The following is a history of USARM, as first published in November 1984. It was USARM's 25th Anniversary. When I put this together I neglected to mention that a large portion of the history was taken from an interview I did of USARM's first President, John Duncan. John lived in Bolinas at the time and I remember the day I went to see him I had difficulty finding the road he lived on. I mentioned this to John-about the lack of street signs. He laughed and said it was the local custom to take them down as fast as the highway department could put them up. Somehow this type of attitude John liked so that's why he lived in Bolinas. As I recall John told me that USARM was formed in Aug of 1959, which makes it 42 years old this August.
This is an attempt to chronicle the history of USARM, not to defend it or attack it. It was compiled from information obtained in the Grid, meeting minutes, and interviews with people who were there at the time. As with any history that began 25 years ago different points of view come into play concerning the same event. Also, as we all get older, the way an event is recalled becomes altered with time.
In talking with people, other racing items often came into the conversation, and I regret that all of what was talked about cannot be recorded here. USARM, RDC and the San Francisco Region have a rich racing heritage.
I would like to thank all of those who cleaned out their closets or took the time to sit down and talk to me about USARM.
THE GENESIS OF USARM
In the early days of sports car racing, worker arrangements were fragmented and not very cohesive. On Saturday mornings of the race weekend there would be a meeting of flagmen and would-be-flagmen. In charge would be a member of the SCCA who had been appointed chief turn marshal for the event.
The chief's first act was to assign, from a list given to him, the turn marshals for each turn. Five, or seven, or eleven turns, depending on the course. Pebble Beach, Oakland Airport, Golden Gate Park, Santa Rosa Airport, Cotati or Vacaville. Each turn marshal represented one of the many sports car clubs in the area. Jim Dennis of the Square Wheelers in Marin County always had turn one, Woody Soanes of Highland Touring Club would get turn two, and so on.
Naturally, Jim Dennis would pick as his flag marshals, members of his club, and so would Soanes and the others. The trouble with this system lay in the fact that on a particular weekend it was possible that none of the members of a club had ever been a flagman, and many may never have seen a sports car race. On top of this, each corner operated differently, depending on the customs of that particular club and turn marshal.
The rules for flagging kept changing from race to race and sometimes between Saturday and Sunday. For a long time, a flagman on each turn stood with his back to oncoming traffic holding a green flag. If something happened he'd drop it and grab the yellow flag. He was required to face the turn marshal and display his yellow when the TM did. Rain or shine he stood there.
Eventually there were two flagmen, but it took some time to work out who was to hold which flag and look in which direction.
Finally, in 1958 or 1959, several turn marshals sat down at a meeting of the Highland Touring Club. They realized that there had to be a better system of training workers and being assured of competent help. To do this took many meetings that covered many things.
The first action was to choose a name. United States Auto Race Marshals, abbreviated USARM, was finally chosen because it was easily pronounced, although some people thought it sounded like you were in the Army. The next item was an identifying badge for members. Hours were spent on this alone.
At this time USARM had set up a structure for training most of the worker specialities used in racing. As a parallel to this, the Racing Driver's Club (RDC) had begun training race drivers. All this did not sit well with the SCCA. The (then) Connecticut based organization saw that there would be trouble out on the west coast with USARM, RDC, and Cal-Club, who had also started doing similar training. At this time, one was either a USARM member or an SCCA member, but not both.
There were conflicts between USARM and SCCA over safety procedures that USARM felt were logical. The conflict came to a head at a pro race at Laguna Seca where USARM was to strike if it didn't get its way. Credibility was lent to USARM's position when Stirling Moss came to their morning meeting and pronounced their safety procedures sound. The strike finally fell through when the individual USARM members worked the race for the safety of the drivers.
Eventually the SCCA established their own training for workers and drivers, taking these duties away from USARM and RDC. The irony in all this is they the people doing the training in SCCA were the same people doing the training in USARM and RDC. Also, the things USARM wanted all along, like the buddy system, are now standard everywhere. Part of the SCCA's standards are licensing and grading procedures which originated with USARM.
In 1969 the San Francisco Region of SCCA published a "Road Racing Worker's Manual", the first of it's kind, I believe in the country. The 55 page manual contained chapters of job descriptions for turn marshal, flagging, communications, fire control, emergency control, course security, and pit marshal. Many of the turn marshal's hand signals are illustrated at the back of the book.
The forward by Regional Executive Robert J. Tomlin says "San Francisco Region SCCA wishes to acknowledge, with grateful thanks, the assistance of those responsible for this manual. In particular, the efforts of the United States Auto Race Marshals organization and the worker crew chiefs of S.F. SCCA are appreciated."
The introduction in part says "SCCA is an internationally recognized competitive driver licensing organization. It has also established a worker licensing program and such a license is mandatory for key positions. Other organizations may be of importance to you during your racing career. For example, a group peculiar to the S.F. Region of SCCA is the United States Auto Race Marshals (USARM). As the name implies, this group is an organization basically only concerned with being a course worker and the attendant responsibilities, e.g. safety and training. SCCA and USARM work together so that all concerned will have a consistently safe weekend of racing."
Not given credit in the manual for putting it together were USARM members Marty Ilgen, Jack Carpenter, and Woody Soanes.
JAWS OF LIFE
In June 1981, Lynne Huntting, then President of USARM, presented to SFR's Regional Executive, Clint DeWitt, a Hurst Jaws of Life. This culminated an 18 month fund raising project that saw USARM raise more than $7,800 to purchase a complete package from Rescue Safety Products in Hayward, the local Hurst dealer. In addition to the basic tool, hoses and accessories to keep it running.
Contributions to the Jaws of Life Fund came from over 100 people, both named and anonymous. The raising of money came in many forms, from selling lollipops to a huge raffle held at the worker beer during the IMSA race at Laguna Seca in May 1981. Nearly $2,000 was raised with that one raffle.
The Jaws was presented to the Region on Saturday night of the Sprints. The first race on Sunday was the Showroom Stock race. On the first lap of that race, a Mazda RX-7 rolled several times at turn 2. The driver was unconscious, and his helmet was trapped between the crushed roof and the door sill. The Jaws were used to extricate the driver. After he recovered consciousness, he was found to have suffered no serious injuries.
USARM Award For Competitive Achievement
This award is the only one voted on by all the workers at that event. The recipients of this award are those drivers in the annual RDC 4 hour enduro, Ilgen Classic, that the workers felt best displayed sportsmanship and put in the best competitive effort.
Enduro Award Winners:
1969 Gerard Raney, Robert Blackwood
1970 Ray Silva, Steve Ulrich
1971 John Able, Jim Wilson
1972 Tom Safford, Harry Hersh
1973 Dave Burns, Lee Midgley
1974 Jack Blake, Bill Blake, Guy Mencaccy
1975 Bernie Stork, Ron Wipperman
1976 Dick Sasser, Don Houge
1977 Jay Jacobs, John Cordell
1978 John Becker, Nick Becker
1980 Tom Foster, Chuck Billington
1981 Ken Reynolds, Norm Nelson, Carl Stirtz
1982 Travis Duder, Barry Callouette
1983 Larry Chmura, Brent Regan
USARM President's Award
USARM's first award, initiated by founding member and first president, John Duncan, to recognize workers that the president feels has done the most to promote the image of USARM. This award is not necessarily presented annually.
President's Award Recipients:
1961 Jerry Graham
1962 Dave Lerma
1963 John Duncan
1964 Bill Strother
1965 Marty Ilgen
1966 Carl Jarmillo
1968 Lou Figone
1969 Ernie Isaacs
1970 Katy Poehlmann
1971 Marianne Luginbuhl
1972 Chris Hunter
1974 Betty Ulise
1975 Bob Booth
1976 Linda Finch
1977 Donna Sanderson
1978 Claire Kelly
1979 Steven Hays
1980 Clint DeWitt
1981 Roger Eandi
1993 Ted Kuwada
Martin Ilgen Worker of the Year Award
From the March 1981 Grid:
"At the 1981 SCCA National Convention held in Portland, Martin Ilgen received the prestigious John McGill Award for "significant contributions to the racing program." The honor was for 25 years of service to the racing community, through USARM and SCCA."
Perhaps no one worker in the San Francisco Region has been more honored by both USARM and SCCA. Marty commanded respect in an unassuming way because you knew, from the way he talked, he knew his job. The following from the column of Bob Hagin in the Contra Costa Times of Feb 4,1966 best describes Marty Ilgen: "Last weekend the United States Auto Race Marshals club (USARM), another name for the local road racing turn personnel, held its annual end of the year banquet and awards presentation at the Helmut Club in Berkeley. Among the trophies presented was the President's Cup, given by the president to whomever he thinks is the person doing the most to promote the image of USARM. The recipient this year was Martin Ilgen of Oakland, and this was the best choice that could have been made. Unlike many SCCA officials, Martin is not a politician and doesn't aspire to be Regional Executive or king or anything other than whatever he can be to make racing safer and better.
If you've ever been to the races you've seen him, small, white-haired, and built like a weight lifter. Martin, and his wife Margaret, have been workers for 10 years or more. Whenever there's been real trouble or a serious crash, such as the wreck that took the life of Jim Conners and a worker at Vacaville, Martin always takes command of the nastiest part of the problem. For years he's been training new people as marshals and training them right.
USARM President Roy Conger said at the banquet that he was prouder to make the presentation than if he had gotten it himself, and I was proud to be part of Martin's standing ovation."
In 1983 USARM received permission from Marty's widow, Margaret, to name it's annual worker of the year award after him. The first recipient was Esther Carlyle.
WORKER OF THE YEAR AWARDS
On Course Worker of the Year - Billy Garrison
Off Course Worker of the Year - Dean Stoker
Worker of the Year - Tom Jackson
On Course Worker of the Year - Manny Lema
Off Course Worker of the Year - Tucker Hoffman, Kathy Johnston
Worker of the Year - Joel Evans
On Course Worker of the Year - John Brookman
Off Course Worker of the Year - Judy Daily Thurston
Worker of the Year - Bill and Ann Chamberlain
On Course Worker of the Year - Scott Primm
Off Course Worker of the Year - Bill Wells
Worker of the Year - Donna Sanderson
On Course Worker of the Year - Bill Riggins
Off Course Worker of the Year - Mary Jane Perry
Worker of the Year (renamed Martin Ilgen Worker of the Year) - Esther Carlyle
On Course Worker of the Year - Richard Anderson
Off Course Worker of the Year - Bill Henderson
Martin Ilgen Worker of the Year - Mick Housel, Don Alexander & Mike Chouiniere
Rookie of the Year - Jack Fitzpatrick
On Course Worker of the Year - Melanie Durandette
Off Course Worker of the Year - Bo Beresiwsky and the Laguna Seca Staff
Martin Ilgen Worker of the Year - Carl Sloan
Rookie of the Year - Sandy Jones
Martin Ilgen Worker of the Year - Kris Cowen
On Course Worker of the Year - Steve Mahan
Off Course Worker of the Year - Ron Cowen and Guy Aronson
Rookie of the Year - Jennifer Rabe
Martin Ilgen Worker of the Year - Bill and Ann Chamberlain
On Course Worker of the Year - Richard Anderson
Off Course Worker of the Year - Jo Ann Johnson
Rookie of the Year - Eric Caldwell
Martin Ilgen Worker of the Year - Larry Zeigler
On Course Worker of the Year - Stuart Newhouse
Off Course Worker of the Year - Carri Newhouse
Martin Ilgen Worker of the Year - Jud Van Gorder
On Course Worker of the Year - Joe Collier
Off Course Worker of the Year - Mike Hill
Rookie of the Year - Mike Zittle and Lorraine Portillo
Martin Ilgen Worker of the Year - Carl Sloan
On Course Worker of the Year - Sal Traverase
Off Course Worker of the Year - Steve Ynzunza
Rookie of the Year - Frank Crane
Martin Ilgen Worker of the Year - Melanie Durandette
On Course Worker of the Year - Dennis Robinson
Off Course Worker of the Year - Ted Kuwada
Flagger of the Year - Dale Boender
Martin Ilgen Worker of the Year - Jackie & Larry Zeigler
On Course Worker of the Year - Doug Smith
Off Course Worker of the Year - Ruben Ynzuna
Rookie of the Year - Erica Olsen
Martin Ilgen Worker of the Year - Bruce Brunner
On Course Worker of the Year - Mike Allison
Off Course Worker of the Year - Leslie Fillault
Rookie of the Year - Jim Hileman
STAN PULOS MEMORIAL "GOOD GUY" AWARD
Stan Pulos, a USARM member, was killed in a single car accident while on his way home on March 21,1976, following the second driver's school weekend. He had been a race worker for 4 years and was a member of the flag, communications, and starter crews. He was greatly missed, and this award was named for his attitude toward racing and the people he worked with.
Stan Pulos "Good Guy" Award Recipients:
1976 Henry Yesson
1977 Billy Mitchell
1978 Phyllis Styles
1980 Steve Froines
1981 Tracer Racing
1982 Connie and Jim Frey
1983 Jack Williams
1996 Ken Epsman
1997 Mark Bellina
1998 Mick Brown
1999 Jerry Huff
2000 Lloyd McKee
2002 Guy Berrysmith
2004 Nor-Cal Shelby Club
2005 Cris Vandagrif & HMSA
THE PIETER KIEVENAAR MEMORIAL AWARD
By Pete Sanderson
The Pieter Kievenaar Award is given by the USARM Board of Directors to that person the board feels has contributed the most toward bettering the image and good will of motor sports.
Pieter Kievenaar was born in Holland in 1891, just in time to get in on the ground floor of motor racing. Around the turn of the century he became interested in the sport of free ballooning. By 1915 he was into racing as a driver of the early high-wheeled cars. From this time on Pieter was always active in some way with motor cars.
In the early days of flying, while still in Holland, he became a pilot. His wife also became a pilot and was one of the first women to fly across the English Channel.
During World War I, Pieter left Holland and went to Java in the Netherlands East Indies to set up shop in Batavia as a dealer in cars for Willys Overland. He prospered in Java and opened a second dealership in Yokohama, Japan. In 1922 an earthquake in Japan destroyed his Yokohama dealership, and to finish things Willys went bankrupt.
Sometime after his misfortunes in Java and Japan, Pieter came to this country to live. He evidently got into cars shortly after arriving, but his next big accomplishment wasn't until he became associated with the Continental Car Company in San Francisco in the early 1950's. Here he sold Porsche and Triumph cars.
Although Pieter had been a spectator at races for some time since his arrival in the U.S., it wasn't until the late 50's that he became an active worker. His son Jerry had been working races for some time, and he brought Pieter into working. Pieter worked a number of jobs at the tracks and eventually gravitated to the pit marshal crew, where he became a fixture. During this time he joined the old San Francisco Car Club, the forerunner to the San Francisco Region.
Pieter was active in the region and USARM until the end of 1972. He celebrated his 81'st birthday with the workers at a party in the pits at Laguna Seca. He was a man who made the most out of what he had and gave much more than he could. He was active until a week before he died in his sleep in May 1974.
Pieter would go out of his way to help anyone who needed help and he was always happy. He was a good worker who controlled his territory in the paddock like a benevolent general.
Pieter Kievenaar Memorial Award Recipients:
1974 Dottie Noble
1975 Chet Lane
1976 Frank Schultheis
1977 Martin Ilgen
1978 Roger Eandi
1980 Ernie Wassman
1981 Bill Cartwright
1983 Don Seike
COMMUNICATOR OF THE YEAR AWARD
Jim Thurston had been a member of both USARM and the San Francisco Region SCCA for over 20 years. He had worked at a wide variety of specialties over the years including tech, fire, flagging and communications. He became the first male communicator in SFR history and went on to be one of the better "com-girls", earning Communicator of the Year Award from SFR.
In Jan, 1994 while on his one year anniversary with his wife Phyllis his car was hit in the drivers door, killing him instantly. In recognition of Jim's many contributions toward the sport, USARM obtained permission from Phyllis to name it's annual communicator of the year in his honor.
Jim Thurston Communicator of the Year Award Recipients:
1994 Carl Sloan
1995 Beverly Morgan
1996 Carrie Newhouse
1997 Karen Huff
1998 Dorothy Brookman
1999 Kati James
2000 Scott Sloan
2001 Tim Pollack
2002 Mary Bellina
2004 Shelly Ulry
2005 Betty Thomas
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
This award is given by the USARM board of directors to individuals the board feels have contributed to the long term betterment of the club and it's image. Previous recipients have included John Duncan (USARM founder and member #1), Dottie Noble (the first communicator chief of both USARM and SFR-SCCA), and Bill Cartwright (flag chief and recipient of the Pieter Kievnaar Award in 1981).
Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients:
John and Dorothy Brookman
Jud Van Gorder