Wanna Flag? Part 1 - Introduction
the following are a series of articles by Mack McCormack
Are you 16–17 years old and already an SCCA member under your parent’s family membership? Are you tired of sitting on the other side of the fence at the track? Do you want to get out where the action is? Have you ever thought what it would be like to work at a flag station or on the grid? It is easier than you think and you can do it! Here’s how.
Minors 16 and 17 may work in the hot areas at a track event if they have “W’s” stamped (front and back) on their membership license card. The “W” lets the registrar know that a minor waiver form is on file at the national office. The waiver states that your parent or legal guardian gives their permission for you to work in a hot track area. The minor waiver form is available only from the national office (not from the SCCA website) and a new form is required each year. Minor waiver forms must be notarized or witnessed by an SCCA member. The original minor waiver form has to be in the national office prior to the event and cannot be issued at the event. Faxed waivers are not valid. Members who are 18 and 19 years old do not need a waiver.
Once you have the proper “W” on your license you can register as a worker at the front gate. The registrar will give you a “hot track” armband that allows you access to the pits, flag stations and grid. Then, on the morning of the event (usually between 7 and 8 AM at the cafeteria), see the Flag Chief for a station assignment before the official F&C meeting. You will be assigned to an experienced corner captain who will instruct you in the basics of flagging (the F of F&C). Although, at first, it may seem like a lot of information, none of it is complicated or hard to do. You will not be on station as an observer, but will immediately become an integral part of the team. As you gain experience and confidence in one skill, new skills will be added. By the end of the day you will be amazed at how much you have learned. You will also realize that there is a lot more going on out there than you ever thought.
If you have a scanner, bring it along so that you can listen in on the communications network (the C in F&C). This is the means by which what is happening at each corner is relayed to central "Control". Control is located in the tower opposite the Start-Finish line. Also in the tower are the stewards who are running the event. They make all of the decisions, but they need good information to make the right decisions. Those decisions are based on information relayed from each corner station via Control. As you listen in on the network you will become familiar with the types of calls and the jargon used on the “net”. Everything that is reported by a station to control is recorded in a written log so it is important to be accurate and concise. As you become familiar and more confident with the way reports are made you will take a turn as communicator. Unless you have previous experience with radio communications, most new flaggers find “phones” the hardest job to feel comfortable doing. With practice and experience it will all become second nature.
So what can you do between now and the start of the next racing season? First of all, make sure that your minor waiver is on file at the SCCA office in Topeka, and that your SCCA membership card has a “W” on both sides. Without that “W” you can’t get near the action. Next, mark your calendar for the Flagging and Fire/Rescue School to be given as a joint effort by NER, NYR, NNJR and Mod-Hud regions at Lime Rock Park in March. Check later issues of PIT TALK for the exact date. This is the best way to get all the information about working a corner, responding to a car and putting out a fire before the season starts. Finally, come out for the first event of the 2007 NER calendar, in April, for a double driver’s school and regional at NHIS. Come join us in the action and fun; be a part of the F&C team. We look forward to meeting you and teaching you to be a great flagger.