What’s your favorite autocross worker assignment? | Garage Rescue Miata

David S.
Update by David S. Wallens to the Mazda Miata project car
Sep 14, 2022 | Mazda, Miata, Autocross, Mazda Miata, Garage Rescue Miata, Martin Sports Car Club

Photography by David S. Wallens

Starter? Grid? Novice instructor?

During this past weekend’s event with the Martin Sports Car Club, we got to work the waiver station.

Where has this been all our life? We got to stand in the shade and welcome people to the site. “Hi, please sign and have a nice day.”

The rest of the day went well as we again ran our Garage Rescue Miata with the rest of the Xtreme Street B class. Pretty sure we’re now the only naturally aspirated car in the class. But it’s fun running with a regular group.

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JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
9/14/22 11:19 a.m.

"Media"

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/14/22 11:30 a.m.

In reply to JG Pasterjak :

Grid is my usual favorite. It makes the time go by quickly, and there's some social interaction.

One year at Nats, "grid" became "the person who hands out the times to the drivers." I had a Post-it pad and a pen. As people came off the course, I wrote down their times and handed it to them. 

Talk about being present for the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. 

fusion66
fusion66 Reader
9/14/22 11:34 a.m.

I really enjoy the "starter" position. In everyday life I tend to be an introvert but for some reason when starting I try to provide a little encouragement to each driver (trying to not distract anyone that has their race face on), check to see how their day is going, see what they are struggling with on the course if anything, and being extra welcoming and encouraging to any new drivers or drivers from other regions, all while keeping tab of everything happening on course. It makes the time go very quickly.

Grid would be my second choice as it allows similar interaction at what is likely a better time to do so from the drivers perspective relative to the getting in the right mind frame to compete.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
9/14/22 11:48 a.m.

Tech Inspector. I get to check out all the cars (including seeing what cars I fit in for future reference) and then after the morning rush is over, I get to sit back and watch the other run group race. 

Also, I have been trying my hand at Course Designer this year and last and I really have a blast, although my courses end up a tad extreme.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/14/22 11:52 a.m.

In reply to NickD :

Martin Sports Car Club requires all members to host an event, with duties usually including setup/teardown as well as course design. Not only does it help spread the load, but it gives you insight into what goes into an event, including course design. 

Opti
Opti Dork
9/14/22 1:01 p.m.

Anywhere but the inside of the track.

My first assignment was inside a carousel (I don't know what you call it, like 80% of a circle), and after the first car I quickly realized I could get smooshed from both sides. It was terrifying. I repositioned myself pretty quickly after that.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/14/22 2:04 p.m.

In reply to Opti :

Yeah, that doesn't sound safe. Workers should never be placed in a dangerous position. 

Warlock
Warlock New Reader
9/14/22 2:41 p.m.

Timing.  I like the pace, it's a good spot to watch the action from, and if it's not air conditioned, there's at least shade and a fan. :)  If not that, send me out on course.  Grid's frustrating at local events -- there's always two or three people who want to run at their own pace, rather than the event's.

Waiver control at OCCC is product of the site...since there are trees surrounding the site, half the course stations often have shade as well.  Do waivers at Daytona, or the FIRM, or Lakeland, and you need the nylon tree if you want shade!

Toyman!
Toyman! MegaDork
9/14/22 2:59 p.m.

I was Chief of Tech for multiple years. Get there early, the cars run through tech, and I was done before the heat of the day. 

 

DeadSkunk  (Warren)
DeadSkunk (Warren) UltimaDork
9/14/22 3:02 p.m.

Starter...I'm too old to run after cones any more. There should be an exemption for people over 70.

AMiataCalledSteve
AMiataCalledSteve Reader
9/14/22 3:18 p.m.

I usually try to work the same station as my dad, hanging out with him is half the fun. We usually try to go for a corner with a good overall view of the course so we can see what everyone else does at our trouble spots.

kb58
kb58 SuperDork
9/14/22 3:25 p.m.

Funny how the most common thing mentioned here is  that not being in the sun is good. Completely agree, and in SoCal, that's pretty much what killed off my interest in autocross... well that, and exchanging all day for three minutes of track time. I guess I just don't have the passion of others.

MauryH
MauryH GRM+ Memberand New Reader
9/14/22 3:31 p.m.

As a geezer + I seem to be a regular 'Lord of the Helmets' which suits me fine since my age caught up with my car number.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/14/22 4:03 p.m.

In reply to Warlock :

I'll be honest, I find timing too stressful. Yet I enjoy the pace of grid. 

I did request morning waivers for the upcoming SCCA event at Daytona. Since the track's close, figure I can get there early and knock out my assignment. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/14/22 4:06 p.m.
DeadSkunk (Warren) said:

Starter...I'm too old to run after cones any more. There should be an exemption for people over 70.

I believe that our local groups allow people to "opt out" of worker assignments that involve running.  

350z247
350z247 Reader
9/14/22 4:08 p.m.

This is one of the main reasons I don't autocross more: I don't want to work; I want to drive. Thus, I do track weekends instead.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
9/14/22 4:18 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:
DeadSkunk (Warren) said:

Starter...I'm too old to run after cones any more. There should be an exemption for people over 70.

I believe that our local groups allow people to "opt out" of worker assignments that involve running.  

Our region also has a selection on pre-registration for if you are physically not able to run, we will try and find you an assignment that doesn't require it.

Toyman!
Toyman! MegaDork
9/14/22 4:18 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:
DeadSkunk (Warren) said:

Starter...I'm too old to run after cones any more. There should be an exemption for people over 70.

I believe that our local groups allow people to "opt out" of worker assignments that involve running.  

We used to have an 80yo gent that autocrossed with us. His assignment was basically be nice and talk to the spectators. IIRC he was pretty good at it. 

RyanGreener (Forum Supporter)
RyanGreener (Forum Supporter) Reader
9/14/22 4:26 p.m.

Love working the slaloms!

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/14/22 4:44 p.m.

In reply to Toyman! :

Every program needs an ambassador, right? 

Woody (Forum Supportum)
Woody (Forum Supportum) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/14/22 4:59 p.m.

My favorite autocross worker assignment is Track Days. 

chaparral
chaparral Dork
9/14/22 5:30 p.m.

I like to be the starter, but a shady corner station near the end of the course is fine too. 

ProDarwin
ProDarwin MegaDork
9/14/22 5:40 p.m.

Timing.  It has the best visibility of the real competition happening.  Plus its the area where an experienced participant can make the biggest difference in the way the event flows.

karplus2
karplus2 GRM+ Memberand Reader
9/14/22 6:56 p.m.

I like being a corner worker, not a captain, just a worker. I like having my section of course that I am responsible for and that's it. I particularly like busy parts of the course where cones get hit frequently.

bludroptop
bludroptop UltraDork
9/14/22 7:00 p.m.

Age and poor life choices limit my ability to chase cones.  Local events, I'll do anything else.

National events I've grown to like Worker Check-in.

Pros:

You get to meet a lot of people.

You get to ride in the sweep car.

You get into the timing trailer a few times (briefly) and get a glimpse of an insider...

Cons:

Worker check-in starts early, so you end up working 1.5 heats

The  sweep car "catch" isn't easy and audit sheet shuffle is hectic/high pressure (get it right!)

You don't get to see any on-course action.

 

Tom1200
Tom1200 UberDork
9/14/22 10:27 p.m.

Of late I've been doing the sign in. Pretty laid back.

I like announcing as well.

I don't like doing timing; I'm way to easily distracted.

My knees don't like chase cones bit if I'm on a station they usually make me a corner captain so.I'm Ok with that.

Patrick
Patrick GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/15/22 8:13 a.m.
350z247 said:

This is one of the main reasons I don't autocross more: I don't want to work; I want to drive. Thus, I do track weekends instead.

This, plus the club I run with has a fee if you don't want to course work and I would pay it every time. I absolutely hate course work ever since the 2016 challenge when I felt like I was going to die every time the plywood porsche was on course. It was a very traumatic experience having a big loud red car sliding at me.

jr02518
jr02518 HalfDork
9/15/22 8:59 a.m.

Over the number of years I have been a willing participant, I have done many of the jobs listed above.

But I have found that when it's available working "master radio" in our A/C equipped timing trailer makes the work assignment not so bad.  It does require a thick skin, on corse radio station workers that follow your instruction and the ability to multi task.  Weekend skills that keep you out of the sun in Southern California do have a cost.

But I am now old, I have done my time shagging cones.  But it has not helped my handwriting to make it better, the boxes on the forms need to be bigger. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/15/22 9:14 a.m.

In reply to jr02518 :

I have audited the times. Then I look at the sheet and wonder, Whose chicken scratch is this? 

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
9/15/22 9:23 a.m.

I guess my favorite is the starter position, since I can talk to everyone. My least favorite is anything to do with timing and scoring. Way to ADD to focus that long.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
9/15/22 9:35 a.m.

I was never enough of a "regular" with any club to get the cushy jobs.  Therefore, pretty easy to assume a position out on-course, in the sun.  During your course walk, figure out which is "the tricky spot."  One work station is going to be the "busy station."  Avoid that station.  At the station you do choose, if your the "older guy" then be sure there are some young'ens out there with you.  Then, when you arrive at the work station, grab the radio and educate the young'ens to be sure they know how to replace the cones they'll be running after.  devil

hunter47
hunter47 Reader
9/15/22 9:38 a.m.
350z247 said:

This is one of the main reasons I don't autocross more: I don't want to work; I want to drive. Thus, I do track weekends instead.

I concur. Shagging cones != seat time 

However I love the atmosphere of an autox over a track day, much more laidback (on non-competition days) and more time to be friendly to people. At a track day, you're really working in seat time in the 20 minute sessions and the in between session time is spent catching your breath/hydrating. I don't like talking to people in between HPDE sessions because I'm trying to not sweat up a storm. 

Anyways to actually answer the thread question, I don't like working at all, but if I had to pick, somewhere near the start of the course. People typically don't run over cones at the beginning of the course so I get to keep it chill. 

Tyler H
Tyler H GRM+ Memberand UberDork
9/15/22 9:48 a.m.

The calculus of autocross doesn't work for me anymore.  It was fine when I was young and didn't have kids and a job responsibilities to balance the needs of.  It seems fine for older folks who are retired or empty-nesters and have more free time.  And that seems to be the common demographic spread of attendees: first timers and old timers. Trucker Hats vs Straw Hats? :)

I'm absolutely happy to help out in any meaningful way possible.  I don't mind work.  It is frustrating to be parked on a corner station with 6 people and not much to do, though.  Club veterans get the interesting jobs, and that's the way it should be -- they need to keep the event running and safe.  

I look forward to getting back into the sport once life slows down a little and I can afford time to burn a whole Sunday.  Until then, it's occasional HPDEs or race weekends for me, with the rest of the Sundays spent with the rest of the family.  

Duke
Duke MegaDork
9/15/22 9:49 a.m.

Well, since I used to be AX chair of our club, I didn't get to pick a favorite.  Though I do enjoy course design and like to think I'm pretty decent at it.

My least favorite worker position was the one where I was clearly very busy handling 3 different problems and some idiot wandered up to interrupt with a dumb question like "Which one is station 4 again?" and I had to be polite about it.

 

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/15/22 10:09 a.m.

At the challenge last year I was the starter for a while.  I like that.  Low stress.

Last year when I saw a picture of me as the starter, I realized my tshirt was on inside-out.  I'm NOT a morning person.

albino09
albino09 New Reader
9/15/22 2:03 p.m.

I prefer Grid to corner work, because you're active the whole session and the time flies by. Start is fun, but since you're sitting still there's somehow less reprieve from the sun. I learned a few years ago the value of the long-sleeve t-shirt, bucket hat, and a big water cooler. 

husky450cr
husky450cr New Reader
9/15/22 2:09 p.m.

I really enjoyed working the gate...getting entrants to sign the SCCA and Track waivers.  You got to meet everyone, see every car, etc.  The one drawback is having to get up at 4AM to be first at the venue.

thedoc
thedoc GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
9/15/22 2:19 p.m.

I really enjoy the starter position,  learning the cars and sending them out at the proper time so the event runs as smoothly as possible which equals more runs.

Same as grid, getting the cars ready and at the line makes the event run so much better.

Tech is fun, although for whatever reason I'm getting cranky with cars flunking tech and the drivers knew better.  I'm really getting better with cars coming back to the next event with a janky fix from what flunked last time.  It is blast to help someone pass so they can run the event.

Auto cross is about so much more than just cars, the whole of the even is fun.

sfisher71
sfisher71 New Reader
9/15/22 2:45 p.m.

In reply to Opti :

I was chased by a Tiger at an autocross once. Somehow the road-racing advice to aim for the spinning car seemed a little intimidating when I was on foot...

Warlock
Warlock New Reader
9/15/22 2:51 p.m.

This is one of the main reasons I don't autocross more: I don't want to work; I want to drive. Thus, I do track weekends instead.

It never ceases to amaze me how in any autocross conversation, there are at least a half-dozen folks compelled to parachute in to say they don't autocross because they don't want to work/want more seat time/want shorter days/whatever, whatever, whatever.  Do autocrossers troll HPDE and road racing discussions to explain why they don't?  If it's your thing, the work, the seat time, and whatall aren't hardships.  If it's not, feel no guilt...or at least be silent about it! 

sfisher71
sfisher71 New Reader
9/15/22 2:55 p.m.

My favorite autox worker position: announcer. You get to sit in the shade (as about a squillion others have said), and if you're familiar with the drivers you can give a little color to the announcing.

Which is a good intro to my favorite gig in motorsport for the past few years: announcing for the Dash for Kids, a late-summer weekend at Portland International Raceway, all about raising money for Dornbecher Children's Hospital. I get to sit in an air-conditioned room (T&S tower, right at the start-finish line), talk into the microphone about what's going on (including Plugging The Sponsor), and watch race cars for a couple of days. All while being part of taking care of sick kids. 

350z247
350z247 Reader
9/15/22 3:42 p.m.

In reply to Warlock :

Happy to be of service

Tom1200
Tom1200 UberDork
9/15/22 3:56 p.m.
Warlock said:

This is one of the main reasons I don't autocross more: I don't want to work; I want to drive. Thus, I do track weekends instead.

It never ceases to amaze me how in any autocross conversation, there are at least a half-dozen folks compelled to parachute in to say they don't autocross because they don't want to work/want more seat time/want shorter days/whatever, whatever, whatever.  Do autocrossers troll HPDE and road racing discussions to explain why they don't?  If it's your thing, the work, the seat time, and whatall aren't hardships.  If it's not, feel no guilt...or at least be silent about it! 

Since you appear to be are fairly new here; the group tends to be a free form discussion that strays from the orginal topic. This is mostly because the hive is a mix of people who have actual ADD or automotive ADD................or both.

The GRM folks are very good about posting up "conversation starters" so a post may start out talking about working autocross and evolve into talking about working road course events and back to autocross again.

This is the main reason I'm on here..................."God help me I love it so"

This is my long winded way of saying; we do a lot of parchuting in here.

 

 

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
9/15/22 4:13 p.m.

I will say that Grid Chief, at a local level, is a pretty great job. You get to BS with the drivers as they're waiting, watch some racing, and by the afternoon sessions, grid pretty much runs itself. People know when to pull up and do so of their own accord. As it is, right from the beginning of the event, we just tell two-driver cars to head to the line when they have completed their swap or whenever they are ready.

Grid at a National level can be kind of unpleasant. I remember getting literally screamed at by Kathy Barnes as the reason she was dead last in her class, because I was "rushing" her and her co-driver between runs (they were getting their minimum mandated 5 minutes but that apparently wasn't enough). A few other drivers got kind of nasty with me as well because they wanted more time between runs as well, but we technically weren't shortchanging them, since they were all getting the guaranteed 5 minutes.

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/15/22 4:51 p.m.

Timing was always my favorite.  It's in the shade and you get to sit down (we had no AC in our trailer, but the site was just a couple miles from the ocean so it was rarely all that hot).  Sure there's a lot to do, but we had the system down pretty well and it meant that I got to really follow everything that was happening during the group I was working.

Autox was a good match for me when the kids were little.  Lower cost than track days, plus less of a time commitment, I would leave early in the AM and usually be home by mid-afternoon.  Yes, it's not a ton of seat time, but that's not the way to look at it.  I went for the social aspect, it was an excuse to hang out with my car friends on and do a little bit of driving while I'm there.

Unfortunately that club kinda disintegrated, so I wound up going back to track days when the kids were a bit older.  Now that's morphed into w2w racing with NASA -- I had to go up to race control for some licensing paperwork at the last event and was looking over the timing/etc equipment and thinking about the similarities. :)

 

Warlock
Warlock New Reader
9/15/22 8:02 p.m.
Tom1200 said:

Since you appear to be are fairly new here...

Not exactly...just not affected with the need to type all the time.  Off the target....

pinchvalve (Forum Supporter)
pinchvalve (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/15/22 8:07 p.m.

Safety Steward. I get to watch all the action, as well as monitor grid and paddock. Yes, you have to be on your feet and alert, but it suits my nervous energy well. 

Daylan C.
Daylan C. GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/15/22 8:48 p.m.

I've always run cones at the few events I've been too but have wondered if I'm qualified to ask to work grid now after working with Gridlife. Surely autocross grid can't be as bad as trying to grid up 50 GLTC cars in a ~25 car space at Mid Ohio.

Tom1200
Tom1200 UberDork
9/15/22 11:34 p.m.
Warlock said:
Tom1200 said:

Since you appear to be are fairly new here...

Not exactly...just not affected with the need to type all the time.  Off the target....

Sadly the rest of us have freed ourselves from this.

Tom1200
Tom1200 UberDork
9/15/22 11:43 p.m.
NickD said:

Grid at a National level can be kind of unpleasant. I remember getting literally screamed at by Kathy Barnes as the reason she was dead last in her class, because I was "rushing" her and her co-driver between runs (they were getting their minimum mandated 5 minutes but that apparently wasn't enough). A few other drivers got kind of nasty with me as well because they wanted more time between runs as well, but we technically weren't shortchanging them, since they were all getting the guaranteed 5 minutes.

This is so not acceptable and she owes you an apology. 

te72
te72 HalfDork
9/16/22 1:32 a.m.

You know, I've done a bit of everything over the past five or so seasons, and as long as the people I'm working with aren't horribly grumpy or just generally unpleasant people (fortunately seem to be far less of those than people you wanna spend time with), then I'm happy to work anywhere for the event.

 

This most recent event for me, I worked tech, and had to call a kid over to explain why he had boxes of dishes (literally) in his trunk. Was pretty comical. Would have made some err... interesting... noises, I'm sure. =P

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/16/22 11:34 a.m.
te72 said:

You know, I've done a bit of everything over the past five or so seasons, and as long as the people I'm working with aren't horribly grumpy or just generally unpleasant people (fortunately seem to be far less of those than people you wanna spend time with), then I'm happy to work anywhere for the event.

 

This most recent event for me, I worked tech, and had to call a kid over to explain why he had boxes of dishes (literally) in his trunk. Was pretty comical. Would have made some err... interesting... noises, I'm sure. =P

I want to say no way on the dishes but, on the other hand, not too surprised. Yes, get everything out of the car....

Duke
Duke MegaDork
9/16/22 12:01 p.m.
Daylan C. said:

I've always run cones at the few events I've been too but have wondered if I'm qualified to ask to work grid now after working with Gridlife. Surely autocross grid can't be as bad as trying to grid up 50 GLTC cars in a ~25 car space at Mid Ohio.

We always try to cross-train our regulars as much as possible, and vary the experiences.  You should definitely ask.

 

Jerry
Jerry PowerDork
9/16/22 4:02 p.m.

I think I've worked everything at least once now.

Got qualified Safety Steward because we were always on the verge of not enough, just recently they started comping event $ for SSS so free racing!

I worked grid last weekend, it's not bad.  I get to see half or 1/3 (depending on run groups) of the cars/people.

Starter is sometimes fun, I get a good view of the course and how people are driving.

Glad we have enough people I don't have to chase cones anymore.

bludroptop
bludroptop UltraDork
9/16/22 7:20 p.m.

I'm surprised at those who like being Starter - while I don't hate the assignment, I find it busy and stressful.

-bring car to line

-check helmet (inc. sticker) and seatbelt - verify event tech sticker.  

-check for passenger - (helmet, seatbelt, maybe warning about handheld camera or hands inside vehicle??)

-radio or scan for T&S

-check course for problems (cone carnage, courseworker out of place, etc.)

-launch car - rinse and repeat 100x+  I never have a moment of slack to see a car on course.

Years ago, I left the start line and completed 1/3 of the course with my helmet sitting in the passenger seat.  While that is absolutely my own damn fault, I've always wonder if the Starter might have caught it... hence my vigilance  in that role.

te72
te72 HalfDork
9/17/22 2:45 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:
te72 said:

You know, I've done a bit of everything over the past five or so seasons, and as long as the people I'm working with aren't horribly grumpy or just generally unpleasant people (fortunately seem to be far less of those than people you wanna spend time with), then I'm happy to work anywhere for the event.

 

This most recent event for me, I worked tech, and had to call a kid over to explain why he had boxes of dishes (literally) in his trunk. Was pretty comical. Would have made some err... interesting... noises, I'm sure. =P

I want to say no way on the dishes but, on the other hand, not too surprised. Yes, get everything out of the car....

Right hand to God my friend, it blew my mind at first. "Are those... dishes? Seriously? Dishes. Who brings DISHES to an autocross? Are they planning on bringing us lunch? If so... I'll let it slide." was my thought process. =P

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/17/22 3:19 p.m.

...I like working course on rallycross, because I get to spectate and if the run order is favorable, I get to pre sight the course.  I usually take a station with a high or far vantage point for this reason.  It is weird going to regions where work is assigned instead of free for all.

 

Oddly enough all but one autocross I have done had designated corner workers, they wanted us to just drive and leave the work to the organizers.

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