MARSHALLING – GET INVOLVED- by Jay Murray
If you’ve raced in Mondello I’m sure you’ve met one of the lads on this stage , if it’s your first year out this year , chances are we’ll cross paths at some time during the season . The marshalling at bike racing in Mondello is run by the Motorcycle Marshals Association (MMA) and marshalling at the car racing is run by the Mondello Park Track Team, a bunch of men and women from various backgrounds, some racers, some ex racers, some who probably took their first steps as a kid in the paddock of Mondello, all have one thing in common , they’re racing mad.
Marshals are an integral part of a race meeting, we act as the eyes and ears of race control trackside and are the first line of communication to the racers on track when and sometimes before things go wrong. On a typical day we’ll sign on with the chief marshal at 8am who will in turn assign you your role and position for the day .The track is divided up into sectors that are called Delta posts and each one is allocated a team. There are various roles, flaggers, ground crew, fire crew under the watch of the I.O. (Incident Officer) who’ll be in contact with the tower by radio. When you’ve found out what Delta post your on, it’s time to get trackside and check the track for debris, oil etc, check the fire extinguishers are working and in place, basically to make sure everything is ready to go when the bikes or cars are called up . When the track is given the all clear the bikes or cars will be released and you then switch to watching for everything from riders leathers being left open to bikes with mechanical problems, we’ve often got bikes taken off the track that have been blowing oil onto the rear tyre before the rider has even realised what was happening with their bike and thankfully before they have fallen off.
With cars you will be watching for seatbelts, mechanical faults and oil or fuel leaks that could cause fires. Unfortunately with racing, by its very nature, racers will be pushing their limits and sometimes they will get it wrong and fall off or crash. Our first role is to make sure the riders or cars, as the case maybe, behind know there is an incident ahead and to take action, we do this by the use of flags; a waved yellow meaning there is an incident in the sector, preceded by a stationary yellow warning of an incident in the next sector. The I.O. will then inform race control through the radio and will make a call as to what action is needed. If the rider is OK we’ll get them to a safe position, check the track to make sure it’s safe before the bikes come back around and then clear the fallen bike so the race can continue. With cars if there is an incident the FIV (Fast Intervention Vehicle) will move to try to pull the car to a safe position so the race can continue. If the rider/driver is injured we inform race control and they will stop the race and get medics out ASAP or if the track conditions are dangerous, again, we make the call to the tower and get the race stopped so we can clear up whatever the problem is. The tower can’t see everything that is happening on track so rely on the marshals to keep them informed as the race progresses so they have the necessary information to make a decision when needed.
As the saying goes, ‘many hands make light work’, so we are always on the look out for more marshals to join the crew. We will be holding an open / training day in Mondello on Saturday March 26th, sign on is at 10am. The aim of the day will be to go through what and why we do it, explaining flags and their uses, radio calls and how to get the information across in as concise and clear a manner as possible and we’ll be doing some on track drills that will recreate race incidents and how they are dealt with. The day will be organised jointly between the MMA and the Mondello Track Team so you will get to see marshalling from both perspectives. So if you’re interested in becoming a marshal or just want to see what’s involved, come along on the day, you’re more than welcome. If you can’t make it and are still interested in marshalling, come along to a race meeting at Mondello and sign on, you’ll be put on post with an experienced marshal who will show you the ropes.
As many of you may have noticed from racing over the past few years, the numbers of marshals on the banks has been declining. We are now getting close to the stage where it can be touch or go as to whether we have enough cover to run the meeting. If you are not racing or know anybody that may be interested in marshalling, now is the time to get involved.