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Marshalling - an insider's POV


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#1 MarshalMike

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 13:25

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Following Grosjean's accident, there has been a lot of discussion about the standard of marshalling, so I thought I'd put forward a marshal's point of view.

 

I have been marshalling for many years, and have seen many changes, and not always for the better, Anyway, here we go.

 

First and foremost, marshals are volunteers. As a rule we don't get paid other than a cup of coffee and a programme. Some clubs make a token payment, others offer a discount system; in our case, if we do get said token payment, it goes towards a breakfast and the change goes to whichever one of us has driven. Please note, every club is different but as a rule of thumb, the smaller the club, the more grateful they are to marshals.

 

Our orange overalls are not fireproof, they are flame retardant Proban, a big difference. Most marshals wear the normal single layer; personally I buy 2 layer but they are almost double the cost at £120 rather than £65. And yes, we buy our own equipment. I have gloves for each marshalling role, non slip for flagging, welder's gauntlets for track/incident, Nomex racing gloves for Fire and Incident Officer and thermal gloves for Post Chief - it's hard to write a detailed incident report with cold hands. Gloves range from £5 to £50. A good set of Waterproofs is at least £150 but if you want fire resistant, they are about £500. Footwear again depends on the role: steel toecapped boots for Track/Incident, hiking boots for flagging or Post Chief, Nomex boots for Fire and Incident Officer duties. Again, footwear ranges from £20 to £75.

 

Not only is there the financial commitment, but there is the time commitment. It is true you can do as few meetings as you want, but this my view: I have 2 family members that I marshal with. We do 20 days a year at race meetings organised by our main club. We also do 6 days a year as away days, where we choose a meeting and go there. We do another 5 or 6 days with a secondary club and 3 to 6 meetings at a local circuit for speed events. On top of that we do at least 2 days training a year with various clubs. For those meeting we go away for, it's a day's travelling either side of the meeting, plus a hotel. So that's roughly 40 days a year.

 

Training is how we keep up to date. Sadly it isn't possible to replicate an accident like Grosjean's but fire training is always part of the agenda. The first thing we are taught is not to out yourself in harm's way and the optimum distance and method from which to fight a fire. UK marshal's are graded by Motorsport UK and there is recognised progression scheme. However, it is impossible to tell how anyone will deal or cope with a serious incident regardless of their experience or grading. We are, after all, individuals and human, so anyone can and will make mistakes or errors of judgement in the heat of the moment.

 

Newer marshals are no longer trained to cope with incidents under local yellow flags and many are shocked to be asked to do so. This is where experience and local circuit knowledge comes in when you know how long the next car will take to arrive at the scene, and whether you can get the incident cleared without race control intervention. We no longer have regular teams either. It used to be that you would be with the same people foe many seasons and you get to know what everyone's role is and you can work as a team. The retention of marshals is a problem, so the idea of teams no longer works. And the average age of marshals is rising - in the UK, it is well over 60.

 

The UK is fortunate to have plenty of circuits and thus the opportunity for experience is high but in may Countries this isn't the case, especially for International events. It's also the case that for many high profile events, marshals are viewed as a necessary evil and are expected to do 12-14 hour days. If marshals were to become professionals and paid, where is the money going to come from ? One club I marshal with no longer uses a local circuit as they can't afford it. They would need a full entry just to cover costs. Add in 30 marshals at minimum wage at they would need to raise an additional £3000 and that is just for a sprint. Circuit owners and race organisers very rarely make a substantial profit and often rely upon a single major event to balance costs. Trying to raise an additional £30,000 to £50,000 per race meeting for professional marshals would not be possible. An on those lines, changes to circuit safety also have to be paid for. Most meetings have only a handful of paying customers so it certainly isn't through gate money. It certainly rankles many marshals that security/car park staff get paid whilst marshals don't.

 

The vast majority of marshals give up their time for love of the sport but for those with family commitments it becomes harder and harder to justify the time and expense, so rather than sit behind a keyboard and moan or tar all marshals with the same stick, volunteer your time and come and join us on the bank - you'll find it a lot harder than you think.

 

 

 

 

 

 



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#2 LoginError

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 13:41

A much needed point of view. There is a lack of a coordinated effort to ensure the recruiting of new marshalls and better training, “career” possibilities (something to aspire to) would go a long way. The FIA and the national federations have in many cases neglected the marshalls. There has to be a programme for marshalls that can be monetised by bringing in sponsors etc. Make marshalling into a product instead of a necessary evil as it is today.



#3 Okyo

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 13:52

Thank you for sharing that. 



#4 SophieB

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 13:53

Thanks to you and all the marshals!  :up:



#5 jonpollak

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 14:51

THIS is the kind of content that makes Autosport an important destination for racing fans.

People who have actual experience in racing adding truth and reality to a place that sometimes goes off the deep end with conjecture and uniformed speculation.

 

Thanks Mike !!

Jp



#6 ExFlagMan

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 15:10

Agree with everthing MarshalMike posted.

 

I must admit it does get somewhat tiresome reading many posts on here that appear to come from those whose closest contact with the sport they profess to love is the 6ft they sit from their TV set.

 

Rant over...



#7 cpbell

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 15:25

Following Grosjean's accident, there has been a lot of discussion about the standard of marshalling, so I thought I'd put forward a marshal's point of view.

 

I have been marshalling for many years, and have seen many changes, and not always for the better, Anyway, here we go.

 

First and foremost, marshals are volunteers. As a rule we don't get paid other than a cup of coffee and a programme. Some clubs make a token payment, others offer a discount system; in our case, if we do get said token payment, it goes towards a breakfast and the change goes to whichever one of us has driven. Please note, every club is different but as a rule of thumb, the smaller the club, the more grateful they are to marshals.

 

Our orange overalls are not fireproof, they are flame retardant Proban, a big difference. Most marshals wear the normal single layer; personally I buy 2 layer but they are almost double the cost at £120 rather than £65. And yes, we buy our own equipment. I have gloves for each marshalling role, non slip for flagging, welder's gauntlets for track/incident, Nomex racing gloves for Fire and Incident Officer and thermal gloves for Post Chief - it's hard to write a detailed incident report with cold hands. Gloves range from £5 to £50. A good set of Waterproofs is at least £150 but if you want fire resistant, they are about £500. Footwear again depends on the role: steel toecapped boots for Track/Incident, hiking boots for flagging or Post Chief, Nomex boots for Fire and Incident Officer duties. Again, footwear ranges from £20 to £75.

 

Not only is there the financial commitment, but there is the time commitment. It is true you can do as few meetings as you want, but this my view: I have 2 family members that I marshal with. We do 20 days a year at race meetings organised by our main club. We also do 6 days a year as away days, where we choose a meeting and go there. We do another 5 or 6 days with a secondary club and 3 to 6 meetings at a local circuit for speed events. On top of that we do at least 2 days training a year with various clubs. For those meeting we go away for, it's a day's travelling either side of the meeting, plus a hotel. So that's roughly 40 days a year.

 

Training is how we keep up to date. Sadly it isn't possible to replicate an accident like Grosjean's but fire training is always part of the agenda. The first thing we are taught is not to out yourself in harm's way and the optimum distance and method from which to fight a fire. UK marshal's are graded by Motorsport UK and there is recognised progression scheme. However, it is impossible to tell how anyone will deal or cope with a serious incident regardless of their experience or grading. We are, after all, individuals and human, so anyone can and will make mistakes or errors of judgement in the heat of the moment.

 

Newer marshals are no longer trained to cope with incidents under local yellow flags and many are shocked to be asked to do so. This is where experience and local circuit knowledge comes in when you know how long the next car will take to arrive at the scene, and whether you can get the incident cleared without race control intervention. We no longer have regular teams either. It used to be that you would be with the same people foe many seasons and you get to know what everyone's role is and you can work as a team. The retention of marshals is a problem, so the idea of teams no longer works. And the average age of marshals is rising - in the UK, it is well over 60.

 

The UK is fortunate to have plenty of circuits and thus the opportunity for experience is high but in may Countries this isn't the case, especially for International events. It's also the case that for many high profile events, marshals are viewed as a necessary evil and are expected to do 12-14 hour days. If marshals were to become professionals and paid, where is the money going to come from ? One club I marshal with no longer uses a local circuit as they can't afford it. They would need a full entry just to cover costs. Add in 30 marshals at minimum wage at they would need to raise an additional £3000 and that is just for a sprint. Circuit owners and race organisers very rarely make a substantial profit and often rely upon a single major event to balance costs. Trying to raise an additional £30,000 to £50,000 per race meeting for professional marshals would not be possible. An on those lines, changes to circuit safety also have to be paid for. Most meetings have only a handful of paying customers so it certainly isn't through gate money. It certainly rankles many marshals that security/car park staff get paid whilst marshals don't.

 

The vast majority of marshals give up their time for love of the sport but for those with family commitments it becomes harder and harder to justify the time and expense, so rather than sit behind a keyboard and moan or tar all marshals with the same stick, volunteer your time and come and join us on the bank - you'll find it a lot harder than you think.

Were I able-bodied, I'd have become a marshal years back, I suspect.  In reality, I can't, so all I can do is appreciate your work at a distance. :smoking:



#8 Myrvold

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 15:41

Our orange overalls are not fireproof, they are flame retardant Proban, a big difference. Most marshals wear the normal single layer; personally I buy 2 layer but they are almost double the cost at £120 rather than £65. And yes, we buy our own equipment. I have gloves for each marshalling role, non slip for flagging, welder's gauntlets for track/incident, Nomex racing gloves for Fire and Incident Officer and thermal gloves for Post Chief - it's hard to write a detailed incident report with cold hands. Gloves range from £5 to £50. A good set of Waterproofs is at least £150 but if you want fire resistant, they are about £500. Footwear again depends on the role: steel toecapped boots for Track/Incident, hiking boots for flagging or Post Chief, Nomex boots for Fire and Incident Officer duties. Again, footwear ranges from £20 to £75.

 

I'm slightly amazed. Does this apply to all marshalls on post?

 

Here it's quite different. We are required to have a certain amount of trained marshalls, which uses fireproof equipment (just like the drivers). However, the rest of the people around the track uses their everyday clothes(!). They are obviously not allowed to handle anything with regards to fires, but they can help with extraction of drivers.

 

I'll admit, I was more comfortable being one of the "fire proof marshalls", than I was being the assistant race director who was in charge of every marshall. I was always a tiny bit nervous of messing up, especially when the ambulance was needed.


Edited by Myrvold, 30 November 2020 - 15:42.


#9 jannyg

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 15:45

Respect to you sir.

#10 paulb

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 16:33

Great writeup, Mike! It is very interesting to hear the perspective of marshalling in the UK. From my limited experience as a corner worker for a handful of Indycar, IMSA, and FIA (Formula E) races in the US, there are a number of similarities.

 

First of all, it is an all volunteer workforce and its not the younger generation, either. I only worked as a flag marshal, so I cannot speak to the safety teams that would perform any rescue work. There are a couple of fire extinguishers at a corner. Everyone provides their own gear. There is no specification for gloves. Training is minimal. The same team mans a corner throughout a  race weekend. Days can be long, but it is very rewarding and there are many benefits. 

 

I would also like to encourage anyone who is a race fan to give marshalling a go. My experience is that it has spoiled me as a race fan, to be closer to the action than was ever dreamed possible.

 

I hope Afterburner checks in as he would have much to say about this topic.



#11 Massa

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 16:38

I think this need to be pinned. Great knowledge like this need it imo

#12 cpbell

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 16:42

I think this need to be pinned. Great knowledge like this need it imo

+1.



#13 ExFlagMan

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 17:04

A much needed point of view. There is a lack of a coordinated effort to ensure the recruiting of new marshalls and better training, “career” possibilities (something to aspire to) would go a long way. The FIA and the national federations have in many cases neglected the marshalls. There has to be a programme for marshalls that can be monetised by bringing in sponsors etc. Make marshalling into a product instead of a necessary evil as it is today.

 

Not sure where you are based but in the UK the governing body of motorsport run such a scheme that covers many of the things you suggest - Marshals - Motorsport UK - The beating heart of UK motorsport



#14 SenorSjon

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 18:26

You luckily have many tracks. We only have Assen and Zandvoort. Many new racing countries hardly have a culture of racing. It always irks me the most high paid sports usually needs tons of volunteers.

How many marshalls are needed on a given race weekend?

#15 BRG

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 18:30

Agree with everthing MarshalMike posted.

 

I must admit it does get somewhat tiresome reading many posts on here that appear to come from those whose closest contact with the sport they profess to love is the 6ft they sit from their TV set.

 

Rant over...

Yes indeed.   One of our more vociferous forum members thought that the F1 team truck drivers could stand in as marshals during the pandemic.  

 

Bahrain was a victory for the boys (and girls) in orange.  Let's hope they have a quiet time next weekend.



#16 MarshalMike

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 19:49

You luckily have many tracks. We only have Assen and Zandvoort. Many new racing countries hardly have a culture of racing. It always irks me the most high paid sports usually needs tons of volunteers.

How many marshalls are needed on a given race weekend?

That depends on the type and size of meeting.

 

For a sprint at my local circuit, which only has 7 manned post, ideally you'd have 3 per post. Then you'd need 3 startline marshals. one on flags and 2 to line them up properly against the timing beam. Depending on the size of the entry, you need anywhere from 3 to 5 paddock marshals and 2, preferably 3 assembly marshals. So for a sprint, it's a minimum of 30 - there have been times when there haven't been that many and club officials have had to do paddock and assembly.

 

For a club event at another local circuit, with 22 posts, in an ideal world you'd have a Post Chief, Incident Officer, 2 flag marshals and 4 incident/track marshals. A minimum of 10 assembly marshals and 10 startline/pit marshals, so approximately 300. At the last meeting I did there, I had 1 flag marshal and 3 incident.....

 

Now at a Touring Car meeting, you'll probably have in excess of 500 marshals because, well, just because. I would imagine a GP has c500+, but I stopped going to those in 2000.


Edited by MarshalMike, 30 November 2020 - 19:50.


#17 goldenboy

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 20:30

Wish I could like this more than once. 



#18 Myrvold

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 20:40

That depends on the type and size of meeting.

 

For a sprint at my local circuit, which only has 7 manned post, ideally you'd have 3 per post. Then you'd need 3 startline marshals. one on flags and 2 to line them up properly against the timing beam. Depending on the size of the entry, you need anywhere from 3 to 5 paddock marshals and 2, preferably 3 assembly marshals. So for a sprint, it's a minimum of 30 - there have been times when there haven't been that many and club officials have had to do paddock and assembly.

 

For a club event at another local circuit, with 22 posts, in an ideal world you'd have a Post Chief, Incident Officer, 2 flag marshals and 4 incident/track marshals. A minimum of 10 assembly marshals and 10 startline/pit marshals, so approximately 300. At the last meeting I did there, I had 1 flag marshal and 3 incident.....

 

Now at a Touring Car meeting, you'll probably have in excess of 500 marshals because, well, just because. I would imagine a GP has c500+, but I stopped going to those in 2000.

 

Adding to this. Last time I worked at a karting event we had 15 flag marshalls, 3 dedicated recovery marshalls, 3 additional on the start/finish line. A couple extra in the pits.

Then of course we had loads of others connected to the race, but those were the ones that were in connection to the track action.

Everyone doing it for free obviously.



#19 jjcale

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 21:33

Voluntary (i.e. unpaid) work by highly skilled workers is essential to a number of important areas of our societies ... sport is the most obvious area with pretty much every sport being reliant on volunteers esp at the grass roots level. In another sport that I follow closely tournaments are organised by persons who either seeking sponsorship or who take a serious financial risk onto themselves - and without the tournaments that sport would not exist in an organised form.... in another area that I am familiar with and which generally considered much more important - politics - 99.99% of who take part in activities get no benefit to themselves from doing so. Canvassing, putting on events and other party work is done for free - and work in elections (for the parties, not the local bodies that organise elections), which is vital to society is mostly done by volunteers.

 

This is the way things work ... most organised activities outside of govt, business and big charities only exist because of the work of volunteers - and usually quite skilled and experienced volunteers.... its not advertised and it certainly is not glamourised but we have to be willing to put in something in some area that we care about without any expectation of a return if we want a decent society. One of the ways that sociologists rank societies is by the willingness of the people to give their time and effort to causes and organised activities without expectation of reward. This is one of the glues that holds things together and makes things better for everyone.... but for some reason - we dont really acknowledge it too often. 

 

... even something as simple as this message board cannot operate without the volunteers who act as moderators.... OK - they are never going to save anyone's life but how many of us really appreciate the huge number of hours that they volunteer to police us and make sure the board does not get too toxic?

 

I dont want to detract from the importance of marshals in any way - in fact quite the opposite. I just want to try to provide some more context. And also to encourage more of us to volunteer our time to useful organised activities. It is not just good for us as individuals, its is very important for our societies.



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#20 teejay

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Posted 01 December 2020 - 01:52

Not to anger any American users, but "thank you for your service" - without marshals, we would not be going racing. 



#21 BRG

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Posted 01 December 2020 - 17:12

Not to anger any American users, but "thank you for your service" - without marshals, we would not be going racing. 

And when we think of the ridiculous amounts of dollars/pounds/euros etc sloshing around in F1, perhaps a 'Service Charge Included' might not be a bad idea.



#22 MarshalMike

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Posted 01 December 2020 - 20:51

Okay, I've gone through the basics, now here's how the day on post starts.

 

08:15.First, before going to post is the Post Chiefs briefing in which the day's specific instructions are talked through, such as which sessions will use the Safety Car or red flags, any disabled drivers, any matters arising and time check.

08:40. Once the Post Chief arrives on post, he will give a quick briefing to share instructions, give a general health & safety brief and then hand over to the Incident Officer for post specific guidance and instructions.

 

08:45. Using myself as an example I'll assume for this moment I have a full complement of marshals; I'll introduce myself and and ask everyone what their experience levels are. By doing this, I can better pair people off to maximise efficiency. Next I'll talk about the post specifically, such as where the emergency escape routes are, where and why I want the fire extinguishers placed and what to look out for during a session. I'll stress the importance and priority of marshals, (your own safety is paramount, then your partners, then the team and finally the driver) - it is imperative that no-one puts themself in harms way.

 

Next is a check on everyone's wellbeing, does everyone have enough fluids, does everyone have gloves etc (I always have spare on post), do you have sunscreen if required etc, anything that may hinder someone's ability to do their duty efficiency. Once I have talked everyone through my expectations, I'll ask for questions, clarification etc. As far as I am concerned, it's a 2 way street for information. If I have any trainees or first timers, I'll have a 1-1 chat with them and then either put them with my most experienced pair or stay with them myself for the first few sessions, explaining why we flag (or don't) certain cars, what to look out for on cars, what to look out for in racing etc. Once the marshals are ready to go to their positions, I'll confirm that they have checked the fire extinguishers, brooms, oil absorbing powder etc.

 

09:05. During the first couple of sessions, I'll see how the cars/track is behaving and decide if I need to move the fire points and talk to the marshals to make sure they are happy with their positions. I'll pass on any radio calls I hear regardless of whether they affect our area or not so everyone is aware of what's going on. During these talks I'll see if any marshal wants to have a go at flagging or is considering an upgrade so I can offer advise or guidance.

 

10:13. In the event of an incident, as an Incident Officer, it is down to me to manage the incident. I need to be aware of what has happened, what is happening and what may happen. I will take a step back, let the dust settle and let my marshals attend the incident. Do I need to summon my second team, do I need to call for back up or race intervention and if so, I will signal to the Post Chief. Once the marshals are on scene, that's when I look at what's needed; is the driver conscious and moving, can he get out of the car unaided, is the car damaged enough to require recovery or can we manhandle it to a place of safety under local yellow flags, is the track blocked or is there significant debris that will need clearing, all this within the first 20 seconds. I need to ensure all relevant information is passed via radio to race control, from notification of the incident and a brief description in a succinct way. 

10:17   *Within seconds of incident. "Race control, race control from post 4. Cars 24 and 8 made side to side contact, car 8 has continued, car 24 has spun to driver's right and made heavy contact with the barriers. Update to follow".

10:17   *Once marshals are in attendance "Race control from post 4, marshals in attendance. Driver is moving but still in car, track partially blocked, request immediate safety car"

10:18   *Within 10 seconds of marshals attending "Race control from post 4, marshals requesting rescue unit. I have heavy barrier damage, car 24 will require full lift. Request session stop"

 

10:28   Once the incident has been cleared away, time for a quick debrief, make sure everyone is okay, how did we do, do we need to replace any equipment and double check that everyone is okay. Congratulate the team on a job well done.


Edited by MarshalMike, 01 December 2020 - 20:54.


#23 OvDrone

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Posted 01 December 2020 - 21:05

Thank you so much, Mike.



#24 PlatenGlass

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Posted 01 December 2020 - 21:56

As many have said, this was a very interesting post so thanks!

 

 

First and foremost, marshals are volunteers. As a rule we don't get paid other than a cup of coffee and a programme. Some clubs make a token payment, others offer a discount system; in our case, if we do get said token payment, it goes towards a breakfast and the change goes to whichever one of us has driven. Please note, every club is different but as a rule of thumb, the smaller the club, the more grateful they are to marshals.

 

 

 

I'm never quite sure how the world decides exactly which jobs are paid and which are unpaid - I suppose money available comes into it, but F1 races are professional sporting events, and I'm pretty sure Michael Masi is handsomely paid for whatever it is he does. But sure, marshalling is volunteer work - fine. But this bit:

 

Our orange overalls are not fireproof, they are flame retardant Proban, a big difference. Most marshals wear the normal single layer; personally I buy 2 layer but they are almost double the cost at £120 rather than £65. And yes, we buy our own equipment. I have gloves for each marshalling role, non slip for flagging, welder's gauntlets for track/incident, Nomex racing gloves for Fire and Incident Officer and thermal gloves for Post Chief - it's hard to write a detailed incident report with cold hands. Gloves range from £5 to £50. A good set of Waterproofs is at least £150 but if you want fire resistant, they are about £500. Footwear again depends on the role: steel toecapped boots for Track/Incident, hiking boots for flagging or Post Chief, Nomex boots for Fire and Incident Officer duties. Again, footwear ranges from £20 to £75.

 

I find a bit unacceptable to be honest. Surely events should put up the money for the equipment, and this would also ensure that it is all up to the proper standard. If marshals buy their own stuff, there must always be a chance that some will come under-equipped, which could be very dangerous.



#25 robefc

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Posted 01 December 2020 - 22:06

I’m gobsmacked that Marshals for an F1 race are not only not paid but have to provide their own gear.

Also that marshal only has one ‘L’!

Edited by robefc, 01 December 2020 - 22:07.


#26 pdac

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Posted 02 December 2020 - 00:35

I'm never quite sure how the world decides exactly which jobs are paid and which are unpaid - I suppose money available comes into it, but F1 races are professional sporting events, and I'm pretty sure Michael Masi is handsomely paid for whatever it is he does. But sure, marshalling is volunteer work - fine. But this bit:

 

 

I’m gobsmacked that Marshals for an F1 race are not only not paid but have to provide their own gear.

 

My nephew referees football (soccer) matches, typically lower-level professional and amateur games. He gets paid what he feels is quite a good amount for a few hours work. Nothing too dangerous about it either (well ... he hasn't had to jump in and put out an actual fire yet). I think he might have had to pay for his kit and he has to pass a physical every year.

 

It's staggering to think that F1 marshals do it just for the love of the sport. I'm pretty sure as a football referee, the financial return gets bigger the higher the level of the game.



#27 Loosenut

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Posted 02 December 2020 - 00:52

marshal only has one ‘L’!

Over 30 years watching F1, that's something new I just learned!

I'm a guitarist, I see that word with 2 Ls almost every day. I never noticed this!



#28 ExFlagMan

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Posted 02 December 2020 - 08:02

Okay, I've gone through the basics, now here's how the day on post starts.

 

08:15.First, before going to post is the Post Chiefs briefing in which the day's specific instructions are talked through, such as which sessions will use the Safety Car or red flags, any disabled drivers, any matters arising and time check.

08:40. Once the Post Chief arrives on post, he will give a quick briefing to share instructions, give a general health & safety brief and then hand over to the Incident Officer for post specific guidance and instructions.

 

08:45. Using myself as an example I'll assume for this moment I have a full complement of marshals; I'll introduce myself and and ask everyone what their experience levels are. By doing this, I can better pair people off to maximise efficiency. Next I'll talk about the post specifically, such as where the emergency escape routes are, where and why I want the fire extinguishers placed and what to look out for during a session. I'll stress the importance and priority of marshals, (your own safety is paramount, then your partners, then the team and finally the driver) - it is imperative that no-one puts themself in harms way.

 

Next is a check on everyone's wellbeing, does everyone have enough fluids, does everyone have gloves etc (I always have spare on post), do you have sunscreen if required etc, anything that may hinder someone's ability to do their duty efficiency. Once I have talked everyone through my expectations, I'll ask for questions, clarification etc. As far as I am concerned, it's a 2 way street for information. If I have any trainees or first timers, I'll have a 1-1 chat with them and then either put them with my most experienced pair or stay with them myself for the first few sessions, explaining why we flag (or don't) certain cars, what to look out for on cars, what to look out for in racing etc. Once the marshals are ready to go to their positions, I'll confirm that they have checked the fire extinguishers, brooms, oil absorbing powder etc.

 

09:05. During the first couple of sessions, I'll see how the cars/track is behaving and decide if I need to move the fire points and talk to the marshals to make sure they are happy with their positions. I'll pass on any radio calls I hear regardless of whether they affect our area or not so everyone is aware of what's going on. During these talks I'll see if any marshal wants to have a go at flagging or is considering an upgrade so I can offer advise or guidance.

 

10:13. In the event of an incident, as an Incident Officer, it is down to me to manage the incident. I need to be aware of what has happened, what is happening and what may happen. I will take a step back, let the dust settle and let my marshals attend the incident. Do I need to summon my second team, do I need to call for back up or race intervention and if so, I will signal to the Post Chief. Once the marshals are on scene, that's when I look at what's needed; is the driver conscious and moving, can he get out of the car unaided, is the car damaged enough to require recovery or can we manhandle it to a place of safety under local yellow flags, is the track blocked or is there significant debris that will need clearing, all this within the first 20 seconds. I need to ensure all relevant information is passed via radio to race control, from notification of the incident and a brief description in a succinct way. 

10:17   *Within seconds of incident. "Race control, race control from post 4. Cars 24 and 8 made side to side contact, car 8 has continued, car 24 has spun to driver's right and made heavy contact with the barriers. Update to follow".

10:17   *Once marshals are in attendance "Race control from post 4, marshals in attendance. Driver is moving but still in car, track partially blocked, request immediate safety car"

10:18   *Within 10 seconds of marshals attending "Race control from post 4, marshals requesting rescue unit. I have heavy barrier damage, car 24 will require full lift. Request session stop"

 

10:28   Once the incident has been cleared away, time for a quick debrief, make sure everyone is okay, how did we do, do we need to replace any equipment and double check that everyone is okay. Congratulate the team on a job well done.

 

 

A quiet start to the day then - I guess the local FF1600 mob have not been let out to play yet.....



#29 MarshalMike

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Posted 03 December 2020 - 18:58

A quiet start to the day then - I guess the local FF1600 mob have not been let out to play yet.....

 

They normally put the FF1600's out just before the so called marshal's lunch break so we can work through that to get ready for the first race.......or last thing so we get to stay later !



#30 prty

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Posted 03 December 2020 - 22:18

Agree with everthing MarshalMike posted.
 
I must admit it does get somewhat tiresome reading many posts on here that appear to come from those whose closest contact with the sport they profess to love is the 6ft they sit from their TV set.
 
Rant over...


On the other hand:
 

Seems like Grosjean and Vettel will be pushing for the introduction of a common profesionnal safety crew for all races like in indycar and reduced role for volunteer.
 
https://www.lequipe....omme-ca/1200999



#31 pdac

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 00:24

On the other hand:
 

 

Who of those do you think might know more about marshalling?



#32 MarshalMike

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 03:51

The argument about having paid, professional marshals has been going on for at least 30 years.

 

If you have a travelling rapid response team, they will have to be paid a full time wage - it would be highly unlikely you'd find an employer who would allow staff members to take 23 very long weekends off to go motor racing and with the best will in the world, there isn't a requirement for these teams to be available 48 weeks a year so it's a part time role. On top of that, you would need reserves to cover for absences. Ideally you'd want people in the prime of their lives who are highly trained and fit and preferably single. i.e. people who are doing well in their careers and thus are unlikely to be attracted to a role like this.

 

If you rely on rapid response vehicles to deal with every incident, then races will be blighted with safety cars and red flags as not all circuits are licensed for live snatch/recovery; therefore you would need a bare minimum of 4 vehicles per circuit to cover the areas to give a quick enough response.

 

You cannot feasibly reduce the number of marshals trackside. You still need a Post Chief or Incident officer to manage and report on an incident, flag marshals to control the scene and incident marshals to be first responders/first on scene. Flag marshalling is an art, a skill; for blue flagging, you need to be able to read a race, know where cars are in the race, whether it's a positional move or passing a slower car. You normally only have seconds to respond with a flag. And don't forget the yellow flag marshal has his back to traffic looking up track which is why they work in pairs. 

 

It is very easy to give a knee jerk reaction, especially from those not involved in the situation. Ask the driver of the car who went hard into the marshals bank at Thruxton this year how he felt when the one marshal went to his wrecked, inverted car and because of Covid 19 rules was unable to help the driver out of his car. 

 

British marshalling at this point is arguably amongst the best in the world. Continual training and Post Chiefs comments on your attendance record ensure that those that take this route are made aware of what to do and how to do it. A typical day's training will include incident handling, first response, first aid, updated rules and regulations and fire control. There will also be specific role training in flagging, radio procedure, report writing etc as well as specialist training for assembly, paddock, pits and startline.

 

Marshals don't take their roles lightly and nor should others.



#33 Gary Davies

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 04:16

From a lapsed marshal, albeit at a fairly low level.... one day at the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park, we were restraining the great unwashed from wandering across a service road as cars from a historic parade were slowly entering the track. Along came Sir Stirling in an open car with, as I recall, a Herbert Johnson or similar at just the right angle. I waved, my (only ever) hero waved back. As he was inclined to do.

 

Marshall immediately to my starboard flank, said, "Who the ****'s that?"

 

Race marshalling is a fine calling but as with everything else in the world, one does encounter the occasional ignoramus.  :cool:



#34 prty

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 08:43

Who of those do you think might know more about marshalling?

Who of those do you think are more affected by the safety standards for drivers?



#35 ExFlagMan

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 08:53

Who of those do you think are more affected by the safety standards for drivers?

 

I hope they ask their fellow GPDA members to throw the odd £1m or two each to help fund their professional crew.


Edited by ExFlagMan, 04 December 2020 - 08:54.


#36 Viryfan

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 09:04

I hope they ask their fellow GPDA members to throw the odd £1m or two each to help fund their professional crew.


Well FOM is rich enough to provide the money.

Given how Liberty were shaken by Hubert's death to the point of wanting to cancel altogether the belgian gp in 2019, i'm sure they would trade 1 million € for a better chance of saving the life of a driver.

#37 BiggestBuddyLazierFan

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 09:11

Driver earns millions and millions of dollars/pounds/euros whatever. Million is a million. And wears fireproof overall.

Marshal earns token for coffe and wears fire resistant overall.


This thing with Marshals is a relict from the feudal ages. And should be rectified.

Thankfully it is not 1789 anymore and this issue can be settled in civilized manner.

But it is an issue and it has to be settled

#38 MarshalMike

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 09:50

Who of those do you think are more affected by the safety standards for drivers?

 

Drivers sit in a safety cell around which there are numerous parts that are designed to break off in an accident to dissipate the kinetic energy - a driver is the most protected person at a race circuit, marshals the least.



#39 ExFlagMan

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 09:56

The argument about having paid, professional marshals has been going on for at least 30 years.

 

 

 

I seem to recall it was first mooted in response to the Roger Williamson tragedy.

 

As a young fire marshal at the time, I was quite enthusiastic about the possibility of free world wide travel, but for some reason no-one in authority seemed to be the same way inclined when it came to the discussion about how it would be financed.

 

I guess they will propose the idea of rapid response fire trucks around the circuit, just as was proposed back then, but I hope they do a better job than John Webb and MCD's efforts to implement such a system.

 

Our local circuit was allocated 3 fire trucks, which turned out to be 3 ex-wd Austin Champs that had been painted red and fitted with a huge 'light water' (somewhat of a misnomer) tank and some dry powder bottles.

 

I was one of those 'volunteered' to man one of them. 

 

Let us say it was an 'interesting' few meetings.

 

First problem was the paint -  which appeared to have been applied using a yard brush, some of the paint was still tacky several weeks later and meant that the crew gradually accrued a liberal coating of red paint smears as the day progressed.

 

I have no idea what the handling of the original Austin Champ was like, but it was certainly not enhanced by a huge water filled tank in the back - though a set of working shock absorbers might have helped a bit if we had had them...

 

I believe the Champ may originally have had brakes, but lets say ours were not in optimum condition - braking for Lodge started just after the Bailey Bridge, though it was not a major problem as the max speed would not have got you a speed ticket, even in a 20mph zone, and the steering was so vague that by the time we had managed to get enough lock on to get it turned in to the corner we had scrubbed most of the speed off.

 

Acceleration was best measured on a calendar - we once timed a test 'shout' from Island to Shell at around 30 secs, and that was only if the engine would start first time.  We ended up keeping engine running all day as a precaution - I am not sure Rex Foster, the circuit manager, was too impressed when we kept getting the fuel tank refilled after practice.

 

Let's say it was not a great success - but we did get to put a real vehicle fire out, even if it was on our own fire truck. 

I think the under bonnet wiring was not up to having the engine running all morning, as whilst returning to the paddock at lunch time, we got as far as Clay Hill when smoke started to emerge from under the bonnet and the engine died. After a discussion between the crew as to whether or not leave it burning or put the fire out we reluctantly decided on the latter.

 

At least there was a successful outcome, as we never had to crew the thing again and returned to happily playing on the bank...



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#40 MarshalMike

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 10:00

John Webb's heart was in the right place - shame it was always so far from his wallet !

 

I've done the fire car at various meetings, but luckily never in a Champ.



#41 pdac

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 12:22

Who of those do you think are more affected by the safety standards for drivers?

 

To be blunt, it might not actually be the drivers. But, moreover, even if the drivers are the most affected, they are probably not the most qualified people to know how to deliver the best safety service for drivers.



#42 prty

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 13:17

Drivers sit in a safety cell around which there are numerous parts that are designed to break off in an accident to dissipate the kinetic energy - a driver is the most protected person at a race circuit, marshals the least.

 

Sure, but we're talking in the context of rescuing drivers quickly when they have a time sensitive tricky situation.
 



#43 MarshalMike

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 15:09

Sure, but we're talking in the context of rescuing drivers quickly when they have a time sensitive tricky situation.
 

 

Are you replying from your experience as a driver ?

 

A rapid response vehicle *may* be quicker on the first lap when it is following the pack. However, from lap 2 onwards, you would need a call for a safety car to be scrambled which has to come from Race Control before the rescue vehicle can be sent out on track. By that time, marshals will already be in attendance and they will be in the right place at the right time to decide whether a race interruption is required.



#44 ExFlagMan

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 18:10

Sure, but we're talking in the context of rescuing drivers quickly when they have a time sensitive tricky situation.
 

 

I assume you believe that a super expensive fire 'hearse' is the panacea.

 

Have you considered how many would be required to get the response time required and also where they would be situated around the circuit.

 

Maybe this video might give you an insight of the sort of time scales involved these sort of situations. Ginetta G50 crash at Oulton Park 2008 - YouTube

 

For context, the crash occured about 10 mins into a Britsh GT race so the field would have been relativly spread out. 

 

It occured down the Avenue approaching Cascades.  The marshals guide to to the circuit describes the area as not being prone to frequent crashes, but when they do occur thay are usually big ones.

 

Luckily it looks like the meeting was well staffed, as for many smaller meeting this area tends not to have a huge no of marshals present.

 

Again luck was on the driver's side as the car ended up reasonably close to a fire point, although the marshals from that point had to run uphill, probably across relativly uneven ground.

 

The first fire marshal was at the scene within about 12 seconds of the impact and immmediatly started to fight the fire, followed up by two other marshals, one of whom was apparently a novice at his first race meeting.

 

Looks like they did a pretty good job of supressing the fire long enough for the driver to be helped out.

 

The first fire truck arrived on the scene after about 45 seconds, although it was probably less than 150 mtr away, but was on the other side of the track and had to go WD to get to the scene.

 

The second truck arrived after around 1.5 minutes, having, I assume, come from the pit road which was probbaly 500 - 750 mtrs away depending on where it was located.

 

Looks to me that the best solution to this type of accident is a good supply of well trained marshals on the bank, as opposed to the type of vehicle that many on here seem to favour.



#45 MarshalMike

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 18:31

I assume you believe that a super expensive fire 'hearse' is the panacea.

 

Have you considered how many would be required to get the response time required and also where they would be situated around the circuit.

 

Maybe this video might give you an insight of the sort of time scales involved these sort of situations. Ginetta G50 crash at Oulton Park 2008 - YouTube

 

For context, the crash occured about 10 mins into a Britsh GT race so the field would have been relativly spread out. 

 

It occured down the Avenue approaching Cascades.  The marshals guide to to the circuit describes the area as not being prone to frequent crashes, but when they do occur thay are usually big ones.

 

Luckily it looks like the meeting was well staffed, as for many smaller meeting this area tends not to have a huge no of marshals present.

 

Again luck was on the driver's side as the car ended up reasonably close to a fire point, although the marshals from that point had to run uphill, probably across relativly uneven ground.

 

The first fire marshal was at the scene within about 12 seconds of the impact and immmediatly started to fight the fire, followed up by two other marshals, one of whom was apparently a novice at his first race meeting.

 

Looks like they did a pretty good job of supressing the fire long enough for the driver to be helped out.

 

The first fire truck arrived on the scene after about 45 seconds, although it was probably less than 150 mtr away, but was on the other side of the track and had to go WD to get to the scene.

 

The second truck arrived after around 1.5 minutes, having, I assume, come from the pit road which was probbaly 500 - 750 mtrs away depending on where it was located.

 

Looks to me that the best solution to this type of accident is a good supply of well trained marshals on the bank, as opposed to the type of vehicle that many on here seem to favour.

 

Totally agree, but it would appear that the voice of experience from the bank carries no weight and to some, is of no importance.



#46 ExFlagMan

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Posted 08 December 2020 - 19:46

Totally agree, but it would appear that the voice of experience from the bank carries no weight and to some, is of no importance.

 

May I use your 'voice of experience from the bank' to ask if you have ever encountered CO2 or 'Water Mist' extinguishers being used out on the bank at meetings.

 

I ask, as having looked at videos of the Grosjean fire, it seems to me that the nearest available extinguisher to the crash may have been something along those lines, it certainly did not appear to be be anything like a Monnex, or even one of the older (cheaper) dry powder ones, even though it is a very long time since I actually fired off a bottle, even at a training day.


Edited by ExFlagMan, 08 December 2020 - 21:28.


#47 MarshalMike

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Posted 08 December 2020 - 23:38

I've not come across them at a race meeting, but was issued with them for private test days with Brawn and McLaren.



#48 ExFlagMan

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Posted 09 December 2020 - 08:11

Thanks for that - I assumed that the teams would prefer them for minor fires as there is no mess to clear up, but they look pretty useless on a proper fire.

 

I guess they might be become more common as we move more towards hybrids/electric in national motor sport.



#49 mistakenplane

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Posted 09 December 2020 - 10:02

It has long been baffling to me that motorsport relies on volunteers to do the most dangerous and serious job out there, allowing racing to happen.

 

I know lots of the industry struggles to get by financially year on year...but marshals should ABSOLUTELY be paid for what they do. I find it scandalous that all they get is a thank you and maybe a bacon roll and coffee in the morning.



#50 Kalmake

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Posted 09 December 2020 - 11:21

It has long been baffling to me that motorsport relies on volunteers to do the most dangerous and serious job out there, allowing racing to happen.

 

I know lots of the industry struggles to get by financially year on year...but marshals should ABSOLUTELY be paid for what they do. I find it scandalous that all they get is a thank you and maybe a bacon roll and coffee in the morning.

On lower levels it's necessary because there is not enough money. In my opinion once there are millionaires on track, there should be money to be found to pay the marshals. It wont change unless people stop volunteering for them.