Endurance races have a lot of grandeur, glamour and are hugely impressive; you have the 24 heures du Mans, the 24 hours of Spa-Francochamps, the 12 of hours of Sebring and of course the mighty 24 hours of Citroen 2CVs at Anglesey.
I can hear that you have already started laughing, but let me talk you through what an endurance race really is. For a driver it is a battle against fitness, fatigue and mental strength. For a spectator it is a great show to watch as the unknown can happen at any moment; just look at what happened to the Toyota at this year’s Le Mans. So what battle does a marshal have during the day of racing? For me, my recent endurance racing experience was at the hugely famous, (not really but it should be), 24 hours of 2CVs.
For us in orange it is a test of stamina, mental strength, fitness, physical strength, concentration and more. We also need to be clever with what provisions we bring because we can only take so much on post; those on the infield posts like myself were limited even further because we couldn’t get off post due to there being live track in every direction.
Due to Anglesey circuit’s track configuration, I had to live up at ‘Rocket In’ during the race. This meant I needed enough supplies for the 24 hours, mainly coffee, which isn’t an easy task when you need to be able to get three marshals in the box in case the weather turned nasty, which of course it did.
Not only does the weather provide a challenge for us on post, but we have to deal with the changing light, because the racing through the night, it really does kick up a lot of challenges. Trying to read numbers in the middle of the night is a struggle, whilst some have their cars lit up like Christmas trees, you also get those that seem to drive in stealth mode.
This low levels of lighting and increased amount of mental tiredness does provide some great radio transmissions; “Car unknown had side to side contact with car unknown,” is a very common one to hear. Let me not forget how I completely forgot how to speak in the middle of the night and, “relevant” was a very tricky word to say when you’ve been up over 18 hours!
Back to the racing and you’re probably still thinking, well it’s just Citroen 2CVs going round and round at a dull pace. I shall have to burst your bubble because it is really great racing. Like most endurance races it is multi classes and this year there were four classes; 2CV Eurolites, 2Cvs, Mini Grande and Citroen C1 and of course they put on a spectacular show.
The variety of classes provides a great speed difference, which for a marshal, allows us to do some top quality blue flagging.Which there is a lot of it in a 24 hour race, and even more than you would think again because the winner completed 845 laps; a staggering amount for ‘Just a 2CV’.The day can go one of two ways for you; like us you can have one incident at the very beginning of the day, forcing you to go out in horrendous weather conditions, but then you have nothing for the remainder apart from a few bits to radio in.Either that or, you can have the busiest day ever where you just have recovery after recovery and you never seem to get a minute.
If you’re still thinking, “well it is just a Citroen”, hopefully here’s the clincher for you; as the racing is so long, the whole event is a bit more laid back than usual and this makes the whole weekend flow in a great way. Twitter conversations with the guys doing commentary was good fun, especially when you are keeping them up to date on the lack of sweet situation at your post! The Downforce Radio guys really did keep us going throughout the night when the morale and motivation was really starting to dip.
All I can add to try and convince others to try this great event, or any other endurance race, is; if you want to know what a true team effort is and true motivation at marshalling feels like, then this is for you. The marshals, drivers, teams, officials, commentators; everyone is important in keeping this going and i’m already looking forward to the next one.
Written By – Robert Lee (@RobLee559 – Twitter/Instagram)
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