All forms of motorcycle sport require many key personnel for events to take place and there are a number of ways you can become involved in motorcycle sport without competing.
These include Observers – Race Marshals (both Off-Road and Road Racing) and Clerk of the Course – Technical Officials – Timekeepers and Event Secretaries.
Off Road Track Marshals
Becoming an Off Road Track Marshal is a great method of being involved in events. From the age of 16 you can become a Marshal at race events around the country. To become a Marshal is very easy with no qualifications required as a briefing will take place at the beginning of each event. Although a Marshal is normally a voluntary position many clubs offer small rewards such as free food, boxes of chocolates/wine and sometimes even a small monetary payment. Motocross Marshals are able to attend organised Marshals Seminars to gain additional experience and join the register of trained Marshals for all types of events from grass roots to Grand Prix. Why not try it? it’s a great way to get even more pleasure out of the event and you will be putting something into the sport for the cost of a few hours of your time.
Road Race Marshal
A Marshal at any motorsport event is an integral part of the Race Organisation. There is a saying in motorsport which goes something like, “No Marshals, No Racing” and whilst that is true it can also be said about Medics and other key Officials. The bottom line though is that without Marshals or without enough Marshals, a Road Race meeting – whether that be on a short circuit or on the roads cannot start.
“Do marshals just clear up after incidents?” has been a question often asked. That is certainly part of the job but Marshals are there to help prevent incidents in the first place. Observing for machine problems before or during track sessions can prevent an incident from occurring. Machines are flagged-off at most meetings after a marshal has spotted a problem, of which the rider was unaware. Oil leaks are pretty typical; marshals usually spot the smoke before anyone else does. Removing debris from the track, and cleaning spillages before they cause a problem are other examples of preventative marshalling.
Most SACU Road Race Clubs have Marshal Training Days which gives extensive training to all Marshals to enable them to carry out their duties. This training includes all the relevant flag signals, how to use a radio and how to treat casualties at the scene of an incident. There is some basic but essential first aid training which will enable a Marshal to give immediate first aid to a casualty until the arrival of a doctor, which is normally within a minute or two on the instructions of the Clerk of the Course.
When arriving at an event, Marshals need to ensure they are there at least an hour prior to the start of first practice, so they can Sign On and be allocated their place to Marshal for the day. Marshals are not paid but are recompensed in other ways, for example, some Clubs give Marshals ‘Breakfast and/or Lunch’ tokens to grab a bite to eat.
We are sometimes asked by a Marshal on their first meeting, will I be thrown in at the deep end and left on my own? Definitely not! At your first meeting the Chief Marshal will make sure that the Marshal in charge of your Team on your section is aware of your inexperience. He or she will keep an eye on you and make sure that you are teamed up with at least a couple of experienced people. The Incident Officer (IO) who is in charge of the team of marshals on your section is aware of your inexperience. He or she will keep an eye on you and make sure that you are teamed up with at least a couple of experienced people. Generally there is a hugely friendly atmosphere at meetings, especially on the campsites (and the circuit bars).
The Chief Marshal is responsible for ensuring all marshals are carrying out their duties and are aware of their responsibilities during the event. They also allocate all volunteers are aware of their allocated break / lunch time slots and ensure these are met.
The majority of the Steward's main responsibilities are met prior to, and post the event. This includes the event permit, track certifications and first aid procedures. Additionally, the steward is responsible for recording any injuries and reporting post event. One role on the day of the event would include walking the track before it any practice or racing begins.
Clerk of Course (CoC)
The CoC is responsible for walking the track before the event as well as conducting the racing aspect of the day. Additional responsibilities include ensuring adequate First Aid is in place as well as making crucial decisions regarding rider safety. If there is a critical issue with rider safety the CoC has the authority to pause or stop the event.
In a competition, each trials rider is scored by an observer who scores points against them for their mistakes as they move through a section. A competition will have an observer assigned to each section, where each rider will attempt to ride the designated obstacles while the observer watches and then marks the rider's score on a scorecard.
The time keeper is responsible for managing the timing system as well as handling any timing disputes from riders.