What Makes a Marshal?

There are loads of questions that I have been asked whilst I’ve been at marshalling, and the look on the person’s face when I answer them is often startling. It left me wondering, why do people think there are so many different factors that could stop you from marshalling?

Mind over Matter


The first question I’m always asked is, why do you want to do that? Well to put it in simple terms, I enjoy Motorsports that much that I wanted to get closer to the action; there isn’t a weekend that passes where I’m not having fun because of how involved I am with the sport.

Just how close do you want to get to the action? (Photo Credit – Paul – 07/08/16)
My mind is set on being as close to the action as possible, and without actually racing I don’t think I can get any closer, especially when marshalling on a few points, you are almost rubbing shoulders with the drivers.

Age is just a Number

The number of times I’ve been asked if people are too old to do marshalling? It makes me laugh because there is never an upper age limit. The older generation of marshals are always good for a story or two, just read my article on Don Hall. They can also give you some knowledge that they have accumulated from years of experience.

Don Hall still goes out flagging at the young age of 90.
So what about a lower age limit? For safety reasons there is a lower age limit, to keep the young marshals of the future safe you have to be 11. Don’t let this deter you though because once you get to that age you can start helping out in the Paddock and in the Assembly area.

Once you reach the age of 16, and accompanied by a parent, you can head out onto the bank. Although you won’t be able to go trackside whilst the circuit is live, it is still worth getting out onto the bank and getting stuck in. It’s what I did and the experience I gained was a god send.

The Gender of a Generation

Motorsport is heading in the right direct for equality – (Photo Credit – Pieter Melissen)

Now if you believe that it is a male dominated sport, you are very wrong. Times have changed meaning there is more and more balance coming to the gender of marshals. Whilst it is still a long way off being ideal, the statistics show that they are getting there. 25% of the marshals at last years British Grand Prix were women and that has come from the hard work that female marshals have done in the past.

I have been told stories of how women on the bank could only be telephonists in the observers box, however that is turning back some years. Now, female marshals are being recognised for the hard work they put in and their love for the sport is being noticed, the British Motorsports Marshal Club appointed their first female Chairman in their 60 year history, if that isn’t a step in the right direction, what is?.

Passion, Commitment, Desire

People are still shocked that Motorsport marshals aren’t paid for what we do, most stand their dumb founded that we put our lives at risk and we don’t get paid. When we all signed up we knew that we wouldn’t because we knew we were there on a voluntary basis.

It’s easy to share a laugh at marshalling. – (Photo Credit – Paul Williams – 26/09/16)

T-hey say there is no substitute for pace and experience in sport, but when it comes to volunteering there is no substitute for heart and passion. Drivers and teams may have the best job in the world, and journalists may love talking about Motorsport, but you will never find someone more keen, eager and focused on the sport than a volunteer.

Someone who gives up their time, for no money at all, sheerly because they love the sport and want to get as close to the action as possible, is all you need.

All it takes to be a marshal is to have your heart and soul set on Motorsport, if you want to want to get involved with the army of people then you need to give the MSA Website a visit.

If you still require a little bit more convincing you can try marshalling for a day and get closer to that action on a taster day, all you have to do is sign-up on the BMMC Website and they will locate your nearest track.

Hopefully, we’ll see you at a circuit soon!


Written by – Robert Lee (@RobLee559)

8 thoughts on “What Makes a Marshal?

  1. I’m disabled I used to be a track Marshall , but because of my disability had to change direction ,so msa said I could do assembly which I love and my husband Is a IO and we have both been marshalls for over 10years

    Liked by 1 person

      1. This indeed is a great demonstration of how, regardless of age or ability, all marshals are valued by the MSA. I would be more than happy to provide comments on this, and other such matters should you require it. Alan Page, Training Executive, MSA.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I was one of those women who were only allowed to be the telephonist, right back at the beginning. But to appease me I was told it was because Race Control preferred women as their voices were clearer and they didn’t panic! Eventally, I graduated to rescue units and did three Grand Prix before I moved to France thirty years. I intended to carry on here but they were very closed to outsiders, so I had to content myself with watching on the box. I lived for two years in Spain and went to F1 test days at the Circuit de Catalunya in 2009 & 2010, and since coming back to France, I go to the WEC test days at Paul Ricard, which is about an hour and a half away. Still miss the marshalling though, but although the writer says there is no upper age limit, I bet there aren’t a lot of 66-year old women out trackside!! Great blog, BTW!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very well written article and sums up what being track side is like. I’ve only done a few events at Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell New Zealand and my only regret is not having got involved sooner.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is an Awesome read, in my view this is world wide consensus, I just love the adrenaline of being track side and flagging is the ultimate challenge, To read a race and react instantly to happenings on circuit.

    Liked by 1 person

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