Greetings from Day 2 of IndyCar at the Pocono Raceway… on the Tricky Triangle. What Turn 4?
So this time I’m doing something different, while still volunteering for a Motorsport event, it’s not quite marshaling. But I’m in pit lane, there are race cars around me, I’m happy!
A few weeks ago I worked with a guy from Pennsylvania at Watkins Glen who invited me to come volunteer IndyCar at Pocono… What? I didn’t know we could do that… I thought marshals weren’t needed on ovals… err… triovals.
They are not, but volunteers are always needed. I filled out my application… got a typical cryptic response that made me wonder if I was in or out, and tickets for the event showed up in my mail box a few days before the race. Cool!
The role for this event was: “Customer Service” with Team Pocono. Some would call it a security role, but there were actual security at the event that were hired help and were getting paid for their service. We worked for free, and we were the only ones in pit lane, where you know… it’s actually dangerous.
Our role was to check wristbands and paper tickets of spectators and VIP’s that were roaming around pit lane during all sessions of the event. I didn’t think this was even possible because typically the pits are off limits to spectators at other events I volunteer at. IMSA and F1 have a special Pit Walk for the spectators which is a watered down experience that lasts for about an hour or so primarily designed for spectators to take some close up pictures of cars in pieces and maybe grab an autograph from their favorite driver. Here, the pit lane was open to anyone who was willing to spend the extra money for this pit pass, and it wasn’t that pricey.
In many ways this activity is where IndyCar is most similar to NASCAR rather than other series like IMSA or F1. The other similarity was running the oval which meant there wasn’t to be any racing as soon as the rain hit the forecast. That combined with a time-certain TV schedule meant that despite the scheduled race for today, the feature activity of the weekend, the actual race got moved to Monday because of the rain (even though as usual the morning was nice and sunny with some overcast)… This was the first time I’ve ever had a race postponed to the next day of the week.
The actual role of customer service was really neat. I got to interact with a bunch of spectators, several crew / team members of the pits I was responsible for, and got to see several drivers up close. The first day of my participation I was absolutely rubbish. There was a person smoking nearby who I missed completely, which was one of my responsibilities. People kept on sneaking up towards the pit wall every time I would turn my back, which wasn’t meant to happen. Someone walked in with a beer, which again was a big no no… Someone brought their young kids in, again this wasn’t good. But on the second day I got the hang of it.
As usual we were not allowed to take any pictures of the cars, but I snuck a few selfies in.
Only British flags were flying on communication antennas in pit lane to commemorate the one year anniversary of Justin Wilson’s death which happened at this event last year sadly.
First day I worked the “South” pits watching over Alexander Rossi and Tony Kanaan pits. While second day I got bumped to the North pits looking out for Marco Andretti and Takumo Sato. Second day we really had nothing to do. (because of the rain)
I was most impressed with the whole registration process at Pocono. Things were well organized, people were knowledgeable and things went very smoothly. Camping was provided right on the inner course where I had driven once when I volunteered as F&C during an SCCA event.
Chits for food were provided both days, and food was tasty!
For the second day there was a car show with some interesting things on display like these Jaguars.
For support event we had Vintage IndyCar organized by USAC.
There were also lots of stock cars and dirt track cars on display very popular in Pennsylvania and among the crowd who were naturally mostly NASCAR fans. The whole weekend had a very low key feel to it, almost like a club event. Not too many people in attendance which made the event feel very open and drivers super accessible.
The days on post were quite long and my feet were burning by the end. Luckily I had enough wet weather gear with me to stay dry when the skies opened up on Sunday.
As a keepsake we got a pin for participation and a program. Which is more than we normally get while volunteering for F&C.
All in all I had a hell of a time and even though I left the track when the rain started because I was not going to camp in the bog that the water created, I’m very much looking forward to the 98 mile drive back there on Monday to finish what I started/signed-up to do.
It was a fantastic experience to be sure!