Well it’s been a fortnight since I last posted on here and I’m hoping you’ve all missed my updates like a desert misses the rain (can’t you tell I’m listening to an old Now That’s What I Call Music? ) but fear not, I’m back with a load of goodies for you.
After having a week off to move house I was back out on track this weekend for the BRSCC meeting at Oulton, and it was an exciting one…
When I was told I would be working on Avenue I was over the moon as it’s a post I’ve always wanted to try – it has an amazing view of Old Hall corner, down to Cascades and then over to Hill Top and Knickerbrook, in fact, I think it’s the best post on the circuit.
So, gleeful grin on my face it wasn’t long before it was wiped off like smeared lipstick on a drunken night out in Barnsley as I was left feeling guilty for asking to be put with my mate Andy for the day. The whole Bike vs Cars marshalling debate reared its ugly head again as I was informed that id never ‘make friends’ by being with Andy all the time.
Let me make this clear now, I volunteer every weekend to come and watch the cars, and whilst I love making new friends, I also give up my time to spend a day being involved in the sport and I’d like to know that if something did ‘go off’ there would be someone I could trust right behind me.
Anyone who works on bike races will know how close you become as a team at the side of the track, you know what each of you can do and you don’t mind giving up your weekend to spend a day with your new found friends, but how would you feel if you were to arrive at the track and be put with someone you don’t know? Disheartened? Probably. I can talk to anyone and I’d like to think I could cope on post with anyone at all, but once you have someone you trust and enjoy working with, it’s hard to want to be shoved with someone you’ve never met and have no idea what their skill set are.
Anyway, it’s not for me to debate, I just wanted to see if anyone else ever felt like that? Moving on, once the racing had started we didn’t really get much action in the morning aside from a few wasps trying to eat my Haribo and nestle in my hair, but by the afternoon we’d adopted two lovely young men who were on their marshalling taster day.
Andy and I took young Mark under our wing whilst the other newbie Vijay (I hope I have spelt that right) hung out with the other pair of Incident marshals, well, for one race that is… he skipped the first session as he wandered off to buy some chips from the restaurant as soon as we heard ‘cars on circuit’ and then after spending just one race on post he said his parents had come for him and left.
Now I tried my best to chat to Vijay as I walked with him from Race Control after lunch, but it was rather difficult and I had the feeling he wasn’t enjoying his first day as much as his fellow fresher Mark. Now, I know this is a very touchy subject to discuss here, but I’m going to put it out there anyway and see what happens.
After chatting to Vijay and a few of the other marshals, it because very apparent that not only are there very few women involved in marshalling, but there are even fewer people who don’t fall into the ‘Caucasian’ category, at Oulton Park at least.
I have no idea why this is, but I wonder if many people are intimidated by the white, male dominated side of the sport or if there is genuinely no interest in motorsport from them? Writing this, I don’t want to sound remotely racist or anything, so please bear that in mind, but why is it that you turn up to a racetrack and see 90% of the guys in orange as older, white men?
I know how hard I found it coming to the track with a pair of ‘lady lumps’ and shiny red hair, so I know it can be rather terrifying not fitting into the ‘norm’ of what we expect marshals to look like, but is there anything we can do or will the sport always be this way? Is that the way people want it to stay, just as many men don’t like the idea of a 23 year old girl sashaying around the track asking why cars do this and that, I know I’ve been met with a few rolled eyes when I’ve walked onto post, mainly from guys who wanted to get a break from their wives for a day… sheesh, tough luck guys.
I gave good old Vijay one of my newly pressed business cards, and I really hope to see him back at Oulton in the future, he seems like a nice enough guy and I really believe that if he’d spent an afternoon on post he would have fallen in love with marshalling just as I have… well until one of the Formula Fords drove into the barrier and we ended up embroiled in a 30 minute discussion as to whether the barrier moved or not. Wow, that was painful.
So, food for though this week – mainly because I didn’t have any crashes or hunky racing drivers to waffle on about – is the world of marshalling (wrongly) seen as a ‘white men only’ kind of hobby, and should we be able to spend out day trackside with our trusted companions or chop and change like an Indian Pickle Tray? As always, your thoughts please.