Being a marshal we are privileged to get the best seat in the house, but we’re not just there to watch, but to get involved too. This weekend certainly proved to be one of those more ‘hands-on’ days as we welcomed the Vintage Sports Car Club (VSCC) to Oulton Park.
The weather proved changeable to say the least, which provides that extra challenge for the drivers….and for the marshals too! Saturday also provided the added excitement of some very old cars which are prone, despite best efforts, to leak oil and various other fluids whilst being driven. In some cases this this was around the majority of the circuit, but if the track is wet there is little we can do other than show the drivers the change of surface flag. (It has to be dry in order for us to ‘dress’ the oil.)
This weekend I was the Incident Officer (IO) at Knickerbrook. I think there were only two sessions where the incident team had nothing to do! Yes, the combination of inclement weather and ‘older’ cars was keeping us busy. I never had it in mind to progress very far through the various grades that marshalling has to offer, but in recent years as I’ve gained more experience and confidence in my role, I’ve found myself taking those natural progressions. So as an IO I oversee the clear-up of all incidents in our sector of the track. Most of them were down to mechanical failures of varying kinds, and it is often these that we see the most varied reaction from the drivers. It can be very upsetting for a driver to suddenly have to stop due to a problem on their car; after all, they pay good money to race not stand at the side of the circuit with us orange people!
However, the majority of the drivers this weekend were lovely. We had one young man who I have to mention; Tom Carroll in car 76. He’d had a few problems with brakes and upon trying to bed the new ones in, had ‘a moment’ coming into Knickerbrook chicane. Suffice it to say my team sprung to action to get him and his car to a safe place. Despite his frustrations, he couldn’t have been more of a pleasure to deal with and in a most unusual occurrence just as he was about to be towed back to the pits at the end of the session, he stuck his hand back at the window to shake mine, asked my name and said “thanks very much for looking after me…I’ll make sure I give you all a good wave at the end of my race”! Please, never underestimate how much we marshals appreciate a simple wave at the end of a race, but to be thanked like this too, really made our day!
It’s not just the racing we’re privileged to see; this weekend saw a procession during the lunch break of cars from yesteryear. A wonderful array of vehicles who braved the inclement British weather to share their prides and joy with the spectators and marshals of Oulton Park.
Written By Heather Roberts