For many of us, marshalling is a hobby that we attend because of our sheer love of Motorsport. You live and breathe racing so much that you want to get closer to the action and you just so happened to come across marshalling as a way to do that.
Whether you signed up to wear orange at a recruitment tent, a friend recommended it to you or you were dragged along as it was your parents day to look after you and they wanted to go racing and you had to come with them. Whichever way it was you knew that this was going to define you for the foreseeable future.
For me that moment came at the age of 16 on a rainy day in June 2010, when I was taken along to the BRSCC North West race meeting at Oulton Park by my Uncle, which had a centre piece of the Ford XR Challenge and was supported with Porsches, Formula Fords and BMWs. Assigned to Old Hall, the first corner of the circuit, I was promised a busy day as the chance of crashes would be high so, a real opportunity for me to get my teeth into this whole marshalling malarkey.
At first, I wasn’t impressed. I was just stood there and when a car eventually did pull off the circuit with a problem I found myself unable to attend the incident. Due to my age and the Motorsport Association’s (MSA) ruling on under 18 marshals it meant I couldn’t step foot onto a live circuit when the cars were circulating.
As 30 Ford XRs hurtled towards Old Hall, six of them managed to find the barriers or each other as they were caught out by the wet conditions. The race was Red Flagged and all cars had to return to the grid whilst the incident was cleared and I was finally allowed to go and help with an incident as the track was no longer live the first chance of me being a marshal.
It took for a race to end in an incident for me to understand just how close to the action a marshal really gets and why they call it the best seat in the house.
Fast forward three years and I found I was still doing the same thing over and over again. Turning up, standing on the back as an incident marshal and hoping something would go wrong so I could get out and get my hands on a car, all this just to enjoy the sport and to give me a reason to come back to the next meeting.
Wanting a new outlook on the sport and after a few people had asked me when I was going from white badge to green, trainee marshal to track marshals, I figured it was the time to try different roles around the circuit.
Since that day, I have tried my hand at being a flag marshal to gain the relevant signatures for upgrading. I’ve worked in assembly, been observer in the safety car, worked on the startline either by volunteering myself or being volunteered by somebody else; I’ve been an incident officer and even tried my hand at being a post chief when called upon by clerks and chief observers.
Finding a niche is tough and I have to admit that not all roles are cut out for everyone. Whilst I enjoy being observer in the safety car when called upon I also ask myself; would I be able to do this all the time? The answer is that I wouldn’t. Not through my dislike of it but, due to the fact I enjoy the other side of getting stuck into incidents and flagging more.
Eight years on from when I first started and would I be able to tell you where the future lies for my marshalling career? Probably not, I had plans that I would get to green badge and stop. Then the progression continued and I didn’t want to stop it as the journey down the winding