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Intervention Marshal Notes from the 2023 LVGP


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#1 paulb

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Posted 09 December 2023 - 18:09

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I thought it might be interesting to you all to share my experience as an Intervention Marshal for the 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix. Apologies for the delay in presenting this summary which is primarily well captioned images and a brief racing fan bio.

 

I have been a racing fan all my life. I remember going to dirt track races at Ascot and drag races at Orange County International Raceway as a kid. I went to F1 races at Long Beach, Ceasar’s Palace, and COTA. I started flagging at Long Beach for IndyCar and IMSA races and the two Formula E races. I have continued flagging in Florida for IMSA (and other organization) races including this years Rolex 24 Hrs.

 

I have family in the Las Vegas area and they were the ones who sent me the application link for the LVGP. You could apply for any of three positions, providing your order of preference. The options were flag marshal, intervention marshal (I had no idea what that was at the time), and hospitality. I listed my preferences in the above order, providing my relevant experience. I passed the first gate and the subsequent gates which included a background check. The final step was to sign an independent contractor contract as a, surprise, intervention marshal. At that point I was thinking track janitor, which turned out to be an accurate assessment.

 

This blurb will be in three parts, given the image-per-post limit.

 

Part 1 of 3

The Luxor was the staging ground for volunteer staging, meetings, feeding, etc. It is gaudy, but distinctive. From my vantage point the hotel did a great job hosting the group. The lunch buffets provided everyday were very tasty.

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This is the gear received after registration. It includes the clear backpack for jamming your stuff in, worker ID, worker gear like the coveralls, bib, helmet, gloves, and heavy jacket, and nice event gear. The coveralls were returned at the end of the event weekend. Many warnings were sent about wearing clothes under the coveralls on race day because the FIA gets those back along with the gloves and helmet.

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A key part of Wednesday’s training was car extraction, held a short walk from the Luxor and randomly observed by our own loki. The goal was to demonstrate the extraction process and to get the individual teams (lift drivers and IMs) used to working together. There was much angst, however, when a survey was taken of those who had no prior experience with the process because a majority of hands, myself included, were raised. Teams went by turn starting with the first. There was a time limit to the training and they never got to my team since we were at the last turn. Some might be interested in the car used for training, an F4 chassis, but more so, the name of the driver, Sebastian Wheldon.

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This is the track map we used, I think we can agree the track was well covered. Note the 31 car recovery vehicles available. My location was MP 17.4, before the exit of Turn 17, across from pit in. That looked promising…

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Here are the volunteers ready for action on Thursday. Over 500 people, including communications and scrutineers. It looks like a traffic cone convention.

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Thursday was the first day of formal track activities. After a briefing at 3:30pm, we scurried off to our group-specific buses where we hurried up and waited, and then crawled to the track, because traffic. There was a light rain so the scenery was urbanly gorgeous at night with the reflections and light. This is the view from our turn. I struck it rich.

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This is the view in the other direction, from the middle of the track, because I could be there. The intersection was Koval and Harmon.

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Exciting turns get video. Here is the broadcast video man setting up for the night. Not shown in this pic are the four microphones that were added. It was fascinating watching him work, accurately tracking the cars (ballet style) through the best location on the track.

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Artsy shot of the Turn 1 runoff area.

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This is a typical view from the bus while we were taken to our stations. Chaos, but apparently in control. The course was being constructed on ingress, deconstructed on egress.

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#2 FLB

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Posted 09 December 2023 - 18:14

How did you guys hear that you were going to have to do overtime on Thursday/Friday evening? What was the reaction when the reason was given?



#3 68targa

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Posted 09 December 2023 - 18:23

This is a very interesting insight thanks for putting it up here.



#4 Grippy

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Posted 09 December 2023 - 18:51

Lol at traffic cone convention.



#5 paulb

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Posted 09 December 2023 - 18:59

Part 2 of 3

Our bus dropped us off each day at Turn 1. Off to work with the grueling walk down the pit straight, box lunch in hand.

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Our lift. ~12000lb capacity. To tell you about the small world of race support volunteers, I had met our lift driver at the IMSA Rolex 24hr, earlier in the year! Through out the week, I talked with volunteers from all over the world. It was very cool.

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I had to show some love to the circuit equipment geeks, in this case a close up of an FIA Mobile Debris Fence 350-3. When I earlier referred to circuit construction and deconstruction, these items are what I was referring to, a single unit of concrete barrier, fence, post, and cable. Quick to setup, only requires two bolt assemblies through the post on each side and safety wire attachment for installation.

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Some of the Turn 17 crew and the crane videographer. By crane, I mean a lift over 100 feet tall, that looks down over the Wyndam Hotel in the background. He is a great, friendly guy. From the Isle of Man, it turns out. To our dismay, he was moved to a different location after Thursday.

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A panorama shot of folks waiting for the bus (at ~2am Saturday) at pit out/Turn 1. ZZ Top would be proud.

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Have to take pictures while walking by the pits. My man Charles car on race day. We would also take the time to pick up any debris. The FIA was very strict about images/video/phones during hot track periods. We are watching you, they said. If you were caught, you would lose your credentials with consequences.

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As you all saw, race day had a bunch of activities. What you may not have seen were these track tours with possibly famous and/or people of means. It was fun waving to them with them wondering who about the weird people in the orange coveralls. Maybe 10 flatbeds total.

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Its getting much closer to race time now and the grid and crowds are forming. Here are some Aston Martin team members taking a load off in front of our station.

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Said grid and crowds. The Alpha Tauri and Aston Martin teams invited some of the law enforcement and military folks to get their picture taken with them and the cars. The locals will be telling the stories to their kids and grandkids. They were very excited.

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Time has magically jumped to after the race. In a singular moment to the week, myself and another team member were staged for intervention by the grid at the race start! We were next to Lando’s car and watched him arrive at the car and go through his pre-race preparation. At the end of the staging lap, it was odd to notice that the tires were not generating smoke during the burnouts before positioning. The race was uneventful in our station, which was fine. Jump to after the race when we are stuck at our turn for post-race activities happening on the pit straight. We finally got the call to go to Turn 4 which happened to take us by park ferme, another pinch me moment.

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#6 paulb

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Posted 09 December 2023 - 19:19

Part 3 of 3

So I did get a little close to Russell’s car. I was maybe a foot away and leaning for a closer look when an official made known very loudly and clearly that I not go any closer. No problem. The details of these cars are stunning.

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That’s the Turn 17 crew in the background at the finish.

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The entire Turn 17 intervention crew. Five mashals, one lead (from Canada, very experienced, don’t touch his beer), and the previously mentioned crane driver). A wide variety of backgrounds with a range of experience from nil to much. Good group, good personalities. We worked well together.

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Ok, the last one. At one of the meetings, an announcement was made that there would be a surprise bit for us after we dropped our gear off. Turns out Gunther likes to reach out to the little guys and show his appreciation for the volunteers as he says in the Instagram video. When you dropped off your gear, you got the beanie pictured below, which is nicely subtle.

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Instagram - https://www.instagra...el/Czz74yoIVdx/

 

Thanks to the folks I shared this experience with and who provided some of the images here. I hope we get to do it again next year.



#7 loki

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Posted 09 December 2023 - 19:41

Great stuff Paul.   :up:



#8 paulb

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Posted 09 December 2023 - 20:54

How did you guys hear that you were going to have to do overtime on Thursday/Friday evening? What was the reaction when the reason was given?

There was no category of overtime. We were there as long as it took. Personally, I had no issues with the amount of time, they had to get it right the first time.



#9 red stick

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Posted 09 December 2023 - 21:29

Great thread, Paul.  Thanks.



#10 jonpollak

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Posted 09 December 2023 - 21:33

WOW…

Just wow !!!

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Jp

#11 ArchieTech

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Posted 09 December 2023 - 21:40

Brilliantly documented paulb! It sounds like you had an excellent time.



#12 jonpollak

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Posted 09 December 2023 - 22:12

Posted a link to the thread in Lost Wages….

Jp

#13 Sterzo

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Posted 09 December 2023 - 22:14

Great account, and thank you (and a few others perhaps) for making an excellent race possible. Just a shame we didn't get to see you rushing onto the track with a broom.



#14 paulb

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Posted 09 December 2023 - 23:02

Great account, and thank you (and a few others perhaps) for making an excellent race possible. Just a shame we didn't get to see you rushing onto the track with a broom.

I did note race coverage that showed one marshal stumbling over a broom on the way back to station. Felt bad for the guy.

 

I do want to say two things that I may not have already emphasized. First of all, I am convinced this was the unicorn of marshal experiences. As a fan, I would have been happy at any station, but I happened to be at the best turn with its proximity to the pits, with great people. Turn 17 was spectacular. We could see the cars emerging from 16. It was ghostly with the haze created by dust and condensation. The cars slowly got larger, then maybe some sparks before 17, they flash past you, maybe more sparks and then onto Turn 1 where you might hear downshifting and traction control kicking in. They did sound like proper race cars.

 

The other point is that anyone of able mind and body can do this. It is the ultimate experience for a race fan.



#15 kumo7

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Posted 10 December 2023 - 03:39

Fantastic, thank you paul!



#16 1player

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Posted 10 December 2023 - 12:52

Great pictures, great post and lovely from Guenther and HAAS to gift some merch to you guys.

#17 Oakstreet

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Posted 10 December 2023 - 14:02

Great write-up PaulB! 

 

I would take caution with posting the pictures of the cars under parc fermé if you were still on official duty, by the way. 

Fellow marshal here, at my track colleagues got in a bit of trouble over that.



#18 Victor

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Posted 10 December 2023 - 17:32

Great stuff! Thank you vey much for sharing.



#19 paulb

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Posted 10 December 2023 - 19:16

Great write-up PaulB! 

 

I would take caution with posting the pictures of the cars under parc fermé if you were still on official duty, by the way. 

Fellow marshal here, at my track colleagues got in a bit of trouble over that.

Our duties were done, we were on our way to the bus.

 

I hope your experience was great as well.



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#20 AustinF1

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Posted 10 December 2023 - 20:10

 

Part 2 of 3

 

...

+rep for a great ZZ Top "Waitin' for the Bus" reference!
 
Re: the tires not smoking during burnouts, yeah I noticed that too and noticed some lockups which produced little or no smoke. 
 
Great writeup! Since I retired I've thought of trying to break into marshalling, and I still might. I have some F1 knowledge and plenty of experience dealing with vehicle accidents, fires, etc. My biggest problem will be resisting the urge to take photos - a major hobby for me and my boys when we're at the track. Well done @paulb!


#21 paulb

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Posted 10 December 2023 - 21:53

^Thanks, Austin, that was exactly my intent. I am a big fan of the little ole band from Texas.

 

It won’t take much to break in. I can get you in contact with a guy who will very likely be doing MotoGP at COTA next year. They need people, they always need people. If your boys are old enough, they would be welcome too. Let me know. I may work that race. My brother and his kids were going to go before getting ticket shock. Would have been a slam dunk. Am undecided now.



#22 paulb

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Posted 12 December 2023 - 11:17

The only fail of the week had to do with scanners. The IM lead was the only person with a radio and headset, everone else, well almost everyone, had scanners set to a specific channel. Our turn was given one fewer unit than the number of marshals. On Thursday, I gave my unit to the person who did not get one the first day. Guess who was scannerless for the rest of the week?

 

I also need to say that the FIA was very well organized and pro-active in communications and resources related to volunteers. When schedules or buses or whatever changed we knew about it pronto. Unless you were asleep or absent, you knew when and where to go to get what you needed.



#23 paulb

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Posted 14 December 2023 - 22:20

The video crane position behind turn 17 I had mentioned. Yup, its nuts. You can see the flag marshal position in the lower left corner. B5368257-757-F-4296-AD7-F-DF3-E0-ABBC978

Edited by paulb, 14 December 2023 - 22:22.


#24 AustinF1

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Posted 14 December 2023 - 23:42

The video crane position behind turn 17 I had mentioned. Yup, its nuts. You can see the flag marshal position in the lower left corner. B5368257-757-F-4296-AD7-F-DF3-E0-ABBC978

That does looks nuts. I've been up on the tip of 105-foot aerial ladders lots of times. Even atop a 60,000 pound fire truck with its four massive outriggers deployed, the ladder would move around a lot with any wind. Sitting up in that basket in the pic, atop that relatively small base, with no outriggers etc, it's amazing that it stays upright. I guess it has weights to stabilize it, but still ...


Edited by AustinF1, 16 December 2023 - 07:27.


#25 jonpollak

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Posted 15 December 2023 - 01:38

That’s one big weather vane up there.
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Jp

#26 jonpollak

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Posted 15 December 2023 - 01:44

Supported by this lil’ off roader chassis..?!

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Jp

Edited by jonpollak, 15 December 2023 - 01:46.


#27 Clatter

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Posted 15 December 2023 - 14:52

I did note race coverage that showed one marshal stumbling over a broom on the way back to station. Felt bad for the guy.

I do want to say two things that I may not have already emphasized. First of all, I am convinced this was the unicorn of marshal experiences. As a fan, I would have been happy at any station, but I happened to be at the best turn with its proximity to the pits, with great people. Turn 17 was spectacular. We could see the cars emerging from 16. It was ghostly with the haze created by dust and condensation. The cars slowly got larger, then maybe some sparks before 17, they flash past you, maybe more sparks and then onto Turn 1 where you might hear downshifting and traction control kicking in. They did sound like proper race cars.

The other point is that anyone of able mind and body can do this. It is the ultimate experience for a race fan.

Traction control? Hope not, or it means someone's cheating.

#28 paulb

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Posted 15 December 2023 - 16:32

Traction control? Hope not, or it means someone's cheating.

 

Good catch. Perhaps I should follow the rulebook a little closer.



#29 loki

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Posted 16 December 2023 - 00:10

Traction control? Hope not, or it means someone's cheating.

It’s only cheating if you get caught… :rotfl:



#30 pup

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Posted 16 December 2023 - 13:45

I’ve been up on a cherry picker probably a bit over half that height and it moved around a LOT. That, combined with the fact that your brain just can’t accept that the geometry of the thing is stable makes for a scary ride. I guess like anything you get used to it.

But I’m surprised that they can get stable video from it.

Edited by pup, 16 December 2023 - 13:47.


#31 jonpollak

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Posted 17 December 2023 - 23:28

Marshal Love

 

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Jp