Looking to Lower Your Lap Times? Try Flagging
October 10th, 2018 by James Chartres
By Aaron Meyer
If you have ever considered volunteering with SCCA, do it. I experienced my first-time volunteer flagging at the June 29th– July 1stSonoma Majors race weekend. I chose to volunteer for this weekend since it was the second biggest race weekend of the year, with the Runoffs being the biggest. This race weekend also had many out of state racers getting their practice in before the Runoffs.
I started racing karts when I was 13, and as soon as I got my license I went through driver’s school in 2008 in a Formula Vee. While racing in FV I always had an appreciation for the flaggers. Being in the slower class of our group I relied on them to signal when the faster classes are coming up behind, along with any incidents on the track. I had always wanted to try flagging to gain a new perspective and appreciate what the volunteers experience during a race weekend.
The Sonoma weekend was a great weekend. I showed up on the Thursday before the race weekend and I felt welcomed right away in the Worker Camp overlooking the crammed paddock. Both Friday and Saturday I was working with a friendly guy named Alan on Turn 11, and on Sunday I was at Turn 6. It was great working with Alan, he brought me up to speed and we started to work in sync. I worked blue flags, and Alan on yellow flags and Comms. Turn 11 had a great perspective of the track seeing the exit of turn 10 and watch the cars disappear to the Start/Finish. The weekend was a little hectic to say the least. I flagged for spins, cars getting lapped, and even a brake failure (no injuries).
While volunteering for this event was certainly a blast, it was also definitely very hard. The volunteers are the first ones on the track and the last ones off the track, with sometimes a lot of down time between sessions. They are out there in the elements, be it heat, cold, rain, wind, or a combination. All the volunteers love racing and they love being at the track, even if that means sitting at a corner worker station or running around in the rain. When the checkered flag falls, if you’re a racer, be sure give a wave to all the volunteers on your cool down lap. It’s greatly appreciated and being gifted a checkered flag from a driver is also a big bonus. If you have the time, come to the worker social and thank them personally.
Here is a tip, if you are having problems with a certain corner, or at a new track, talk to the corner workers during the social. They are watching hundreds of cars go through their corner all day and might be able to help you improve your lines. If you ever considered volunteering, do it. As a racer, I feel that this experience has helped me with my driving and understanding from a flagger’s perspective. I enjoyed it so much that I also volunteered for Laguna Seca and the Monterey Historics.
I want to give thanks to the following people for helping me get involved with volunteering and making it a fun experience: James Chartres, Scott Zediker, Jeff Olinger, Ron Cabral, Ron Branam, Ron, Heather Streets, Lynn Hunting, Alan Mertons and the rest of the Volunteers.
Thank you for volunteering Aaron, big thumbs up from the drivers.