Over the past year or so I have been trying my hand at Motorsport Marshalling and I for one have found it very enjoyable and rewarding. However it is a part of Motorsport that is suffering from a seeming lack of interest which could have disastrous effects to everyone who par takes in the sport, from Drivers to spectators alike.
Gone are the days of mass crowds on Rally Stages such as there was in the heyday of Rallying mainly due to the large numbers of fatalities during the Group B Rally era of ’82 to ’86. This was a time when many enthusiasts and drivers claim Rally died.
Since then crowd control has become a headache for organisers and competitors alike. It is also something that has killed off the large numbers of people once seen at rallies which in turn has led to many manufacturers leaving the sport because they aren’t getting the coverage, the interest if you will, from potential new car buyers.
There’s no doubt that there is a need for marshals at all Motorsport events to ensure that competitors and spectators alike are kept safe and can enjoy what is still a very thrilling sport to watch.
Marshals are ordinary people, many of whom are volunteers who have a love of the sport. And it’s hard not to see the attraction as you can get close to the action while playing a pivotal role. Some of the bigger events sometimes offer rewards such as a feed or two and perhaps the odd free gift.
Marshals are also sometimes used in the setting up of stages such as I was at the recent Garron Point Hillclimb event, something I found quite interesting and an insight as to exactly what is involved before the competitor even gets to the Tarmac.
This has also given me an insight into the rising costs for spectators at some events such as Lurgan Park. The endless reels of safety tape, the high viz vests and other such items that are necessary to make the marshals visible and help them to do their tasks don’t come cheaply.
The sad thing is that a common problem at the majority of events is the lack of volunteers for these events. At a couple of recent “big” rally events many volunteers found themselves stretched to try and cover as much ground as possible, something that if not addressed could lead to more injuries or fatalities or worse, the end of many motoring events held here in Northern Ireland.
For more info, simply search online for your nearest Motor Club and sign up if it’s something your keen to help with.