Clothing & Equipment
GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR USARM RACE MARSHALS
Whatever position you are working, communication, flags, response, control, grid, starter, or something they invent next week, a few basics apply:
We are out here for two reasons; to make racing as safe and smooth as possible, and to have fun.
Treat your fellow workers with respect, always; our lives depend on each other. There's no room for petty ego games.
Never be afraid to ask questions; we're all learning, all the time.
Wear white shirts and pants, cotton, no synthetics. Shorts are not acceptable. Fire-resistant Nomex gloves or other clothing are optional. The whites identify you to racers and track personnel. Bring layers; the weather is changeable, and often varies by your location on the track. Bring rain gear any time it's even a remote possibility. Outer layers, like jackets and rainsuits, do not have to be white, but they must NOT be yellow or red, and if you can avoid flag colors altogether, it's even better.
You will also need a whistle, gloves, (preferably Nomex , or leather welder's gloves) a hat that does not block your peripheral vision, sunscreen (even dark-skinned people are subject to UV damage), a couple of pens, a notepad, sunglasses that do not change your color perception, closed-toed shoes or boots that are comfortable and easy to run in, ear plugs/muffs and drinking water. Be sure your whistle has a breakaway device, so that the cord will come apart if it gets caught on something, like the handlebar of a racebike, instead of dragging you down the track. Mini phono jack and plug sets, available cheap from places like Radio Shack, work fine. Earplugs can save your hearing.
Things that are good to have are: binoculars, reading material for breaks, a folding chair for breaks, snacks, a small first aid kit, a small cooler for cold drinks, and a thermos. Bear in mind how much stuff you want to lug to your turn along with flags, com gear, fire bottle, sweep and broom, and strike a happy medium with the extras.
There is no such place as safe on a racetrack. There are places that out of control vehicles commonly and predictably go, but that does not mean they won't land somewhere completely unexpected due to unusual circumstances. Especially, bear in mind that wheel-to-wheel contact front-to-rear with open-wheel race cars tends to launch them into the air. DO look at the layout of the turn you are working, and be aware of several escape routes you can use in a hurry-then be sure not to block them with stuff you'll trip over, like ice chests. Do not set objects like fire bottles on walls where they will become deadly missles if a vehicle impacts the wall.
Race marshals are the final authority on their turns - do not allow anyone to interfere with your ability to function, get in the way of your flags, or create a hazard. Untrained spectators do not belong on a turn (unless they are guests of a racing school, in which case an instructor will shepherd them). Professional photographers and track personnel are generally co-operative and understanding. However, we've all faced really dumb requests (like the photographer who wanted to lay down on track at the corkscrew at Laguna to take pictures, and promised he'd move on time!) "NO" is the appropriate response to unsafe requests; you do not have to apologize or explain.
Any position on a live track requires total focus of your attention. This has the benefit of being a positive zen practice, wonderful for mind-clearing. It also prevents you from becoming roadkill. Never turn your back to traffic, unless you are working a buddy system with two flaggers and you are yellow-flagging, in which case it is essential that you trust your partner and are within arm's reach of each other.
If you must go on a live track to retrieve debris, kick it off, don't bend down to pick it up. You can't run bent over, and a lot of debris can burn your hands. Always look up-track when retrieving debris or checking the track, or sweeping, EVEN BETWEEN SESSIONS (many groups send out test cars or other vehicles you're not expecting). Request and obey crossing signals.
Do NOT sit down while race vehicles are on course when you are on the hot side of the track. Do NOT EVER, EVER sit or lean on k-walls. Remember, too, that k-walls and catch fences do not offer absolute protection; k-walls move and break under high speed impact, and catch fences sometimes collapse. A few seconds of reaction time can cost your life. Do not bring a camera and attempt to take pictures when you are working-your lapse of attention can hurt you, your teammates, or a racer. No personal (non-track) communications devices , such as two-way radios, walkie- talkies, cell phones, laptops, etc are allowed out or on during sessions. The same applies, obviously to portable TVs, radios, tape/cd players, etc.
DO NOT wear polyester or other synthetic clothing- it will melt into your skin like napalm when exposed to flame.
It's a good idea to forego perfume or after-shave, unless you want to spend a day surrounded by adoring bees or wasps. If you do have large numbers of these at your turn, remain calm and ask for advice or assistance from control. Do not antagonize them , and never use a flag to swat at them (You can cause any number of disasters on track!) If you choose to use spray, be sure you're not breathing it- the stuff IS poison. Do not get so distracted that you're not paying attention to the race.
Speaking of critters, snakes are not uncommon at racetracks in California. Learn to recognize local species. Most are harmless. Adult rattlers generally will not attack anything too big for lunch unless provoked, and actually do not inject poison in about 70% of the bite incidents, because that leaves them without the reserve they need for prey. Young ones do not have that judgment and are more dangerous. Snakes usually will not bother you if you don't bother them, but if you should get bit, request medical assistance immediately.
Most other animals are of concern only if they enter an area where they may pose a hazard to the track, in which case they need to be reported immediately so that appropriate action can be taken.
Watch out for each other. Your safety concerns in order of priority are:
Racers (no, this isn't cold- they know the risks, and they're usually better protected than you are!)
The final safety concern is less apparent- BE RELIABLE. If you are committed to an event, either be there or give adequate notice that something has come up. If you don't show and there was no time to get a replacement, the track is understaffed and everyone is at greater risk. Unpredictable emergencies do occur, of course, but they are rare. People who just don't show up without an exceptionally good reason generally won't be invited back.
You are part of an exceptional group of people who do an exciting, challenging job that spectators only dream of, who care intensely about the sport and about each other. USARM is a team where excellence is the norm, not the exception.
Welcome! Play safe! Have fun!
Listen carefully. Observe carefully. Think before you talk. Stay calm. Everything else will be easy.
Communicators at each turn are responsible for four basic functions:
1: Supplying information to Race Control about relevant events or track conditions on their turn
2: Getting information from Race Control about relevant events or conditions elsewhere on the track, as well as possible instructions/information regarding an incident at their turn
3: Conveying information and instructions to flag and response crew members. This may be done verbally or with hand signals, or both, depending on the distance between crew members and the noise level. Obviously, if a flagger observes an incident or condition requiring a flag, she or he will simply put out the appropriate flag without instruction, but if an incident is out of view (or the flagger was looking the other way), or the flag is for back-up of an incident at another turn, for an all-track condition, or for posting a car, the flagger must depend on the communicator for that knowledge.
4. Conveying information to other turns.
At small events, sometimes a person is required to fill both the flagger and communicator positions simultaneously. If this is the case, when an incident occurs, get the flag out FIRST, then deal with the call as quickly as possible. Preventing further accident or injury is more important than reporting what happened. For optimum track safety, each turn should have adequate staff to communicate, flag and respond; unfortunately some of our clients cannot afford that level of staffing. Some, such as the race schools, have instructors positioned around the track, who handle the response end of it themselves.
HAND SIGNALS WILL BE COVERED IN A SEPARATE SECTION
ALL USARM COMMUNICATORS KNOW HOW TO FLAG , SO APPROPRIATE USE OF FLAGS IS NOT COVERED IN THIS SECTION. IF YOU ARE NEW TO US AND HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ON APPROPRIATE FLAG PROTOCOL, STUDY THE FLAGGING PORTION OF THE MANUAL, AND DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP.
Be sure you have your whistle, a notepad, a couple pens, and if possible, a pair of binoculars. While Control keeps a record of all incidents called in, you need to write down details of any body contact, serious impact, passing under yellow, alert situations or anything that may be of serious concern that occurs in your turn, because you may be asked by the race stewards at the end of the day to confirm what happened, since racers, like children, often all claim it wasn't their fault!
Flag protocol unique to the specific group we're working for should be covered at morning meeting. If you have any questions, ask. There are no dumb questions, but a lot of stupid mistakes are made by assuming. This is also the time to find out if the com equipment has already been put out on the turns, or if you need to pick it up and bring it with you.
When you arrive at your turn, plug in your equipment, adjust your headset comfortably, and check in. This may be done by saying "Turn 4 checking in," or "Good morning from Turn 4".
The point here is to let Control know you're on, and to be sure your equipment is working properly. If Control isn't on yet, another Turn will usually answer you. If nobody answers, wait five minutes and try again- you may be the first one on.
(A hint or two on comfort - hats and sunglasses are basic necessities-try to choose sunglasses that do not have thick frames around the ears, because just the pressure of the earmuffs on the headset all day against them will get uncomfortable if they're too thick- if you can find a cap that doesn't have that infernal little button on top, wear it, otherwise play with position, because if the metal frame of the headset sits on that cap button all day, pushing it into your skull, you will have a headache by afternoon!)
If you are not working alone, this is the time to be sure the flag and response people you are working with understand the hand signals, with special attention to crossing signals, driver condition signals, etc. This is important even with experienced people, because different regions of the country and the world have some variation in signals, so it's critically important that you're all using the same ones. If it is a large enough event to have a designated turn marshal at your corner, request the turn marshal to review hand signals with the crew.
Race Control will come on a while before things start happening and say something like "Let's check around and see who's here." Turns respond in order, "One's here." "Two's here," etc.
CLEARING: A few minutes before the event begins, Race Control will announce, "Clearing," or "Let's clear around." Turns come in in order, "One clear," "Two clear," etc. Clearing means that your portion of the track is clear and ready for the session. If you are working with other people, let them know we're clearing. If you have something in or near the track that might be an impediment, you are NOT clear, and would respond, for instance, "Tow truck in two; two is not clear." or "Safety crew is sweeping (or stacking tires or whatever) in three; three is not clear." or "Grounds crew is weed-eating trackside in four, four is not clear."
Control may respond with , "Let me know when you're clear (or when they're done)", or with "Get them out of there." depending upon the nature of the impediment. (A sharp whistle and hand motions are usually adequate for this). When the impediment is gone, call your turn in clear. Between the time of clearing and the start of the session there is NO talking on the communications line, unless something of importance to the track safety occurs, which in effect makes you no longer clear. In that case you would call "Turn 5, breaking clearance," and wait for Control to respond with "Go ahead," or "Come in, Turn 5." (Control is often talking with stewards, grid, etc on as many as two or three other channels in this time of final preparation for the session) Then you would respond with, "We have a doe and a fawn about four feet from the track at our apex", or "spectators on the k wall" "It's started hailing" or whatever the problem might be. Again, clear your turn as appropriate when the problem is taken care of.
Before the session begins, Control will inform you of flagging conditions, for instance, "One lap standing yellow" or "Out on green (no flags)" . You will convey this information to your flagger , either by voice or hand signal if he or she is not on a headset.
Take a deep breath and give yourself a few seconds to assay the situation if necessary. This is much better than stumbling over inaccurate information, or embarrassing yourself by starting a call with "Oh, shit!" Remain calm. Everyone's safety depends on clear, accurate communication in order to take appropriate action.
Always confirm that you have heard and understood messages from Control with the response "COPY" and your Turn number. DO NOT USE "10-4" or "OVER AND OUT", or "ROGER"
These are all not only inappropriate, but are potentially confusing; numbers should be used only to identify Turn locations or vehicles, "over" follows the word "roll" on a race track, and Roger's probably working a turn.
When there is an incident requiring a flag at your turn, the following information MUST be conveyed:
Flag condition . This is essential so that if the turn ahead of you needs to either mirror or back up your flag, they can do so promptly. If you are on a waving yellow, the preceeding turn will need to go on a standing (unless you're in a position that is flagged as one unit and requires them to mirror your waving); if you have a tow truck, the two preceeding turns need to have their white flags out, etc
Condition of the driver or rider if there has been impact or if the vehicle has stopped for more than the few seconds required to re-start and continue. THIS IS CRITICAL! Racers have suffered heart attacks and other medical problems during events, so you must NOT assume that because there has been no impact, the racer does not need medical assistance. All race groups are currently requested to give the turnworkers a very visible wave to let us know they're okay.
Incident (What happened, location of the vehicle)
Location of the vehicle- driver's left or right, entrance, apex or exit (and other distinguishing landmark, like in the tires, up the hill, in the pond..), safe or hazardous.
Whether a tow is required, what type, when.
When incident is cleared.
Examples of calls might be:
1. Turn 4, waving yellow, car 14 has spun center course, is stopped 90 degrees to traffic, course is blocked.
Turn 4, car 14 has continued. Dropping flags, (or course is clear).
2. Turn 6, car 18 spun and continued. (Waving yellow would have been out here, but only for a brief period.)
3. Turn 3 , waving yellow and surface flag, car 6 has blown it's motor, is off mechanical driver's right apex, hazardous, oil on line, driver okay, request lift tow now.
4. Turn 10, car 14 four wheels off and on, driver's right, exit.
5. Turn 9, waving yellow, rider down, rider's left, apex. Rider is up and okay, handlers have bailed the bike, off line but hazardous, rider is over the wall, downgrading to standing yellow for one lap.
6. Turn 6, standing yellow, car 32 is off driver's right entrance, safe. Engine is running. Driver is not moving. Checking." ( You would then attempt to get the driver's attention to ascertain his or her condition, if you are working alone, or send an appropriate crew member if one is available. If the driver does not move or give response within a very brief period of time, request help.)
An Alert is called in situations where there is a possibility of injury to the diver or rider, a worker or other people. An alert clears the line of all other communications and indicates the probable need to dispatch emergency response of one sort or another. It is to be used only in serious situations, generally limited to the following (although things we never thought of occur at racetracks, so there may be other circumstances):
- FIRE - ANY FIRE, GRASS OR VEHICULAR
- PEOPLE HIT BY VEHICLES OR DEBRIS
- MEDICAL EMERGENCY
- VEHICLE IMPACTS A SOLID OBJECT AT SPEED OR CLOSE TO SPEED
- HIGH SPEED BODY CONTACT BETWEEN TWO OR MORE VEHICLES
- CAR ROLLS OR FLIPS
- MOTORCYCLE RIDER IMPACTS SOLID OBJECT
- MOTORCYCLE RIDER GOES DOWN HARD AND DOES NOT GET UP FAIRLY QUICKLY (BE
PREPARED FOR INJURIES ANY TIME A BIKE HIGH SIDES)
Cancel your alert when you have received information that the driver, rider, or other possibly injured person is okay, when emergency vehicles have finished their work, when the situation appears to be under control and there is no necessity to maintain an alert.
POSSIBLE ALERT should be called when you have reason to believe one of the above conditions exists, but you're not quite sure, such as when a vehicle has gone off at speed in an impact area, but you can't see through the dust whether it hit the wall. Often another turn with a better angle of visibility will be able to assist in clarifying this.
A vehicle may be posted for an open black flag, a closed black flag, or a mechanical black flag.
Open black flags and mechanical black flags are given at start/finish and at the designated black flag stations. Mechanical black flags are always given at the first available station; open blacks are given first at start/finish by some groups and at the first available by others. If you don't know the policy of the racing organization at the event you're working, ask. The flagger at the designated stations will show the appropriate black flag to a posted vehicle with a number board. In order to do this in a timely manner, it is essential that the two turns prior to the black flag station spot the vehicle. Using Turns 5 and 9, black flag stations at Sears Point as an example, this is how it is done.
Control: Post car 32, mechanical black.
Turn 5: Copy 5
Turn 9: Copy 9
(Someone may come in here with a helpful "Quickspot through Turn ")
Turn 3: Car 32, green, through 3
Turn 4: Car 32 through 4, third one.
Turn 5: Car 32 received mechanical black, turn 5
Turn 8: Car 32, green, through 8
Turn 8A: Car 32 through 8A, all alone, next one.
Turn 9 Car 32 acknowledged mechanical black, turn 9
Turn 10, "Pit car 32" or "Car 32 did not pit."
If the latter, then Turn 11: "Car 32 green, through 11, second car, starter."
The pattern here is that the first spot will give the color, the second spot gives the position; the black flagger then knows what to look for and where.
Closed black flags are ONLY given from the starter stand, and may also be called "furled black" or "shake a stick". The starter may also request a spot for the white last lap flag, the half- way sign, or the checkered flag, or other reasons. Spotting for the starter is done by the two turns prior to the starter stand in exactly the same manner.
- Passing under a yellow flag
- Failing to slow appropriately for a yellow flag
- Ignoring any flag
- Consistently making the same error (getting squirrelly in your exit four laps in a row, for instance)
- Your observation of fault in a collision or serious incident
- Driver/rider appears to be lacking proper safety equipment
- Vehicle sounds or looks like it may have or be developing a mechanical problem
- Driving in a manner that imperils the safety of the event
- Not paying attention to mirrors, blue flags, etc.
- If any of these observations come from another crew member, state that when you call in, for instance, "Turn 4, my flagger says car 14 appears to be dragging the right wing".
You need to let the other workers at your turn know:
- When you are clearing
- When cars are on course
- Flagging instructions for session
- When a flag is called for that they don't already have out
- When they can drop a flag
- When the session is half way over
- Last lap
- Last car
- When it's safe to cross the track, if the need arises
- When they have a break, and how long
- When lunch is
- What to do with equipment at the end of the day
- Any other relevant information that you have been given about the event (There will be three practices and three races .the race group has invited us to their barbecue .there will be a water run after this session..etc)
The other workers will need to let you know:
- Hazards you may not see
- Violations or mechanical problems they may observe
- Their perspective on fault or details of a serious incident
- Permission needed to cross track
- Driver condition
- Requests for emergency vehicles, fire, medical or tow
- Type of tow, etc
As with most things, the best teachers are experience and exposure to more experienced people. You'll probably learn something new every time you work a race. Play safe, and have fun.
The purpose of flagging is to communicate essential information to drivers/riders that will enable them to participate in the sport of racing with an optimal amount of safety. Proper flagging keeps a simple spin from turning into a pileup, an oil leak from becoming a disaster, a pass from becoming a collision.
Flaggers work from flag stations positioned at various points around a road course. These points are chosen with two considerations in mind; visibility to the racers and relative safety for the workers. Safety is always relative; there is no truly safe place on a racetrack. Vehicles can and do end up in places you would think impossible, and you don't want to be there when that happens. When you are working a position that is new to you, plan several different ways to exit that position quickly if you need to, and note any obstacles. NEVER NEVER sit down or lean on a wall with vehicles on course. The couple of steps you lose in the time it takes you to get up can make the difference between an exciting bench racing story and a nice funeral service.
If there is only one flag position at a turn it is simply designated with the turn number, for instance, Turn 3. If more than one flag station is being used the others are given specific designations, usually a letter following the turn number, "8A", but in rare cases a description such as "8 leads, or 8 exit." In this case the forward stations usually mirror incident flags at the ones following in that turn. It is essential to flag correctly for the location. You need to determine at what point racers entering your turn will be looking toward you and able to see you. That's your "window", where your flags are visible and useful. Any flag that indicates the condition of the track or the presence of emergency personnel is ONLY given for an incident which occurs AT or PAST your turn station. If you are, say, at Turn 2 at Sears Point and you have five vehicles collide in your early entrance, one breaks a crankcase and another one catches on fire, it may be your call, but it's NOT your flag; they are not to you yet and the appropriate flags would be displayed at Turn 1. If you incorrectly put out emergency flags, the incoming racers will assume there is another incident between 2 and 3, because that's what you are telling them. If there isn't , they will assume you're incompetent and ignore your next flag. This applies to YELLOW, WHITE, RED AND YELLOW STRIPED, and, in the case of AMA motorcycles, the GREEN AND BLACK STRIPED flag.
YELLOW: This is the flag with the most different uses to remember. The message to the racer is DO NOT PASS , SLOW DOWN, and proceed with CAUTION. Any passes under a yellow flag should be reported and are cause for disciplinary action.
WAVING YELLOW: indicates that the racing line is blocked. This flag is used to indicate vehicle(s) or other things (large debris, deer, people) in or within a car length of the racing line, at or past your turn station. Define the racing line as including the worst line the group is using, not just the ideal one. Some organizations request a waving yellow status any time personnel are responding; you'll be told if this is the case. Some groups, (notably F1) use a double waving yellow if the track is more than 50% blocked.
STANDING YELLOW: indicates a similar problem close enough to the line to be a hazard (on track, but way off line, more than a car length off track, but in a frequent runoff area, etc. If in doubt, put it out and then ask.)
FULL COURSE YELLOW: This means ALL turns are on a standing yellow. It is often used for the first lap of the first practice or warm up session for each group. This gives them a chance to warm up their tires and see where the flags are located. It is also used for the Pace Lap at the beginning of a race. Both of these will be called as "One lap standing yellow." A full course yellow during the race will be called for if it is necessary to slow the whole pack down because of a serious incident or to put out a pace car. Some racing organizations use a DOUBLE YELLOW flag for a pace car situation; this is gaining increasing use. NOTE: A pace car situation refers to the need to send out a pace car DURING a session; it is not the same as the pace lap at the beginning of the race. IF THE INCIDENT IS A WAVING YELLOW IN YOUR CORNER, AND A FULL COURSE YELLOW IS CALLED, CONTINUE WAVING AS APPROPRIATE. IF IT'S A DOUBLE YELLOW, YOU CAN HOLD ONE AND WAVE ONE. IF OTHER FLAGS ARE NEEDED, FOR OIL, TOW, AMBULANCE, ETC., USE THEM IN ADDITION TO THE WAVING YELLOW, NOT INSTEAD OF.
WHITE FLAG: indicates a slow vehicle or an emergency vehicle on course. Used for race vehicle at 1/2 or less normal speed, or for tow truck, sweeper, ambulance, etc. Put up when vehicle reaches your turn station and hold until it is two turns past you. This is a standing flag, not waving. VARIATIONS: Some race groups prefer to use a standing yellow for a slow race vehicle and reserve the white for response vehicles.
WHITE FLAG WITH RED CROSS: ("Ambulance flag") Used by some groups for MEDICAL EMERGENCY vehicles only . Traditionally this has been used in the same manner as the white flag, but conveys more information. This enables Race Control to dispatch emergency vehicles counter-course if necessary in situations where seconds count. Other race groups may adopt this. Since use varies, specifics should be covered at morning meeting.
Again, bear in mind that if the incident is in your turn, the white flags are in addition to, not instead of, other appropriate track condition flags (yellow, surface, etc).
RED AND YELLOW STRIPES: This flag gets called a variety of names such as debris flag, surface flag, slippery flag, oil flag, etc. It is used standing, and indicates that there is a problem on or near line with the track surface. This can be oil, other fluids (including unexpected rain, snow or hail), sand, etc. that has caused a change in surface adhesion. Again, this is for a problem at or past your station.
BLUE FLAG: This is the most challenging flag for most people to master. In Canada , blue-flagging is a specialty requiring separate certification. Observe your window carefully, because timing is essential to usefulness. There are two uses for blue flags:
PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING SESSIONS: Show the blue to a racer to indicate that a faster vehicle is approaching and will want to pass SOON (in your turn or the next one.) The racer will often acknowledge with a point by to the other vehicle. The blue flag DOES NOT INDICATE THAT A RACER NEEDS TO CHANGE HIS/HER LINE; it indicates that they need to check the mirrors, be aware, and not make any stupid moves that will turn a pass into a collision. Unlike the emergency flags we've been discussing, the blue flag is a message to a specific vehicle, so must be shown quickly when that vehicle enters the flagging window and put away so as not to confuse too many other people. Watch experienced blue flaggers for technique; practice is the only route to getting good at this.
RACES: During a race, the blue flag is ONLY shown to a vehicle that is about to be LAPPED. This requires the flagger to be aware of who the lead vehicles are, who the back-of-the-pack vehicles are, and their relative positions. You also need to be aware of vehicles that may have lost enough time in the pits because of mechanical problems or penalties to allow them to be lapped despite their initial positions. Practice and concentration are the keys here, and it's not adequate to just keep track of the leaders. In longer races, especially with mixed vehicle types or driver skill, it is not uncommon to have to blue the racer who is three laps down and getting passed by the one who is only two laps down, etc. Practice, practice , practice; it's a challenge, but it's also the most fun flagging you can do.
The black flag may be given to INDIVIDUAL vehicles for a number of reasons, and this is done only at DESIGNATED black flag stations. These will usually include the starter. At Sears Point, black flag stations are Turn 5 and Turn 9 as well as starter; at Laguna it is Turn 7 and starter. Race Control will request a black flag by saying "Post car 17". (See communications section for more detail.) The posted racer will be shown an open black flag and a number board with the car number at the black flag stations. If a vehicle is being posted for mechanical reasons the MECHANICAL BLACK , or "meatball", a black flag with a red or orange circle in the middle will be shown. If a racer is being reprimanded but not penalized with a pit stop, he/she will be shown a furled (closed) black flag at the starter stand only. The two turns before the black flag station will "spot" the posted car as it comes through, the first giving color and the second giving position, to assist the black flag station.
BLACK FLAG ALL is a full course black, meaning all stations show a black flag. This is used when it is necessary to get the whole pack to pit, for instance because a really messy incident needs to be cleaned up, or it's just started hailing. Under this flag all cars proceed cautiously to the pits, and wait for the session to be resumed.
RED FLAG: this is rarely used and some groups don't use it at all. It means it may not be safe to proceed to the pits; the racer should pull over at the first opportunity, and then proceed cautiously to the next turnworker and wait for their instructions. A red flag is shown at all stations. An example of a red flag situation was a car upside down and burning in the middle of the track at Turn 10 at Sears. In this case the route to safe pitting is obstructed.
GREEN FLAG: Also only given by starter, indicates start of race after pace lap(s) or indicates resume racing speed following full course yellow, or pace lap situation, or resume race after being stopped by black or red flag situation. The exception is F1 and FIM; they display a green flag at the station just past an incident requiring a yellow flag. The station that has had a yellow flag situation displays a green for one lap after the incident is cleared.
YOUR SAFETY COMES FIRST! Be sure you are not wearing anything loose that can get caught on an automobile. If you're wearing a button-up shirt, have it tucked in. It is essential that your whistle be on a break-away cord, so that you don't get dragged down the racetrack if it gets caught on a wing or in a wheel.
THINK FIRST Always take a moment to evaluate the situation before you move. Wait till the dust clears if necessary. This allows you to make intelligent choices and avoids you putting yourself in the path of a vehicle that hasn't stopped yet, or another one involved in the incident. If you are blue-flagging as part of a buddy system, be sure the yellow flagger has swapped positions with you, is now facing traffic and waving the flag, so that you and the incident are covered. If you need to cross track, request a crossing signal and wait for it.
SIGNAL for assistance if you think you'll need it.
ALWAYS BRING YOUR FIRE BOTTLE WITH YOU. Valuable time can be lost going back for it. A fire is not always immediate.
IF YOU MUST USE YOUR FIRE BOTTLE, twist to release the safety, pull the pin and aim for the BASE of the flames. Use quick, short bursts. Be sure not to spray in anyone's face; these things put out fires by depriving them of oxygen. Signal for assistance if it is not immediately and easily brought under control. Know if the vehicles have on-board fire systems that you or the driver can activate, and where they are.
WATCH TRAFFIC AND BE AWARE OF YOUR SAFETY AT ALL TIMES; If you are responding with a partner, be sure one of you is always watching traffic and is in physical contact with the other (has ahold of a belt, shirttail, etc) Be aware of signals from the communicator, who will be hearing when you have a window, or have traffic, from at least two turns ahead.
DETERMINE WHETHER THE DRIVER IS OKAY AND SIGNAL YOUR COMMUNICATOR. If there has been impact, and the driver may have suffered concussion, put your hand on his/her shoulder and say, "Hi. What's your name?" If they answer that , then ask if they're hurt. (If the first question brings confusion or hesitation, signal injured driver immediately). Many people will automatically respond "Yes" to "Are you okay?" whether they are or not! DO NOT attempt to move an injured driver unless the vehicle is burning or there is some other reason you feel the driver's life would be endangered by staying in it for a few minutes. Signal injured driver and wait for medical assistance. If the car is upside down, do not allow the driver to release the harness . You don't want them falling on their head.
If the driver is okay, but the car is in a hazardous position, attempt to get the driver to get out and over the wall to wait safely for the tow truck.
AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, SIGNAL YOUR COMMUNICATOR AS TO DRIVER OK OR INJURED, WHETHER A TOW IS NEEDED AND WHAT TYPE. Also, of course, signal if you observe oil or other hazards.
IF YOU CAN SAFELY MOVE THE VEHICLE TO A SAFER POSITION, DO SO.
RETURN TO YOUR POSITION AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE, but do not take unnecessary risks to do so. Again, always wait for a crossing signal.
The first steps are the same as described in the response to automobiles, just above. Take a moment to think and appraise the situation. Always take your fire bottle with you. be sure you're covered with flags and crossing signals if needed. Get those signals back to your communicator as soon as possible. But, there are important differences.
BE EXTRA ALERT - motorcycles, far more often than cars, follow each other. It is not at all uncommon for there to be multiple bikes down on the track, especially early in the race when there's a better chance of large groups of bikes together. It's critical to watch for oil, gas, etc. that might change the adhesion of the track surface. Cars might spin, bikes fall down and can then arrive quite quickly with possibly/probably? other bikes when something causes the track to really lose grip.
RIDERS ARE MORE VULNERABLE THAN DRIVERS for the obvious reason that they don't have five-point harnesses and roll cages. The likelihood of injury is higher, especially if a bike has high-sided, or obviously, if the rider has impacted any solid object. At large events there are medical staff at turns to deal with down riders. At small events or schools, there is often only the ambulance on stand-by. If a rider goes down and isn't up by the time you get there, and he or she is in a hazardous area, PROTECT THE RIDER WITH HAY BALES before you do anything else. Signal injured rider. (You can often do his on your way to pick up the bale) . If there is already a medical person with the rider, be sure they are also protected. If a rider goes under an air fence, move it off the rider quickly-there is a danger of suffocation.
Even if a rider gets up, be alert for signs of injury; confusion, limping, etc. Often in the adrenalin rush of getting up and out of harm's way riders don't immediately realize an injury.
THE BIKES: If the bike is hazardous, move it to a safe position, or, if that is not possible, to a safer position and bale it. Picking up large bikes, especially, is easier with straps or a bike bar; if you've never used one ask someone to demonstrate at morning meeting. Be alert for fire any time a bike hits a hay bale or an air fence; both are subject to catch fire easily just from the heat of the tailpipe.
If you have several people responding, you can divide the tasks ("You get the bike, we'll bail the rider")- just be sure everyone's clear on who's doing what. Everything else is the same as the car response procedures.
|Safety Priorities :||Does the Rider Continue? :|
|Yourself, Oncoming Racers, The Problem||Watch oncoming traffic|
|Eyeball test for the rider|
|The Approach :||Locks, Levers, Leaks|
|Assist in Safe Re-Entry|
|Know what needs to be done and how|
|Do It Safely - As A Team||Clearing Incident :|
|No surprises: Read their manuals|
|Always be waiting for "Them"||Watch oncoming traffic|
|Plan ahead : Where, Who, How||Keep Yourself Safe at the Bike|
|Prepare Yourself : Gloves On||Hot Sharp Items, Kill Switch|
|Whistle and Gear Ready||Fluids, Things are Broken . . . .|
|Focused on Session||Footing - Gravel Traps|
|Initial Response - Get to the Incident :||Move bike to pre-determined place|
|Push or lift ??? Straps for wheels|
|Watch oncoming traffic: Why it happened||Steer or lift ??? Clutch works, steering too|
|One Bike? Two Bikes? More ???||Clean-up of Track Surface|
|Wait for Incident to Finish Happening||After Session unless Directed by Control|
|Response Captain - Signal for Flags||Call for SCRAMP for the big stuff|
|Which Handling Station Responds?|
|Roles Defined :||Be Ready For The Next One :|
|Know who does what|
|Fire Response included - every time||Watch oncoming traffic|
|Check for debris or fluid on track||Check on other team members|
|Guide rider(s) to safety. Call for NMPs?||Quick review of how the last one went|
|Do You Need Help? Response Captain|
At large events, with several people on each corner doing many different jobs, there will be a Turn Marshal. The Turn Marshal's job is to co-ordinate personnel, decide where they will be positioned, make critical decisions, offer assistance and advice, and generally keep things running smoothly. She or he will start the day with a morning meeting at the turn, in addition to the group meeting that has already occurred. Turn assignments, questions, procedures, concerns, review of prior sessions, etc. will occur at this time. The Turn marshal is in charge of all personnel on that turn, and is always a person with extensive experience.
A Section Chief is a very experienced worker who will circulate between several turns at larger events, observing, offering assistance to both workers and turn marshals, answering questions and helping fine-tune the operation.
Many race groups have their own grid personnel, but some prefer that we fill these positions.
Duties may include getting vehicles lined up in the correct order, checking for wrist bands, group placement and proper safety equipment, releasing the vehicles onto the track in a safe manner, talking to drivers/riders who have been black-flagged and pulled in for violations , and checking vehicles that have been pulled in for possible mechanical or equipment problems. Procedures vary quite a bit, but if this position interests you, you'll always be teamed with experienced people.
The Starter is responsible for starting and ending sessions, giving half-way and last lap signals, determining after a pace lap whether to begin racing (throw the green flag) or whether to continue under yellow, showing the checkered flag at the correct time and to the correct vehicle, and giving warning (furled black) flags for minor infractions. Depending on the track and the group, the starter may also be functioning as a regular flag station. This is done while keeping close and accurate track of time, and communicating with the rest of the track.
Control's duties involve communicating with all corners and with the racing organization's personnel, as well as the medical and emergency crews and , often, the racetrack employees. This often means listening and responding to messages on a land line and one to three radio channels simultaneously.
Control keeps a written record of all incident reports of any sort. All turns report anything of significance to Control. Control will request any information needed from the turns to clarify situations and make decisions about additional response. Control checks all turns for clearance, informs them when the session begins and ends, when all-track flags are called for, when the stewards request some sort of action, and any other vital information. Control relays to all corners decisions to end a session by red or black-flagging it, send a pace car, dispatch emergency personnel, and a myriad of assorted smaller actions.
The person doing this is usually a member of the current board of directors, but there are exceptions, when another experienced people take this responsibility. This involves determining the number of workers required, recruiting them, (often by spending many hours on the phone), being sure the racing organization has a list in advance of the event, considering abilities and experience and making work assignments. It also entails determining rules and procedures relevant to the particular organization to be covered at morning meeting, conducting the morning meeting, arranging for refreshments, being sure the equipment will be brought to the track, and collecting and distributing financial reimbursement.
Mentors are people with a lot of experience who specialize in ongoing worker training, in addition to their other duties
Some tracks have sound restrictions. Sound personnel are usually hired by the track, but we occasionally fill these positions. It requires reading a decibel meter as particular vehicles pass the sound booth, and reporting, with readings, vehicles that are over the limit to control. Control then has the black flag stations post the offenders with a mechanical black flag. They pit and try to correct the problem. accurate records must be kept, because a certain number of violations, generally three, will require the vehicle to be retired for the day.
USARM does not, at this time, have tow or emergency crews. These folks, who are a vital and deeply appreciated part of the racing team, are employed by either the racing organization or the track, or both.
USARM is an organization of skilled professional raceworkers. We do not provide casual labor, such as ticket-takers, gas pump personnel, gate-keepers or parking assistance.
Under conditions where it is not possible for some or all workers to drive to their turns, the people doing worker transportation will deliver people and equipment in a timely manner, and pick them up for lunch and at the end of the day. They may also run water and/or meals to turns. In some cases they may shuttle large numbers of workers from areas like worker camping to the track, and back at the end of the day. This may be only informal carpooling at a small event, or may be a full-time position at large events. Driving photographers out to turns and doctors to incidents are other transportation jobs. The latter requires a competition license.
Unique to major motorcycle events, the USARM Dragon Wagon Crew, with a large stakebed truck equipped with a lift, picks up and transports inoperable motorcycles from the track to the pits. They also double as worker transportation.