The speed, the excitement, and the risk – there’s something about motorsport that makes it thrilling to watch. But, while those behind the wheel are responsible for most of the action, people behind the scenes are just as important.
Take Michael Sepeng, one of the marshals at Zwartkops Raceway, for example. Michael joined the track in 2006 after marshalling for various other circuits, and since then has grown a passion for the sport rooted in its unpredictable nature. “There’s always something new happening! There’s never a dull moment on the track,” he enthuses.
Michael’s responsibilities make him one of the most important people on the track: marshals play a key role in ensuring drivers’ safety, for instance, and are strategically positioned around the track so that they can immediately provide assistance in case there is an accident or if the drivers experience track issues or mechanical problems. It’s also thanks to the marshals that the track looks great: they keep the pit and track areas safe and clean and report any concerns to race control or track management so that it remains fully functional.
The role is becoming increasingly technical, thanks to the introduction of electronic timing, number boards, LED lights, and messaging. Moreover, while most marshals are volunteers, the position requires training. In fact, the different types of marshals – incident, flag, fire, and observer – all need different skills and are graded according to their experience and effectiveness.
Because of the demands of the job, marshals need to be fit and strong. Marshalling is, therefore, an ideal way for youngsters interested in entering the sport to gain some experience on the track.
People who are eager to learn more about the role and what it entails should visit www.motorsport.co.za.