Roles in Racing
Motorsport is so much more than just competing and there are many ways to be a part of the action. Many Motorsport Clubs would love to have you become actively involved.
You do not need any previous experience and will be welcomed to our “family’ of volunteers with open arms.
After receiving training and gaining experience, there will also be opportunities to participate at professional events such as V8 Supercars, Rally New Zealand and other high profile events as well as plenty of great local events. Lots of our volunteers travel to Australia and other countries to participate in international events in those countries.
How to Start
While you could just show up at an event and offer your assistance, it is recommend that you contact organizing motorsport club in your region and express your interest in volunteering with them.
Click on the geographic area you’re interested in offering your assistance. From there you will learn which clubs exist in that area, and simply give them a call. If you are still unsure of what to do, contact Motorsport New Zealand and they will point you in the right direction.
What can you do?
There are many areas you can become involved in at the various events, this depends on your interests.
It certainly isn’t a bad idea to try volunteering in a few different areas to see what you enjoy most. Some of these may seem a bit daunting at first, but you will have people to coach you through the process. Below are general summaries for many of the various areas. Again, if you’re not sure which best suits you don’t worry – you can always try more than one.
The first people that drivers, workers, guests and others meet when attending an event are the secretariat staff. These people are typically the first official face they see, and help to ensure that the day starts off on the right foot. As part of their responsibilities, they verify and issue track credentials, accept driver entries, including payments for the event, and communicate important information to people involved with the event.
This is one of the most visible specialties and one that if you are a future competitor, we highly recommend you try. Flag Marshals are strategically positioned around the circuit providing you the closest seat in the house to the racing action.
In this position, you will use flags along with various other methods to communicate track conditions to drivers. You will also communicate with Race Control via radio and serve as their eyes on the track. If there is an incident on the circuit, you’ll serve as the first responder to communicate between drivers and other safety specialties.
From a driver’s perspective, many flag marshals have volunteered for several years and from this experience they often have gained the understanding of the fastest line through the turns and know what to be on the look-out for. No matter what point you flag at, it is still going to be a great learning experience. And again, getting to know the people who may be flagging while you are out on the track never hurts.
All eyes are on the Starter holding the flag at the beginning and the end of the race, but waving the green and the chequered flag is just a small part of what Starters do. They maintain the lap count and elapsed time for the session, follow the race order by charting the race, and, as if that were not enough, they act as a flag station, performing many of the same tasks of that specialty.
Scrutineer / Technical
If you have interest in inspecting racecars and poking around under the bonnet this might be an ideal place for you. This specialty is responsible for pre-event safety inspections, checking driver safety gear at each event, to post race inspections.
Depending on the level of event after each race session ends, the top few cars need to report to the Technical area to have various items checked to ensure legality (often including such things as the car’s minimum weight).
In this position, you would direct traffic in the pit lane to ensure the safety of the driver, crew members working in pit lane, fellow volunteers and sometimes spectators. With much action especially during qualifying and practice sessions, this can be a busy place with many people on the move.
Races include qualifying (and often practice) sessions before races. As a result of this, many drivers spend time in the pit lane making adjustments to the cars. When this happens, the pit lane becomes a busy place with both cars and people on the move. Other responsibilities include anything from putting out small fires, ensuring no one does anything unsafe, to directing cars either to the paddock or back out onto the track.
Being a Grid Marshal gives a person a special opportunity to talk to the drivers while they are on the Grid waiting their turn to go out on the track. It’s another role where the right attitude can make for a better experience for both the official and the driver or crew. Before the five-minute warning, the relaxed atmosphere leads to friendly banter, but once the drivers begin to get ready, it’s all business. The Grid Marshalls make sure everyone is using all the required personal safety equipment, sometimes even offering a helping hand as the drivers get ready to go, and ensures they are in the correct position on the grid, before signalling to Race Control and the Starter that the event is ready to start.
The race circuit often requires attention whether an incident created a problem or other conditions have developed a concern for drivers. These marshals help in clean-ups and removing disabled cars from the course.
In this role you will serve as the eyes, the ears, and the voice of Race Control at strategic locations around the race course. You will maintain contact with all flag points and specialties using radios. People in this position report such things as cars off course, impacts, mechanical observations, and relay requests for tow vehicles, and medical or fire response.
At a moment’s notice, you may need to respond to the scene of an accident and provide critical assistance. This can range from medical response, fire fighting to vehicle recovery. The crew who are responsible for vehicle recover will also help clean up the mess after a car accident or other on-track incident.
Timing and Results
These volunteer collect data such as creating lap charts using computer timing, create the grid line-ups, produce results sheets for each session, and much more. While they utilize computer based programs, all information needs to be verified by people to ensure there are no glitches.
As a Prospective Competitor
If you’re starting your competition career, you probably really want to know how to increase your skills and knowledge of our sport. Volunteering is an integral part of the sport and is an enjoyable experience. This can be a great way of getting your friends and family involved at an event. Without volunteers, many events wouldn’t exist. Until you have volunteered yourself, you won’t truly understand what it is like.
Another significant benefit is that you will meet many great people who are very knowledgeable about racing and who know the right people. These connections you make through volunteering will pay off later in your racing career. You know the old saying, “It is not what you know, but who you know.” You better believe this also applies to racing as well.
If you’re someone who is looking to see what Club Racing or Rallying is like before diving in financially or with the time commitments, volunteering also provides an excellent opportunity to do this.