14 May BEHIND THE SCENES AT KILLARNEY – MARSHALS
No motorsport is possible without marshals. Their flag signals warn competitors of changing track conditions, problems around the next corner, slow moving vehicles ahead of you and faster moving vehicles coming up behind you.
Each post is also in constant contact with race control, to warn the clerk of the course of incidents or hazards on the circuit.
Most important of all, they are on the spot to help you when you crash (and we all do from time to time!) to take care of you in the vital few seconds before the medics get there, and to put out the fires that can – and do – erupt when petrol gets spilled on to hot metal.
But there’s a lot more to being a marshal than that: The marshals also control the entrance and exit to pit lane, crew the fire response vehicle and provide the members of the extraction team. That’s exactly what its name says it is – a team of highly trained marshals whose job it to extract the driver from a burning or dangerously unstable vehicle.
Until 2018 Killarney’s extraction team was officially the fastest in the world; in 2019 they lost the title to a team (mostly made up of professional rescue personnel) from a European circuit – by mere tenths of a second!
The Killarney marshals began as a offshoot of the Metropolitan Motorcycle and Car Club in the late 1950s and when the ‘Mets’ merged with three more clubs to form an umbrella body for the circuit in 1965, they became a founding section of the new Western Province Motor Club.
It takes at least 40 marshals (the more the better!) to run a main-circuit race day or practice day, about half that number to ensure safety at a Short Circuit, Rallycross or Drag Racing meeting. Given that Killarney hosts about 200 events per year, nearly all of them needing marshalling, you will understand why the Marshals Section say they can never have enough man (and woman) power.
Especially as the marshals are all volunteers; they are paid a stipend to cover their transport costs, their uniforms are sponsored and they get lunch on main-circuit race days.
That said, in these uncertain times many of our marshals, especially those drawn from previously disadvantaged areas in the vicinity, are otherwise unemployed, and that stipend is their only income. They have become stalwart members of the Killarney family, and their dedication to being the best marshals they can be, is exemplary.