In motor sport events, road crashes seem inevitable. Wheel-to-wheel action, trading paint and other risky incidents may occur since racecars are tuned to go fast whenever possible and needed.
However, the presence of trackside marshals at the tracks helps to ensure safety in motor sport.
Trackside marshals play a vital role in keeping racers out of harm’s way. In every motor sport event, marshals make sure that rules are followed so as to avoid mishaps that could endanger the race drivers, spectators and others.
After being at the track first-hand from the start of the race up to the releasing of the results, I noticed that trackside marshals are similar to referees in any given sport: they have the most vital task yet are the least popular in the activity.
Marshals are placed under intense pressure. No matter the weather condition, they are posted near collision-prone areas to be able give a just and clear call of any incident, and are the first responders should an accident occur.
They are the sole means of communication between the drivers and Race Control. They raise flags and perform hand signals to inform the racers as well as Race Control on the current conditions on the track.
This is why the motor sport department of the Automobile Association Philippines (AAP) is making various moves to positively reinforce the marshals on various aspects of their work.
AAP Motor Sport Department Operations Manager Mark Desales always reminds the marshals at all the AAP-sanctioned events that the drivers—despite their expertise—do not get to race without the presence of marshals.
“This simple gesture of letting the marshals know their value increases their dedication to their work,” Desales said.
One of the recently concluded events for the year was the final leg of the 2015 Vios Cup. Just like in every motor sport event, preparations were made before, during and after the event.
Prior to the race, the marshals were informed about the track, key points in the track, how to keep safe at the track, among others. They were also refreshed on the calls, how they would jot these down, where to report and other components of their job.
On race day, the marshals were posted at key positions where they could have a clear view of where various disasters—both minor and major—could take place. Strategically positioned, the marshals serve as the eyes and ears of Race Control to ensure rules are followed for the safety of everyone concerned.
After all data are submitted to Race Control, the marshals provide clear details in their reports to ensure fair and impartial results.
After the event itself, the officials meet with the marshals for debriefing. They are reinforced by listening to one another’s concerns and ideas for the improvement of the next race.
To promote continuous education for the trackside marshals, AAP has been conducting a series of officials’ practical training courses, especially when there is an upcoming AAP-sanctioned motor sport event.
AAP actively participates in the Federation Internationale de l’ Automobile (FIA)-supported officials’ practical training programs to provide up-to-date learning materials for the local marshals.
AAP, the only Philippine member of the FIA that governs all four-wheeled motor sport worldwide, was authorized by the latter to train and develop local motor sport marshals after achieving the silver level of accreditation in the FIA Institute’s Officials Safety Training Program.