I think endurance races are one you’re either going to lvoe or hate when it comes to motorsport, and whilst I concede that the Grand Prix is pretty much an endurance race, I use this as an example to all the other types that don’t include Sebastian Vettel.
Rolling out of bed on Saturday morning at 6am was only made possible by the fact that I was going ot be working in Pit Lane for this Hottrax endurance event, I knew that if I was on the bank I’d actually want to kill myself about a hour into the first race, but at least Pit Lane meant I could watch the driver changes, refuelling and all that kind of exciting action.
So, I signed on, got my breakfast, checked out a few of the rather hot riders in their leathers and got myself to post for 8am, I was just pouring myself a nice brew when some man sauntered in, handed me a set of flags and told me to get in a van, I was flagging at Island.
Now, I could have done multiple things here… stood my ground and refused to go, had a strop and cried or just get in the van like a little sheep and want to scream my little head off. Obviously I did the latter, and immediately regretted it. The ONLY reason I turned up on Saturday was because I was told I was in Pit Lane, I knew I would hate not one, but two three-hour races where it’s impossible to track the leaders and even harder to go for a wee.
When I got to Island Bend, I discovered there were five marshals (three flaggies and two incident) to cover Fulstons, Brittons, Island and Shell In – I might be exaggerating just a little there but basically from Island (where the Ambulance sits) to Shell Corner, there were just five of us covering both sides. It was a proper mission.
Whilst I wanted to cry (and I did a little bit) and go home, I knew I couldn’t let the marshals down, and that I just would refuse to marshal another endurance unless I was sure I was going to be on Pit Lane. There are so many marshals who get to pick and choose where they go every week, and the ONE time I request to be somewhere, it’s just ignored. It left me completely furious that I’d stipulated I had other plans and would only help out if I could go on a decent post and I got stuck out in the middle of the track (literally) and couldn’t even go to the loo as it meant having to play chicken across a live racetrack.
Whilst it’s the last time I’ll ever do that again, I will say that I did have an okay afternoon (once I’d gotten over my strop and chatted up some more riders at lunchtime) and we did get the only ‘proper’ accident on our post as two riders took each other out on their way into the hairpin. The only problem was, with limited marshals on my post it meant the rider was left flailing around on the ground for quite a while before we could help him. I waved my yellow flag whilst a lad from Shell Corner (my hero) leapt over the barrier and hurtled across the track to help him until another one of my team came to take over the flag so I could go and help until the ambulance arrived.
On the whole I’d say that unless you’re on the start line, I wouldn’t advise going to an endurance race as it can get really tiresome but if you’ve got nothing better to do and want to catch a few rays whilst bikes go around and around for six hours then great, get yourself signed up.
Although I am filled with anger that I ended up where I didn’t want to be, it’s like my friend said; “Endurance is not the best thing, but take the rough with the smooth. I don’t like it either but without us the racing won’t happen. We’re needed.”
A thank you would have been nice though.
** Update : I have been informed that the rider who we sent off in the ambulance is doing okay. According to a fellow rider he has a suspected broken scaphoid and bruising on his ankle.
Get well soon Ash!