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Issue:- 24 February 2010

Marshals Training Weekend
Photographs by Patrick Trollope

HAVE you ever wondered what it took to become a Motor Racing Marshal? Well, we headed over to British Motorsport Marshals Club, for a Marshals Training Weekend, at Oulton Park on 20 February 2011, to take a look and find out more. Often when you see Marshals at events like the British F1 Grand Prix, you think of them as being paid staff and elite, but as we found, that is not the case! F1 money and the prices of the cars tend to make you think it is an exclusive club for the rich, but in fact motorsports, at all levels, are actually far more open. All the members are volunteers and are just members of the public who forward to help run the many car and truck races that take place throughout the UK. So what happens on yearly training days and who attends them? In fact, it encompasses all types of members from the BMCC. These members are young and old, and from highly experienced to new comers. As we discovered, these events let members learn new skills and also allow new members to find out more about the role of a Motor Racing Marshal. Our editor, Patrick Trollope, was surprised to find out that it is such an important role. He commented that:- "As a member of the press you tend not to notice some aspects. You are aware that Marshals deal with the safety of drivers and you know they do some administrative functions, but not as much as they actually do. I was shocked to find out how many roles they played and just how highly important these were. I was also amazed to find out that they are all volunteers who are just like you or me!"

The training days cover many topics, from explaining to new recruits that Marshals are the ones who keep the drivers safe during races and check on what gear they should have. It also covers subjects such as what flag signals mean and how to use those flags, right through to fire training! It also lets more experienced attendees learn about new things, like CCTV image grabs and similar items. Also the event includes many non-racing aspects, like the awards ceremony which took place. One of those to receive an award was 16 years old Callum Holme, who is from Rainford, St Helens and is now the 'British Motorsport Marshal’s Club Young Marshal of The Year for 2010'. We were told that Callum has been marshalling for nearly 2 years and so has received national recognition by being from that organisation. All seven regions of the Marshal’s Club nominated candidates, but Callum won the day to receive the David Leslie Trophy, awarded in memory of the British Touring / Sports Car Driver who was killed in a plane crash in 2008. The trophy itself is something rather special; as it is one of David Leslie’s racing helmets mounted on a wooden plinth. This award was created as part of an initiative to attract younger people to marshalling, and this award recognises the work they do and rewards those cadets who have shown the most enthusiasm and have always done their best.

Paul Sutcliffe, who is the National Membership Secretary, told us that "Marshals can be found at every level of motor sport in the pits, the paddock and also trackside, so we often get ask how people can get involved. Often people think it would be hard to get involved, but that cannot be further from the truth. Marshalling is for anybody who is interested in motorsport. As our President, Barrie Williams or 'WHIZZO' to many of us says... 'A marshals job is It's the closest you can get to the action without being sat in the driving seat!' and that it true. Yet you don’t need any special skills or qualifications to start, just common sense and at times a reasonably developed sense of self preservation. These events let our members new and old to learn more skills and to refresh on ones they forgot."

Asking members who attended the training day why they did it, our editor Patrick Trollope was astounded to hear them all saying very similar things. One chap from just outside Southport told him:- "It is fun. I joined years ago and not looked back since. Yes, at times it can be dangerous, but that is motorsport. If on tracks like Oulton Park, you need to use the protection on the courses that are provided, and your common sense. Ok, rally courses don’t offer you the same protection, but that is again down to learning from your friends and also common sense that keeps you safe! If like me, you like cars and speed, but can't afford to race, this is the next best thing. If I had to say just one word to describe marshalling, it would be the word 'fun!' You are close to the action, yes, sometimes closer than you want, but no other sport offers you such an active role. Payment is the chance to participate in a sport we love and to watch it so close to the action. Also you have so many races you can volunteer for. If I was just a spectator, the cost of going to all the events I go to would be astronomical."

If you want to see some of the video footage we took when attending the training event, then log onto Southport.TV as we will be adding to footage to the site very soon. Also keep an eye on Mersey Reporter for the BMCC advert page which is being added very soon, for lots more information.

For now, if you want to find out more...

Why not log onto the BMCC website and find out how you can become a Marshal and help motorsport to flourish in the UK

If you like Motorsport, also keep an eye on here for more information about races at Oulton Park over 2011!

More pictures from this event will be added to the Southport.TV website, very soon.

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