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Trackday Safety – Lights and Flags

There are some fantastic circuits available to trackday riders now. Trackday companies are regularly running events at the best, most famous circuits in the world.  The tracks themselves have great surfaces, loads of run off and easy access for emergency and maintenance vehicles. The pit boxes/garages are vast with plenty of power sockets and nice toilet facilities. Paddocks are expansive and well equipped, lots of new showers & you can even have a three course meal at lunch!
There is however something I want to draw trackday riders attention to. Some modern tracks are using lights only warning systems to communicate with riders, without having flag marshals. The lights are very effective but as was proven to me recently they should only be used in conjunction with flag marshals.
I don’t think that lights can communicate as much to the rider ie oil flag or blue, slow rider flag or with possibly the same effectiveness: If a marshal is waving a red flag furiously you tend to pay more attention but this is all arguable as lights definitely have their place. The problem with lights only is that they are controlled by a person/s in an office who is looking at TV screens.  They can’t hear the accident or engine blow, they can’t see the debris or oil clearly and they can’t smell the smoke which gives away that there could be oil down on the circuit. Because they are so removed from exactly what is happening-compared to a marshal standing near the incident,  precious seconds pass before the persons watching the TV screens realise what has really happened and at a busy trackday this can have very serious consequences.
It is not safe to use lights only, without marshals. As much as the circuit or trackday company may tell you that it is and that’s what they do at world championship events. That’s bollocks. World championship events have both lights and marshals.
Trackday events should have a minimum of marshals around the circuit and a well run event will have someone experienced permanently in the pit lane. Not just for checking stickers to make sure you are in the right group, but someone you can complain to about a dangerous rider or another safety issue and they really will do something about it.
I think tracks should not give trackday companies the option of not having Flag Marshals (lights only). This only gives the corner cutting trackday companies the advantage of lower overheads, so they can attract more people with lower prices.
So, It’s up to us as trackday riders to make sure the event we attended is a safe one. Please ask before you book and pay for an event if it will have flag marshals.  If it doesn’t, choose another event where they have flag marshals.
What do you think, please leave your comments in the vudulounge and lets discuss whats important to us all.