Don’t just watch – get involved in 2010

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Marshalling is just one of the ways you can get involved in motor sport
Marshalling is just one of the ways you can get involved in motor sport

Want to do more than just watch races in 2010? F1 Fanatic guest writer Ben Evans shows you how to get involved in motor racing.

When you think of getting involved in motorsport, you naturally think of driving. But for those of us who can’t match the elite few at the top of motor racing this can be (very) expensive, potentially injurious and heartbreaking.

Having spent five years racing single seaters across the UK and Europe I can confirm that all the above are true (don’t believe me? Have a look at the video below of me crashing at Brands Hatch six years ago).

But there are other ways to get your motor racing buzz and give something back to the sport we all love. Here’s a few suggestions gleaned from my years in the paddock.

Marshalling

As the video above makes clear, marshals are no less than the lifeblood of motor racing. Without them we quite simply wouldn’t be racing.

Every race meeting requires a minimum number of marshals before it is allowed to go ahead, and it is the marshals who ensure the meeting runs in a safe environment. The British Motorsport Marshals Club is always looking for new volunteers and whileyou have to be 18 to go out “on Post”, there are opportunities to get involved in race organisation from the age of 12.

As with drivers there is the chance to move up to Formula 1 and marshals from a number of countries get invited to officiate at Grands Prix around the world. A large contingent was sent to help with the marshalling of the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last year.

Although marshals do get paid many organising clubs (in the UK) offer meal tickets, exclusive trackdays, raffles and other goodies. Best of all you get in for free and get to watch the world’s top motor racing from some truly exclusive vantage points.

Race Organisation

The effort involved in putting on a race meeting is unbelievable, from the circuit hire and preparation, mailing tickets to competitors and then on the day, ensuring that everyone is in the right place and behaving themselves. For the technically inclined there are always opportunities to assist around the scruiteneering bay. The main organising clubs are always looking for volunteers to help out with event organisation, and it is a great way to get involved behind the scenes. These links will point you in the right direction:

Media

Yes, we all want to be covering F1, living the five star lifestyle travelling from race to race, but at the same time we all have to start somewhere. Although breaking into the motorsport media can seem an insurmountable task there are opportunities.

On the internet you can do it yourself, blogging, writing race reports, features and opinion columns – a great way to learn you craft and find your voice.

Once you’re feeling confident there are lots of writing opportunities at national level – most championships have a website and often looking for someone to write race reports and press releases. Whilst you may not get paid you should get a free ticket, a burger, and the chance to build up a good network. Once you’re part of the furniture and the regular “Motorsport News” journalist can’t make it you’re well positioned to get the call.

If you’re interested in writing an article for F1 Fanatic send Keith an email.

Mechanics and Engineering

Jumping straight into F1 is almost impossible – most teams recruit three to four graduates per year from top universities. That’s not to say there aren’t opportunities but beware it’s very competitive. However just about everybody from F1 downwards could use a spare pair of hands.

There is no better way to get involved than going to a race meeting and asking around, somebody is bound to need your help over the course of the season. However once you make a commitment, stick to it, there is nothing like unreliability to ruin your reputation.

Again, once you are known as a safe pair of hands the phone will start to ring, and in today’s economic climate, even teams at F3 level are staffed by several weekend warriors. I’ve certainly come across a number of people who started out in Formula Vee and are now running World Series by Renault and BTCC teams

Be warned

Life working in motorsport, even as a hobby, is hard, tiring and massively anti-social. Last summer I worked at 22 meetings spread over 20 weekends, and spent so much time travelling I memorised the menu at every services on the M1.

Unlike tuning into F1 for two hours on Sunday afternoon, whatever your involvement expect to be doing 7-7 in the Summer and 8-6.30 in the autumn, in every weather. If you live in London, for a typical one-day meeting at Silverstone the alarm will go at 5.30, you’ll get to the circuit at 7.30/8 and will, traffic pending make it home around 8.30.

In short, you’ve got to love what you do.

Competing

The holy grail, there is nothing that tops going racing whether as a young charger, or a more mature racer indulging a passion, racing has something for everyone.

Right, first things first it is expensive. In the UK getting your licence will cost around ??300, that’s ??60 for a GO Racing pack, ??40 for the medical and ??200 for the ARDS test. Your safety equipment will then cost anywhere from ??500 – ??1000, as a rule buy the best you can afford, by all means sleep in the back of the car at a race meeting, but don’t skimp on the safety kit, or you may not live to regret it.

Once you have your licence you are free to compete in any race to National B level. Depending on your budget there are lots of avenues open. If you want to rent a drive to have a one off race, I’d say you’re looking at ??1000-??1500. That ??500-??750 car hire (Formula Vee or Stock Hatch), ??275 entry fee, and then if you test the day before (highly recommended), chuck in another ??500. To do a season of rent-a-drive racing in a moderately competitive car you’re looking at probably ??10-??15k, and then double that for a frontrunning machine.

For the mechanically minded owner/driver is maybe the way to go. The first season may be very expensive as you are learning everything all at once, but after you have got the car sorted, provided you’re running nothing too exotic this can be a very cheap way of going racing. I know of many drivers in several championships who spend less than ??5k a year on their car.

Go Motorsport can help you find ways of getting started in motor racing:

Over to you

Have you ever marshalled or helped organise a race meeting or F1 weekend? Are you planning to get involved in motor sport in 2010? Tell us in the comments.

This is a guest article by Ben Evans.

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Ben Evans
Motorsport commentator Ben is RaceFans' resident bookworm. Look out for his verdict on the latest motor racing publications on Sundays....

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  • 39 comments on “Don’t just watch – get involved in 2010”

    1. Great Article !!

      I and my bunch of friends always wanted to join F1 as Engineers. After passing out, I started blogging about F1 and others went to their respective jobs.But still, if any opportunity arrives here in India, we will be ready to grab it.

    2. In the video it looks as though you disappeared into the tyres until I saw you were further up the track! That must have been quite violent and unpleasant…

      1. Yeah, I’ve had more fun Sunday mornings. I was very lucky though, as when I got sent some still photos of the crash a week after the race they quite clearly showed my head hitting the armco. This was in 2004 so pre-HANS so my head was thrown all over the place

    3. Excellent article Ben – but there’s definitely a typo where it says “Although marshals do get paid…”!

      1. Yep, it shouldn’t definitely read ‘do not get paid’

        1. Ben I’m from India and Indian gp is due to start from 2011. Do you know how can I apply for Marshalling or any other job out there?

          1. Goto immc.in to apply for volunteering in india, and fmsci.in for info about racing licences and events.

            I was selected as a fire and rescue marshall(volunteer) for the indian grand prix, but left the job bcoz the people who were the in charge of the marshalls were really rude to us :(

          2. In the newly built buddh international curciut, the place where indian f1 is going to be, the tech is at its best. 310kmph+ fastest straight and speical barriers made from several well researched materials to protect the marshalls. They do spend a lot ON us, but they dont really pay us, lol

        2. it depends what kind of marshalling your doing. F1 marshals and most other Race marshalls don’t get paid. On the other hand, I am a full time trackday marshal, and i do get paid, and from time to time am asked to do (usually national level) race meetings (also paid alongside volunteer non paid marshals)

          Still exciting when people crash or fall off their mortorbike, just without the competetive edge (and we’re trained to a better standard having to deal with general public as “customers” rather than professionals).

    4. People should be aware with marshalling you’re not going to be able to just start with Formula 1. In the UK you need to be active for at least 1 year, and have a minimum of mashalling 12 race meets in the previous year before you’ll even be looked at.

      As Ben said it’s not always as fun as it may sound, standing in the pouring rain for an entire day, with nothing as protection.

    5. Awesome article.I hope it will help many people around the world,nice job.

    6. awesome one! I am frm malaysia and 17 and i which i could drive in F3 1 day though…lack of funds sigh…

    7. Fred Schechter
      6th February 2010, 15:19

      That’s neat about the racing licenses over there (glad you were ok after the shunt too!)
      Here in the states there are so many options just to get going it’s truly baffling (so far, just budget stuff for me, karting, ChumpCar, Lemons (yes, you read that right) and soon rally school).
      It seems fantastically more structured there.
      Go motorsport looks amazing too!
      Great bit here.

    8. If you’re mechanically minded, helping out an amateur driver is a great way of getting involved. Most race programmes show where the driver is from and if there’s someone local you should be able to find them in the paddock and offer your services.

      Plus you get to learn exactly what makes a racing car tick and you may pick up the odd trick or two – changing the gear ratios on a Hewland Mk9 gearbox, anyone?

      Even if your skills with a spanner are fairly lacking, there are always people who could do with another pair of hands. Watching GPs on television, it’s easy to underestimate just how useful it is having someone else to push the car to scrutineering and back, lugging the starter battery around, running the stopwatch in practice, manning the pit board, getting the car on and off the trailer, etc.

    9. Still my aim to get a job in F1 when I finish my engineering degree.

    10. I’m a mechanical engineering student and would love to end up working in F1 (as far fetched as that may be). This year I want to marshall the Montreal GP. I’ve been looking but finding it difficult to locate the place to sign up for volunteering. If anyone knows of the website to do so or a contact page, an help is appreciated.

      1. Contact ASRQ-QRFA, the local marshalling club in Quebec @ http://www.asrq.com/.

      2. Wout? I answered your question in the Canadian Grand Prix visitation blog.
        As I have suspected, you have never marshalled. If that is true, it shall be a few years ’till you work Montreal.

    11. Im into karting, i used to go racing every weekend. Got my msa license and everything. I started off in jica, then went to TKM and now im in senior rotax/senior biland. Since moving to the senior classes i find myself struggling to pay the expenses to be competitive. I find myself Marshalling now and then when i cant afford to race and i enjoy that as much as being on the track.

      you may think marshalling is boring, stand around in the same spot for ages and its even worse in the rain. You are WRONG. You have more of a chance to get up close and personal with the cars if your lucky enough to get a spin at your post, and as keith said.

      “Although marshals do get paid many organising clubs (in the UK) offer meal tickets, exclusive trackdays, raffles and other goodies. Best of all you get in for free and get to watch the worlds top motor racing from some truly exclusive vantage points.”

      Doesn’t every F1 fan want that?

    12. I’m just waitin for the indian gp….i’ll run to delhi straight away get into some kinda marshal job…..i dont care how much i get

    13. It’s very expensive to go on the races!

    14. One of the most helpful and informative articles yet! Thanks a lot for this info. I’ve signed up for a BMMC membership and will start marshaling training soon. Thanks a lot again. I’d never really thought about this or thought it was possible for me, being a full-time electronics engineer, to do something like this. I always wanted to get involved in racing in some way or other as I’ve been such an ardent fan of F1 and motorsport in general but had never found a way to do so.

      Thanks Keith for all the great work and thanks Ben for the superb article.

      This site rocks.

    15. Great article Ben.

      I am doing music technology and would love to get into sound for TV with some kind of motorsport if possible. I tried getting work experience and contacting Eurosport, Motors TV, ITV, GP2 teams… I’ve tried almost everything but looks like its a no go :( sad times

    16. Great article!! I’m at the end of a college course in Journalism in Ireland and have been trying to figure out how to get into motorsport journalism. Thanks for the advice!!!

    17. Terry Fabulous
      6th February 2010, 21:35

      This was a really good read. Well done Ben.

      Any Sydneysiders, I volunteered to help out as a Grandstand Usher at the Sydney 500 in December (V8Supercars).

      I got an AMAZING posy right at the fence near the cars and in return got a free ticket AND a free ticket for a friend which included the Cold Chisel, Living End, Grinspoon concert and all my food and drink over the weekend. I loved it and can’t wait for this year (apparently Pink will do a concert this year).

      If you enrol, let me know and we can say gday! http://www.v8supercarevents.com.au

    18. Brilliant article, but in the marshalling section you said that you cant go on post until you are 18, i marshal at silverstone and donington on post and im 16. You do need consent from a parent, which is my dad as he marshals as well, but before i was 16 i was usually in the assembly area. This was fun at silverstone as from brooklands you can see a lot of racing, but at donington the assembly was on the Melbourne hairpin and i didnt see any racing all day. Still got a lot closer to the cars and drivers than the public, and you dont have to pay to do it.

      1. Why dont Formula one organization pay you?
        Its supposed youre working in safety.

    19. Pedel to the Vettel
      7th February 2010, 0:16

      yer i tried to become a marshal for Brands hatch this year, but all they could give me was Grimsbe which i cant be asked to travel that far out every time. better to just wait next year.

    20. I wouldn’t mind doing some media… I haven’t got much kit in regards to cameras but I can find a decent spot and my timing isn’t bad. Plus I’m trigger happy – with a laptop on my bag so xfer photos/clear out the memory card for more pictures.

      Keith put some of my Monza 2009 pictures up last year – I can’t remember the URL though.

    21. Great article, if any of you have a spare 2mins please visit my new website http://www.nickhipkinonf1.blogspot.com

      Thanks

    22. I’m sorry, but I can’t be the only person who read this with incredulity.

      The bottom line is that the state of Marshal organisation in the UK is appalling.

      Perhaps I’ve had a particularly bad experience, but the whole of last year was fraught with poor communication, paying to join the BMMC without actually ever getting to go to an event, and visiting Internet forums in an attempt to find out what is going on.

      Too many different clubs, too many different contacts, and too many different opinions.

      It disappoints and almost angers me, to read of initiatives like Go Motorsport and the like, when in reality, actually getting yourself onto a Marshal post is exceedingly difficult.

      The unfortunate end, is that I will never recommend anyone attempt to marshal.

    23. I would just like to add the possibility of Superkarts under the competing bit. These machines can be had for as little as 2000 and with a relatively inexpensive licence purchase (plus a few short circuit races) you could be racing at tracks like Silverstone! I have worked out it costs us around 5000 a year (including absolutely EVERYTHING) to run one, which isn’t bad since they do 140mph and (at some tracks) lap similarly to F3 cars. The competition is the best bit about it though, no Truli trains, just proper racing with around 40 on all the best UK circuits.

      Definitely the way to go if you ask me before cars….

    24. I started marshaling last year, with the original intention of working my way to the Grands Prix. In the time I’ve been involved, though, I’ve seen many, many other series and formulae that provide just as much excitement, and incredibly close and furious racing. While I still love F1 (or else why would I be on this site?) I have a greater appreciation for the “lower orders” of motor sport. You can now find me at one circuit or another most weekends throughout the year enjoying great racing and spending time with my fellow marshals – some of the warmest and friendliest people you could wish to meet.

      In short – if you like motor sport, give marshaling a try. You won’t regret it.

    25. Brilliant post. Much to think about and thanks very much…

    26. Thanks for the great article, especially the links!

      I live in Singapore, and have marshalled for F1 race here for the past 2 years. Will be marshalling in Melbourne and Singapore this year. It’s been a fantastic experience so far!

      Since there isn’t much grassroots motorsport here, my very first marshalling gig was directly in F1, which I know is really fortunate compared to marshals in the UK etc. Now I’m looking for ways to move into motorsport full time… but I’m really at a loss as to HOW.

      I come from an IT background, and don’t have any other hands-on motorsport experience other than the marshalling. I’d like to work in a team (eventually in F1, hopefully) but I don’t think I have the sort of specific skills that teams might need… though I totally don’t mind being “an extra pair of hands”, as someone above said. The other option is race organisation, for which I will get in touch with the bodies you have listed.

      That’s my story :) Any comments/help/ideas would be appreciated. Thanks again for the article. Cheers!

    27. I would love to become involved in Formula 1. No matter what job, how much i get payed or how tough the job is.

    Comments are closed.