The 2016 Gold Cup didn’t just mark 50 years of the event, it also turned into a special celebration for one of our very own marshals. Just a few days before the event Don Hall celebrated his 90th Birthday, which makes him possibly the oldest marshal in the world, and showed his passion and desire for Motorsport by attending the weekends meeting.
It may have been in 1966 that Sir Stirling Moss took the accolade of the inaugural Gold Cup win, but it was four years prior to that when Don took to the track with Aintree Circuit Club. He would take his road car around the track without the fear of a car coming the other way, but once racing drivers found out about the membership and ability to test their cars, he had to stop and took on more marshalling.
After 54 years, Don still enjoys coming to the track, as he said “I’ve got quite a family amongst them, which I didn’t have before”. It shows that the marshals really do stick together to create one big orange family as he added, “Since going to Anglesey in particular, I have a whole family of friends, real friends, not just those I see in passing on the day.”
Those who are regular to Oulton Park and Anglesey circuit will know of Don and his legendary marshalling attire; in all weathers you will find him in his shorts and short-sleeved shirts! It isn’t a surprise that he always wears shorts when some of the meetings he endured in the 70s included the snow coming down as a blanket; “the snow was piled up about 6 inches by Old Hall and by the time the red flag came out at the startline, it had gone.”
Whilst Don is now a flag marshal at every meeting, which he now does so from the safety of a flag point behind the barriers instead of his preferred spot at the edge of the track right in the drivers eye line, he did spend time in other roles. He spoke of the days when he was a Fire Marshal and watched a car slalom between the trees that used to line the Avenue straight and even what he dubs his ‘Five minutes of fame’. When Aryton Senna and Martin Brundle were racing at Oulton Park, he was the Observer at Fosters. The pair tangled after Senna took a look down the inside, the pair did three, 360 degree spins, to which Don gave them “ten out of ten for parking”!
After he had written his report of the incident and compared it with his Senior Observer, only to realise they had written the same report exactly word for word, he got word off the stewards about what action had been taken. He said he received a letter saying, “After reading the observers reports and listening to Mr Senna’s statement we have fined him £250 and endorsed his licence for dangerous driving”. Not many people can claim they got the race licence of possibly the greatest F1 driver in history taken off them!
Before he took to marshalling, Don watched the very first race at Oulton Park back in the August of 1953, however in his earlier years before Motorsport he was a keen and avid cyclist. Don would often compete in time trials which would either last for 12 or 24 hours, or a distance trial of 25, 50 or 100 miles. Don has always been a man who puts others first and so it is no surprise that he was part of the Home Guard during the Second World War.
I think all that is left to be said, is that seeing Don at the track is a true inspiration. He shows that despite the fact he is 90, he shows he’s willing to go out in all weathers to make the sport we all love safe and enjoyable for everyone. After all to quote Don himself; “I am only 21!” But if I’m half the marshal that he is at 90, then I would be pretty pleased with that.
Don you are a truly great marshal, a true gentleman and I look forward to spending more time with you at the track. Cheers.
If you fancy giving marshalling a go and want to have a legacy in orange like Don, then following the link here, to find out about how you can sign up an register for a taster day.
Written by – Robert Lee (@RobLee559 – Twitter/Instagram)