Unsung heroes

MGLive! Silverstone Race Report 2013

What is a marshal?

Well, there are different functions and duties which need to be carried out during any motor racing or trial event, and these are carried out by marshals who will be trained in the relevant duty. You will be exposed to the elements and should wear appropriate clothing, even full weather protection sometimes, or sun screen at the opposite end of the weather spectrum. The different roles are summarised here:

Post Chief

The Post Chief (usually but not always an Observer) are experienced marshals who act as the eyes and ears of the Clerk of the Course (CoC). Duties include setting up the post organisation, ensuring all on post know their duties for the day, and each other, and to brief all marshals on post situation and point out hazards or special needs, ensure all equipment is present and in good order. Keep event control and CoC informed of all incidents and occurrences. Control handling of incidents, and reporting any infringement to the CoC. Observe also assess marshal’s performance and advise trainees, but only an Examining grade Observer/Post Chief can do an assessment of a marshal who wishes to upgrade to a higher or different grade. Orange overalls are preferred.

Track Marshal and Experienced track marshal

These are the flag and incident marshals who operate at key points track side around a circuit. Flag marshals or flaggies give flag signals to drivers and competitors during a race. A certain amount of training is required as is a good deal of attention during the race. You will be very close to the action but also closely focused on what’s happening on track. Sometimes you will act on your own initiative as a result of what happens on track and sometimes on instructions from the Post Chief. Track marshals deal with any incidents from pushing a car to safety to dealing with accidents to clearing up debris and sweeping the track, always under instruction from the Post Chief or Incident Officer (if present). Previous experience is not essential as training/guidance will be given. Orange overalls are preferred.


Start line are responsible for ensuring that all competitors are correctly positioned on the grid according to their qualifying times to start the race following their release from the assembly area. Following the signal of a green flag from the starter, the competitors complete a warm up or green flag lap before re-gridding themselves and the race can then start, usually by light signals. There may be one or sometimes two green flag laps depending on the race and weather conditions. Previous experience is not essential as training/guidance will be given. Orange overalls are preferred.


The Pit Lane at all race meetings is a restricted area and pitlane marshals (who may double up/combine as Start line marshals) are responsible for ensuring only authorised personnel are present. This is particularly important at MGCC meetings where the deliberately relaxed access to the paddock area can lead to spectators wandering beyond safe limits; hence an element of spectator control may be necessary, requiring a tactful but firm approach. Orange overalls are preferred.

Assembly area/Paddock area

When you see cars appear on a race grid or line up in an orderly fashion at the Start line for a sprint or hill climb, this is the result of much work by the paddock/assembly marshals. They work in harmony with the control centre and are a vital element in ensuring the event runs on time. You will see the drivers and cars at close hand, and it can be very noisy – ear protection is a must. You will be guided by a team leader so previous experience is not essential but you will be on your feet for most of the day. Orange overalls are preferred.

Race Control/Administration

Very much a “behind the scenes” role but has the definite advantage of usually being indoors, or possibly under canvas! Every event relies on volunteers to enter times/ scores/results in a master programme or laptop, or diligently sort score cards or competitors licences into order. Duties range from signing on competitors, race phones, log keeping, so anyone with any level of computer skills or neat handwriting is welcome. Again previous experience is not essential as training/guidance will be given.

Driving tests

At each test it is necessary to monitor the performance of every competitor who attempts it. You must observe for correct route through the test, whether bollards or markers have been hit, stopping across the line etc and somebody needs to time the test. You remain very close to the action and must always ensure spectator safety. Usually a lot of fun. Again previous experience is not essential as training/guidance will be given.

Cadet Marshal

Open to all marshals between their 11th and 16th birthday. Until 16 they are NOT allowed track side but may marshal in the paddock/assembly areas.

We are only too aware that NONE of our events or meeting could run without the dedicated support of our volunteer marshals. It is an ever pleasing fact that they turn up meeting after meeting, and get on with it. We will always try and give volunteers their preferred duty, but we do ask that you approach the task with an open mind and be willing, on the odd occasion, to accept duties other than your favorite. For example if we had a hundred start-line marshals we would probably need to redeploy some of them!

Motorsport UK Marshals Registration and Grading scheme

You do not need to be a registered marshal to do it but there are advantages. If you wish to progress as a marshal and take on more responsibility then it is a good idea. It means your attendance at meetings is recorded and by gaining experience you can move forward and upgrade your skills through a fairly straightforward process. Attendance at a training day at a minimum of every other year is required, but one every year is recommended.

To be registered you need to fill in a form which needs to be signed by Paul Stilling, MGCC Chief Marshal and a Motorsport UK licensed Lead Trainer. You will need to decide which area of marshaling you wish to pursue, for example race, speed (hill climbs and sprints), rally or trials (cross country/off road) but it is not cast in stone and many of us delight in attending a variety of events.

From the Club’s point of view there is a huge benefit in you becoming registered and going forward through the process and become a marshal or post chief or specialist. It means the standard of marshalling that the club delivers at a meeting is of a recognised standard. Being registered does impose an obligation on you to attend a minimum number of meetings a year, generally a minimum of 4, as well as a minimum of one training day every other year. Not too onerous is it.

Your club needs you!

Further information is available from (Motorsport UK) website at www.motorsportuk.org or from the Volunteers in Motorsport website at www.volunteersinmotorsport.co.uk