Please have the utmost respect for all the officials in Motorsport. These people volunteer hours of their time out of a passion for the sport and get little or no thanks for their efforts.
Being an official at any event is an enormous task. I am talking about everyone involved from when the regs are sent out to the post race scrutineers. The people involved include secretaries, Clerk of the Course, Marshall’s, Timekeepers, Stewards, Scrutineers and many more. I am not going to try to name them all here as I would be bound to leave out somebody.
These people are only human and are sure to make mistakes at times. These things happen and can usually be sorted out by treating all parties with the respect they usually deserve. It does not help to fly off the handle and shout and swear at people as this just makes officials dig their heels in and it becomes impossible to resolve disputes when all parties involved are hot under the collar.
When you arrive at a race meeting as a competitor and have completed all the necessary documentation you will be required to take your vehicle for a pre race scrutiny. Usually there are a lot of vehicles to be processed by the scrutineers in a short period of time so try to assist by presenting your vehicle in a clean and tidy condition. If a fault is found it does not help to argue about it. Simply go away, correct the fault and return to scrutineering for rechecking.
This reminds me of my first race at Silverstone in the ESSO Formula Ford series. The regs stated that even numbered cars would be scrutinized from 10.00am to 10.15am and odd numbered cars from 10.15 to 10.30am. Being used to South African conditions and expecting to have the car thoroughly checked over, I was surprised to be lined up with 40 other cars at 10.00am and be told to remove the nose and the lid of the rear brake master cylinder reservoir. A scrutineer walked along the line and if the fluid level was correct you passed – if not you failed. There was no discussion about it at all. That was all that was checked. I realized afterwards that this was standard practice at all the circuits and suppose that it would be impossible to do a more thorough check on 40 cars in 15 minutes. The system worked very well as you never new what was going to be checked beforehand so had to be sure everything was correct. If you were not there or your car did not pass, you did not race. There was no negotiation.
To carry on about officials in South Africa – remember at all times the people are volunteering their time to help you go racing. I think the only time to get frustrated with an official is when they cannot make a decision. The best officials are those who consider the facts and make a decision so that you know where you stand. After that it is your choice to take the matter to a higher authority or let it be.
In 1996 when I stopped racing in National events I thought a good thing would be to attend the necessary courses at MSA and become an official. I subsequently served as Clerk of the Course and as a scrutineer at a few events. After being abused by competitors who did not like my decisions and spending long evenings at hearings at MSA I decided this was not for me and never did any sort of duty as an official again.
I can only say thank goodness that some people tolerate all the abuse that gets thrown at them event after event and continuously come back to assist at the next event.
Without all these people there would be no Motorsport at all.
Please do not abuse the officials. EVER.
Until next time