As I mentioned in Aprilís article, I enrolled for the Marshal Training Day at Whilton Mill hoping
the event would give me a good insight into the roles and responsibilities of a marshal; not exactly a walk in their shoes but a few steps if nothing else.
The event took place on a showery Sunday, there were 30 or so aendees with a wide range of officiating skills: from clerks to car marshals, drivers and parents although I reckon I was the only parent not already involved in some form of marshalling and certainly the only one who had no plans of doing so! The agenda covered everything from fire handling and ‘first on scene’ to flags, rules, incidents etc.
Although I didn’t really know what to expect I learnt a surprising amount. Flags are flags; there aren’t many of them but I’d always had a few lingering questions: do you have to get out of the
way when shown a blue flag, especially when racing in a mixed grid? I’d heard different things from different clerks. Aren’t drivers expected to slow under yellows and, if so, what’s ‘slow’? Especially pertinent for us Junior TKM ‘pushers’! Does anybody look into how much the gaps in the field shrink under the baenburg?
More significant were a couple of things that made me much more appreciative of the difficulties a marshal faces when an incident occurs: the first were those faced by a lone marshal. At tracks sufficiently well-staffed to have two marshals on every post, the marshals can look over one another’s shoulders to see karts on both the entry and exit of the corner at which their post is located.
Ignoring for the moment that there could be thirty karts hitting 60mph+ there would be no excuses for missing anything, right? Possibly but at the tracks at which we race there is only one marshal at each post so they might not even be watching the corner at which your driver gets punted right at the moment of contact.
The second thing was also prey obvious: a marshal gets a split second to judge an incident.
We were shown a recording of an incident at the start of a race where a driver appears to prematurely cross the tramlines and chaos ensues. At ground level, and watching the film at racing speed, most of us agreed who we would throw the book at. It was only upon further reviews, with different angles and slo-mo did we see what really happened.
It’s very easy for us to see our blue-eyed boys getting fired off without considering whether there was more to it.
Of course none of this means that I’ll become philosophical overnight (I’m ginger aer all) but I do hope to be more considered from now on.