My involvement with Motorcycle racing officially started in 1985 until 1991 as a rider’s wife. My ex was a ‘win it or bin it’ type of racer and this experience provided a great foundation for my Marshalling, in more ways than one! In those days there was only one rider’s rep for Bemsee and my ex was it… giving me further insight. I could go on and on but I’ll try and spare you my philosophies…
I met some great people and when my ex retired, I didn’t think I had any choice but to retire from racing as well. But it had already taken hold of me and was in my blood so, when I found myself in need of a new hobby in 1998, I hadn’t forgotten how much I loved everything that was Motorcycle racing… the people, the feeling of being involved, the atmosphere, the circuits, the adrenalin… I also hadn’t forgotten my beliefs that we can make racing as safe as possible whilst maintaining the spirit of competitiveness. I phoned Bemsee and asked if I could volunteer for some Marshalling and it’s right up there with the BEST decision’s I have ever made… I haven’t looked back since.
My Marshalling experience started as a flag Marshal and, once I’d mastered negotiating the tyre walls (well actually I never mastered it… to this day it remains the single most scariest thing about Marshalling), I participated in clearing incidents. It wasn’t long before the then Chief Marshal, Pixie Pete, persuaded me to become a Corner Commander (eyes and ears for Race Control on a section of the circuit) and I’m happy to say that I got to listen, observe and work with most of the Corner Commanders of the day… I can honestly say that my Marshalling experiences over the years have been amongst some of the scariest, saddest and funniest times of my life to date. I wouldn’t have missed it for the World. On corner you meet all types... from toilet cleaners to CEO’s.
After feeling the need for a change, I worked on start line with the great Jeff Matthews and a fantastic start line crew for a couple of years and this provided yet another insight.
Eventually, when no-one else came forward, I decided to put my money where my mouth was and took the plunge as Chief Marshal. I did my Rookie year in 2016, shadowing Mike Hodgins (a fantastic inspiration). His predecessor, Ron Humphries, also remains one of my ‘behind the scenes’ hero’s (how I love that grumpy old git… even if he did put me on toilet duties all the time).
I see my role as Chief Marshal as a supportive one. I’m there to support the boys and girls out there on corner, doing the real work. I’m there to facilitate that as much as I possibly can. At any given meeting you may find me on toilet relief duties, annoying race control arguing over how much lunch break the Marshals get, distributing sandwiches to the race office and hearing Mike Dommett’s complaints about salad, signing the Marshals on, allocating corners, supporting the Marshals if they’ve had to deal with a particularly difficult incident… basically anything and everything that might come up… I’ve even had to give the odd massage and apply sun tan lotion on corner.
So, what’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned over the years? … I always tell the Marshals not be afraid of their mistakes… I think the biggest lesson I have learned is the recognition that everyone makes mistakes and the team is there to limit those mistakes… the quicker you hold your hand up, the quicker you rectify the mistakes and learn from them. I’ve made more mistakes Marshalling than anyone else I know… and that’s the truth. Thank the lawd for a sense of humour is all I can say!!
I remain PASSIONATE about rider safety within the realms of maintaining the spirit of the sport and competitive racing and I love the Marshals more than I can put into words. xx