Volunteer Official Roles
Every MotorSport New Zealand permitted event enlists a variety of volunteer officials who are responsible for the efficient running and safety of the event.
Every event requires numerous different volunteer official roles, with each type of event having a different make-up and quantity of volunteer officials.
Below are the most common volunteer official roles. If one of the roles below sounds like something you’re keen to be a part of, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or your local member club to get involved.
A secretary is often the first person that competitors meet when attending an event so are important to help ensure that the day starts off on the right foot. As part of their responsibilities, a secretary verifies and issue track credentials/documentation, accept driver entries, including payments for the event, and communicate important information to people involved with the event. Names for this role include race secretary, event secretary or documentation.
This is one of the most visible volunteer official roles and, if you are a competitor, it’s one we highly recommend you try. Flag marshals are strategically positioned around at a race circuit, providing you with the closest seat in the house to the racing action.
In this role, you will use specified flags and other means to communicate track conditions to competitors. You will also communicate with Race Control via radio and serve as their eyes on the track. If there is an incident on the circuit, you’ll serve as the first responder to communicate between competitors and other safety specialties.
From a competitor’s perspective, many flag marshals have volunteered for several years and gained an understanding of the fastest line through the turns and know what to be on the lookout for. No matter what point you flag at, it’s a great learning experience. And getting to know the people who may be flagging while you are out on the track never hurts.
All eyes are on the starter holding the flag at the beginning and the end of the race, but waving the green and the chequered flag is just a small part of what starters do. They maintain the lap count and elapsed time for the session, follow the race order by charting the race, and, as if that were not enough, they act as a flag marshal point, performing many of the same tasks of that specialty.
Scrutineer / Technical Officer
If you have an interest in inspecting race cars and poking around under the bonnet, this could be a great role for you.
The scrutineers and technical officers are responsible for pre-event and post-event safety inspections on competition vehicles and checking that the competitor’s safety gear, i.e. helmet, race suit, etc, meet current regulations.
Depending on the level of event, after a race or rally concludes, the top few competitors are told to report to the technical area to have various items on their vehicle checked to ensure legality, including such things as the car’s minimum weight.
Usually working in a small team, the pit marshals direct traffic in the pit lane to ensure the safety of competitors, crew members, other volunteers and sometimes spectators.
During qualifying and practice sessions, the pit lane of a race circuit is a busy place with many people on the move.
Other responsibilities include anything from putting out small fires, ensuring no one does anything unsafe, lining cars up in a specified order to be released onto the track, to directing cars either to the paddock or back out onto the track.
Being a grid marshal often offers a special opportunity to talk to competitors waiting on the assembly grid for their turn to go out on the track. The grid marshals make sure competitors have all required personal safety equipment and that they are in the correct grid position.
It’s a role where the right attitude makes for a better experience for both the official and the driver or crew. Before the five-minute warning, the relaxed atmosphere leads to friendly banter, but once the drivers begin to get ready, it’s all business.
The race circuit often requires attention whether an incident created a problem or other conditions have developed a concern for drivers. These marshals help in clean-ups and removing damaged and broken cars from the course.
At a moment’s notice, you may need to respond to the scene of an accident and provide critical assistance. This can range from medical response, fire fighting to vehicle recovery. The vehicle recovery crew also help clean up after crashes, impacts and other on-track incidents.
Timing and Results (Race)
These volunteers collect timing and lap data to create lap charts and results sheets for each practice, qualifying or race. They also create the starting grids and much more.
They utilise computer-based programmes to create this vital material and all information needs to be verified by people capable of ensuring there are no glitches with the timing transponders or other issues.
Timing Crews (Rally)
Timing marshals help at start and finish controls of special stages in rallies or a start and finish line on sprint events. They operate the control zones often with timing equipment around them.
Timing marshals are trained in the role and this involves the filling out of time cards and entering times on an electronic system at major rallies or simplified systems at club sprint events. Sometimes stopwatches are used but mostly nowadays there is some form of electronic timing system so times are super accurate.
Rally timing crews get to see some magnificent countryside and go to places they may have never even heard of, and get to meet the competitors and be part of the event.
Any rally, hillclimb or other motorsport event run on a public road that is closed for the event’s duration needs block marshals to ensure the security of the roads, competitors and public.
The role is simple but not always easy, requiring good communication skills, diplomacy and tact, for example when you’re talking with members of the public who wish to enter the road that is closed.
Your briefing will include copies of paperwork to show those who wish to see evidence of the road closure and its legality. You may help tape-off road closures, intersections and spectator areas, post signs, etc and remove these when the event concludes.
Block marshals enjoy a front-row view of the action.
Service Park Timing Crews
A service park is where rally entrants have to service their vehicles, which is a controlled area run under very specific conditions and rules.
At the entry to a service park, competitors are required to check in to time control. This is like special stage timing and the competitor’s time card will have their time of reporting. Service parks can have other controls which all use the same process of time card notations and log sheets to back up the electronic equipment so all competitors are tracked and kept to a timetable.
If they fail to report to any time control by their due time, they incur penalties so they are usually very diligent at being in the right place at the right time.
This person effectively runs or controls a rally special stage. They will have extensive knowledge of rallying and the rules relating to this part of the sport along with experience at all positions on a timing crew.
They guide their timing crew and ensure the special stage runs on time and follows the rules of the sport. It is essential that all competitors get their times recorded correctly and the log sheets are completed and times calculated at the finish control correctly.
Club / event management
Most clubs and events are run with a business-like approach and are always in need of helpers. If you have secretarial, organising, event management, communication, marketing, numeracy or literary skills, then there will be a job for you within a member club and their events.
Competitor Relations Officers (CRO)
A competitor relations officer is a licenced official whose role is to be a liaison between the event’s clerk of the course and the competitors. This person must be fully knowledgeable of the rules of the sport.
The CRO will handle competitor inquiries and report these to the Clerk of the Course and become involved in advising the competitor on their rights and the rules relating to their inquiries or breaches of the rules.
Clerk of the Course
The Clerk of the Course (CotC) is the second most senior official at a motorsport event. They are responsible for running the meeting in accordance with the National Sporting Code and, in particular, the regulations governing it, except where an Event Director has authority. There are three levels of CotC – Bronze, Silver and Gold.
Stewards are appointed officials who are responsible for enforcing the National Sporting Code as well as the rules and regulations governing the Meeting or Event. Stewards generally are not involved in the operation of an event like the Clerk of the Course and instead act as the approving authority and to hear protests of a Clerk of the Course desicion.