Tag Archives: V8 Supertourers

Marshal Training

I wish there were more marshal training opportunities.

Facebook Groups as well as Ten-Tenths Forum is still abuzz with discussion and outpouring of condolences for the loss of life at the Canadian GP. Yet, save for a moment of silence at few upcoming events, I haven’t seen much said in regard to improving the marshal training initiatives. The attitude in North America is, from what it seems to me, “we are professionals, we know what we’re doing.” I take issue with that sort of thinking because even after working 35 mostly-pro weekends last year I have yet to pull a pin on a fire extinguisher. And I have been nagging people in my local SCCA region (and division), as well as New Zealand last year before I moved back to the US to see if I can get fire training done. But its not just fire training. Especially at pro events, organizers go out of their way to keep the marshals away from competitors or their cars. But when incidents happen in the middle of the race, we are expected to jump and resolve things quickly as if we engineered those cars and knew exactly how to handle them. Everyone in this industry needs an attitude adjustment.

The training I have received so far has been invaluable in my opinion. People laughed at me when I said we had classroom training in Singapore where I started marshalling. But what’s wrong with that? Knowing the theory prepares you to formulate an approach to problem solving when you are faced with the situation in real life. Singapore has also provided me with crane / recovery training on site at the Manitou SG facility where we learned how to properly hook, walk the car to a safe spot, and lift it on a flat tow. Many lessons from that experience are still fresh in my mind, like keeping constant eye contact with the crane operator. The fact that one person can safely balance the car which shouldn’t be raised above eye level when moving so that you can see where you’re going without straining, not getting caught between the swinging car and the crane, etc. These concepts were later reinforced at Mid Ohio when the Holmatro crew handled a beached Indycar in one of the run-offs where I assisted.

In New Zealand where I volunteered to work recovery every time there were more flaggers than safety crew, we even learned how to handle a V8 Supertourer in case of emergency. One of the teams demonstrated the kill switch, where to use the jaws of life on a roll cage and even how to take the driver side door off without destroying the car (there’s a small latch that releases the door which can be easily lifted off the car with one hand). This demo again was invaluable because you, as a first responder, knew exactly where to go responding to an incident instead of trying to figure it out and wasting valuable time during race conditions.

At my second V8 Supertourer event in two years, again working rescue, we were shown how to work with medical crews to extricate a driver. Not only did the team volunteer a car for this demo, they even lent us a driver to go with it, fully suited and wearing a helmet.

I was extremely fortunate in my short marshalling career to be presented with the opportunities I had, especially overseas. I learned how to flag in Asia Pacific, specifically during my time in New Zealand. But I also learned how to work as part of the rescue crew. Which has been especially valuable in North America where marshals are expected to work all positions from flags to comms, to safety and rescue.

But I have yet to do a new or refresher training course, like the one I’ve been eager to do for fire training, back home in the states. I am constantly getting invited to join the local marshals at their social dinner, what seems like every other month now. But instead of sitting around and bullshitting about this and that, and how close someone came to getting hit, or how fantastically they handled an incident. I’d rather put my $85 annual membership to better use, why can’t they just offer training instead of the monthly socials?

To the reader I’m sure this post sounds like a criticism, but it isn’t intended that way. I am very proud of all the events I’ve been fortunate to participate in North America. But having a baseline to compare them to overseas, specifically Australia and Singapore, I think more can be done for worker safety. In fact, both Singapore and South Korean GP’s saw marshals practicing recoveries before marshal meetings or during the downtime (and there is always plenty of downtime at pro events). It really doesn’t take that much time to assemble the relevant people and run a short refresher demo to make sure everyone is on the same page during the fast paced events that happen in an actual race. Get a team involved, let them bring a car so we can see it up close, touch it, get instructions on how to handle it without causing damage to it or to us, etc.

In closing I really want to reiterate the point that I feel we need more training. You never stop learning in this hobby, and number of years of participation is no gauge for experience. You can be doing this for ten years but if you’ve never had an incident with a fire it won’t help you with proper fire extinguisher handling. Similarly, in North America where we pay hefty membership fees just for the privilege of being a volunteer, I would like to see those fees go towards training rather than insurance (which so many people have pointed out to me as a massive benefit of being a member). For $85/year I would rather prevent an injury rather than rely on some form of minimal compensation later. Be safe everyone!

daytona 24 crash APR

On the job training at the 24hrs of Daytona 2013, car impacted my station, you can see white uniform and yellow flag in the background (Tim and I were on flags at that time)… this was one of five times we had to run off station to take cover and than run back to put the yellow flag out.

Photo credit: APR, full story on One Hot Lap: http://www.onehotlap.com/2013/01/are-pro-drivers-eternal-optimists.html

Asia Pacific volunteering trip debrief

It’s my third weekend home without motor sports and it really is a damn shame there’s nothing happening locally at Lime Rock, NJMP or Poconos (besides the Indycar test for which they didn’t require marshals) so I wanted to reflect on the 7 back-to-back weekends in Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia that opened this year. I often get asked how I’m able to afford this travel, etc. So I’ll share the schedule and costs below, to prove that anyone can do it, if they chose to.

My schedule went as follows:

FEB 8-10: 12 hours of Bathurst at Mount Panorama in NSW, Australia

FEB 16-17: BNT V8 Supertourers at Hampton Downs, New Zealand

FEB 22-24: SBK Superbikes at Phillip Island, VIC Australia

FEB 28 – MAR 3: Clipsal 500, V8 Supercars at Adelaide, SA Australia

MAR 8-10: Shannon’s Historics CAN-AM at Phillip Island VIC Australia

MAR 14-17: Australian F1 Grand Prix at Albert Park,  VIC Australia

MAR 22-24: Malaysian F1 Grand Prix at Sepang Circuit, Malaysia

I also did the following non-motorsport trips on this journey:

MAR 11-13: Went to visit the old office North of Sydney NSW Australia

MAR 19: Day trip to Penang to visit a friend for lunch Penang, Malaysia

MAR 20-21: Overnight trip to Phnom Penh first time in Cambodia

Mar 26-29: Flight home via Clark and Manila, the Philippines

Mar 29: A quick dinner with friends on a short few connection in Singapore

To book all these trips I used a combination of frequent flyer miles and low cost airlines, for example the trip to Australia was via American Airlines AAdvantage 32,500 miles + tax to fly Qantas from NYC to SYD via LAX. The flight back was on United Airlines Mileage Plus 32,500 miles + tax from MNL to JFK via SIN on Singapore Airlines. Both AA and UA miles were accrued through credit car sign up bonuses. Meanwhile, the flight from MEL to KUL was on AirAsia X with a mere $139 one way price tag ($189 after taxes, luggage and even a nasi lemak on board) still cheap comparing the alternatives. Similarly, within Australia I used Tiger Airways to fly from MEL to ADL and MEL to SYD, for far less what Qantas or even Virgin Australia charged. In Asia I jumped on a bunch of zero dollar / tax only deals, that would explain the $18 trip to Penang, or $36 trip to Cambodia… and finally $24 trip to Clark. This is about as cheap as it gets, and it was nice enough for a number of hosts to put me up for a few nights here and there thanks to CouchSurfing.org

I was also very grateful to a few motorsport marshals that put me up in both Melbourne and Auckalnd. Nothing went to plan from the start of the trip, but somehow it all worked out in the end, and I had an absolute blast over the two month journey.

Finally, let me share some photos from each one of the stops along the way:

apac trip hats

mount panorama bathurst

nz v8 supertouers 2

phillip island sbk 5

clipsal 6

shannons 5

australian gp 5

malaysian gp pit

australian v8s patches

(this is not my collection of CAMS patches, my Melbourne host was nice enough to share his stash of Motorsport memorabilia, very impressive collection!)

A fantastic trip and one I hope to repeat again, though a trip to Europe will be my next big trip this summer followed by one more visit to Singapore for their Grand Prix. Many more photos are posted on facebook.

New Zealand V8 Supertourers

2012 has been my most adventurous season to date… As much as I’d love to out-do it next year the reality will be some sort of a toned down version. Luckily I have signed up for the 12 hours of Bathurst which promises to be a very exciting GT endurance race in Australia, however between that event in February and the Australian F1 Grand Prix at Albert Park in March, there’s a huge amount of time to kill. So I’ve made a decision to revisit Auckland for a few weeks. Call it New Zealand part II.

The plan as of now is of course to do the V8 Supertourers who should have their season opening at Hampton Downs just a week after the Bathurst event. I’m really looking forward to another Air New Zealand 12 days of Christmas sale so I can fill my days in Kiwi land with quick trip around the country, especially with a visit to the South Island – something I missed out on earlier this year. I would really like to visit Dunedin and Queenstown. Perhaps another trip to Manfeild for Toyota Racing Series, and definitely Taupo. 2013 will be great!

new zealand hampton downs 1

new zealand hampton downs 2

Winter/Summer North/South Hemisphere

2013 is already promising to be an incredible year. I’m particularly excited about the planning process of my next big trip this February and March. I’m not sure what I’m thrilled about the most… maybe its the prospect of flying again. Sure, I love flying! Or perhaps its the prospect of doing some more racing events in the Pacific. Yes, I love Australia and New Zealand racing series a lot, that’s where I got my education. Or maybe I’m just craving a double double with fries animal style? Hmm…

For anyone not familiar with the west coast chain In-n-Out, you don’t know what you’re missing. Well, maybe it doesn’t matter. To be honest, the fast food chain isn’t ridiculously different from any other fast food chains we have on the east coast, like Five Guys Burgers. But they do offer a secret menu and have a cult-like following so every time I get a chance I pay a visit to their establishments. (I think last time was in Las Vegas when I went for the SEMA show). I specifically arranged my flights to LAX in a way that would allow me to have enough time to visit their South Sepulveda location for a nice juicy burger, fries and some half-strawberry half-chocolate milk shake. I do plan to walk to and fro the restaurant to burn off some of the calories.

After I’m properly stuffed with the So Cal experience, I’ll be taking my comfy Qantas A380 flight off to Sydney. Its been a while since I’ve been there, save for of course the quick transit at SYD airport I did on my way home from New Zealand earlier this year. I will be visiting the Blue Mountains in NSW for my first race there. The 12 hours of Bathurst enduro series featuring some Mercedes-Benz SLS, Lambourghini Gallardo, Ferrari 458 Italias and a bunch of others including some Fords and Holdens that will have a GT race within the race running only for the first hour of the event. How cool?

Immediately after the race I plan to make my way over to Auckland for the opening season of New Zealand V8 SuperTourers at Hampton Downs. This would be the second year in a row I’ve volunteered for this event, so I’m especially looking forward to seeing all the folks I’ve worked with earlier this year. Whilst in NZ I plan to do a few trips to the South Island, an experience I missed out on while living there in 2012. Hopefully with the December 12 days of Christmas special I’ll be able to book some cheapo flights to Dunedin or Queenstown on Air New Zealand to make it happen. A visit to Taupo or Manfeild may be in the cards also.

Kiwi land may be the place where I will finally and possibly tragically run out of my savings. But it will not stop me from going. On the way back I plan to return to Australia for the Formula 1 race at Albert Park in Melbourne. A week before there will be another event at a track I’ve been wanting to work since the first time I visited Philip Island. Visiting some friends in Victoria should make an experience memorable as usual.

Retracing my F1 calendar of this year I plan to take a cheap Air Asia X flight to Malaysia for another amazing Formula 1 race at the Sepang Circuit. The flights have already been booked but the confirmation has yet to come, fingers crossed I won’t have any trouble like I did this year. Any visit to Southeast Asia turns out to be a fantastic experience and it would be a great way to end this two month journey.

The excitement will keep me going through the cold Northeast winter we’ll be having in the NYC / New Jersey area, where we just had our first snow not even a week after the superstorm Sandy had her way with us… yikes!

PS. No return flight has been booked yet. It may turn into another epic adventure of a trip!

New Zealand Motorsport

Its not even winter yet, but with no racing on the weekends I feel quite awkward being home… even after hurricane Sandy destroyed much of the Jersey Shore and flooded NYC and the surrounding area in NJ, our house was spared – thank God! but the level of excitement was quite different to what I’m used to by now 🙂

I’m bored… so I was looking through some pictures on facebook and right about now I miss New Zealand a lot. During the time the last big storm hit Northern New Jersey I was living in Auckland on the North Island… and just about every other weekend I’d find myself marshalling at Pukekohe Raceway or the new track at Hampton Downs. The Motor Sport Club of Auckland gave me my education when it comes to flagging. The folks I worked with, some ten years my junior and others old enough to be my grand parents, but all very friendly and helpful. I can’t wait to go back and volunteer with them again.

Visit my facebook page for a number of galleries from New Zealand… I worked some major events like the New Zealand V8 Supertourers, Australian V8 Supercars… the Toyota Racing Series at a few tracks like Hampton Downs, Taupo and Manfeild. It was all a blast!

new zealand hampton downs 1

new zealand hampton downs 2

new zealand hampton downs 3

new zealand hampton downs 5

new zealand pukekohe

new zealand toyota racing series

new zealand itm400 new zealand hamilton

new zealand hamilton v8s

new zealand log book

new zealand manfeild

new zealand taupo

PS. perhaps the coolest sight on track was the Muscle Car racing of the 1960’s era. While I’ve seen them a million times at car shows in the US, Canada and Australia… seeing them go full blast on the track was something else. Kiwi’s raced them and crashed them, repaired them and raced them again. I don’t think anyone is as hardcore about racing as Kiwis!