What is Marshaling?
Marshals (race workers) are the glue that keeps racing alive in any club. Go to any club out there and ask the members what the life blood of their racing is and you will get the same answer “marshals” and the NASCC is no different. Marshals are a special breed, it takes guts to stand out on a corner inches from racing and wave flags, put out fires, and provide rescue services in the event of an incident. Marshal’s are rewarded for their volunteer work with the best seat in the house when it comes to spectating (how does it get any better than being ON the racetrack?), free lunches, and the general admiration of the rest of the race community. If this sounds like a job for you – be sure to come to a club meeting and get involved!
For the WCMA information brochure on Race Track Marshalling click here.
Who can Marshal?
Almost anyone can become a racetrack marshal. Participation requirements are simple — an interest in motorsports, good health, and an ability to work well with others in a team environment. To work in a ‘hot area’, i.e. in close proximity to the track, you must be at least 16 years of age, with written parental consent, or 18 without parental consent. (These ages may vary from track to track, depending on the rules in place there.)
We strongly suggest that anyone with major health problems (such as a heart condition) find a position off-track in which to work. If you have any potentially serious medical conditions (including allergic reactions to medicines or insects) you’re encouraged to wear a medical alert bracelet.
For anyone not capable of, or interested in working turns, there are many other areas just as important to running a safe and successful motorsport event, including timing and scoring, pre-grid, pit and paddock control, etc.
With the diversity of our activities at the track, and with our ongoing, comprehensive training programs for new workers, we have a place for nearly everyone. We have the best seats in the house, and have more fun than anyone else at the racetrack. Try us out. — You won’t regret it!
How do I get involved?
The quickest way to join up, of course, is to just ask a turn marshal at the racetrack. (One of the guys in white) They’ll usually get you whisked around to trackside quicker than you can say “Jack Robinson”. At an Indy Car event, unfortunately, there’s a bit too much security involved for us to do a lot of “whisking to trackside”. — So get involved before the Indy Car race! You can always email us. We’ll get back to you with answers to any questions or concerns, and let you know where we’ll be meeting, where we’ll be racing, and when any training sessions might be held.
Working an Indycar race
- White clothing – for visibility; no red, orange or yellow, to ensure you aren’t mistaken for a flag!***
- Hat – preferably with a brim, to keep both sun and rain off your face
- Gloves – leather for safety personnel, but others are good for warmth
- Rain gear – the clear plastic kind is flimsy, but allows your white clothing to show through
- Whistle – often your only means of communicating with other marshals or drivers
- Knife or metal shears – a ‘must have’ for safety personnel
- Sturdy footwear – something you can stand in all day, preferably water resistant
- Belt – for safety personnel and communicators, to hang your equipment on
- Pen or pencil – for communicators
- Extra clothing – in case you get wet or cold
- Drinks and munchies – hot or cold beverages (non-alcoholic, of course!), and a variety of munchies in case the lunch break is cut short
- Basic outdoor / first aid supplies – sunscreen, bug repellent, Band-Aids, lip balm, etc.
- Your Wits, Your Sense of Humour, and a Love of Motorsport!
*****NOTE: These clothing guidelines obviously apply to summer road courses. For Ice Racing, dress up like the Michelin Man. Use lots of layers, and make darned sure that your feet are going to stay warm. Whites, of course, don’t work that well in the winter. (You’ll be invisible, and that’s not a good thing . . .)
Using the racing flags, turn marshals communicate vital information to the drivers. Most turns on a race track have a flag station. Flaggers work in pairs, with the blue flagger looking up the track watching for faster cars overtaking slower traffic, and the yellow flagger looking down the track watching for any incident that may pose a hazard to approaching cars. The two flaggers stand facing each other so that as well as observing their own areas of responsibility they also guard each other’s safety. For a comprehensive description of flagging, refer to the Corner Marshal’s Manual
Timing and Scoring
The position of every car on every lap must be recorded in an accurate and timely manner. Usually located in the control tower, Timing and Scoring workers use a combination of electronic and manual systems to keep track of the field. Accuracy is critical. The slightest error could wreak havoc with the results of an event.
Efficient communications are essential to the operation of a safe racing environment. Each flag station around the track has at least one Communicator assigned to the team. Using a two-way radio system incidents are instantaneously reported to Race Control and other flag stations around the track. Safety is the primary concern. If the track is blocked or emergency assistance is required this information must be relayed, and the appropriate action taken, as quickly as possible.
The emergency or quick response marshals are the first on the scene of any racing incident. Safety is their primary concern, and they must make a quick and accurate assessment of the condition of the driver, the hazards to other drivers, and the necessary course of action to handle all these elements and get racing back underway as quickly as possible. Information is relayed back to the Communicator via hand signals, and while the flaggers keep the drivers abreast of the situation the emergency response crew may be fighting fire, moving the race car to a safe location, and assisting the driver out of the car. Medical assistance is provided by ambulance personnel or a doctor when needed.
Every race car is inspected for compliance with safety rules before being allowed on the track. Likewise the drivers must present their fire suit, underwear, shoes, gloves and helmet for inspection to ensure they meet current safety standards. The ‘Tech’ inspectors also weigh cars at the end of qualifying and races to ensure compliance with minimum weight requirements, and examine any car that has sustained crash damage, noting in its log book the extent of the damage and repairs that must be made before the car may compete again. They are very knowledgeable about both the cars and the rules, and help to keep the sport as safe as it can be.
One of the most important functions of the WCMA is our marshal training program. This teaches the basics of turnworking: flagging, communications, quick response, timing and scoring and other positions. Training is ongoing every day at the racetrack. A new worker will be matched with an experienced worker on the corner. New people can get right into the action without being placed in a situation for which they’re not prepared. In addition, extensive training seminars in such areas as first aid, response, firefighting and rescue are conducted — usually in the spring of each year — at local racetracks.
WCMA Worker Licences
Though not yet required to work at most Canadian racetracks, a licence is an important document for the track worker. This is the document which proves your level of ability to new people at new tracks.
The Western Canada Motorsport Association (WCMA) issues licences to Track Marshals which reflect their level of experience, their specialty, and their training. A Marshal’s logbook is included along with the licence, and this is an essential tool for the Track Worker who’d like to progress to professional and international racing.
To apply for a WCMA Official License use the supplied link for Motorsportsreg website. The cost is minimal, and the benefits are substantial. All workers are strongly encouraged to obtain a WCMA Official licence.
If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ll be pleased to answer them.
Many people from a number of different organizations have prepared and maintained the following manuals and articles for racetrack workers. These are not “official” manuals. Racing rules and procedures may vary from region to region and can differ somewhat for any specific race. The manuals, however, form an excellent general guide to Racetrack Marshaling worldwide. Hundreds of manuals such as these exist, but these are amongst the best.
For the most part, these manuals have been prepared over the last 20 years by the people of the Alberta Race Car Worker’s Assn. (Currently ARCA):