Tag Archives: Super GT

A Challenge to the SuperGT Organizers to Accept a non-Japanese Marshal for One of Their Events

Why don’t some countries allow foreign marshals to participate in their events, when they clearly allow and promote foreign driver participation in the same events?

I want to marshal a SuperGT race in Japan.

And yet, the few contacts I’ve made in Japan at various circuits seem set against it to allow foreigners to marshal with the Japanese.

The photo above came from an article where the SuperGT (GTA) boss Masaaki Bandoh issued a challenge to WEC organizers to have three teams race their GT500 cars at the Fuji 6 hour event. The GT500 cars from SuperGT look far more GT-like than the LMP1 and LMP2 prototypes in the Word Endurance Championship series. According to the article the GT500’s are quicker than the pace set by the Audi R18 eTron, though slower than the Toyota or Porsche hybrids, but faster than the privateer teams like Rebellion LMP1’s. Anyhow, the quickness of the GT500 cars is irrelevant to the fact that the Japanese circuits I contacted only allow Japanese speakers to participate/volunteer in their events. Why not? Surely the multitude of foreign drivers many of them English speakers (but others whether French or German are still more likely to speak English then Japanese) don’t actually speak Japanese should they crash and need to interact with the local marshals.

Mr. Bandoh apparently didn’t stop with the challenges there, he issued another challenge to the German manufacturers to step up their game in the GT500 field (they currently participate in the GT300 field with GT3-spec machinery like the Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS, BMW Z4 GT3 or the Porsche 911 GT3). And the manufacturers are expected to comply, according to the article. Why not open up the doors to the opportunity for foreign travelling marshals to volunteer at Suzuka, or Montegi, or Fuji? It’d make perfect sense to me and plenty of other people too. I’m sure we’d all take the Japanese Automobile Federation up on their offer to work with our Japanese colleagues like we do with our German colleagues, or our French colleagues, or our Australian colleagues, etc.

I don’t speak many languages of the countries I’ve volunteered at. In Belgium French is the official language of the circuit, but many of the marshals, including many Belgians, speak Flemish. There were plenty of Dutch marshals there too. Plenty of Brits. Plenty of Czech’s, etc. I’m sure most of them don’t speak French but we all got along nicely and worked professionally as expected. I didn’t speak French working at Le Mans. I didn’t speak German working at the Nurburgring. French was one of the official languages in Canada even though the other official language was English. I didn’t speak fluent Singlish to work the Singapore GP. Definitely didn’t speak Bahasa Malaysia working at the Sepang Circuit. Or Korean working in South Korea. Point being, I don’t speak most of the foreign languages at places I have volunteered successfully. But I did my job the way I was supposed to, and I would love to return to work there again and again.

The excuse that the local language is required to work an event isn’t valid, and it’s a shame that the Japanese circuits I contacted use. Surely there are some marshals there who speak some English and I would partner up with to work under their supervision and some translation when necessary.

I suspect that the reason we get rejected as foreign marshals is that the Japanese organizers don’t want to babysit a foreigner. It’s a lot easier to say “NO!” than to accept a marshal and than have to worry about a myriad of questions like where that person should stay (lodging), how he should get to the track (transportation), what that person must eat and how prepared he should be (food). Communication in general. Following the dress code. Having a helmet that fits. etc. It’s much harder to say “YES!”

But I wish they would.

If there is anyone in Japan that would help me facilitate my wish to volunteer at one of the SuperGT events at Fuji, Montegi, Suzuka or any other track, please get in touch. I would probably need your help translating the application (and the whole process indeed). Some advice about transportation getting to the track, on time. Where to eat, where to sleep, etc. It would be most helpful!

One day I will do SuperGT… it’s at the top of my wish list,  like DTM!


Link to the quoted article: http://www.racecar-engineering.com/news/super-gt-challenges-lmp1-dtm-to-fuji-showdown/

Toyota Prius Racing GT300

I’m a big fan of new green technology. One of the most famous examples right now perhaps is the Toyota Prius. I’ve worked in an all green transportation company in Australia that used a fleet of Prius and Lexus GS450h sedans. On my way home from Australia I had a nice third generation Prius as a rental from Hertz – for dirt cheap, because nobody else wanted them thanks to the failing brake pedal debacle. Even during my time in Tokyo I got to check out some neat Prius body kits that made the hybrid look very sporty and performance oriented. But the Japanese Super GT series is definitely the pinnacle of Prius performance. Check out this Prius GT300 racing video:

Overlapping International Series

As I’m filling out my calendar with most international series having released their 2013 schedules… nothing but frustration comes to mind to see so many good events overlap.

No bueno!

Having lived in Australia and New Zealand, the Ozzie V8 Supercars is one of my favorite touring car racing series to participate in. Unfortunately, many of the V8 events on the calendar fall on the same weekends as the Grand Am or American Le Mans events in USA.

Similarly, the Japanese Super GT series is something that I have come so close to “almost” experiencing living in Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, the weekend Super GT visits Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia is the same weekend of the 24 hours of Le Mans.

And finally, on the subject of Europe… besides the original Le Mans series there’s one popular race I’ve always wanted to marshal and that is the German DTM series. With Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz all making a comeback this year, the series is probably better than ever and yet all the dates fall on weekends that are already booked. Shame!

So what can I do? I guess the most logical solution is to wait until next year to see where I end up once I finally find a job. The goal is to stay stateside and attend most local races in the process… but it doesn’t hurt to plan some alternatives!