Flagging and Communications
is a sub specialty of race worker
charged with communicating information about race safety
and race control
to the drivers
, and the operating steward
, who is actually in charge of the race. F&C
workers are the eyes and ears
of the steward
, and co ordinate rescue
services while on track. Generally they co-ordinate with the steward via radio net
or by a land line
, with each other through hand signals
and to the drivers by means of flag
s. Any driver who has left the course
or has stopped on course due to an accident
is under the control of F&C workers, who are often referred to as corner worker
The specialty grew up with road racing. Originally, all road races began on public roads, temporarily closed for purposes of competition. Because such courses involved natural terrain features, and are quite long -- for example the original Nurburgring circuit was 14.167 miles long - it is simply impossible for the entire course to be viewed from any one spot. Moreover, because road racing involves both right and left turns and elevation changes, drivers need to know of potential hazards that my lie around the next bend, but are invisible to them. And with such a long course with multiple bends, it is possible to face a hazard in one spot, but race safely elsewhere.
It is for this reason that road courses are dotted with corner stations or flag stations. The persons manning each station is known as a corner worker or turn marshall. Each will have a radio, or land line at that location, and will enjoy a line of sight that slightly overlaps that of the next station. In this way the entire course may be under constant supervision. At Mid Ohio Sports Car Course between 12 and 16 corner stations will be operated at any one time. Most are co-located with the flags. A station may be operated as an outpost where only a communicator is required because the course layout creates a blind spot.
In the event of a serious incident, F&C workers are the first to respond, often running to the car or cars involved with a fire extinguisher. F&C workers are charged with evaluating the situation and summoning any rescue or support equipment that may be required. However, only the steward may actually dispatch an ambulance, wrecker or other equipment. Still, clear and definite requests are rarely refused. Corner workers may be required to writeup the incident, which is a legal document.
In addition to the workers on track, F&C workers will man the tower, where the race is actually run. One will work copy and is charged with recording every single thing said on the net, with a time code. The other is control and they are responsible for co-ordinating communications between the stations, announcing flag state and mediating with the steward. The job can be very challenging during a busy session, as incidents often occur simultaneously at more than one location, with emergency vehicles on course.
F&C is a sub-specialty recognized under the Sports Car Club of America or (SCCA)’s General Competition Rules or GCR. All workers in the United States are trained and licensed under SCCA rules, in the rest of the world, the FIA sanctions workers. The SCCA and the FIA recognize each other’s licenses.
In America, an F&C workers SCCA region is charged with training, though in many cases training is deferred to a larger group. In Ohio, the training and staffing of F&C workers is handled by Lake Erie Communications one of America’s premier flagging organizations. Lake Erie workers developed a comprehensive system of hand signals that permit workers to send quite detailed race related messages to each other over a distance, including summons for emergency vehicles. They operate a number of schools for new workers, including a fire school where workers practice extracting injured drivers, fighting car fires and other emergency situations.
F&C workers licensed by the SCCA service almost all professional racing series in America, including CART, NASA, the Grand Am, TransAm, American LeMans as well as FIA sanctioned events such as the United States Grand Prix.
For more detailed information noders are advised to consult the GCR or contact your local SCCA region.
your SCCA region can be found at the SCCA's website, http://www.scca.org