Tag Archives: track marshal

“Rock Star Marshaling” Few Thoughts on a Post in “A Life In Orange” by British Marshal Blogger

I’d like to share a few thoughts after reading a fellow marshal’s blog post about “Rock n’ Roll Marshalling”

Though I’ve never met Rob Lee, the publisher of “A Life in Orange” blog chronicling his experiences volunteering in the UK and elsewhere. I do admire his efforts, because like me, he seems to devote a considerable amount of time promoting this hobby to others. In fact I fall far short of the effort he puts into his articles with my immigrant English and rampant spelling and grammatical errors… I’m not sure whether I completely agree with the post I’m commenting on here, but I’ll try to outline my reasons below from a few angles based on my personal experiences.

So few items jumped out of the page at me in his September 14th post here:  alifeinorange.com/2017/09/14/rock-n-roll-marshalling/

  1. Glitz, Glamour, that Rock and Roll lifestyle
  2. Spotlight on marshaling vs. Drivers/Teams
  3. Celeb-Hero matrix
  4. Martin Brundle Orange Army TV comments
  5. Kids perceptions on Rockstars/Drivers/Marshals apeal
  6. Different location every weekend/travelling aspect
  7. Quirky shit
  8. Share, share, share!

 

Point one… glitz, glamour, rockstar-lifestyle is fiction.

It may appear that way if you follow someone’s social media account, posts and photos on facebook, twitter or instagram. But the reality is hardly that cool.

Do “perceptions” really recruit people to marshal? I’m not sure… I remember watching the Gumball 3000 events a decade ago. The glitz, the glamour there… the wannabe drivers racing on city streets telling cops that wrote them tickets in the videos that they’re on a rally not a race, etc. It looked so cool. But the more I looked into that event and other copy-cats like it, most participants didn’t even own the exotic cars they were driving… those were rentals. Similarly, the marshals participating in those high-profile, professional events are generally poor slobs having to rough it out in a tent somewhere. Waking up at the crack of dawn, first to show up at the track, last to leave. Working long hours, mainly standing in one spot in all kinds of weather. Hardly glamorous, is it? Sure some may get away for a little bit to take some of those amazing pictures of high-tech cars on grid. Rubbing shoulders with celebrity drivers, and real celebrities, and some other really important people. But not all marshals are even able to do this. Having to choose between eating lunch in most cases or taking pictures by making a hike to the grid from whatever post they are stationed at…. hoping they get back in time for the start of the race without getting in trouble. That’s the reality. And reality is hardly rockstar-like lifestyle. It is what you make it. You could request post assignments. You could make personal choices to allow yourself to participate in the glitz and glamour, but usually there’s a price to pay. Personally I’m careful promoting the idea of marshaling as glitzy because new recruits see right through it if their first pro event isn’t all you cracked it up to be. Expectations should be realistic!

Point two… I don’t agree with the idea of throwing marshals and teams, drivers into the same basket. They couldn’t be more fundamentally different. Remember that teams and drivers get paid to go to Motorsport events. Most volunteers have to pay their way to marshal those same events. And if the organizers had their way I’m sure they’d try to charge those otherwise “non-paying spectators” for access to the best viewing spots on the circuit. The other issue with teams and drivers is that their participation at lesser pro/club events is fickle at best. Lose a sponsor, you’re losing your seat or a trip to the race. Crash a car, the team packs up and leaves if they don’t have a backup vehicle, even if this happens on the first day of the event. Comparing volunteers to racing teams and drivers is comparing apples to oranges.

Point three… It’s no secret that many marshals like the celebrity aspect of their line of work… they’re practically rubbing shoulders with the multi-million dollar earning champion racers at the same events with the best seat in the house. Many Brits seem to push this “Hero” idea that marshals are the unsung heroes of the racing world. I don’t know if I buy that either. WE, as volunteers, are at Motorsport events to do a job. If we were not willing to do it, we’d just be spectators paying our way to watch the racing. The organizers know this. The sanctioning bodies know this. Most do a really great job of cutting us out from TV coverage unless of course something major happens and we do a really good job with the incident or a really bad one. If we do something wrong we have a great chance of making it on TV. Less so if we do something really right. Do we deserve to get more TV time and being acknowledged that we are “someone” doing important work. Perhaps… but there’s little value for organizers/TV to push that line so I see why they don’t do it.

Are we Heroes? That’s debatable. Real heroes are too humble to refer to themselves as such.

Point four… is very much tied to the Celeb-Hero matrix idea above. Martin Brundle giving a shout out to the Orange Army every broadcast is something. Is it enough… Yeah, probably. Do we want more? Of course we do, it does wonderful things for our ego’s! Should he do it? Well, that depends on what the TV producers think about that.

Another famous announcer in the world of Endurance Racing: Radio Le Mans announcer John Hindhaugh or Hindy for short does a fantastic job mentioning the marshals and other volunteers in all of his broadcasts. But he’s also called out several recent incidents in my own experience working IMSA races where he made false claims that I… yes I! was doing something wrong, even though when watching the video replay of the incidents everyone and their mother could clearly see his statements were inaccurate. So how the fuck do you deal with something like that? A well-intentioned broadcaster making you look like a foo… an amateur… I’m a Pro dammit! (right?) Second guessing your actions. Wrongly… It’s not right! But that’s the issue of Celebrity and the whole actions of Heroes debate. No matter what you do, someone will question it. It’s human nature. Best thing to do is continue doing the right thing, no matter what people comment about it. It’s all about perception.

That said I do think it’s important that TV announcers should continue to promote Motorsport volunteering. And they ought to do it more often!

Point five… Kid’s perceptions. I agree with Rob wholeheartedly that we need to recruit kids. Young marshals are key to the success of Motorsport of the future. This idea is not necessarily what current marshaling clubs rely on. It’s been my experience that here in North America the business model generally speaking is to focus recruitment on older folks… people that are retiree’s… people that have the time and money to travel to events to volunteer.

Yes, those people are needed. But I also think clubs and sanctioning bodies like the FIA or FIM, or IMSA or NASCAR need to cough up some cash to promote volunteering to younger folk. Provide the tools needed for the youngsters to succeed. Provide training. Provide incentives to volunteer often. Provide some support.

And it’s important to remember that kid’s perceptions of actual Rockstars and Race Car drivers whom Rob compares to Rockstars is not necessarily a realistic expectation of kid’s perceptions of volunteers. As I mentioned before comparing the two is akin to comparing apples to oranges. I think some experienced Motorsport marshals could be perceived as Rockstars for their actions on track. I have a number of people I look up to myself because of the way they do their job. But the way I look at them isn’t the same as I look at celebrity drivers. Then again I’ve learned long ago I have no future as a race car driver… so I don’t look up to any race car drivers at all.

Point six…. I love this point! Even before my family moved from Ukraine to the United States of America, it has been my dream to travel. I couldn’t wait to take my first trip to Czhechoslovakia (yep, it was still one country back then) or Poland… In high school in New Jersey I was determined to find a job that would allow me to travel. When that didn’t materialize I went travelling on my own, lived in Australia, Singapore, New Zealand… picked up this marshaling hobby while in Singapore and the travel bug exploded even more.

And to think there was a time when I’d read FlyerTalk.com forums and take flights to anywhere without any purpose for the only reason that the flight was cheap. Now marshaling has given me a purpose… a mission. A travel to a destination around the world so I could volunteer for a Race. Motorsport tourism is life! And I promote the shit out of it on this blog and to anyone that would listen to me whenever I meet people… it’s the only thing that comes out of my mouth when I’m given an opportunity to share some opinions…. sometimes I bore people to death with the idea. But I truly believe in it.

So yes! Different event every weekend is possible. It’s exciting. And it will probably drain your bank account like it has done to me. But it is extremely addictive and I love every minute of it!

Point seven… Quirky shit I don’t get. I don’t agree with it. I don’t think I fully understand it. But whatever, people do it, I’m cool with it. Continue doing it. All those racing bears. The wombats. The sheep. Whatever. When I take selfies I use my own face. I don’t need to use a plush animal to satisfy the same want… of taking a picture to remember an event.

I suspect, and I could be wrong… people use toys as an excuse to take a picture of something to promote this hobby.

Point eight… Sharing is essential! Social media. Facebook. Twitter. Snapchat… Instagram. Shit I don’t even use. You should continue using to promote this hobby. Because it’s worth it. I’ve written many times that the more there are of us the more enjoyable this hobby gets. It goes without saying that this is critical… For anyone that has learned anything about SEO, searth engine optimization, on the Internets… sharing stuff makes it go up in ranking on search engines which results in more traffic. Sharing info about events, opportunities to marshal, sharing volunteer opportunities will make the idea more popular and solicit participation. Greater participation will attract more participants. And that’s what it’s all about. Strength in numbers means better training because there are more of us doing this. More swag. More rewarding experiences. More fun!

So to wrap this up and make a long post even longer… I want to say marshaling is what you make it! If you want to feel like a Rockstar, sign up for some exotic races. Of the fifteen countries I was lucky to work, there’s something attractive about each and every one of them. But if you’re chasing opinions of your facebook followers, I can say with certainty that events in Southeast Asia or the Middle East take the cake… Yas Marina Circuit was one of the most incredible circuits I got to work. I was visiting on my own when a bus load of Brits was brought in at the request of the series, so I got a local experience while they were wined and dined by the series. Seek opportunities like that to make yourself feel real important. It sure is a boost to anyone’s ego. Singapore is a great place to feel important too, and there’s so much stuff you can share with your jealous friends on facebook from the tiny city state. The glitz, the glamour! The makan makan…

But more importantly go in with realistic expectations. Experiment with different volunteer positions. It’s not all about being a track marshal. Try flagging. Try working comms. Consider being a Fire Rescue marshal. Take the crash and burn school. Work in Pit lane. Starter is one of my favorite positions, and one you probably have to bump someone out of the way to get an opportunity to work.

There are so many possibilities.

But manage your expectations.

Volunteering won’t make you a millionaire. But the experiences you have the potential of witnessing are priceless!

Share… share… share!!!

 

Thanks Rob Lee for an opportunity to comment on your opinions.

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-Rivières! 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?

My New Role as a “Hooker” Working With Fire Rescue for PWC at VIR

Oh man, I thought I hit the highlight of my marshaling career working Pit Fire at VIR for IMSA last year. This year the bar has been raised as I found my new favorite marshaling role: “Hooker” with VIR Fire Rescue.

First, huge thanks to Cowboy for allowing me this opportunity. The man runs VIR Fire Rescue as a well oiled machine. I’ve never heard anyone more calm and collected and cool under pressure than this man. Every call to dispatch trucks he made was precise and purposeful, a man in complete control of otherwise chaotic scenes around the track. I absolutely loved the experience.

What is the “Hooker” role?

It is the person in the Fire Rescue truck that hooks a stricken car to the truck for a flat tow. This person also assists the Wrecker with hooking a car that requires to be lifted off the ground because of damaged suspension, like was the case with many open wheel cars. And it’s the person that assists the flat bed driver getting a mangled vehicle winched onto the tow truck. That person this weekend was me…. and boy was it an awesome rush of adrenaline!

It wasn’t the first time I worked in this role. Back in 2011/2 I was on the rescue truck in New Zealand working at Hampton Downs. But the situation was a little different. We had a truck full of people and my role wasn’t to “hook-em” but instead to carry a fire extinguisher and help in case something ignites. At VIR it was only me and the driver, so it was totally a much more hands-on role.

VIR fire rescue has several locations to stage. The most visible probably is by pit exit. Another at the half-way point on the Patriot track that could respond from Turn 7 or Turn 14. And finally on the south paddock/pit lane near Turn 12. Throughout the day the trucks rotate positions to get a different view, and an opportunity to respond to different incidents around the track. That was fantastic!

Here’s some pix… Day 1;

On the rescue truck at Turn 7 staged on the Patriot track.

With an awesome view of the uphill esses, the VIR resort and spa, and the Oak Tree turn (missing the Oak Tree which fell down)

Day 2: On the Avalanche fire rescue truck in Pit Out:

A much busier day on Saturday. Got to respond to a massive incident where I actually ran up to the car with a fire bottle… Ended the day by removing a blown off frunk off of the Acura NSX GT3:

A/C so cold in the truck the camera lens was all fogged up…

Day 3/Race Day… no assignment, asked to stay in the office to see if I’d be needed to jump into a rotation somewhere. I pitched the idea of working on a Wrecker since the driver was just by himself, but instead was paired with a Tow Truck driver, which worked out fantastically… we had quite a few incidents to respond to. It was so awesome!

Staged at Turn 12A

I got a whole new appreciation for VIR after having driven the track at high rate of speed. My goodness how much elevation changes this track has. Far more dramatic than other tracks I love because of their hilly nature like Watkins Glen or Mosport in Canada. VIR takes the cake with it’s snaking turns, climbing esses, roller coaster down to the last turn. Just impressively incredible up and down ride. I can see why the fastest cars running here at the likes of GTE in IMSA or GT3 in PWC. I would imagine prototypes would take flight here.

Anyway, I was very privileged this weekend to find myself working in this position. A new learning experience for me. Especially riding in the same rescue truck as the track doctor who shared a lot of knowledge in terms of approaching a driver after a crash. I’m very lucky to have experienced this and am extremely thankful.

Love VIR and can’t wait to get back!

Thanks Cowboy!

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