Why? Since the age of around 8, I have enjoyed watching motorcycle sport. The first 2 years were Scrambling (now known as Cross or MotoCross) and then to Road Racing. I was right at the end of Gileras golden racing era. Until I was old enough to legally ride motorbikes on the road, I pedal-cycled to Crystal Palace and Brands Hatch for almost all of their meetings. I carried on watching road racing (and also included watching Wimbledon Speedway as well) until I departed to Australia in 1969. TV kept me in touch with racing but I gave up riding myself until the age of 59 when I was finally able to purchase an Arcore produced bike. It was a 350 Saturno and I ended up with two (one red, one black). With the Gilera Network closed, I formed the I Gotta Gilera Owners Club of Britain and used to ride one of the Saturnos to Castle Combe to watch their once a year bike race meeting. Although always promising myself that I would visit the Isle of Man for TT race week, I never quite managed to do so. I received great enjoyment from watching the sport, but how could I give something back to the sport that had given me (and still does) so much satisfaction?
When? From early 2010 I was able to spend almost one week in each 4 weeks over on the Island. Wasn’t able to make it at TT time, but managed to get three weeks there when the Manx GP was taking place. Hearing of the great shortage of Marshals (especially for the Manx GP) I decided to volunteer.
How? A visit to the Marshals office at the back of the Grandstand, a quick form to fill out and I was handed my introduction to Marshaling video and my kit. I was asked where I would like to Marshall and chose anywhere in the Ramsey area as that’s where I was staying. The Chief sector Marshall for the sector contacted me and asked if I could report to the Marshals post at Whitegates (less than 5 minutes walk from where I stay) and I attended each practice and race session for the Manx GP. Each Marshals post has a Deputy Sector Marshal who either takes you under his/her wing or places you with an experienced Marshall to show you the ropes. Provided there are enough Marshalls available, we operated on the basis of two going to the aid of the rider involved in an incident, two to remove the bike (and any items that have come adrift) and also to take care of any fire, oil spills and directing other competitors away from the fallen rider and/or machine and parts.
At first, it might sound a bit scary and just a little haphazard but actually the system seems to work very well. The introductory video gives you a basic idea, The Deputy Sector Marshall (or an experienced Marshall) will talk you through what the various duties are and will ask what you would like to do. I chose the bike/fire/oil spill/directing of other competitors away from the danger area. I wasn’t comfortable with dealing with an injured rider even with an experienced Marshall with me and I hadn’t had any training on using the radio or handling the position of Flag Marshall. I was there for the one and only incident when rider and bike overdid the bend, both hit the air-bagged stone wall and were thrown back into the middle of the road. After removing the bike and broken off bits from the course we dealt with the small oil spill and then were positioned in the middle of the road directing following riders (at a vastly reduced speed due to yellow flags being waved) to the inside of the bend whilst medical help was given to the fallen rider. At the end of each practise or race session, new Marshalls hand their card to the Deputy Sector Marshall for signing off. Once you have completed 10 sessions, you are considered qualified at the first level. Free course are given on the Island and also various places on the mainland for Incident Management Courses during which you receive full training on all aspects of Marshaling. Rider care (helmet removal, moving, checking condition etc), Operating the radio to/from Race Control, Operation of the various flags (when, how, for how long), and other items that you may be involved in dealing with.
I will be attending one of these courses in Cheltenham at the end of February so enabling me to be amply qualified to attend both the TT and Manx GP for 2011. If anyone is interested in either becoming a Marshal, or just wanting a chat about it, feel free to contact me by e-mail on
Paul Tipler (Founder of the old I Gotta Gilera Owners Club of Britain)