Often overlooked and frequently dreaded, turn marshaling is a very important part of racing. Although in a perfect world nobody would ever crash during a race, the reality is that crashing, flipping your car and getting pinned into the wall can happen numerous times during a race, and it is every turn marshal’s responsibility to get everyone up and running immediately. As a courtesy to others, and to appease “race karma,” it is your job to be the best turn marshal possible, and here are some tips to be the best turn marshal that you can:
- Dress appropriately
Part of being a good turn marshal is dressing the part—not for style—but rather for your own safety. With heavy cars whizzing around the track at 50+ km/h, it is important to dress with safety in mind. We recommend that you wear heavy shoes and long sleeves. Gloves are optional, but not required with electric cars. Serious injuries and even deaths have occurred on RC race tracks, so protecting yourself is extremely relevant and important. And the most important part of clothing for a turn marshal, your High Visibility vest that is located at each marshaling position so that it is easy to see you when you are on the track and identify you as a marshal.
- Stay low
When manning your area, keep in mind that all of the drivers need to see around you. If you block a driver’s view for even a split second, it may cause him to crash or lose his line. So stay off the track unless you need to be on there to marshal, and if you are waiting for cars to go past to allow you to return to your position, crouch down so you are not obscuring anybody’s view.
- Watch your corner, not the race
Although turn marshal is essentially the best seat in the house, don’t lose sight of your job; you are not a spectator. While it is good to stay aware of the race in general, your focus should be on your section, not on the leader and the rest of the field. If you get “into the race,” you may miss a crash in your section and waste drivers’ valuable time because you were more interested in watching the race.
- Communicate with other Marshals
Most of the time, your section of the track will be pretty clear-cut and defined. You will know exactly what constitutes your area and what sections you are responsible for. However on our track there is the grey area in the center of the track. It is a good idea to let other marshals know that you are getting a car in this area so that 3 marshals do not all try and right a vehicle.
- Prioritize pile-ups
Most of the time crashes aren’t isolated; cars usually end-up in collisions and pile-ups with one another. While you should do your best to get everyone running as quickly as possible, try to get the first cars involved in the collision up and running first. Races are won and lost in seconds, so time is of the essence.
- Give drivers a good line
When you place a rescued vehicle onto the track, be mindful and give the racer a good line when placing the vehicle on the ground again. Although the crash may have been their own fault, your job as a turn marshal is to minimize the impact of a driver’s accident on the race. When correcting a vehicle, think like a racer, and angle the car for the best line possible and in the correct direction.
- Pull disabled cars off quickly
Often cars become partially broken, have loose batteries, burnt out electrics or even flat batteries. When you can tell a car is disabled, it is important to get it off of the track. If you think the car is too far gone, put it in a safe place in the back if your corner, but if you think it is fixable or a simple fix, try to pass the vehicle from marshal to marshal around the outside of the track to get it back to the driver. Drivers, do not venture out on to the track to collect your disabled car, wait for it to come to you.
Turn marshaling isn’t the most glorious job in the world, and usually racers scoff over having to spend valuable pit time by performing their marshaling duties. But in reality, turn marshaling is an extremely important job. Although you may not see a benefit in being a better turn marshal, what goes around comes around, and the better racer you become, the more that will be expected of you in all aspects of racing—turn marshaling included.