NSWRRC - State Championships
Oran Park - July 11 1999
by Big Al Mullet
Oran Park is my 'flagging' circuit whereas at Eastern Ck and Bathurst I work in pit lane. I have been a flaggie at Oran Park for about two and a half years, ever since I attended a Basic Trackcraft course there as a requirement for my CAMS officials licence. I quite like being a flaggie especially at club days and similar (i.e. smaller) events. Last year I attended almost every race meeting at Oran Park, including Supertruck, Supertourers and Supercars (V8s), however I found that I didn't enjoy the Super (i.e. bigger) meetings so much, no reason just personal taste.
This is what a typical day at the races is for me.
I arrived at Oran Park just on 8am, signed on and was assigned to flag point 10 (under the new FIA system, old flag point 12 for the non metric flaggies). This point is one that has a dual purpose, to carryout normal flag proceedures and to also act as a 'relay' point for next point in yellow flag situations. This important piece of information (relay duties) was not conveyed to our point until after there had been a 'stationary yellow' incident at point 11. Oh well, live and learn.
On this day I was accompanied on the point by a driver (Simon) doing his compulsory flag training/experience as part of getting an open competition licence. Most flaggies think this is a good thing, and I agree. After a short briefing we headed off to our point ready for the first practice session at 9am. We were able to drive around to the specator area near our point, something we could not do on a big race meeting.
Simon is a Formula Ford competitor. Sometimes working with a driver can be a challenge, because you are trying to work the flags and instruct at the same time. As it turned out, I was pleased to have Simon with me as he was quick to grasp the intricacies of flag marshalling and worked diligently all day. I believe Simon would be as competant as many of the more experienced flaggies that I have worked with.
There was a good program of events, 26 races with 11 different classes of cars (about 200 entries in all). Although the organisers decided to combine some of the clases, which made the racing quite interesting.
The practise sessions were completed without any major dramas in our part of the track, although it was obvious that the road surface at turn 9 was a bit slippery. We hoped it was only moisture and would improve as the day got warmer. The open-wheelers seemed to be sliding around a lot.
Practice finshed at 11.20am and the 1st round of racing started with Formula Vee's. Nothing to report, just a 'spin and recover'. My ambition at any race meeting is to hand in my 'Incident Report sheets' just as I get them ... blank! Racing continued with the next 4 race incident free but the combined HQ and Group N race was interesting. It seems that a quick FJ can beat an HQ. Apparently the HQ's are required to be much closer to showroom than the Group N cars, which are afterall, based on the originall 'Improved Production Tourers'. The next race combined Formula Ford with Formula 2 and another 'spin and recover'. My incident report sheets were still blank!
Formula Alfa is an interesting category, sort of "run-what-you-brung .. as long as it's an Alfa"! it may not sound too exciting but the racing was close. Following this was the Street Sedans, mostly 5ltr Commodores, with a few RX-7's, a Subaru WRX, a nice Nissan GTR and an AU Falcon just doing laps. The winner of this event was the GTR, which brought back memories of Bathurst like it was a couple of years ago ... before it became Formula Dinosaur.
Round 2 of the Formula Vee was incident free but the Under 2 litre Club Cars were not so lucky. It happened on the turn before ours, turn 9. A little Suzuki GTi dropped oil, spun, entered the turn backwards, and then had an accident, causing another 3 cars to go off the track. I went down to assist the other flaggies and CRAFT team in cleaning up the oil and debris. A long walk down, a bit of broom work and then a long walk back. Just in time for the start of the next race! Oh well, I needed the exersize!
The rest of round two went by incident free and our incident report sheets were still clean. Although I was asked by our Sector Marshal to report on the Street Sedan race. "Did car X receive a blue flag before the accident at turn 11?" This was tricky, because I was on the blue flag for that race and did not see the actual hit. I did recall what I saw before that and the answer was "no"! .. because the car in question had actually gone off the racing surface at turn 9 (for the 3rd or 4th time) and was attempting to keep up with the other cars while driving half on the grass. He got hit re-entering the track. He probably should have been shown a flag .. but not a blue one!
The 3rd round of races came and went with a race being red flagged and re-started. Then suddenly it was all over. We packed up at about 5.00pm and drove back to Headquarters (beats walking, especially after being on your feet all day). When we got there Marion and Big Dave had the usual post race barbeque going. We handed in our flags and clean Incident Report Sheets (!) then joined the rest of the officials for the traditional steak sandwich and a beer. I thanked Simon for his help, he thanked me for showing him the ropes, I thanked him for being a good pupil, etc,etc.
Of the whole day's racing I only have two complaints ... the trackside PA system was too loud and nobody bothered to unlock the toilets in our part of the spectator area despite repeated requests. Otherwise it was a good day. Plenty of action. Some incidents, but no-one got hurt. The combined Group N and HQ races were very interesting. The weather was excellent for the time of year. And I didn't have to write any Incident Reports! ... What else can I say?