There are many different ways to watch a road race. The 1 way is to be in the car or on the motorcycle racing, the 2nd best to watch a road race is to become a track-side marshal/corner worker. Road course marshals are race personnel that surround the road course track at specified stations that communicate to drivers with flags and each other on radios. These are a committed group of volunteers that with training and experience, can become qualified to work the big professional races like Indycar & Formula 1.
Cars & Motorcycles sometimes use the same track to race on but marshalling for both is different, so it is important to know the details. With that in mind, if you travel to different tracks & events always be prepared for something different; never be afraid to ask questions. This is a volunteer position so come out when you can. However, if you commit to do an event, stick to it and expect to be there all day. When you are trackside for safety keep your cameras & cell phones off when you are on a ‘hot track’ as you are there to do a job and working can require split second response.
I got into this myself in 1996 at Mossport with MMS, taking their marshal school and I have never looked back. After getting into it, I set up some goals for myself: Indycar and Formula 1. So I was able to do Toronto, Vancouver & Edmonton Indycar races & Formula 1. This has been the most exciting volunteering I have ever done and one of the coolest races I volunteered at was a 24 hour endurance race at Mossport which is now called the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Northern Alberta Sports Car Club (NASCC) is doing the LA1K – a 1000 km Endurance race at Castrol Raceway. This should be a lot of fun to race or marshal! I suggest if you are not taking a race school course and you like racing this might be right up your alley. Give it a try, you might just like it.
There is a level of risk when you are track-side on a corner so that is the reason for the training and it’s available through most clubs or tracks. After you’ve received your training, the clubs and tracks pair experienced personnel with new trainees to guide them through the marshalling procedures. This can be a very exciting! Long time marshal friend Ross Lockwood described it as being “59 minutes of Total Boredom & 1 minute of Total Terror”
There are many duties involved with Marshalling.
Here’s some of what you can expect:
Briefings: Morning meetings with all marshals & corner briefing with corner crew.
Equipment check: required equipment & operational
Track check: what to look for & where to look
Safety: what to expect, where are the escape routes
Flags: what do they mean, when to display them, hold or wave & how to wave a flag.
Hand signals: how to communicate with each other when too loud or distance between you.
Radio communications: communicating to control, what are the protocols & procedures.
Track clean-up: equipment & procedures.
Observation: what to look for on cars/bikes & rule infractions
Response: sometimes in certain circumstances going to the race car or scene is required, how to respond & when to do so.
Fire extinguisher: Safe operation of a fire extinguisher
What to bring: Layered clothing including rain gear as road racing runs rain or shine (colour white preferred no red or yellow). Food & water stay hydrated.
Corner Crew Positions: Corner Captain/TM/Senior, Communicator, Yellow Flagger, Blue flagger, Safety/Response if required.
It takes a lot of people to put on a road race. Some of the different groups of volunteers are:
Clerk of the Coarse, Steward, Starter, Chief Coarse Marshal, Corner Captain, Communicator, Yellow Flagger, Blue flagger, Safety, Pri-grid, Pit in & Pit out, Rescue personnel: Ambulance crew, Fireman & Clean-up Crew Tow Truck driver, Pace Car Driver, Track Announcer, Timing personnel, Srutineer (Tech), Registration & Back Gate.
Marshal Training is also available through some other Clubs & Associations
If you know of any other links or events for Marshals please let us know