There’s a side of marshalling most forget, however it’s an integral part of British marshalling; I’m of course on about the assembly area. This blog will hopefully give you an insight of what it is like to work in this area at one of the biggest events in the country for a specialist marshal, the Goodwood Revival.
So let’s start with the basics. The assembly area is the first port of call for cars going from their parking spaces in the paddock to their racing positions on the track and are called up via a PA system around the paddock. When the cars arrive for their qualifying sessions a scrutineer will usually check each of them to ensure that they are within the noise limits of the circuit. If they pass they will be lined up within a small car park like space. For racing, each space in assembly is numbered and this tallies with the position they qualified in. Marshals in this area are given paperwork to cross check that the car is in the right numbered space.
Cars are usually brought to the assembly 20 minutes before their session starts, this allows each of them to be placed into a space, for the teams to finish preparing the cars and for drivers to prepare themselves. However, drivers don’t always arrive this early, meaning working in the assembly area can be pretty hectic to get them all ready with little time before their allotted race.
Assembly is home to our cadet marshals as well; those individuals under the age of 16 who can’t yet go out onto the track. This allows them to learn the workings of motorsport whilst at a young age. Cadets usually remain outside assembly to help scrutineers where required by checking scrutineering tickets, that pins in fire extinguishers are removed and to inform drivers of where to put their cars.
Different assembly areas across the country present totally different challenges, meaning going to another circuit can mean day to day jobs are completely different. Every meeting presents different cars, all of which may have completely different requirements. Therefore, working in assembly is a very flexible job indeed.
This weekend I have been at Goodwood Circuit, at the Revival meeting; an example of how roles can differ from my home circuit, Oulton Park. Space wise there isn’t much difference, both are in a car park style, however Goodwood has allotted spaces already drawn onto the tarmac compared to Oulton Park where one of the first jobs of the day is to create these spaces using movable numbers.
One of the main differences at Goodwood are the cars. The ones here are extremely expensive, in fact, they are not just in their millions to replace; some are simply priceless. For example, A Ferrari 250 GTO is now worth up to £25 million, not cheap if it goes wrong. Since myself and no other marshals have that kind of money, it is imperative that care is taken as bodywork can be fragile on older cars making it crucial that each is placed correctly and care is taken to ensure there are no bumps or scrapes, so it may be worth asking team members what are ‘no push’ areas on them.
Goodwood attracts cars from the vintage eras of life, meaning there are cars as small as Austin Mini Coopers and as big as 60s Ford Mustangs. Cars have to be perfectly parked, as it is lengthy process moving cars around with such precision. This is not usually the case for club meetings as cars can be placed in front of each other and re-positioned as they leave, however because the Revival is a televised event, doing this looks unprofessional and therefore makes this method obsolete.
Goodwood is rife with hospitality, meaning that the chances are most of the members of public you come across can be unaware of the high volume of traffic in this area. With the mass of celebrities that wander through assembly, marshals must remain vigilant to ensure that the public are kept out of danger. Certain rules always apply that the public may not be aware of; these include no children under 16, no cigarettes and no alcohol (including Veurve Cliquot champagne). The assembly area is most dangerous when cars are leaving assembly at the start of sessions, so assembly marshals are tasked with keeping the mass of public to the side of the fences whilst this happens; a task that is not easy at all.
So does this sound interesting? Meeting motorsport idols, seeing rare cars and getting a feeling of a good day’s work? You can join as a specialist marshal (a marshal who works in the assembly area, pit lane and startline) on the BMMC website at www.marshals.co.uk in the same way as you can as a track marshal. However, the assembly area provides an advantage that you can marshal here from as young as 13 (dependent on individual clubs). I urge you to give specialist marshalling a try, whether you are a brand new marshal who wants a taste of how motorsport works, or an experienced marshal who wants to give a new role a try. I promise you won’t regret it.
That’s all from me, normal programming will resume next time!
Written By Adam Levitt