• Rob Lee

First Day on the Bank

The first day out on the bank as a marshal will be a strange day at the racetrack for you. We have all been spectators and been metres away from the speed, the actions and even the crashes, but when you step beyond that barrier and stand trackside in orange, it will feel a little bit different.

You will feel a little bit scared of the day ahead, and you’ll also be excited as you get the best seat in the house but as soon as the engines start and the racing begins, the adrenaline takes over and your day becomes as fast as the cars that are on the track.

A 16 year old me, waiting to flag the touring cars into parce ferme.

Now for me my first day of marshalling was six years ago, at the age of 16. Other marshals may have to think back further to remember their first day! That day in 2010 however, is a day I remember mainly because I was posted on Old Hall at Oulton Park.

So luckily I managed to get some help from James McNeil as he embarked on his first weekend on the bank at Anglesey racetrack.

If you are thinking that there aren’t many jobs that a 16-year-old can do out on the bank, then you are greatly mistaken. James took it upon himself to jump right in at the deep end and do some flagging for the weekend. No easy feat for anyone; the yellow and the green flag can be picked up easily, but you need to have eyes pointing each way to know which one to put out. Of course there is the blue flag as well; the one flag that catches out even the most experienced flaggies.

James getting the hand of flagging before the racing started.

So when James said; “following the race was easy enough, and blue flagging was fine, but I need to be more confident,” it means that James has taken to marshalling like a duck to water.

He had managed to overhaul that adrenaline to make good, clear decisions whilst flagging.

The mentoring of young and new marshals is important for their enjoyment of the day. That means the responsibility to make sure their day is as enjoyable as it is educational.

James gave good praise of his mentor for the weekend saying; “My post chief, Paul Levitt, gave me excellent guidance and taught me a lot over the weekend.” Positive signs from him that he is already enjoying his days on the bank and he is hopeful that he’ll be out again soon.

The step out onto the bank is a tough one for people to make, so I asked James what would he say to anyone who is about to go out there for their first time? His reply was simple but very effective when he said; “Go out and have fun and listen to all advice given.” I’m sure if this advice is followed, every new marshal will be itching to get back to the circuit for more.

If you are still uncertain about whether crossing that barrier is right for you, then there are taster days which are held at numerous tracks around the country. Just follow the link here and we look forward to seeing you all dressed in orange very soon.

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