A corner worker
, or turn marshall
, is the short term for a race worker
in the specialty flagging and communications
. They are responsible for providing informational racing flags
to the drivers, that allow the racers to adjust their speed and racing line
for safety. Or corner workers may work race control
and provide the communications link between the corner station
s and the operating steward
Corner workers are generally assigned to corner stations in teams of two or greater. One worker will display the yellow flag, the other the blue flag and other flags as needed. One worker will be assigned as communicator and is responsible for conveying track conditions and requests to control as well as status information to his or her fellow crew members. Each corner station is responsible for a fixed and finite section of the track. Corner workers do not sit while cars are on track, they are always standing if for no other reason than to evade an out-of-control race car. On track corner workers dress in all-white clothing for visibility, though the sanctioning body may request changes. If you are watching a road race and see people in white alongside the track, they are corner workers.
As a corner worker, you will enjoy an unparalleled view of the race. I have personally stood five meters from the track on the start line of a CART race at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course. In 2001 I was six feet from the track, and could look straight down into the any car's cockpit. I've also ran on track during a race to deal with an emergency. It gets the adrenalin going. During an emergency the corner workers are in charge of co-ordinating all rescue activity on track.
While on station, corner workers will use a designed set of hand signals to communicate with each other and other corner stations during the race. It is a racing-oriented sign language, designed to be understood from a distance.
In the United States, corner workers are licensed by the Sports Car Club of America. SCCA licensed workers are employed at almost every road, and many oval racing events in the United States including CART, the American LeMans series, the IRL, vintage racing, motorcycle and go kart events, and the United States Grand Prix. Training is provided by the individual regions, or by a flagging organization such as Lake Erie Communications. In Europe, the "marshalls', are licensed by the FIA. The SCCA and FIA recognize each other's licenses, and it is not unusual to see SCCA workers at Formula 1 races and FIA workers over here. Stories and beer are only part of the cultural exchanges
Many worker specialties require or encourage a background in flagging and communications. All starters are former, or current corner workers. Race control workers in the course specialty are strongly encouraged to have an flagging background. This is because course workers are charged with keeping the course clear, and often have to go out on a hot track in order to retrieve a broken or stuck car.
Any noder wishing more information about becoming a corner worker should visit the SCCA website at http://www.scca.org or their local racing organization. My experience is that even if you know no one, if you get into racing, you will quickly make friends.
Stan Wantland is a corner worker from the Washington DC region, and while recovering from a heart attack was advised by his doctor to " relax, and do something you enjoy."
''I think I'd better tell you what I do for fun,'' he said. ''Shoving cars and running with fire bottles.''
Doc gave his blessings when Stan told him that an ambulance was always nearby. Which is a good thing because I've worked --- and drank (ahem) a few beers--- with Stan.
Noders wishing further information on flagging are strongly encouraged to read the following nodes: roof racing, flagging and communications, blue flag, corner station and racing flags. Yes, they're mine, but you will get a lot more depth than was appropriate for this w/u.