Tag Archives: USGP

COTA is Recruiting Marshals for Formula 1 USGP this October, Sign-up by Oct 19, 2016

Though I doubt I’ll be signing up myself, I’m excited to receive the invite so I could share it with others. For anyone interested in volunteering for the 2016 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas… now’s the time! (although you have until two days before the GP starts to sign up really…)

Here’s the e-mail I got from Sydney Davis Yagel:


Good evening,
I apologize if you’ve already received this email, but we wanted to make sure we didn’t leave out any of the past several years of experienced marshals.
We thank you for your past support of the United States Formula 1 Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas, and we are excited about this year’s event. Registration for returning marshals is now open and will be done online.
Volunteers will be emailed through MotorsportsReg.com for all communications, so please be sure to use a working email that you can check on a regular basis. Additional information, including a confirmation email from your specialty chief, finalized schedule details, and updates will be sent through this system.
AVAILABLE VOLUNTEER SPECIALTIES:
Flagging & Communications: operate yellow flag, blue flag, and radio communications
Intervention Marshals: assist with on-track incidents and manual labor operations, must be able to carry a 20 lb. fire bottle, run long distances, and feel comfortable on a hot track
Hospitality: behind-the-scenes volunteer helping with supply and lunch deliveries, registration/check-in, and more
Pit/Grid, Tech & Start are by invitation only. Your specialty chief will send you a password to access registration.
*Please note we have separated the F&C & Intervention Marshal specialties in to two separate options during registration. Please be sure to select the specialty you prefer. We will do our best to honor all requests, but understand we may need to shift people around.
PERKS OF VOLUNTEERING:
Dry camping and RV spots are available
Discounted hotel rates with shuttle to and from
Parking for those driving from other hotels and local residences
Three-day general admission guest pass for a friend or family member. You and your guest are welcome to attend the Taylor Swift concert on Saturday
Swag bag full of COTA gear
Some meals provided: breakfast and lunch each day, plus a few dinners.
SCHEDULE (all times are tentative and based on previous events, subject to change):
Please note that participation is required for all three event days. Thank you for your understanding and commitment.
Wednesday, October 19- POTENTIAL Registration for Intervention Marshals & Training
Thursday, October 20- Registration; Intervention Marshal Training during the morning & F&C Training during the afternoon; kick-off dinner
Friday, October 21 – HOT TRACK! – 8:00 am – 6:00 pm (morning meetings held 1-2 hours before hot track)
Saturday, October 22 – HOT TRACK! – 8:00 am – 5:00 pm (morning meetings held 1-2 hours before hot track)
Sunday, October 23 – HOT TRACK! – 8:00 am – 4:00 pm (morning meetings held 1-2 hours before hot track)
To apply to work this year’s event, please visit: http://msreg.com/F1USGP16-new
Should you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Thanks,
The Race Admin Team
Jeanie Caulfield, Bill Armitage, and Sydney Davis Yagel

Good luck folks!

PS. Major massive props to COTA for offering Intervention and F&C training on the Thursday leading up to the event. While some may dismiss it as Marshaling 101, I see it as an invaluable endeavor to get all these wonderful and completely different people from around the world to participate on the same wavelength throughout the event, considering none of the US-home based training includes F1 specific “stuff” … way to go COTA, I totally think it’s awesome!

#MarshalCam Interviews at COTA Formula 1 USGP

Following an excellent weekend for the #MarshalCam project at Road Atlanta over Petit Le Mans, the lucky streak continued at the Circuit of the Americas during the United States F1 Grand Prix. I got very positive response to the idea and managed to shoot several videos.

First up, Dave from Washington

Though I didn’t know him personally, Dave overheard me asking another marshal for an interview and jumped right in. Turns out Dave was actually captain at the previous turn to mine, at 11B. And we shared a few delicious meals together in Austin as he was splitting accommodation with my friends Michael and Sean.

Then Shyam jumped in front of the camera.

Shyam is a special story because I’ve known him the longest of all the marshals I volunteered with at COTA. We actually met in Singapore during my first year volunteering there. Shyam has since moved to San Francisco and has now become an American marshal, though the more accurate description is an Indian marshal from Singapore currently living in the US.

And finally Michael:

Like my buddy Julio in Australia, Michael has a ridiculous amount of experience spanning two decades. I have a great deal of admiration for him and all the events he has under his belt, including a paid stint following CHAMPCAR around including international races in Mexico.

cota marshal cam

Enjoy the videos and please submit yours for the #MarshalCam project! Thanks for your support and for spreading the word about Motorsport volunteering.

United States Formula 1 Grand Prix Debrief

I can describe the feeling after the USGP F1 event as simply “Meh!”

Why?

This was a trip where my presence there felt more like a job and less like the hobby I specifically came there to enjoy. So instead of getting my thrills trackside working the light panel or waving flags, I was looking forward to going out on the town and enjoying Halloween in Austin night after night. This is the most I’ve ever drank during an F1 weekend, so imagine how shitty things must have been that I tried to drown them with alcohol.

I have to say that it is not my intention to give a scathing review to a top level pro event on the US calendar. There are plenty of assholes out there that bitch and moan and joining their choir in complaining won’t result in anything constructive happening. But I will speculate why I got the shit assignment I received and why I don’t agree with it, in hopes that in the future people reading this may reconsider. Or maybe I, referring to this post in the future see how petty I was.

But let me start the post with the positive. The Porsche Supercup marshal demo was a brilliant idea and I’m glad that after two years of no effort at training something was done. Sure, none of the people that could actually use this training in practice were actually there as the demo was shown to corner captains and light panel operators and not recovery or track marshals. It was a start. The food in Austin was fantastic as always!

usgp austin mexican food

I overdozed on Mexican and Tex-Mex on the very first day. By the first night margaritas seemed to be the theme of the trip. I had many… many drinks. Weird saying that for a guy that doesn’t drink. But in good company the drinks flowed freely.

usgp austin margaritas

Maybe that’s the reason most other marshals look forward to the beer parties post race. I was always the one to vocally criticize such a concept considering getting shitfaced and working “safety” on a side of the track are polar opposites. But maybe that’s a perfect mechanism to deal with the bullshit in Motorsport volunteering.

I kept on saying “that’s bullshit!” time and again working post 11C on the back straight. I could only see a sliver of the turn in front of me at 11 before the cars disappeared in a dip by 11B, and then quickly reappeared a few seconds later (for F1, longer for Ferrari and Porsche support races) leaving me with little time to make the correct decision when to blue flag. And the rule of thumb with flagging when uncertain is not to flag at all. So I was standing there initially guessing, especially during practice sessions. And got to push the Blue button a whole of four times on the closing laps of the race (and didn’t do anything at all for the support races). That was bullshit! The station ahead of me, which I got a sneak peak at simply because we had no porter john anywhere near us, and the closest one was either across a hot track or by walking a mile to 11B. The views they had were splendid. Plenty of opportunity to see the traffic coming at you and blue flag the shit out of the cars in a perfect passing zone. But they didn’t. And that was bullshit! The few times I saw a blue flag during practice gave me a heads up at 11C to get ready and flag or do nothing if the pass was completed before me. But basically I was frustrated. I wanted to do my best but I couldn’t do magic.

usgp cota 3

I don’t quite understand what was the reasoning for me being there. I asked to switch stations. Not because I wanted a better turn on track, I would have been perfectly happy settling for a crap assignment on a different part of the track because over my last three visits to the Circuit of the Americas I worked Turns 12, 13 and now 11. There are like twenty (20) other options out there. But I also don’t agree with 11C as my assignment, why not 11B? Obviously whomever was at 11B wasn’t any good. Why not put that person at 11C and let him either guess or not do anything (remember when uncertain it’s better not to flag than display the wrong flag). I would have had a perfect time at 11B even though it’s still a straight but a straight with a view, much like post Alpha at Road Atlanta that I was thrilled with during Petit Le Mans. I don’t get it…  And I know complaining about it makes me look like a douchebag. But not saying anything may get me another shit assignment next time, so I lose again. And if I decide not to volunteer for F1 next year in protest, I’m pretty much a loser because I miss out on an otherwise awesome pro event altogether.

So I was not happy with the visibility issue operating the light panel at my turn. I also wasn’t very happy with the corner captain who seemed more concerned enforcing the “no pictures!” rule and “wearing the official hats” than actually something useful, like having a plan of attack should something actually happen. I am sick and tired of people focusing so much on the “photo” rules which are trivial. I never wanted to take pictures of cars on track more than I wanted this weekend simply because it was constantly repeated. No pictures, no pictures… fuck! Now I want to take a picture just because I’m constantly reminded about it. The official hats was another fucking joke. I like to save my official hat, and really like to wear my lucky orange hat that I’ve done for the past fourteen (14) GP’s I was a part of. Looking on this site proves it. But no… since I didn’t bring my official hat with me to the station I was told to stand there wearing nothing at all. So I wore my bandana. This idiot would rather have me get sunburn(ed) than be a little reasonable and let me come back wearing the official hat the next day. I have little respect for that kind of micro-management! What got me the most was the last official statement made before the race: “Hope nothing happens here!” Why NOT? Well then, stay the fuck home. Watch the race on TV! There’s nothing more counterproductive volunteering at an event than the “captain” telling you he hopes nothing happens in your corner instead of telling you something useful like: “here’s the plan of attack in response to an incident.” The official mantra that we are all professional we know what we’re doing is bullshit! If we don’t respond to an incident by ourselves, hands-on… we’ve learned nothing! Showing up to GP’s year after year teaches us nothing until we see something happen that we learned from. The anti-training, anti-learning attitude is pathetic! Ugh…. It is so frustrating talking about how there’s no training and not even a slight desire to learn new things – I will just Shut Up… enjoy the pics from the race instead:

usgp austin red bull demo

ferrari pit walk

usgp cota 1

usgp cota 2

Only 212 marshals registered to volunteer in 2014, down from 218 the previous year… that’s a serious skeleton crew if I ever saw one, Sepang in Malaysia uses a minimum of 300+ marshals and they have 10 less turns to cover. Shame, damn shame for lack of workers! It is simply unsafe and dangerous…

usgp cota 212 marshals

One more word for the highlight of the event. It really wasn’t booze even when margaritas were the theme of the trip. It was the actual Road Trip itself. I had such an adventure getting to and from the event I must share it with the world because it was exciting and exhausting at the same time. I booked the $1 Megabus from New York to Boston to fly to Austin for $54 on JetBlue. Camped at the track until taking the $1 Megabus to Houston to fly back to Boston for $54. But alas the Megabus in Austin broke down as we were boarding. The puddle of coolant on the ground meant we weren’t going anywhere quick, and worrying how I will kill the four or five hours of nothing to do in Houston before my flight quickly changed to worrying how the hell am I going to actually make my damn flight. Luckily, when I heard there was another bus two hours later I wanted to be sure I was one of the first passengers from my bus to get onto it. I was lucky despite there being a great deal of people that didn’t make it. Now instead of having a whole row of seats to myself I was crammed next to a Hungarian tourist visiting US for five weeks. So the three hour trip went by really quickly as we talked about everything from surfing in Hawaii to volunteering at Hungaroring. Made my flight with minutes to spare after having a quick bite at Pappas BBQ. And then spend the night roaming Boston Logan Airport. This time instead of taking the $1 Megabus back to NYC like I had booked, I decided to use 4,000 British Airways Avios points for point/cash redemption with US Airways back to LaGuardia on a quick 45 minute hop. It’s amazing to me how JetBlue and USAir Embraer 190’s though the same plane, are configured differently resulting in serious lack of space and comfort on the USAir flight. But I made it home and quickly collapsed in bed for some much needed sleep.

usgp austin megabus breakdown

Next post will have #MarshalCam videos from USGP at COTA, another positive to come out from this weirdly disappointing weekend.

The Officials Newsletter by Lynne Huntting PressSnoop.com

Another positive feature of the United States Grand Prix has been the Officials Newsletter by Lynne Huntting, the publisher of PressSnoop.com Motorsport blog and a long time San Francisco Region SCCA marshal. We’ve actually met a number of times now, like Australian GP in Melbourne and the Monterey Sports Car race at Laguna Seca, not to mention the past three US Grand Prix in Austin. But this is the first time she’s got a bunch of pictures of me in the newsletters and the least I could do is thank her publicly for it.

officials newsletter turn 11c usgp cota

officials newsletter marshal pit walk cota

Lynne assembled a team of photographers to publish the newsletter every day of the event, distributing them in full color format every morning to let us have a read during the downtime on post. And what a brilliant idea that is, showing all the marshals they are recognized and appreciated for their volunteering.

officials newsletter mustering tent cota

It also occurred to me to give Lynne a #MarshalCam patch for the work she does because, her and the team actually do take proper photos of the marshals in actions when we are not allowed to do so ourselves.

officials-newsletter-cota

To download the four Newsletters published, click links below:

Friday Issue 1: http://sowdivscca.com/f1/friday-final.pdf
Saturday Issue 2: http://sowdivscca.com/f1/saturday-final.pdf
Sunday Issue 3: http://sowdivscca.com/f1/sunday-final.pdf
Post Event Issue 4: http://sowdivscca.com/f1/monday-final.pdf

I would also encourage you to read Lynne’s blog at: PressSnoop.com 

Thank you Lynne!

All photos are courtesy of the Officials Newsletter Team

officials newsletter ferrari challenge cota

officials newsletter porsche supercup cota

officials newsletter f1 usgp cota

Outstanding Porsche Supercup Marshal Demo at Circuit of the Americas

Thank you to whomever organized the Porsche Supercup marshal demo during the United States Grand Prix Formula One weekend at the Circuit of the Americas. It was a brilliant experience, educational and very helpful to those marshals that were able to attend during the Thursday Speed/Systems Test.

porsche supercup demo cota 3

I am a huge fan of any and all training opportunities that present themselves and this was a perfect effort to display to those of us that attended how open the series (Porsche Supercup) is to answer questions marshals may have in dealing with their equipment. Though the volunteers that attended the event were mainly “corner captains” and “TSP operators” like myself, and not “recovery or track marshals” it was still great to see the car so close, without the adrenaline and time constraints of dealing with an active incident during a crash in practice or a race.

porsche supercup demo cota 1

While personally I have already witnessed a textbook recovery of a Porsche Supercup 911 GT3 during the Silverstone GP a few years back, I was actually injured when that happened, and wasn’t part of the recovery process. They did let me flag though which was nice and it was especially nice to observe how a single “hooker” and a “manitou driver” handled the situation professionally without having four or five recovery marshals running around each corner trying to balance the car. The way the system is set up, only one person on the ground can handle everything minimizing any risk of exposure to the other speeding cars on track.


 

silverstone porsche supercup recovery brooklands

Silverstone Grand Prix Porsche Supercup recovery and mechanism

silverstone porsche supercup recovery mechanism

Thank you Circuit of the Americas, thank you to the USGP marshal organizers (Bill Armitage) and thank you Porsche Supercup for allowing us this excellent opportunity! (and damn you Shyam for getting to recover four (4) Porsche Supercup cars at Turn 12 over two back to back incidents, I didn’t have a single incident to deal with at that turn the previous year).

United States Grand Prix application process

Dear friends,

The long awaited United States Grand Prix application process has began thanks to the recent mailing from the Circuit of the Americas. As has been the case in previous years the application process consists of a few forms, first to determine who you are as a marshal and second to establish what role you should play at the event, in terms of filling out a personal profile.

cota f1 application

I have already booked my flights for this event so fingers crossed very tightly wishing I get accepted. I’m also hoping to get the light panel operator position which I’ve got the most experience with and would thoroughly enjoy this time as well.

Returning marshals were first to be notified with the application mailing but I’m sure general call for volunteers will follow shortly. The general application process for those that haven’t worked last year, is via the COTA web site here: www.circuitoftheamericas.com/volunteer/marshals

Cheers! and Good luck!

Trips to Austin Booked, Both of Them

If there’s one thing I like as much if not more than marshaling it is flying and organizing the logistics for my trips. This post will try to capture my excitement of getting a great deal for the two COTA events I have planned this year.

It’s no secret, I tend to monitor the flight deals for events pretty early on in advance, and often times right up until the trip is about to commence. Sometimes I book flights using frequent flyer miles I collect thanks to advice from www.FlyerTalk.com or www.MilePoint.com; and other times I take advantage of mistake fares. Or in this case: fare wars  between competing airlines.

I just booked a killer deal to Saint Lucia which I recommended to my sister and her family and she talked me into going with them so I can spend more time with my baby nephew. Well shortly after completing the booking I came across a post advertising a trip to Austin for mere $54 all in, one way. Sure it’s going from Boston, but at that price it is significantly cheaper than any of the NYC fares, which push $300 on a round trip basis. So for $108 I booked a round trip to the Lone Star Le Mans and another for the Untied States Grand Prix. How will you get to Boston you may wonder? Well, thanks to Megabus, I’ve taken advantage of the $1 one ways not just from Manhattan to Boston, but also from Austin to Houston since I’ll be flying home from there. This definitely put’s the “Road Trip” into Grand Prix Road Trip.

flying

I love flying, and I cannot wait to the adventure I’m about to embark on. I chose JetBlue over the legacy carriers (United and American) because they allow free checkin luggage, which after my Euro Trip I’ll be sure to bring a tent along so I can camp at COTA. Also flying to Austin will eliminate the need for a rental car, and hopefully I’ll save some money compared to the other trips I’ve taken to Texas.

If anyone needs help booking flights for your motorsport trips, do get in touch. I love a challenge of organizing logistics.

United States F1 Grand Prix photo book ordered

I had a hell of a time in Austin, Texas last weekend. As is usually the case, we were instructed NOT to take pictures except for those times when pictures were specifically allowed to be taken. There were no other instructions for safety or operations, like in Singapore and Australia the most paranoid part of running Formula 1 events is preventing marshals from taking pictures… ugh!

Anyway, I took some awesome shots for my photo book collection.

Follow the link on my facebook to check out the 20+ pages of awesomeness! I’ll write a full review of the United States Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas a little bit later. Enjoy!

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