posted on July 13, 2014 11:01
ChumpCar: Calabogie Motorsports Park
“Car 998* was four wheels off track, contacted the tire wall, and is now back on track and continuing.” “Car 731* was four wheels off track, no contact, and got the clear from the marshals to return to track and continue.” “Car 309* went four wheels off track, was too hot into the corner and all over before going off. Car 901* following and had no place to go, appeared to be minor contact.” *Car numbers and incidents have been changed and modified. Apart from #998, that did happen but the modification was that it happened when I was driving the car Sunday morning and not when I was standing in the tower.
The radio in the race control tower is rarely silent on a race weekend. The ChumpCar World Series, sponsored by Optima Batteries, taking place at Calabogie Motorsports Park was no exception as the calls were coming in ensuring that Race Control was kept informed of the action that was happening all around the 20 corner full track. Sal Sanfilippo, ChumpCar director for the North region, was recording all of these incidents. Over his shoulder he explained that one or two could be understood, but more than that occurring in a driver’s session and their team needed to be contacted. If it did not clean up, then the car would be black flagged. At that moment Sal was contacted on the ChumpCar radio channel, that car 309 appeared to have been hit hard in the incident and the Chief Tech was wondering where the other car was? All teams are very aware that contact between cars results in a black flag with both cars having to sit in technical impound before being allowed to continue.
309’s account of the incident was very different than the marshal’s report. Sal had the chief marshal, Ian, contact the corner marshal for clarification and also to black flag 901. The corner marshal reiterated their observation of the event. 901 reported to technical impound and they reported the same facts as the corner marshal. Sal’s decision, 309 was at fault and 901 could not avoid the contact. 901 sat in impound and 309 went to their trailer, unable to continue the race.
Sal and Ian had little time for anything but keeping their eyes and ears focused upon the events that were occurring on the track. Sal records all pertinent information on a clipboard (inset). Turn 1, the kink, is just barely visible in the top right.
Ian, a main fixture of Race Control at Calabogie Motorsport Park, has multiple computer screens active and records all radio communications and they're time and date stamped. Additional details can be added to the database he has set up. It is a very cool setup.
As the majority of the corners are not within view of the tower, Ian has to rely upon his professional corner marshal crew to be his eyes, ears, and voice around the track. Elevation changes, amazing rock outcroppings, beautiful forests - this adds to the beauty of Calabogie Motorsports Park and enhances the race experience.
In addition to the corner marshals, an army of volunteers was in place to ensure that all safety rules were adhered to during pit row activities. When running the East Track, the marshal's station is the turn in point. It's very important during events on the East Track that the marshal holds cars at pit out until there is an opportunity to exit without holding up the race but also without penalizing the car exiting the pits. Safety first the key.