Marshal Safety

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Motorsport marshals are responsible for the safety of competitors and are stationed at various points of danger around race tracks to assist them in case of collisions, accidents or track problems. Marshals are also known as course workers, corner workers, corner crews, turn marshals, corner marshals, track safety workers, or other equivalents around the world. These individuals can be either paid or volunteer workers depending on the organization they work for.

Typically, a Chief Track Marshal’s responsibilities include the supervision and briefing of marshals for all daily activities, allocation of day-to-day marshaling duties; provision of marshal's vehicles, training of all marshals for incident handling, flag signaling, firefighting, communications and basic track first aid, as well as monitoring of health and safety on site to ensure the safety of all guests and personnel off-track. During the race, his or her role is running the radio “network” and communication with all other track marshals.

Time and scoring personnel keep track of the progress of every car on each lap. They provide the qualifying times, lap charts, and determine the finishing order. Wearing distinctive shirts to set them apart from the pit crews and drivers, pit and grid workers position the cars on the false grid, make last-minute safety checks, and are responsible for safety in the pit areas. Registrars organize the official entries and provide passes and credentials. They are also the first people to meet the drivers, workers, and officials when they arrive at the track. Sound control workers are responsible for ensuring that cars do not violate local or national sound control regulations. Starters control the start and finish of the practice and qualifying sessions and the races themselves. They also display the black flag signals when required.

Scrutineers are tech inspectors who make sure that every car meets series technical specifications and safety regulations before it is allowed onto the track. They also perform the post-race inspections. Stewards are responsible for the overall organization and operation of the event, and are particularly concerned with issues involving safety and the enforcement of the rules. Most stewards hold, or have held, a national competition license.

Course marshals ensure that all required emergency equipment and vehicles are in place and ready to respond to an incident at a moment’s notice. They are to give consistent information to drivers with racing flags and signals; assess the track surface condition; observe competitors for driving behavior and their cars' mechanical condition; help drivers and others in an incident; and communicate information to the stewards who are in charge of the event and rely on the accuracy of the workers' reports to make correct decisions.

Emergency services are experts with training in medical response, fire fighting, and vehicle recovery.

Next to the competitors, flagging and communications marshals are the most visible people on the track. Considered an integral part of the race, these individuals keep the track clear, give instructions to the drivers, and respond to incidents. They are highly trained to handle crashes, fire, the needs of drivers who may be injured, and track cleanup. They have other duties, too, including signaling the drivers with flags, helping spectators, and keeping their sections of the track organized so that racing can proceed efficiently. When handling crashes and fires, these volunteers have been called the “shock troops” of racing, because until the ambulances, fire trucks, and crash/rescue vehicles arrive, the safety and efficiency of the track is in their hands.

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Gary Barnard


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