A Weekend in the Life of a Flaggy
Flagging is one of the main duties as a marshal and is the key to making a race weekend tick and flow. You might be wondering why this is so, but a flag marshal or ‘flaggy’ can communicate with the driving using various colours of flags.
The communication is key regardless of what type of session you are in; you may think that a blue flag only gets a back-marker out the way in a race but, it also has its uses in a practice session; so you will always need to be fully concentrated to the action. Normally you will have someone to help you with the flagging and this helps you to focus on one thing at a time.
Normally when there are two of you, one will cover the yellow’s and the other will use the green and the blues, it saves you from having to have eyes in the back of your head. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to explain what each flag fully but, if you are interested then I would recommend coming along to a marshal training day.
Sometimes, however, you can be on your own for a day of flagging, this is when you have to really concentrate. This may seem a bit daunting, for anyone who is wanting to give flagging ago, but bear with me I used things that I had been taught to get me through an interesting weekend at the 750 motor club in Anglesey.
To give you a taste as the what it’s like to be a flaggy, I’ll give you an insight into that interesting weekend. First of all, whilst flagging you always have something to do, whether it’s the green flag lap at the start of a race, covering an incident with a yellow flag or trying to get a slower moving car out the way in a session, you will have a flag in your hand and will be focused on the racing.
Saturday for me started quietly for me but, as soon as the racing started all the incidents seemed to happen at once. You’ll always be told to have the red flag out of reach so you don’t grab it by mistake but, with seven red flags in five races, it seemed the most readily available flag to me.
The Section of the track which I covered on the Saturday from School up to Rocket.
As most of the incidents that were red-flagged, were up at Rocket, It meant that I had an even busier day with the flags, because from School corner I would also be waving the Yellow flags. It could be worse, I could have to wave another flag when I’ve run out of hands, well alas the Rescue Unit was called to the incident so it meant the White Flag had to be brought out. I was just lucky, that the incident marshal with me was able to lend me a hand.
As flagging goes, it is very rare to use all the flags in one day, but I finally managed that feat as a quick cameo appearance by the change of surface flag meant I used all the flags for one day.
Sunday brought a different challenge, less yellow and red flagging so now I had to use the blue flag more. I was relying on what type of blue flag, static or waved, that the post before me had put out. If it was static it meant I had to spring to action and get the blue flag-waving, this is a difficult job for a marshal as it is completely based on judgement and you can only have a split second to put the blue flag out. It may seem a little bit of a hard task but, patience is a virtue as you can use practice session and qualifying sessions to figure out who the faster cars are.
Needless to say, flagging, is one of the vital jobs when it comes to marshalling and is always a good discipline to help with the learning curve. It also helps improve your eye on watching the racing, so if the racing isn’t the most exciting you can always provide your own commentary, sorry Aidy Williams, I had to get that mention in.