Tag Archives: Starter

4 PWC Races, 4 Different Marshal Roles! Highlight of my Motorsport Volunteering Career Thus Far

I am not bragging in this post, I’m simply counting my blessings!

Thanks to the powers that be this season, I got an opportunity to work four different PWC events so far. And as luck would have it each one of those races I performed a different role as a marshal. That is a massive accomplishment personally in my book. (Log Book if we were doing those things here)

Race 1: St. Petersburg Grand Prix in Florida: Pit Marshal

PWC ran as a support race to IndyCar… and I was there in pit lane.

Race 2: Grand Prix of VIRginia International Raceway (Fire Rescue)

PWC was the headlining event at VIR and I got a chance to ride in the fire truck and tow truck over the 3 day weekend, hooking cars and picking up debris on the hot track!

Race 3: Victoria Day Speedfest at Mosport (Blue Flag Marshal)

PWC sort of competed for the headline event at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park sharing the spotlight with local Pinty’s NASCAR series… I think most people went there for PWC but definitely stock cars brings it’s die fans too. I was there flagging over the weekend.

Race 4: Grand Prix of Lime Rock Park  (Backup Starter)

The most recent PWC experience at Lime Rock Park over Memorial Day weekend was a cherry on top moment for me working as a Backup Starter to the series Starters. Ahhmazing!

This really is an awesome time for me in my Motorsport volunteering career. If I were to stop marshaling now I’d feel that I’ve done everything I wanted to do with this hobby!

Of course, as many would say and as I totally firmly believe myself: “The Best is yet to come….”

Post Card from the Dummy Grid at Memorial Day PWC LRP Grand Prix

Fantastic Memorial Day weekend at the races… Lime Rock Park was fantastic to me. I have grown to absolutely love the Pirelli World Challenge series. And best part I got to work as a backup starter… so there was a lot of downtime. I was in the prime spot to see the cars up close, and as a result there was ample opportunity to take some pix. So this is my Saturday Race Day mega gallery… enough talking here’s the pix:

Free breakfast for the marshals how thoughtful! Thanks Skip Barber

Miata Racing is the main reason I signed up to do this event!

They split TC from TCA/TCB races, so it was much easier to see the current MX-5 Cup cars winning a race…

New flavor of SAC racing skittles cars…

Hhhmm… I didn’t know Volvo and GM had a relationship… I knew about SAAB/Scania but Volvo GM – WHITEGMC is news to me… kind of cool though!

This is such a beautiful and completely appropriate paint job… for this event!

Selfies!

The driver of this #70 also raced (and won in) the TCA MX-5 Cup car

Thanks to Chris Booth for taking some pix of me with the cars in the paddock during lunch time.

He sells Miata parts apparently ūüôā

…after doing donuts in Turn 1 and returning to pit lane counter race

The series starter gave me a small gift: A Guardian Angel… Awwww!

I am so grateful to everyone that made this weekend possible for me. Thanks to the folks at Lime Rock Park, to the series: Pirelli World Challenge and of course Chris Booth for taking some pix for me. Thank you all very much! See you at the next one.

Updated Wish List of Events I Want to Marshal in the Near Future

The 2017 Racing season is in full effect now and it looks like it will be a pretty busy one for me… but with the whole NYC Formula E recruitment woes and the anticipated rejections for Macau GP I’ve been¬†reminiscing about a post I made at the end of 2014 called the “Wish List” and all the events I would love to work… So in this post I’d like to take a look back and totally Trump-style pat myself on the back for all my accomplishments and failures.

Read about my 2014 Marshaling Wish List click here.

The Accomplishments:

Spa 24h at Spa-Francorchamps… Big mission accomplished with this event… for two years in a row actually! The track and the race are some of my favorite events ever… in the world. Period!

¬†Malaysian Merdeka… or perhaps the renamed Sepang 12h race at SIC: Sepang International Circuit. Mission accomplished on that one… almost by chance, because I worked two events in the Middle East but it was too expensive to stay there, so I flew to Southeast Asia to work an awesome 12h race…¬†and then I came back to do it again in 2015 while on a trip to Bangkok for a wedding, which was amazing… highly recommend that event. Especially since it’s affiliated with Blancpain Series and SRO as part of the Intercontinental GT Challenge.

¬†Oak Tree Grand Prix is a massive accomplishment which was totally unexpected… Why? Because on the previous Wish List post I suggested this was a “no thanks!” event since they don’t want volunteers for their paid events. Well, an opportunity came up last year not to flag, but to work as pit fire. I jumped on it and had a time of my life. I loved it so much I returned this year for the PWC race to work with VIR fire rescue and this time I was the “hooker” riding around on a truck and hooking crashed cars to the tow truck. It was soooooo amazing! Would highly recommend this.

¬†DTM! My plan was to work Deutsche Touring Cars in Deutschland… but I got the next best thing working DTM at the Zandvoort Circuit in the Netherlands super close to the beach and just an hour outside of Amsterdam which turned out to be an amazing opportunity and event overall. Mission accomplished for the series, but also added 15th country to my list of places to volunteer. Still would love to do another German track besides the Nurburgring, or better yet schedule two consecutive events involving the Nordschleife and something else. Will see…

The Failures:

¬†Dubai 24h race in the UAE…. I signed up and then didn’t go. And that’s a horrible, horrible thing to do! I hate when people cancel on events they register for. But I did, and it was bad. But I’d like to fix this in the future and participate in the awesome Dubai 24 hour event in the future, perhaps?

¬†Pokka 1000 didn’t happen for me. I even enlisted help of a famous Ukrainian race car driver who was huge in Japan, Igor Sushko… whom put me in touch with the head of marshals at the Suzuka Circuit and I was rejected. Maybe expected. Maybe not. I heard people talking about working there who weren’t Japanese, but to me it was suggested that the track requirements forbid it. Sad! Igor suggested bigger events than Japanese Super GT… for example Formula 1 or MotoGP would be easier to sign up for. But I truly really want to work a Super GT race in it’s current format.

So my 2017 Updated Wish List of places to marshal in the future is:

A Must:

I want to do this event soooo bad! The Macau Grand Prix is still #1 on my list… Will it ever happen? Maybe…

¬†So this is an interesting one… I wanted to work Super GT at Buriram or wherever it was run in Thailand but that seemed like a one time deal. Now the Asian Le Mans series runs in Thailand and even though the country is super welcoming to tourists it is not necessarily as friendly towards “workers” or “volunteers” for Motorsport. Despite my numerous trips there, I have failed to establish a Marshaling connection to volunteer in this country, and I would really really like to!

¬†MotoGP at Losail International Circuit is really growing on me. But I haven’t made it happen yet. I must do it one day!

¬†DTM at the Red Bull Ring. I established a contact there and was told they would welcome foreign marshals. But it hasn’t happened yet. One day though… it’s a must!

¬†Supercars on the streets of Gold Coast. My last wish list included V8’s around Mount Panorama, the Bathurst 1000 but I think the same cars on the streets of Gold Coast would be a million times better for another visit back to the land down under.

Would be Nice:

¬†Brasil and South America sort of dropped a peg from my previous Wish List. Why? Not quite sure but I certainly wouldn’t turn down an opportunity to work there except I still refuse to pay the outrageous reciprocal fee they charge to get a visa for most of the Latin American countries. So Sao Paolo is on ice. But maybe one day?

¬†Much like Latin America not much is really happening in South Africa. I really really really want to go there. I think it would be a fantastic opportunity but nothing has jumped out at me to sign up and go just yet. It’s on the list, but it’s more of a long term plan than something that will happen imminently.

¬†WTCC goes to Marrakech, Morocco. I’ve been to Marrakech before and it was an amazing experience. Flew there on Ryanair and almost didn’t leave because the Spanish Air Traffic Controllers went on strike potentially leaving us stranded in North Africa. It was a great experience and cars racing on the streets of the beautiful city would be quite a site to see. So if South Africa doesn’t happen to me in the near future, maybe Morocco could be more doable? Who knows… but I wouldn’t mind.

¬†Screw Quebec… Always giving me shit at the border to go to Montreal for F1 and all that jazz at the track about taking pictures, but I would really love to check out two tracks one of them in QC…¬†Trois-Rivi√®res! The other Calabogie, in nearby Ontario. The first track is Northeast from Montreal and holds some cool events I wouldn’t mind marshaling. The other is several hours north of Canadian Tire Motorsports Park which I love to visit and it too holds interesting events. I would love to add them to my list!

Meh! Sure, why not?

¬†Something in Mexico City… Formula 1 or WEC? I thought Mexico would be easy to marshal. It hasn’t been. The people I reached out to in order to sign up for Formula 1 event when it came back to Mexico didn’t help me one bit which really sucked because they sure talked a lot of shit when we worked together in Canada or Long Beach… but perhaps it would happen in the future. I would love to add Mexico to the list of countries I marshaled.

¬†Baku F1 was going to be one of those super practical events because American Airlines treat Azerbaijan as Europe (so does F1 calling it GP of Europe) which means award flights only use a ridiculously low amount of points, half in fact what they charge for Bahrain which is really nearby. But I never got invited here, even though there seems to be a ton of traffic coming to my blog from that area and since there’s such a close relationship with Bahraini marshals. Surprised it didn’t happen yet, but maybe it will in the future?

¬†Despite working with a whole ton of Czech marshals from Le Mans to Spa-Francorchamps I have never heard… “hey, come join us at Brno!” Weird how that happens. But their track looks fantastic, Moto events there seem amazing. Maybe one day?

¬†The problem with Sentul International Circuit in Indonesia is that nothing seems to happen there. I almost booked a flight once to correspond to the Asian Le Mans Series round at Sentul hoping I could volunteer there but the round got moved to Sepang in Malaysia instead. I would love to add Sentul to my list. I’ve been to Indonesia a bunch of times, Bali, Jakarta, Batam (by boat from Singapore)… and it’s a beautiful country. It would be so cool to work an event there. Maybe MotoGP would come back? I know it would be super appropriate there, everyone uses Motorcycles and Scooters.

 

What else? Am I missing places I should add to my Wish List? Some I have consciously bumped off like Monaco, because why bother? But I’m sure there’s something I’m overlooking. Like Isle of Man… or?

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

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Young Marshals Wanted!

 

Events Russ Marshaled

Circuits Russ Marshaled

NER @ LRP presented by Thompson Speedway

My 7th weekend in a row spent at a race track, unlike the previous 6 which were each at a different track (Palmer, Watkins Glen, Mosport, Lime Rock, Detroit, NJMP) I’ve started repeating tracks… much like the previous visit to Lime Rock where I worked as a backup starter for the Pirelli World Challenge, this time I got to wave all the flags in the Starter rotation for NER SCCA club racing.

The weekend went by perfectly. Excellent weather. Excellent company. I was very happy to work with Jamie again. And I’m really happy to be trained by Peter Watson the chief starter of the Northern New Jersey Region who has been awesome in showing me how things should be done. I truly enjoy learning from him because things are done naturally, everything makes perfect sense, and when I make a mistake Peter corrects me right away, which helps tremendously, I really do appreciate immediate feedback. My weekend was truly enjoyable and I’m actually really happy doing these Club Races, something I didn’t like so much in the past.

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I was also very happy with the amount of cars we had racing. As usual the fields of Miata’s were very impressive. They kicked my ass while I was lap charting because any time a group of four or more would blow past the starter stand together, it would knock me off my rhythm doing charts, and I’d miss everything behind that group. But with more practice I was really getting the hang of it. When I was on point I did make the mistake of blue flagging the leaders… Oops! But that only encouraged the little Miata at the front to push harder, the much more racy-looking Honda S-2000 behind it looked like it would snatch the lead, but it didn’t. That same Honda was probably my favorite looking car of the weekend, sadly I didn’t get a shot of it. But it was basically Yellow #17 S2000 without a front windshield. I signed up to marshal at Watkins Glen next weekend for an SCCA event just because I looked on MotorsportReg.com and saw a similar Miata without a windshield that will be racing there. Good enough for me… can’t wait!

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While heading to the track I noticed a weird noise coming out from the front of my Miata, especially when making a right turn at speed like getting onto the highway or taking an exit ramp… we spoke with Jessie about it and she suggested it may be a bearing that’s going bad, which after the super crazy pot holes in Detroit I could totally believe… One of the mechanics on the RX-7 team in the paddock volunteered to have a look… jacked my car up, had a close inspection and said nothing looks out of place and he’d have full confidence driving the car as it is. But of course I’m being all paranoid about what it could possibly be. And with two trips to WGI (500 miles apiece in the next two weeks) I am a bit worried.

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I guess we’ll find out.

I had a lovely weekend, got enough TIPs from NER to convert them into a $25 Shell gift card so the weekend basically paid for itself. Which made me happy! I can’t wait to work with this club again.

ner track incentive plan

ner scca track incentive program gas card

In honor of it being the Le Mans weekend, I had my fries with mayo:

honor le mans 24h french fries with mayo

Never thought I’d say this but even the camping was fun. My new Coleman 4 person tent worked perfectly.

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Wish I would have known I could set up closer to the paddock, though it worked out really well camping at the usual spot under the pines (top of the hill) because there was no moisture on the tent when it was time to break it down Saturday morning. Fun times!

Post Card from the Grand Prix of Lime Rock, Pirelli World Challenge Weekend Minus Formula 4

Today went by in a flash… I was fortunate enough to work my first Pro-weekend as a backup starter at Lime Rock¬†Park¬†for the Pirelli World Challenge event dubbed the Grand Prix of Lime Rock.

I didn’t even think it’d be possible, but sure enough Andy Smith the flag chief for this weekend granted my wishes to work closer to the paddock so I could sneak out for lunch to take some pictures of the cars without having to choose between doing that and eating lunch. It doesn’t get better than working start. From my previous experience at the Glen I figured there would be a team of Starters and I would have a very small role to play monitoring the radio while the “pro’s” do the work. I was wrong. It was me and only one other person: the official PWC Starter… a guy from California that does many of the official starts for PWC travelling around the country with the series. That was pretty cool… I didn’t expect it at all. Besides working comms on the backup net, the official starter had me put out the white flag for any vehicle leaving pit lane during the practice sessions. The reasoning being that cars flying at speed would know about a slower car entering Turn 1. For the races the starter handed me the while flag to wave on the final lap just before he threw the checker. That was really neat too. I got to call every Green flag that was thrown as well, first and last cars to take the checkered, and a variety of incidents along the front straight… so for someone who was going to just monitor the flagger net and relay messages to the official starter, I sure did have a lot of exciting work… I loved it!

Being on start also gave me the opportunity to wander the paddock before the event and during lunch… below I will share some photos:

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At the end of the day we got a good worker feed… nice warm food:

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A nice Lime Rock Park sweatshirt, although not suitable for today’s 90F weather, but very nice nonetheless:

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend sweatshirts

And I got to check out a whole lot of Mazda’s everywhere:

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend

grand prix of lime rock pirelli world challenge weekend tower

It was such a brilliant experience I cannot wait to get back to the track tomorrow and do this all over again! So much Fun!

PS. This weekend was supposed to feature the US debut of FIA Formula 4 sanctioned by the SCCA Pro and to be raced around the US. Unfortunately that race series got bumped to another weekend at New Jersey Motorsports Park and in their place we got all the amazing TC and TCA class Miata’s…. I felt really happy¬†with that!

Worked my First “Pro” Event as a Starter at NARRA / Trans Am / Global MX-5 Cup Weekend at Watkins Glen Int’l

Woo Hoo! I still can’t believe it but I was lucky enough to work the starter stand for my first pro event weekend at Watkins Glen Int’l.

My goal for this weekend was just to watch the Global MX-5 Cup race for their second stop on the 2016 calendar after Laguna Seca last week. I knew I would have fun flagging but I couldn’t even imagine they would allow me to work the Starter stand… but they did and a big thanks to Jim Wilbur for giving me the opportunity. I certainly greatly appreciate it!

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I have to say I was a bit nervous because my only prior experience was working some club racing at Thompson Speedway and I had made a few hiccups during that day. But this time I was ready to learn on the go and it was a lot of fun doing it. The atmosphere was a lot more relaxed to my surprise. Things went pretty naturally and my training from Thompson Speedway paid dividends. I was in good hands on Friday and thought that was going to be it… I figured the locals would not want to see an outsider taking such a spot away from one of them and that I’d be put back on F&C roster the next day… which is exactly what happened. I got to work Turn 7 which was a blast in itself because it allowed me the opportunity to do a few laps around the newly repaved circuit while getting to my post. But on Sunday I got a surprise of a lifetime… I was back on Start! Woo Hoo!!!

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Friday was a very wet and rainy day… I went from wearing shorts driving up to the track on Thursday to wearing few layers plus my rain gear on Friday but it was still bearable. On Sunday though the weather took a turn for the worse… the temps were in the 30’s! The four layers I had on were insufficient, I was absolutely frozen, and for the end of the Trans Am race at the end of the day we had snow flurries coming in waves… it was absolutely nuts!

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I was thrilled with the opportunity to work on the Start / Finish stand, so much so I would love to do it again in the future. The view of the pit lane across from us gave you a good vision of what was happening throughout the race. We had to keep track of incidents around the track also and display the appropriate penalty flags, etc. I loved it!

The best thing about working start was going up to use the race control bathroom which felt like a steam room being either heated too much or it was just that cold outside. The views from Race Control were amazing, you could see most of the track up there. Parking under the front straight grand stand was convenient also, sure didn’t worry much about getting stuck in the grass like at turn 7. What a tremendous experience this was!

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New England Region SCCA Season Finale at Thompson Speedway Debrief

After blowing through $400+ dollars on travel expenses alone for Petit Le Mans, I returned home feeling bummed out that I didn’t quite get my money’s worth from that event. Maybe my expectations were unreasonably high, I don’t know. So to end the year on a high note I decided to take Jessie up on her invite to come to New England Region SCCA season finale at Thompson Speedway for some club racing. Good thing I did!

A number of things went well that I’ll blog about, but I must apologize that on this event I took hardly any pictures so prepare to read a lot of positive words without much photo evidence to illustrate the experience. I’ll write about my foodie tour separately, though I should mention that of all places: Who woulda thunk that Connecticut was such a foodie destination? ¬†Not me… Besides the food, seeing the leaves change color up in New England was neat, it was fall foliage in full effect with various shades of green, yellow and red all around.

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The drive to Thompson, and well to Massachusetts where Jessie lives, was also to test out the new tires I just bought for my Miazda, which turned out to be a lot worse than I thought they’d be. I’m talking about the BFGoodrich g-Force Comp 2 A/S that I had recently purchased for my 16 inch winter wheels. I don’t know if it’s the aggressive tread pattern or the idea that maybe they weren’t balanced correctly when I had them mounted, I felt a very noticeable but slight vibration throughout the entire trip. It came from the front, I felt it on the steering wheel, I felt it on the gas pedal. But it also came from the rear, because I felt it on the seat as I was driving. So I’m not happy about that. I wish the ride was a bit smoother like the old Yokohama’s I took off to go with the BFG’s. That said I got to test the tires out in the dry for about 200 miles and then another 200 in the wet, and the grip was perfect. So maybe that’s the nature of the design after all?

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I was so glad to catch up with Jessie once again over dinner and for the whole day of racing. She was working Race Control and had a great view of my Starter station below the race control window, which means the only pictures of the event with me in them came from her taking spy shots. Thanks Jessie! Also thanks to her I finally got a chance to experience the Starter role, it was something I wanted to do forever but was never given a chance. I am hooked on this role now and don’t really see how I could go back to regular F&C after this experience. Not willingly anyway…

pumpkinhead beer with cinamon and brown sugar
Jessie introduced me to some delicious new beer: Pumpkinghead served with cinnamon and brown sugar along the rim of the glass, yumm!

As with any SCCA Club Racing there were many Mazda MX-5 Miatas racing. So that was by far my favorite sight to see at the event. Among them was a true red NC Miata with a bunch of Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge stickers, which I assume was a hand me down IMSA car from a few seasons ago. It went very well, much faster than most other NA and NB Miata’s though unfortunately it broke down during the last race of the day. Luckily though I saw it win it’s class during an earlier race in the day, and I’m kind of kicking myself for not taking a picture of the driver receiving a small checkered flag directly under our Start stand for his victory lap (in the paddock – since they weren’t doing them on track because of time constraints). It was awesome to see and I’m very happy for the driver. It was nice to also see “Flatout Racing” stickers on that car and many other Miatas which are apparently rental cars for someone who wants to race but doesn’t have the money to buy a race car. What a cool concept!

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Anyway, I had a fantastic trip and I’m very happy I got a chance to go. The New England Region threw a big tent party for the workers at the end of the day with delicious pasta on the menu, and some prizes and other awards for volunteer participation. I was amazed to see that I won something again, a nice envelope with some gas money which basically covered most of my cost to go up there, in fuel anyway. So I came home really happy! Thanks to Jessie! and Thanks to the NER!

One more event of the season and 2015 is in the history books ūüôā

…and a few more pictures:

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I love seeing the British influence in New England:

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Almost forgot to mention some fuel stats. This time I noticed something interesting, the cheaper New Jersey based BP 93 octane gas seems to give better gas mileage than the more pricey Massachusetts BP 93 octane premium gas. I topped off before I left NJ, re-fueled in MA adding 5.672 gallons ¬†after doing 201.1 miles, getting 35.454 mpg. After reaching home I topped up 6.899 after doing 228.8 miles getting 33.164 mpg. Which leads me to believe NJ gas is superior MA gas all other things being equal. Unlike my previous trips where I normally keep the car between 60 and 70mph, this time I was in a more of a rush doing 70 to 80mph so maybe that was a factor. Overall I did 429.9 miles and used 12.571 gallons, averaging at 34.197 mpg. NJ gas price $2.29/gal for 93 at BP, MA gas price $2.45/gal for 93 at BP. ¬†And now I’m at 5,000 miles since the last oil change, so the little Miazda is due for it’s second service.

Discovered My New Favorite Role Marshaling: Starter! (Start / Finish)

Forget marshaling as a Blue Flagger, working as a Starter is the most involved job while marshaling there is. Thanks to Jessie Lynne Honigs I was able to finally get a chance to experience working the Start Stand and I don’t think I want to go back to working regular F&C ever again. The Starter job is where it’s at!

So a little background about my plan on becoming a starter. I got the bug more than two years ago where after much thought about my “picture taking” issues¬†from the previous season I thought all my problems would go away if only I could get a job marshaling closer to the paddock, right near the pit¬†lane. Start stand was the obvious choice. I knew I couldn’t just jump into the role at any old Pro event and I’d have to work my way up by participating in some Club racing, so I asked the flag chief of the New York Region to give me the opportunity to learn the next time I come up to Lime Rock Park. He agreed but when the events came around I found myself on some random station working F&C and was very disappointed and discouraged to come back. This year I didn’t go back to Lime Rock at all. But I did go up to Thompson Speedway after Jessie invited me with the thought that maybe there I’d get a chance to finally learn. I registered through MotorsportReg.com for a club event, ticked the box for Starter, but knew full well going in that if they were terribly short on F&C people it’s likely that’s what I’d end up doing. And sure enough I got put on Station 3. This was cool because I wanted to help out in the time of need, and actually got to work with Jessie. We had a hell of a good time, but it wasn’t the Start stand and I had to delay my plan further. Until of course the second time Jessie invited me up to Thompson Speedway for another NER SCCA club event, where finally I got a chance to work Start.

starter ner scca thompson speedway

What did I discover working as a Starter at Thompson Speedway?

I learned that it’s the best possible job there is marshaling, bar none, for me anyway… Here are the top few reasons I find the role of a Starter to be incredibly awesome:

  • You get to Blue Flag!
  • You get to keep track of all the cars in the field through Charting
  • You get to throw the Checkered Flag
  • You get to throw the Green Flag
  • You get to Black Flag and Meatball Cars
  • You get to work out the timing of Last Lap and when to Checker
  • You work on the Front Straight and Pit Lane
  • You are close to the Paddock and Garages
  • You have a lot more Responsibility than any other station
  • Your Mistakes are more visible than any other station

I could probably come up with a dozen other reasons why the Starter role is awesome but I’m too excited to think about them right now.

thompson speedway ner scca starter scoring chart

Suffice to say I was blown away with how awesome that position was and a little bit sad that I waited this long to finally try it. And I’ll say a few words about that:

F&C or any other specialty volunteering a club event will always be short on people. Hardly anything is done about recruiting, and the participation numbers are insufficient at most events. There’s nothing noble about being a nice guy and trying to accommodate the flag chief to work a random turn especially those that don’t make you personally happy because chances are after a bad or even less than good experience ¬†you won’t come back to work another race again, or at least not¬†return frequently. So what’s the point? I think the most important thing to do while volunteering is to do a job that makes you personally happy. And for me that is working as a Starter.

ner scca thompson speedway 2015 season finale

The irony about being selfish is that SCCA as a club advertises volunteering ¬†positions by saying there’s a job for everyone! Of course in practice that isn’t always the case. I asked to work Start, someone didn’t feel it was worth it for them to oblige to my request, and so instead of having a satisfied volunteer working a position that person enjoys doing, they lost a volunteer altogether. And that’s stupid. But people do get that way. I pissed people off by taking pictures and calling some high ranking club members incompetent because they refused to offer training which the club should provide, and they would rather get rid of me as a volunteer than to put me in a position where I would receive the training I was after and perform the role I wanted to perform. Of course before they decided to “get rid” of me, they wanted to teach me a lesson against picture taking by placing me at the most remote areas of the circuit, so that when I did want to take pictures legally during our lunch break I had to chose between trekking all the way to the paddock or to actually eat lunch. It’s hard to change the politics of any organization even those where nobody gets paid to work. And volunteering is very political, clique’ey, and not always welcoming to new people.

So, I’m glad I got a chance to discover a role that I think I would really enjoy doing from now going forward. If I can’t get that role again in the future I simply won’t go to future events. But my goal is to do what it takes to master the role of a Starter so I could do it at Pro events. I definitely could use more practice. Even though waving flags on the start stand is no different than that on a random station as an F&C marshal, there’s definitely more work to be done, and I had made some mistakes while learning this weekend. For example: keeping time is a very important job of a Starter. The experienced starters I was learning from had two stop watches set to 18 minutes each to time the race. My job was to push the start button as the cars crossed the start line, and yet I pushed it when the cars received the Green flag even though the starter explained to me what I was supposed to do a few times. Why did I do it? I have no idea, I knew better and yet I did something anyway. Maybe from being nervous, or maybe from being premature and worried that I’d miss the correct start time by doing it too late. Starting the clock early is as bad as starting the clock late, so to get it right consistently requires practice. I also ran into a situation where the leader of the race was about to take the Checkered flag but was fast catching to a back-marker of the race. I threw the checker too early without pointing at the leader, who in turn wasn’t convinced it seemed that he was the leader because he drove around and took the checkered flag again. So I learned to point at the car that is about to win the race to inform them they are about to receive the checkered flag. I even made a mistake with blue flag which I enjoy the most. In a group of a combined field of fast wings and things and slow Formula Vee racers, I displayed a stationary blue flag to a slower FV car where I should have waved it because a faster Formula car caught it well before Turn 1. The starter told me to do this but for some reason I hesitated and he reminded me of his instructions immediately after my mistake to correct it. Props to the chief starter of the New York region for being patient with me and giving me good advice and training. I really appreciate the opportunity!

Thank You Jessie Honigs for the VIP Treatment at an NER SCCA event at Thompson Speedway

The best way to end a racing season in the US is to go to an event where Jessie Lynne Honings is the Assistant Flag Chief and be her VIP guest!

I had such an amazing time again hanging out with Jessie at Thompson Speedway I wanted to share this note of my gratitude and appreciation to her for being so amazing.

I wasn’t event planning on marshaling any club events this year thanks to some thickheaded people that I had the misfortune of interacting with before, but certainly Jessie turned things around for me and it was really enjoyable experience to go to Thompson Speedway Motorsport Park in the Northeast corner of Connecticut just south of the Massachusetts border and flag¬†some excellent Mazda MX-5 Miata racing along with a lot of other groups.

thompson speedway start finish stand

Not only that, more than two years since “expressing” my interest in working the Start Stand, Jessie saw to it that I finally got the opportunity to wave the checkered flag. What a rush and thrill that was, and I am absolutely convinced that is what I want to do in the future as the next step in my marshaling hobby.

So thank you Jessie for being awesome!

Can’t wait for more…