Cold but, Gold!

After a long off season, it was time to get out the orange overalls, the boots, the waterproofs and to dig out the notepad to get ready for the new season of marshalling. With plans to continue blogging over the winter sadly gone to tatters, I thought I better pick up the writing and pray my skills weren’t too rusty.

I had planned on writing my first article on the training day at Oulton Park. However, due to taking notes in the sessions which were essential for the Incident Officer upgrade I forgot to take in the rest of the occasion.

So, with a little more thinking I came up with a new idea to get A Life in Orange going for 2018. New Year, New Me may have been going around on Social Media again but, for me it was a new meeting with a new racetrack. The 76th Member’s Meeting at Goodwood was the event and site for my first marshalling outing of the season and the topic of my first blog for the year.

With the aim to recreate the camaraderie of the original Member’s Meeting’s of the 50s and 60s. With a friendly intimate feel to the whole event it is definitely one that those in orange should seek to volunteer for.

Marshalling early on in the season is always something that has eluded me, due to the rugby season coming to its conclusion and each game becoming increasingly important as final position in the league table is vital for the club going into the following season.

This year I was determined to change that and volunteered for the 76th Member’s Meeting, an event I’d been so eager to do after reading and hearing about the 74th and 75th meetings. Thankfully I was selected and before I knew it was on my way down. A four-and-a-half-hour drive didn’t dampen the spirits as I was off to Goodwood for the very first time.

My very first thoughts of the circuit and the meeting when I arrived for sign-on on Saturday was the attention to detail that had gone into everything. From the circuit looking how it should, the paddock being set out as it was, the white overalls and everyone’s enthusiasm to the sport.

The marshalling is no different to any other event, a car goes off you go and deal with it, a car is being approached to be lapped you flag it out the way. What does change is the calibre of cars that is being raced. With the youngest car being first rolled off the production line before I was born, I was peering through the looking glass of what racing used to be like. They say ‘back to the good old days’ and I have to agree with them I was slightly jealous when I saw four Ford GT40s racing nose to tail, that I never got to see that in their four-year dominance of the LE Mans 24 hours.

It wasn’t just the old Le Mans cars that turned me into a seven-year-old again, the Gerry Marshall of Touring Cars had me on my toes and living in the moment as the drivers were sliding Capris and Escorts round Lavant, whilst the Mini’s jockeyed with the bigger American Muscle cars for position. A truly breath-taking sight that I would pay good money to see again.

There was a factor of the weekend that I do remember very vividly, and I believe something everyone will remember the 76th Member’s meeting for. The Cold. I will say with my hand on my heart that the weekend was the coldest one I’ve ever borne witness to in my eight-year marshalling career. With a temperature of just about freezing and a wind chill factor in minus figures Saturday was cold. Throw in the snow on the Sunday, it became so cold that the flags became frozen solid and any liquid exposed to the elements became too cold to drink very quickly.

IMG_0649 (1)
A snowy Lavant corner was as picturesque as it was cold.  

That being said, the four rounds of soup that were brought round to the post over the two days was enough to keep me warm and morale high. So, I can ask, where do I sign up for the 77th Member’s Meeting?

Written by Robert Lee (@RobLee559 – Twitter)

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