RACE: Blackhawk - a corner worker story

Old dog - New trick by Dave Vollman Here is my "what I did this weekend" report, or, more correctly, time to teach an old F&C dog a new trick....... I worked the double drivers school this weekend at Blackhawk. I've been working corners for...

Old dog - New trick

by Dave Vollman

Here is my "what I did this weekend" report, or, more correctly, time to teach an old F&C dog a new trick.......

I worked the double drivers school this weekend at Blackhawk. I've been working corners for 7 or 8 years now (I'm too old to remember), I've clawed my way up to a national, so this weekend became my first installment in the CIT (captain in training) program. This event was sponsored by 4 (count 'em, 4) regions, CHI, LOL, Milwaukee and BVR.

My trainer was Steve McGinn, who also happened to be one of the captians the very first SCCA weekend I worked. On friday, we were out at 3d (for those of you not familiar with blackhawk, 3d is more or less a left, right, left chicane). We had decent staff for a Friday, which made me think I would do a lot of watching and learning. Steve was more of the trial by fire trainer, he handed me the vest in session 2, always being very close by in case he was needed. Friday went very smoothly, with just an assortment of pull offs and spin and continues. So basically, I just had to deal with flag calls and directing traffic. I never felt that I was in over my head at all this day, but the things I needed to do as captian were pretty cut and dried.

Saturday we were out at 1 (long front stretch, 90 degree right). We had an amazing turnout on Saturday, with 10 workers at our station. This, of course means we need to do much more planning with rotations, far safetys, etc. We (mainly meaning Steve) figure it all out, and it's time for session 1. We will say that the crew at 1 was very experienced (at 40, I was the second youngest person on the corner), including a former national administrator and several people I've been under as captians. I was captian for the first session, and as everyone who knows me will tell you, I'm a bit of a crap magnet. So, of course, a big sedan has the throttle hang on the main straight. The driver downshifted to get some speed off of it and immediately snap spins and gets a little air, nails the armco twice and slides to a stop. Here's your baptism by fire! Driver is OK, car not too bad. Fortunately, the session ended as the wrecker was arriving. This means the arrival of flag marshalls and other assorted people I know who have to give me a hard time.

We had an unfortunate incident 2 sessions later (while I was cross track safety with a novice). A T2 mustang went straight off and rolled. Yikes! Driver OK, car not. Either the brakes faded or he got in too deep. That was enough for the morning.

The afternoon was pretty quiet, I was in the vest for the practice starts, which drew a crowd down to the corner (including Peter O. who was a steward for the event). I probably overflagged a pull off in one of the sessions, and I got hung up between a white or yellow decision on a slow car once. I guess that's part of the learning experience. Managing a large crew on a corner is a bit of a job in itself. Fortunately, I never felt like I was in too deep, but I also didn't have the big things to deal with.

I'd like to give a big thanks to Steve for having patience with me, all the experienced folks on the crew who gave me valuable advice, the flag marshalls and stewards for putting up with me, and to Kevin Coulter, who dragged me out to a corner for the first time and got me hooked.

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Series SCCA
Tags GRASSROOTS