Tag Archives: US GP

Why is Singapore GP oversubscribed with volunteers? Because they advertise! #SGPmarshal

Singapore GP does not need my help recruiting marshals, in a sense that sharing this news on this blog will not result in a spike of exposure for their recruiting efforts. They do an excellent job of recruiting themselves, and specifically by posting this message on the “official” Singapore Grand Prix facebook page:

source: SGP facebook page
source: SGP facebook page

Check it out here: www.facebook.com/SingaporeGP

The official page has just over 100k Like’s and about 1.5k visits /check-in’s. That’s a pretty significant pool of candidates of which historically over 3,000 candidates would submit their applications to fill approximately 1,200 spots. All volunteer in various capacities though some are highly specialized, just look at the poster above: the people in Green have to have a medical background whether doctors or nurses, and the people in red have to be Firefighters. They have to show a certificate of proof to be assigned that role.

This post was made on March 8:

SGP recruiting on their facebook

And as of March 18 it has received 260 likes, 29 comments and 128 shares. One of those shares was me contemplating this blog post with my facebook friends, I don’t know what the other 127 shares discussed but obviously they were interested in some capacity of volunteering for the 2015 Singapore GP. The hashtag SGP created for this campaign is #SGPMARSHAL and was used along with other hashtags like #F1, #SingaporeGP and #F1NighRace, all relatively trending topics. Singapore GP organization has way more marshals that it knows what to do with and yet they are continuing to recruit to keep existing marshals on their best behavior and have a supply of reserves to keep the numbers up year after year.

So the real reason for this blog post isn’t Singapore, it is to ask the question: why doesn’t the United States Grand Prix or COTA –  Circuit of the Americas do a similar marketing/recruiting exercise for it’s own marshaling force?

Circuit of the Americas www.facebook.com/CircuitofTheAmericas  in comparison has 292k Like’s or almost three times as many as Singapore GP, and 45k visits/check-in’s or thirty (30!!!) times as many visits… That’s a ridiculously higher number of exposure in both categories. Not to mention instead of a single Night Race, COTA hosts a full calendar of high profile events from the Pirelli World Challenge sports car event to WEC – World Endurance Championship / IMSA Tudor United SportsCar Championship double header. From MotoGP to F1! And a number of smaller events and track rentals that could seriously benefit from a larger pool of volunteers (or even paid workers for that matter).

So why don’t they do it?

I think… and I could be completely wrong… but I really think that at all levels of management starting from the big wigs running COTA to the smaller wigs running the marshaling services, and the hired wigs that help with the recruiting for individual events like MotoGP, WEC or F1 have way too much “ego!” at play when it comes to the advertising aspect of the volunteer positions. There are too many assumptions that advertising requires too much time, money or effort… or basically resources they don’t have. Or are short on, or don’t really care too much about. There seems to be some foolish reliance on making due with what little they have… the richest country in the world, with the newest and most expensive circuit in the land is willing to cut corners in the safety department by running skeleton marshal crews, because they don’t have enough budget (time, money, effort). There’s the presumption that the volunteers must be experienced instead of assembling eager amateurs/ Motorsport enthusiasts and training them to the standards that the FIA requires for WEC or F1, or FIM requires for MotoGP… Oh no, we must only rely on trusted and experienced SCCA marshals because they’re the best… So much ego! So much wrong with this picture!

Why not take a page out of  the  SGP playbook/ best practices/ success stories? Why not advertise to the audience COTA already has? 300,000 fans is an incredible pool of people, many of whom would probably love to plan a trip to volunteer a weekend in Austin, Texas whether for F1 in October/November, or WEC in September, MotoGP in April or PWC in March… there are so many people that could potentially pick this hobby up and continue volunteering throughout the year closer to where they actually live. Be it within the US or internationally. Plenty of Mexican visitors to the USGP and they’re about to host their own GP again. Plenty of Aussies willing to travel to America to volunteer in Austin. Why not recruit them? I really hope that the 2015 United States Grand Prix marshal recruiting process doesn’t start too close to the event date. I hope everyone that is interested in participating in the event is given the information they need to start making their plans early instead of waiting until the last minute just for an opportunity to apply.

I should point out that COTA has created a facebook page just for their marshals: www.facebook.com/cotatrackmarshals and while it is certainly a plus to have something so specific, at 411 Like’s and 55 visits/check-in’s (at the time of the writing of this post) it doesn’t really compare to the audience of 300,000 facebookers on the main COTA page. That should be used for recruiting volunteers more than anything else. It could be done in conjunction with the official page on the COTA web site:

www.circuitoftheamericas.com/volunteer

 

I will also acknowledge that writing this post can be construed as criticism of both the United States F1 Grand Prix as an event and Cicrcuit of the Americas – the race track that hosts it… and while that is not my intention I know there are ego’s at play and I can’t prevent them from thinking the worst. I have already experienced what people told me was punishment while volunteering for the US GP last year  where I was assigned a position where I couldn’t see anything. I wrote a post complaining about that experience and all kinds of people got all bent out of shape about how dare I criticize such a wonderful event. I certainly didn’t see the need to paint a rosy picture which I’m sure would have been very welcomed when the reality didn’t correspond to it. The same people that got ridiculously offended were also the ones that promised to prevent me from marshaling ever again, so I don’t know how much stock I would put into that promise. I know for a fact though that I wouldn’t volunteer my time, spend a bunch of money on travel and accommodation, just to be “punished” , for whatever reason. I’d rather stay home. But I would get over my own ego and support all of COTA’s recruitment efforts because I know it would improve the sport and the marshaling situation in the US which is dismal, we are very short on people. The more new marshals that volunteer, the more training there would be offered for all of us, the more we all benefit. Much like what Singapore GP has been experiencing for years. My fingers are crossed with the hopes of improvement, and that improvement starts with better advertising. Use your facebook page for good Circuit of the Americas! Please advertise all the available volunteer opportunities and continue doing it often…

I have taken the liberty of creating some useful hashtags for such a campaign, feel free to use them: #USGPmarshal, #USF1marshal, #COTAmarshal, #WECmarshalCOTA, #MotoGPmarshalCOTA, #PWCmarshalCOTA, #F1marshalCOTA etc. the possibilities are endless!

Updated United States Grand Prix Formula One Spotter Guide

Since the last time I posted an F1 Spotter Guide for the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas, there have been changes. Caterham and Marussia both pulled out and are seemingly going through financial hardships. While this is in no way a Motorsports news site, it’s important to reflect the starting grid more accurately as the spotter guides are a necessary component of a marshal’s kit. But if I were to make a comment on the happenings, I am amazed that we won’t see these four backmarkers in Austin, I had no idea teams could do that – simply pull out from an event.

2014 Formula 1 USGP spotter guide

Special thanks to Andy Blackmore Design for his excellent work with this unofficial spotter guide. Download the full scale version directly from his web site: www.SpotterGuides.com 

I’m off to Texas tomorrow… Yeeeee Haawww!

Formula One Weekend at COTA Spotter Guides

As the US round of Formula One gets closer, we’re getting some updated spotter guides both from the main attraction and the support races. To me, Porsche Supercup will steal the show. Not because we don’t already have sufficient spec 911 GT3 racing in North America, we have two very large fields of Porsche Carerra Cup cars sanctioned by IMSA in US and Canada. But because the level of racing in the Supercup series is professionally superior, as far as I see it. We’ll still get to watch rich guys bang in the Ferrari Challenge and all the amateur goodness that comes with that entertainment package, but besides Formula One, Porsche Supercup will be the one to watch. The Supercup cars are also a treat to recover, when lift is required. Like DTM in Germany they utilize a two clip system on the roof, where the car is lifted off the ground (most likely the gravel trap) and moved to a desired spot, much like the Formula One cars get lifted by a crane.

porsche supercup cota spotter guide

I love Andy Blackmore’s spotter guides, but this one from RaceCam.de looks pretty neat with the featured driver. Should be very helpful to use on race day for sure. (source: www.racecam.de/)

Sadly, one of the stars of Porsche Supercup lost his life in a freak accident in Australia last year. Sean Edwards Foundation has now introduced new safety tests to be used at various events.

Similarly, there was a freak accident at Suzuka with Jules Bianchi suffering a serious head injury. His name is still on the F1 spotter guide which I’m sure will either feature another driver or we’ll see the car parked up like it was in Sochi.

2014 F1 spotter guide

Download the hi-res version on Andy Blackmore’s www.spotterguides.com/

Stay tuned for more from the United States F1 Grand Prix at COTA.

United States F1 Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas, Austin, TX

As with any other motorsport weekend, this one went by too quickly. But what a great weekend it was. I usually get excited about events as they’re in progress and then looking back think perhaps I was overly enthusiastic. This wasn’t the case at all at COTA as I was mad as hell from the moment I saw my station assignment and the location of the digi board. I was spewing mad that the track in the US was much like the track in Singapore, or the track in Canada, or elsewhere I worked where there is so much talk about Safety but so little of it is actually put in practice when it comes to the marshals. And this was precisely the case at turn 12 at the Circuit of the Americas. The light board was in a perfect spot, but there was no hole in the fence for the operator to see the oncoming traffic! I had no vision of what was flying my way at the fastest point of the track, and therefore as a result had little chance or hope to actually do any blue flagging. What a shame?!

cota f1 austin1

cota f1 austin 2

Now at that point people would say: “Well focus on yellow flag” … Sure being near the apex of the turn, it was easy to see through the fence. But what about all this “Safety” talk… if I have my back to the traffic and someone comes crashing into the fence Dario Franchitti style – I am toast!  So “safety” as you can see was not a major concern at COTA for F1.

It wasn’t just me who wasn’t given much consideration. The one and only retirement during the actual race occurred just meters away from where I was standing and the good folks responding to the mangled car had no clue what to do when they got to it. The intervention marshals, the flat bed driver, the Manitou operator, all did their own thing and none contributed to each other’s safety. Its easy to criticise in hindsight but I wouldn’t be saying a word if any of us in the US actually got some fucking training for this! For example, the marshals responding to the car should stay behind the ARMCO as much as possible before entering hot track to respond to the incident, our guys ran out on the track and were running with their backs to traffic for a good 100 meters. The flat bed driver arrived on scene and parked past the stricken vehicle, not before it to protect the marshals responding. (sure he would have been in the way of the Manitou once it finally showed up two laps later, but the driver could have stayed in the truck and moved it when the Manitou made it on scene). The hooker had no clue where to thread the strap to connect the vehicle to the Manitou. And finally when all the people on foot near the vehicle being lifted thought it would go on the flat bed that had been waiting all this time, the Manitou driver proceeded to reverse with the vehicle dangling in the air because none of the marshals there were stabilizing it. I was across track behind the fence cringing at the potential accident that was waiting to happen over a multitude of scenarios that could have gone terribly wrong. We got lucky…. But we cannot depend on luck alone for Safety!

cota f1 austin 3

cota f1

Now that I got that off my chest, there were a number of very positive events that took place that made this race weekend one of the most pleasant ones I worked all year. And once again the people I worked with were a great contributing factor to my happiness. For starters no one on the team projected the negative vibe of being better than anyone else. We all had our levels of experience and I think each respected that notion. The post chief was kind enough to share his duties which I thought was unique, especially when it was my turn at the helm and I  had some Ferrari debris to pick up under safety car conditions. That was a rush as always, and the crowd cheering resulted in a constant thought running across my mind: “don’t trip and fall on your face… don’t trip and fall on your face.” Similarly the boss allowed me to adjust the digi board location to my liking, which was quite helpful… though again without a hole in the fence it was very difficult to see anything. I did manage to rig a somewhat tolerable set-up that included a rear-view mirror, though I was not impressed with my blue flag because it was still very difficult to see and I didn’t want to use the flag incorrectly. I did get the blue flagging out of my system when I was on actual manual flags for the Historics race, that was fun!

Hanging out in Ausin and San Antonio before it was better than any of the previous times I had visited Texas. Things went well all around, from car rental, to hotel, to CouchSurfing. In fact I spent a great deal of time hanging out with my hosts, even got a chance to introduce some marshal buddies with the CS’ers which was a great experience. Food was sublime, with all the Tex Mex, BBQ, biscuits and gravy, and other local cuisines that made the whole trip memorable. I had a great time and feel good about it.

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us f1 cota food

Texas BBQ at Salt Lick outside of town…. finger lickin’ good!