Motorsport (Flag) Marshalls

Ever wondered what those people with Flags inside the race tracks are doing? Check out this article!

Motorsport marshals contribute to enjoyable, efficient, and safer motor racing. They are responsible for the safety of competitors and are stationed at various points of danger around race tracks to assist them in case of any 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.



Normally this would be a two-day session with the Saturday being reserved for flag training for experienced marshals wishing to become flag marshals and a session held for those of all levels on Sunday.


Duties & Responsibilities

Workers attend sessions that are technically titled Racing Safety Schools, but more informally are known as Crash and Burn Schools. These schools are usually 8 hours long on a Saturday, but can be two-day events, usually 8 hours on Saturday and 4 to 5 hours on Sunday. The classroom session covers such things as:


> The flags

> Basic communication procedures and equipment

> Safe operation of a worker station

> Worker and station equipment


During the race

Each group of marshals would usually work in twos, Flag Marshals would remain outside the observer post and Incident Marshals would usually work in two pairs.


The Starters

Perched on their stand above the start/finish line, the 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.


The Course Marshals

The course marshals ensure that all required emergency equipment and vehicles (ambulance, wreckers etc.) 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.



Flagging and communications

Next to the competitors, these marshals are the most visible people on the track. They are viewed by the spectator as an integral part of the race, keeping the track clear, giving instructions to the drivers, and responding to incidents. These are the people who have the front row seats, with no-one getting any closer to the action unless they get their own racing car. 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 signalling 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.


The Corner Crew

In dealing with the corner “crew”, the captain briefs the worker team about the day’s activities; monitors crew levels of alertness and tactfully corrects anything that is wrong; monitors proper and quick flag use; directs the corner crew in the event of an incident; may dispatch a vehicle during an event at the directions of the stewards; and reports all incidents, including crashes and driver misconduct, in writing.


The Yellow Flagger

The Yellow Flagger watches the track from his or her station to the next downstream station, assesses incidents, and displays yellow flag(s) as required. This worker always remains standing and ready while vehicles are on course, keeping the yellow flag ready for use, tucked under the arm and out of the competitor’s sight.


The Blue Flagger

The Blue Flagger watches upstream traffic for overtaking cars and displays the blue flag and other flags as required. He is responsible for keeping all flags other than the yellow flag available for instant display. He also is responsible for alerting the other workers if an incident is heading toward them requiring them to move.

So, if you think that these Motorsports (Flag) Marshals are only for a show, think again of their duties and responsibilities.

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