I am heartbroken to read that a marshal was killed this week in Florida while working a motorcycle track day at the Palm Beach International Raceway.
I first heard the news on the Flag Marshals of the World Facebook Group where someone familiar with the incident posted that the marshal was trying to outrun a tumbling bike that had a mechanical issue (stuck open throttle) which caused it to crash over the tire wall and ARMCO into the marshal station at Turn 9. The rider dismounted safely and was uninjured.
Since then, several media outlets including Motorsport.com, Jalopnik and the Palm Beach International Raceway (PBIR) have shared the story and it has been making the rounds on facebook with condolences pouring in from around the world. Motorsport has become a tight knit community and this news has saddened all of us reading it.
Quote from Palm Beach International Raceway official web site: racepbir.com/component/k2/item/946-corner-marshal-robert-hoffstetter-passes-away
On Sunday, December 28, 2014, during the Florida Track Days event at Palm Beach International Raceway’s (PBIR) Road Course, a rider experienced a mechanical failure on his Yamaha R1 motorcycle: the throttle became stuck in the open position. The rider dismounted from the motorcycle before approaching Turn 9. The motorcycle continued down the track, impacting the tire wall at Turn 9 where Robert “Goofy” Hoffstetter was positioned as a corner marshal. Medics AMR staff stabilized Hoffstetter at the site, and he was then transported to St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach by a Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Trauma Hawk. Hoffstetter passed away due to the injuries sustained during the accident. Hoffstetter had been working in motorsports for more than 30 years as a corner marshal at various racing events held at PBIR and at other tracks in Florida. On the day of the accident, he was under the employment of Florida Track Days, the host of monthly events at PBIR with track sessions and instructional courses for motorcyclists. He will be deeply missed by racers, friends, fellow corner marshals, PBIR staff, and the Florida motorsports community. PBIR and his friends are organizing a memorial to pay tribute to Hoffstetter, his loyalty to and passion for motorsports, and his many years of dedicated service.
This is an especially hard news to take because it reminds me and anyone else reading this how dangerous motorsport marshaling is. This could happen to any one of us whether we are working a Pro event with a larger crew on station or a Club/Track Rental by ourselves. I don’t know Mr. Hoffstetter personally and have never volunteered at PBIR though I have heard of this facility when it was still called Moroso Motorsport Park, but I am very sorry for his family and friends who have obviously lost a loved one. South Florida is one of my favorite places that I have ever been to in the US and I can seriously see myself living there at some point in the future, so without a doubt volunteering at PBIR could be on the horizon. I hope that this news results in some additional safety measures being implemented for the sake of everyone going there in the future. They say no place is safe at the race track, and unfortunately this week this statement rings true with a loss of a fellow marshal. May he rest in peace.
For the marshals reading this, Please be Safe Trackside!
PBIR logo above was linked from Wikipedia: wikipedia.org/wiki/Palm_Beach_International_Raceway