Woo Hoo! After just one day of training by Peter Watson (who’s a rock star in the starter world!) at Thompson Speedway I managed to end up working as backup starter for PWC at Lime Rock. Fuck yeah!
Now, the series provided their own Starter that travels to most events so my role was limited to putting out a white flag whenever a vehicle left pit lane and a faster one was approaching turn one along the main straight (that’s it!)… everyone told me I wouldn’t be doing much and just spectating. But that wasn’t really the case. To me it felt more like working as a communicator, relaying messages to the official starter while he was actually wearing a headset and listening to another net, the official PWC channel. I didn’t mind this role at all, and in fact feel like I learned quite a bit in this environment. So I’m very thankful for the opportunity to the powers that be to make it happen.
While I didn’t know what I should expect on Friday during practice which made me nervous I went into race day on Saturday full of confidence… and then the flag chief pulled me aside and said someone from race control mentioned that I was broadcasting the event live on social media… Fuck! Of course I wasn’t. I didn’t even take any videos the whole weekend and my phone had spotty reception at best, with barely any bars on the starter stand which means I put my phone in airplane mode, otherwise the battery ran flat quickly while searching for service. Clearly my reputation preceded me but my goal was to nip this rumor in the bud. I was so happy that the flag chief brought this issue to my attention right away instead of letting it marinate and become blown out of proportion over time like my last episode with picture taking a few years ago. But still I was bothered by the mere suggestion. How did this happen? We did have visitors on the Starter stand throughout the weekend. There was a regular guy from CBS Sports (a contractor actually who was capturing the official flagger wave the Green and Checkered flags for a few racing groups over both days) how could they have missed his orange photographer vest? And why would they assume his multi-GoPro rig belonged to me? It made no sense at all. I later learned that someone posted a video to YouTube and it dawned on me based on what the CBS guy was telling us. The race wouldn’t be broadcast until a week later… there’s an agreement CBS has with YouTube to post races about six month after they occur. So having any part of the race posted just after it happened, or worse – in real time… was a big NO NO…. and I knew at that point exactly who had done the video! It was one of the guests of the series who lingered around the starter stand and at one point ended up staying on the stairs leading up to our station for the duration of the race. Shame though that I caught the blame for her actions though!
Where this experience was a bit of a downer, another one cheered me right up. While walking over to the dummy grid during our lunch break I was stopped by one of the new flaggers who called out my name, introduced himself and said he had started marshaling based on the information I posted in this very blog… Fuck yeah!!! I was so happy to hear that, it totally made my day. Now I can say with confidence that my little hobby here helped at least one person become a Motorsport Volunteer. And that makes me Happy!
The day was full of a variety of emotions. It turned sad during an incident that shut us down for a couple of hours. But once the racing resumed things improved. I was trying to soak in as much as I could on the Starter stand because who knows, I may never work there again! So to keep the memories I took a bunch of pictures. I asked the series starter for permission first, he was cool with it. In fact he took a few shots of me with the white and red stripe flag. That was very kind of him. The photographer with the GoPro’s took several more pictures when he came to join us before the start of the last race, that was really awesome of him also!
The whole experience from today’s event and this weekend in general was so positive, I was thrilled to be back to Lime Rock, and can genuinely say I cannot wait to return again… and by the way I would welcome anyone else reading this to come and join me! We definitely need more volunteers and there’s enough fun to be had to share with Motorsport enthusiasts no matter where you come from… (for those Europeans and Australians reading my blog, please come… you’re invited also!)
PS. I’d love to do Start/Finish again, it’s the best spot on the track!