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03/21/2010

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I just read your blog about the corner marshals at Sebring. You're right, they usually work for free. Way back in the 70s and early 80s, I worked at Mosport as part of the track cleanup crew. We were in the same boat as the marshals, we worked for free. We arrived at 6AM, removed the metal barriers, swept the track, picked up broken glass, bottles, food stuffs, car parts, tools, people, the occasional vehicle, etc. We stayed at the track all day making sure the track was race clean, often going out during a race to pick up debris. We didn't even get a sandwich. They kept telling us we were getting lunch but we never believed them, we brought our own lunch. Our reward was being part of the race and getting close enough to see the cars and drivers (you don't see much of a race from the mock grid where we were stationed).
One day we were asked to help train a few other people who were going to join our crew as Harvey was adding to the cleanup crew. That day, lunch was brought to all of us. At the end of the day, someone came over and handed the new guys an envelope. We got nothing. We asked what was in the envelope and were told it was their pay. They got cash, not much, I think it was $20, but we got nothing. One of our crew went to the tower to see if we were getting paid. We weren't. We were told nothing. We had a quick meeting and decided that if they were getting paid, they could do all the work. The next day, we arrived late and went to watch the race. We were on strike. At the lunch break, we met in the pits and had a meeting with someone from the track. We were told in no uncertain terms that we would not be paid as the other crew were. We all packed up and went home. I don't know what happened that weekend or ever after that as I never 'volunteered' at Mosport again. I never received a call from the track people, the supervisor or anyone else. It was a lousy way to be treated for helping out at the track. At that point, I had been volunteering for 8 years.
The marshals and corner workers put their lives on the line and no one says thanks. They don't get paid, yet the race cannot go on without them. I doubt that most people, racers included, know that these people do all the work for free. Your article should be sent to every track owner, car owner, race driver, sponsor, etc. Let them know how these people are treated. It's rotten!
In a related tale...at the motorsports show, Corey and I asked about the Mosport reunion and asked about a special day for track workers. I wrote an email as well. I received an short reply saying that Corey had talked to someone that would try to arrange something. So far, nothing. Ahh, we were only track workers, Corey was a scrutineer, I also helped out setting cars on the mock grid and the grid. We worked because we loved racing. But just once it would be nice to hear 'Thank You'...but I'm not holding my breath :)/


It was BLATANTLY obvious to anyone who gave it more than three seconds' worth of thought that banning refuelling would detrimentally effect F1. Refuelling at least gave F1 the perception of randomness, if not actually delivering that to anyone who had enough brains to figure in its effects. Cars would bounce around the running order, mistakes might happen in the pits - Lewis Hamilton probably did a backflip at the thought of never having to worry about his bad luck in that department - and it gave the viewer something else to think about.

Next year, they should go the other way and drastically reduce the size of an on-board tank. This would have two effects - 1. promoting more fuel-efficient cars that might even be so fuel-efficient that they'd be able to save a stop, or at least race with a lighter fuel load, and 2. more pit stops is always good. NASCAR is only entertaining during mass pit stops these days - getting that feel in F1 could only help.

Yes, yes, F1 is supposed to be about racing and not strategy, but the engineering is differentiated between the cars and the drivers to consistent where it's probably unrealistic to expect passing over a long race without fuel issues.

Yes, lets punished the winner like Jimmie Johnson, who has consistently rose to the challenge a out performed everyone. Whats the point of competition when 42 other guys can't beat this one guy year in and year out. Better yet, why don't we just randomly draw straws and pick the winner that way, so everyone can win once in a while. Or I am sure it'll be much more popular, that Dale Jr. wins every race. The fan will show up in their tens of thousands, even if just to see a parade led by Jr.

I actually stopped watching F1 when Schumacher was winning everything and missed 2 entire years, 2006 and 2007. Which was a pity as they were good year. I am going to keep watching NASCAR because at some point Jimmie Johnson will lose and I want to be there.

If you look at motor sport over the last 10 years, drivers having long winning streaks is the normal.
In F1 Schumacher won 5 championships in a row (2000-2004) with 13 race wins in 2004.
In NASCAR Jimmie Johnson has won 4 straight championships, (2006-2009) and will probably win this year.
In WRC Sebastien Loeb has won 6 in a row (2004-2009).
In drag racing top fuel Tony Schumacher has won 6 in a row (2004-2009).
Before him John Force won 10 in a row (1993-2002).

I am hoping that other races in the F1 2010 season go better. I place a good part of the blame for the boring race on the Bahrain track as well; it was not ever a fun track, and the ridiculous, "revised" middle section just made it a slow race. At least Spa-Francorchamps has some majesty and character to its 6+ kilometres. Bahrain, on the other hand... well, I have no nice things to say.

The big issue, to me (and I'm sure to many others) is the turbulent air behind the modern F1 cars, causing aerodynamic problems for racers who want to follow closely for an overtake maneuver, as well as causing engine heat problems due to lack of airflow. I suspect the rear diffusers are to blame, but I'm no engineer.

In any case, I'm hoping that the first race of 2010 can be blamed mostly on the track; otherwise, I'll probably just stop watching this season and pay more attention to IndyCar and ALMS. NASCAR is only fun to watch when they go to Infineon or Watkins Glen, anyway.

As for F1 being boring in the past few years, I think that's a bit of a mistake. There have been many exciting moments in the past couple of years; the Brazilian GP has been exciting in the past couple of seasons. Really, it's moments like Belgium 2008 that make F1 fans eager to watch a race; the battle between Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton during the closing laps of the race, with dampening conditions, made for one of the most memorable and exciting driver duels in a long time. That said, I only starting watching in 2008, when F1 was supposedly boring. Sure, the Raikkonen/Hamilton duel wasn't quite like the famous Arnoux/Villeneuve duel, but considering how much drivers talk about the difficulties in overtaking with the modern machinery, it's about as close as we can get.

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