Rally Volunteering, The Best Seat in the House

Discussion in 'Tech, Tips, Newb Info' started by ScandiaWRX, Jun 25, 2007.

  1. ScandiaWRX
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    ScandiaWRX <font color="#f8467d">Rally Demi-goddess</font>

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    Ojibwe Forest Pro Rally will be here before you know it, end of August. There will likely be 50+ rally cars from all over North America there and an event of any size can't go on with out the help of many volunteers. There will be a number of spectator points through out the rally but, by far, the best seats in the woods will be had by volunteers. Ojibwe may be the biggest show in town but there are Regional Rallies that also need your help, as early May, so keep your eyes on the "Event Discussion" page for coming events.

    Bannering: Races are run on rented forest roads and every two track, foot path, side road and trail that intersects the rally roads needs to be closed "bannered" off with Caution tape to warn non-rally traffic and over eager spectators that the road will be closed soon and they should not venture out on to the road that may have cars going by at 100+ mph in the near future. You can volunteer to banner and still volunteer for other positions. At Ojibwe Forest Pro Rally last year, I helped banner some stage roads on Thursday and met Travis Pastrana, drivers door to drivers door, at the practice stage start line when I got done, very cool. Spectators won't get that close to the action watching from a spectator point.

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    Bannering Ojibwe Forest Rally 2006

    Marshal: Remember those roads we just bannered? Well, we better post volunteers at the major roads or non-rally traffic may just ignore the banner and decide to put themselves in a dangerous situation. Use your people skills to prevent access in a friendly way. You'll follow your stage captain out to your Marshal point in your own car and get your own, many times private, place to watch from. Break out the lawn chair, a non-alcoholic beverage, a snack and sit back for a good show. The only way to get closer to the action is to be inside a race car. Marshalls at spectator points still get a good spot to watch from but you gotta keep spectators in a safe spot while they watch, typically at a location with an exciting change in direction.

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    Spectator point at Sno*Drift rally 2007

    Time Controls: Want to see the action but keep a bit busier? Each stage needs volunteers to help with timing at the start and finish of each stage.

    Each special stage starts with an Start Time Control or ATC. See my avatar on the left, that's what it looks like. When cars arrive at their assigned minute they hand over their time card and you assign their ideal start time. They then pull ahead to the start line and get assigned their actual start time by another volunteer (see below pic). The start line at a national event is a lot like you would see on t.v. at World Rally Car event, with the start clock counting to 0, the light goes green and the race car sprays gravel as it leaves the line.

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    One of these would look great on my living room wall but I know Bruce would hunt me down.

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    ATC 1 at Sno*Drift 2007
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    -Finish Time Controls or FTC. Workers are positioned at the flying finish and at the timing car. At the flying finish you sit in a lawn chair or in your car near the actual finish line. As cars approach you use an FRS radio to notify the timing car and tell them the exact moment they cross the finish line. At National events they have fancy timing devices but they don't always work, for regional events the FRS may be it. A very good spot to watch the action. After the flying finish cars pull up to the timing car where they again present their time card to receive their official finish time. Night stages are very cool at the finish with the brake disks glowing red and, oh wait, was that a bear? Naw, they usually make a run for it with all the noise the cars are making.

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    Say, "Hi" to Travis!

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    Is this close enough to the action for ya?
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    HAM radio operators: Races need a lot of volunteer radio operators. Each start and finish control needs one, each spectator point needs one, certain marshall points need one, and each advance car needs to have someone on board that is one. Want to work your way to being an advance car, the cars that pre-run the course right before the race cars to check that everyone is in place? Get a HAM license, a radio and volunteer! Radio operators are many times in short supply and are vital to running a race. If an incident happens on course and the race needs to be stopped or medical is needed, the HAM radio network makes it happen.

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    Co-driver, Kim, runs back to warn oncoming cars of a blocked road after blind finish curve. HAM radios reported back to Rally net control, who temporarily halted starts.

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    Our view of stage 3 start as Med Sweep at 100 Acre Wood 2008.

    Medical: In case things go wrong, medical people are located at starts and at spectator points. Start Medical teams run each stage after the last race car to make sure they are safely through the stage. If an emergency happens, the race will be halted and Medical sent on course to deal with the emergency. Basic Life Support training and some medical gear is needed.

    Heavy Sweep: Typically big 4 wheel drive trucks with winches and they know how to use them. They are also stationed at starts and follow the last car. If a racer goes off course, like off in to the woods or perhaps a pond, sweep will help pull them out if they can and sometimes even tow them out .

    What else does volunteering get you? At most national races and some regional races volunteers may get a t-shirt and a meal or two. Many times there are hotel discounts for volunteers. At many national events the awards banquet is not usually open to the public, only for race teams, volunteers and organizers. Some events even have volunteer raffles (no you don't get to take home a volunteer but you may get cool swag like posters or a signed Subaru banner).

    Of course you could always be a spectator, park and walk up to a mile to the spectator point and try to see past 100 other spectators as cars fly by. Me? I'll stick to volunteering. It can be long hours and hard work but the more things you are willing to help with the more opportunities you have for fun. Teams really do appreciate our efforts (you can count on getting a "Thank you" and a handfull of candy from co-driver Jimmy Brandt at 2 a.m. or in the pouring rain, trust me) and its usually the best seat in the house.

    Check out www.rally-america.com for more info on National or Regional events or to sign up to volunteer.

    But wait, there's more... Think you have what it takes to race?

    First Volunteer to work at a race or four or more, you'll get the hang
    of how events run, time controls, route books, schedules, etc. Go race RallyCross then buy a used 2wd or turboless awd car rally car. RallyCross some more, then get your competition license, safety gear, a codriver and a crew of friends and go racing. Unless you have rally experience you gotta start 2wd, this is to help you gain experience and to keep you from investing in a more expensive awd car,wrapping it around a tree and possibly getting discouraged or, worse yet, hurt.

    Or be a co-driver! Can't afford to buy a rally car and still want to go racing? Almost every race has someone looking for a co-driver. Drivers only go where their co-driver tells them to and some of us excell at telling others where to go. Th co-drivers job is to keep the team on time, read the course instructions describing what the road does ahead to the driver, help fix car problems that pop up between services, and share expenses. Being able to think quick is a plus. At a recent regional race a well prepared co-driver I know ended up using his reading lamp to illuminate the road ahead of their car when the alternator failed, they actually finished the stage! You will also safety gear and a competition license.

    Also check out www.specialstage.com for more info on what it takes to put yourself in a rally car or see who is looking for help on their service crew.

    O.k. you want to be involved in a team but have no desire to go hurtling through the woods? Those trees lining the road look like very poor guard rails after all. Be part of a service crew. Top service crews can swap a tranny in 18 minutes. Yep, you heard right, 18 minutes! Stage roads are hard on cars. Brakes, suspension, electrical problems, etc. all need to be fixed in a short amount of time, typically 20 - 30 minutes for a service period. Extra hands are a big help and even if you don't know how to work on a car, someone needs to wash the windshield and it is appreciated. Only top teams get paid but you may get a t-shirt, a hot meal, and a hotel room floor to crash on. Service definitely puts the "HURRY" in Hurry up and wait!

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    O.K. not everybody has a service as plush as Subaru of America, but you get the idea.

    Check out the forums on www.specialstage.com for teams looking for help or to have any other imagineable rally question answered.

    Special thanks to Andrew Pickle at www.digitalspeed.org for pics from Sno*Drift and Carrie Carlson for Ojibwe Forest Rally pics.
     
  2. ScandiaWRX
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    ScandiaWRX <font color="#f8467d">Rally Demi-goddess</font>

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    Is This Close Enough for Ya Ray?

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  3. mayhem83
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    mayhem83 Well-Known Member

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    You can have the same "in" by volunteering to work the events. That is how Amy got started. It's only been a couple years and she's one of the notables now!
     
  4. ScandiaWRX
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    ScandiaWRX <font color="#f8467d">Rally Demi-goddess</font>

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    Would you believe Ojibwe Forest Rally 2006 was the very first rally I volunteered?! And the Corcoran RallyCross in July 2006 was my very first RallyCross. Thanks to encouragement from Mark U., Breon and Mark Holden, I then went on to volunteer at Ojibwe.
     
  5. Deride
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    Deride Well-Known Member

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    Sometimes cars blow up right at your road marshall location...
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    Poor Subaru...
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    Then you get to tow them....
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    Definatly worth volunteering. I will do what I can to either make Ojibwe or LSPR this year.
     
  6. ScandiaWRX
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    ScandiaWRX <font color="#f8467d">Rally Demi-goddess</font>

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    More detailed Worker Training material from Sandblast Rally was posted on SpecialStage by Anders Green. It has a lot more detail if you are interested in the real nuts and bolts of each volunteer position on a stage.
    http://sandblastrally.com/2007/worker-training.php

    Talk about nuts, he also swapped a 3.0L H6 into a GC8 Impreza
    http://linaracing.com/ under H6 FAQ. Very cool!
     
  7. ScandiaWRX
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    ScandiaWRX <font color="#f8467d">Rally Demi-goddess</font>

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    You have to be 18 years old or over but there is a waiver for a parent/guardian to sign for anyone under 18.

    E-mail Rally-America at this address to get specifics on the waiver signing if you are under 18 and want to come out. volunteer@rally-america.com

    If you have kids, you can bring them along too. Assuming you can keep them from wandering on to a stage road. I have a friend that brought her 3 and 5 y.o. kids and just brought lots of snacks and the dvd player for the mini-van.
     
  8. ScandiaWRX
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    ScandiaWRX <font color="#f8467d">Rally Demi-goddess</font>

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    2008 SnoDrift Rally

    Had a great time volunteering out in and around Atlanta, Michigan January 24 - 26. My usual co-driver, Carrie, was out with a injured back and couldnt' make it. An organizer friend of mine asked me to give Super Marshall a try, she knows I'm game for most anything. Still needing a co-driver, she paired me with a guy named Steve that works for Chrysler and used to be an organizer so he knew his way around the roads. I was a bit relieved Steve was able to help as the first guy the had assigned to co-drive for me was and actual co-driver and characterized as the "strange Polish guy", which had me a bit worried. Turns out Steve works for Chrysler all right, he's a development engineer with the SVPT Vehicle Dynamics at the Chelsea Proving Grounds and also teaches at Bondruant in Arizona. I was glad I didn't find all this out later or I would've been self conscious about my driving. He did say he was impressed with the stock suspension on my wagon and everytime we climbed an icy hill with ease he stated, "I have to get a Subaru."

    Turns out we were asked to work non-spectator Marshall points both Friday and Saturday. The weather was great and we had great views both days. On Friday they asked us to take the finish equipment from the start to the finish and set it up. Everyone knows the best way to get to the finish is to drive the stage, right :) Two guys stopped by to watch from our location on Camp 30 on Saturday and took some video. You can see us about 1/2 way through this video posted on You Tube. .

    After we were done marshalling Saturday we had some time to kill before we were going to watch from another spectator point. Steve asked if I wanted to go look at some stages that weren't being used in 2008. Considering some of the drivers he's seen at Bondurant, I doubt my driving scared him much even though it was snowy and icy. We were almost to the spot we were going to watch from when Net Control called asking how quickly we could get to stage 15 to assist with spectators. Steve said 8 minutes, so off we went. They were holding the stage when we got there and it was kind of cool to pass the rally cars waiting to run inorder to get in after Car 0 to see if we could help save the stage. There was a ton of people in all the driveways along the stage. We got stopped by a pair of Marshalls that were a little freaked that a snowmobiler had come tearing out of the woods and onto the road totally ignoring their shouts and waving trying to stop him. And that wasn't the trouble spot! We got going again trying to catch up to Car 0 only to hear him call off the stage before we got there. Oh well. We tried. We followed him out of the stage and continued on to the marshal point we were heading to before they called us. Good thing too as many of the spectators were heading there to watch and it wasn't an official spectator point.

    After all that it was off to the awards banquet and dinner. The highlight of the awards ceremony was hearing that Mark Holden had won the 4 day Team O'Neill Rally School. Lucky duck. All said and done an exciting weekend.

    I'll post up some about my trip to the 100 Acre Wood Rally in Missouri soon.

    Amy
     
  9. Rallygirl
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    Rallygirl New Member

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    [​IMG]

    It's even more fun when Mayhem throws rocks at you :laugh:
     
  10. M155L3R
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    M155L3R Well-Known Member

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    Yes it is one of the best seats in the house AND it can get you in a car at some point sometimes. I started as medical and worked several years, then left to be a co-driver. HAM radio does help and the test is not that bad. Working medical I did get to see many things that the normal spectator did not get to see
     
  11. 99Lashes RS
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    99Lashes RS Well-Known Member

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    What do you have to be certified in to work the medical?
     
  12. RallyNavvie
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    RallyNavvie Well-Known Member

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    Medics are usually EMTs, trained firefighters (who are also EMTs), or the occasional combat medic. Check with Rally America or the specific event people to be sure of what they're looking for.
     
  13. RallyNavvie
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    RallyNavvie Well-Known Member

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    Generally they want someone who is an EMT, a trained firefighter (who is also an EMT of sorts), or the occasional combat medic. I'd check with Rally America or the individual event coordinators to know for sure.
     
  14. ScandiaWRX
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    ScandiaWRX <font color="#f8467d">Rally Demi-goddess</font>

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    I am an RN which made me qualified. I believe some medical training, EMT, paramedic, etc. would be good. They provided us with alot of medical equipment that I wasn't intimately familiar with. In Missouri they mostly wanted to make sure we were competent in the ABCs (Airway, Breathing, Circulation) you learn in CPR.

    There are really two level to response though. Fast Medical, which was Carrie and I in my WRX wagon, and then the Ambulance or trained paramedic which was also stationed at the start line or nearby but can't get to a scene as fast as we could.

    Riding in or driving as Fast Medical was very interesting. I was also very glad they didn't need us.

    Amy
     
  15. Impreza 2.2 T AWD
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    Impreza 2.2 T AWD New Member

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    Is there any way I could just follow these people where ever I go to always be a part of this. If this was my career I would seriously die a happy man.
     
  16. ScandiaWRX
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    ScandiaWRX <font color="#f8467d">Rally Demi-goddess</font>

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    Rally America is the sanctioning body but each of the national events are put together and staffed with volunteers by the local committee. You are certainly welcome to volunteer for as many events as you can attend, I try to make it to 4 of the national events and many of the MN regional events each year.

    As far as careers go, their are teams that have paid crews and team managers but they are few in the U.S.

    Amy
     

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