If you have been to a rally or a race meeting before you may have seen people standing at the side of the track or blocking a junction wearing a very bright tabard. These people are marshals. Marshals must be present at every rally, race meeting or any motor sport event.
Who are marshals? Marshals are normal people, me, you, them, everybody. You don’t need formal qualifications or training, training days are run by the MSA (motor sports association) and we always encourage people to attend, even if it just refreshes your memory. 95% of marshalling is common sense. If a car is on fire, you make sure the crew can get out of the car, rather than stand and get the sausages out for a BBQ!
What do marshals do? Marshals are there the make sure an event can run as safely as possible. At a race meeting spectators are generally kept behind a fence, so spectator safety is not a major factor. Therefore your time and energy can by concentrated on ensuring the race runs smoothly. On a rally, you will generally be placed at a public access junction. Rallies run on closed roads so stopping the general public from blocking the stage. As a rally marshal you need to make sure your section of the stage is clear from blockages, any members of the public spectating are in a safe place, and then when the competitors come through, ensuring that everything passes safely. If an incident does occur then you would need to act quickly, but remembering safety first!
What do I need to go marshalling? When you marshal on a rally, most of the time you will have your car near to your location. As mentioned above marshalling is mainly common sense, so depending upon the season will depend on what you need to take. Waterproofs are essential regardless of the season or weather forecast. Extra layers of clothing, sun cream, LOTS of fluids (especially water), in winter a flask of soup or coffee goes a long way. In rallies specialist equipment is not necessary, however over time as your experience of different situations grows you may wish to purchase some equipment. This is ENTRIELY optional and will depend on what you have experienced. In a race meeting, you are often supplied with a specialist marshalling suit and extinguisher.
How often do I have to go marshalling? As much or as little as you like. If you work some weekends, obviously when you have time off then you can go. If you don’t have the finances to pay for petrol or accommodation to go all over the country then stick to local events. Some people do go all over country marshalling but this is their choice. There isn’t a minimum or maximum number of events you need to go to.
What does it cost? What ever you spend. I.E. petrol, food, drink, accommodation (if applicable). There is no charge to go marshalling. However there are usually charges just to go watching!
What do I get out of it? Some organising clubs will offer a small financial incentive to go to their event. However most offer a gift as a thank you and as a memory of your day. These gifts are wide ranging. Some offer a woolly hat, a cap, t-shirt, mug, travel mug, camping facilities, meal at the burger van and the list continues. However more importantly of any gift is the action it self. Yes you have a responsibility to ensure the safety of others. However you are at the front of the action. You normally get to drive the stage you are marshalling on, so you get to see exactly what the competitors face. Also there are lots of venues that are closed to spectators (army camps, private land etc) so the only way to get in (unless you are competing) is to marshal. So in these cases you really do get the best view!
When do rallies happen? All year round. There is a bit of a dip at the end of November until February and March but the season continues all year. Which is why you should always have the correct clothing and materials with you – and expect the worst!
Is there anyone to come with me? Usually yes! The only way to find out is to ask. At Tynemouth Motor Club we meet every Monday and people are often going to various rallies – so get your self a buddy. This means 1. You’re not alone, 2. Should anything happen there’s someone else to help, 3. You can share petrol costs.
How do I get involved?
Simple come along to the club on Monday nights and have a chat with some of the other people who go marshalling. The Turnbull Trophy Rally and Lindisfarne Rally are coming up soon. The Turnbull is held at a dis-used airfield in between Hexham and Newcastle, the Lindisfarne is held on Otterburn military ranges. We are looking for help on both of these events. If you are available, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.