  http://www.motogp.com.au/

MotoGP web site: http://www.motogp.com/

Motorcycling Australia web site: http://www.ma.org.au/

International Marshals at the Australian GP

Thanks to the dedicated work by our friend Lynne Hunting during Australian GP we could all read the same newsletter that the local marshals get at the mustering tent in Melbourne each morning. And in the Thursday issue of the newsletter I came across an interesting statistic that Lynne is a part of herself:

source: Australian GP/CAMS/Lynne Hunting
source: Australian GP/CAMS/Lynne Huntting

Of the 930+ marshals participating in Melbourne over the four day weekend that we call the Australian F1 Grand Prix, 78 are visiting marshals from countries far and wide (and when it comes to Australia, pretty much everything is far and wide).

Granted, that when compared with the overall number of the marshals that figure isn’t even 10% but when you consider that in 2014 US F1 Grand Prix had only 200+ marshals, having an influx of 78 more people would give the struggling organizer a much needed boost! If only they could get their act together and actively recruit those visiting international marshals… hmm!

Who are the International visiting marshals in Australia? For the most part they are Singaporeans, just a little less than half of them in fact, and there’s a reason for that. CAMS trainers play an important role during the Singapore GP, historically providing senior marshals for guidance to the local post chiefs and sector marshals during the event. The Australian GP serves as a training ground for those Singaporean marshals wishing to take the next step in their careers to become “senior marshals” themselves in order to act as “post chiefs” or “sector marshals” back home in September. So that’s understandable.

The rest of the numbers are quite interesting.

Personally, I would be very curious to learn who that single Ukranian marshal is. And in what capacity do they participate back home in Ukraine? Or perhaps it’s an Ozzie marshal of Ukrainian background (much like people refer to me as an American marshal born and raised in Ukraine) that simply choose to identify themselves as Ukrainian even though for all practical purposes they’re Aussie.

It’s nice to see the number of Americans participating growing. A few years ago when I was volunteering there: Lynne, James and I were the only three “Americans” at the event. I’m glad more are taking the time to experience Australia and their F1 season opening event in Melbourne.

I am also quite surprised with some of the stats on the chart Lynne published. For example, only four (4) Kiwis. Now I could assure you that out of the 930+ marshals there are a lot more than 4 New Zealanders present, but with special work and travel visa arrangements between the two Commonwealth nations, many Kiwis call Australia home and therefore are not represented as visiting marshals from NZ. But with only 4 flying across the ditch to participate in the event, those numbers seem very low.

Similarly, there are 2 people from the UAE and none from Canada. I am surprised by that because I know many expats living in the UAE are avid F1 fans and marshal around the world including US, Singapore and Australia. So I wonder whether one of those UAE residents is actually a Canadian citizen, but the AGP considers them a visiting marshal from the UAE.

At any rate, it’s great to read all the important work Lynne Huntting publishes because it obviously provokes thought and sheds some light on the scores of marshals that love the sport so much they would travel half way around the world just to participate in this wonderful experience. Cheers to them!

Also kudos to CAMS: Confederation of Australian Motor Sport the organizer of volunteers for Australian GP, for this:

australian gp 2015 cams awesome marshalsNot only is the number of volunteers in the picture very impressive, and as I compared with the US version, it’s about five times the size of the volunteer base. (And yes I’m aware that a street circuit requires more personnel than a permanent circuit, the same scenario can be seen in Singapore GP (1,200 marshals) vs. Malaysian GP (330 marshals)). The organization went ahead and shared their appreciation on their social media page giving recognition and thanks to all those participants whether domestic or international visiting marshals. And that act is very respectable. In my three years of membership with the SCCA I have not once seen them do a similar act for a non-club event. And maybe they should? Of course they should!

Invitation to Marshal the 2015 SBK Superbikes at Phillip Island

Dear colleagues,

You are invited to participate in next year’s SBK Superbike event at Phillip Island in beautiful Victoria, Australia.

This is the reason why, for the most part, they are not hurting for volunteers. Unlike some events, like say the US Grand Prix – which struggled to meet the minimum staffing requirements, early registration invites like these work…. and for the few bux that it costs to do it properly, I believe it’s certainly worth the effort to make an event run smoothly and safely.

SBK superbikes invitation Phillip Island

When I get mail like this (especially from Australia because they are basically the only ones still doing this) it’s like a Christmas gift. Even when I doubt I’ll be able to participate, a big part of me really wants to sign up. The reason I post this is to help spread the word and hopefully you will sign up as a result. Feel free to contact me for details or reach out to the Phillip Island organization directly.

Enjoy the race, it’s fantastic!

Asia Pacific volunteering trip debrief

It’s my third weekend home without motor sports and it really is a damn shame there’s nothing happening locally at Lime Rock, NJMP or Poconos (besides the Indycar test for which they didn’t require marshals) so I wanted to reflect on the 7 back-to-back weekends in Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia that opened this year. I often get asked how I’m able to afford this travel, etc. So I’ll share the schedule and costs below, to prove that anyone can do it, if they chose to.

My schedule went as follows:

FEB 8-10: 12 hours of Bathurst at Mount Panorama in NSW, Australia

FEB 16-17: BNT V8 Supertourers at Hampton Downs, New Zealand

FEB 22-24: SBK Superbikes at Phillip Island, VIC Australia

FEB 28 – MAR 3: Clipsal 500, V8 Supercars at Adelaide, SA Australia

MAR 8-10: Shannon’s Historics CAN-AM at Phillip Island VIC Australia

MAR 14-17: Australian F1 Grand Prix at Albert Park,  VIC Australia

MAR 22-24: Malaysian F1 Grand Prix at Sepang Circuit, Malaysia

I also did the following non-motorsport trips on this journey:

MAR 11-13: Went to visit the old office North of Sydney NSW Australia

MAR 19: Day trip to Penang to visit a friend for lunch Penang, Malaysia

MAR 20-21: Overnight trip to Phnom Penh first time in Cambodia

Mar 26-29: Flight home via Clark and Manila, the Philippines

Mar 29: A quick dinner with friends on a short few connection in Singapore

To book all these trips I used a combination of frequent flyer miles and low cost airlines, for example the trip to Australia was via American Airlines AAdvantage 32,500 miles + tax to fly Qantas from NYC to SYD via LAX. The flight back was on United Airlines Mileage Plus 32,500 miles + tax from MNL to JFK via SIN on Singapore Airlines. Both AA and UA miles were accrued through credit car sign up bonuses. Meanwhile, the flight from MEL to KUL was on AirAsia X with a mere $139 one way price tag ($189 after taxes, luggage and even a nasi lemak on board) still cheap comparing the alternatives. Similarly, within Australia I used Tiger Airways to fly from MEL to ADL and MEL to SYD, for far less what Qantas or even Virgin Australia charged. In Asia I jumped on a bunch of zero dollar / tax only deals, that would explain the $18 trip to Penang, or $36 trip to Cambodia… and finally $24 trip to Clark. This is about as cheap as it gets, and it was nice enough for a number of hosts to put me up for a few nights here and there thanks to CouchSurfing.org

I was also very grateful to a few motorsport marshals that put me up in both Melbourne and Auckalnd. Nothing went to plan from the start of the trip, but somehow it all worked out in the end, and I had an absolute blast over the two month journey.

Finally, let me share some photos from each one of the stops along the way:

apac trip hats

mount panorama bathurst

nz v8 supertouers 2

phillip island sbk 5

clipsal 6

shannons 5

australian gp 5

malaysian gp pit

australian v8s patches

(this is not my collection of CAMS patches, my Melbourne host was nice enough to share his stash of Motorsport memorabilia, very impressive collection!)

A fantastic trip and one I hope to repeat again, though a trip to Europe will be my next big trip this summer followed by one more visit to Singapore for their Grand Prix. Many more photos are posted on facebook.

Australian F1 Grand Prix

Greetings from the Formula 1 season opener in Melbourne, Victoria. Excellent start so far for the Australian F1 Grand Prix… started the day with the two seater rides early in the morning, followed by practice for V8 Supercars, Porsche Carerra Cup Australia, Historics/Sports Cars/Can Am, Australian Targa Cars and the silly Celebrity challenge in the diesel powered Mazda 6 fleet.

Some photos:

australian gp 5

australian gp 2

australian gp 3

australian gp 4

australian gp refresher training

And a shot from Narra Photography (the official photog of the Aussie officials): http://www.narraphotography.com.au/p419732905

Shannon’s Historics at Phillip Island debrief

Sensational weekend spent at Phillip Island with the Shannon’s Historics races, featuring a bunch of British cars, a bunch of Italian cars, and even a bunch of American cars. Everything from Mustangs to Corvettes, Alfa Romeo’s to Jaguars, and one of my favorites: Bug Eyed Sprites 🙂

I had the luck of having a “personal photographer” this weekend. My friend Ian took some awesome shots of me in action flagging at station 9.1 overlooking spectacular scenery that is Phillip Island.

shannons 5

shannons phillip island 1 shannons phillip island 2

shannons phillip island 3(favorite Aussie food: Fish & Chips!)

shannons 6

shannons phillip island 4(New Yorker a long way from home…!)

Did I mention blue flagging for Porsche Can Am cars was my favorite event? Yes it was!

phillip island shannons historics 1

phillip island shannons historics 2

phillip island shannons historics 3

phillip island shannons historics 4