2019 will be my third year as a track official/corner worker at our local road course, River’s Edge. I enjoy being out there and supporting racers from across the PNW, but am also considering quitting.
The title is a reference to the book The Art of Racing in the Rain. They filmed the upcoming movie at our track this past year.
The racing season lasts from April until October with an average of 2 races a month. I’ve never missed one since I started, but am now questioning if it is really the best use of a couple months worth of weekends during the best months of the year.
Why leave you ask? There are a few reasons that have annoyed me for my entire time there but have recently grown to be more irritating.
First and foremost is that most if not all of my fellow volunteers are not car people or even racing people. They are all retired people that have been doing this forever and the highlight of their day is waving a stick with some fabric on it. They seem totally oblivious to the types, colors and characteristics of the cars on the track. I am the only one who actively walks the paddock/pit during the weekend.
Second is the infighting. For some reason, some schism occurred like 20 years ago between the corner workers and the rescue team. Ever since then, they don’t let each other use each other’s equipment or even socialize.
Some of you who read my post from the last race may remember there was a bad crash and a bad fire (separate events). One of the workers turned to me and said “I bet rescue is loving this, they must feel so important”. This was said as the ambulance transporting the critically injured driver was just leaving the track.
Obviously, that statement shocked me. Especially as I was on radio and a) heard the urgent calls for an ambulance when rescue reached the flipped open racer and b) could hear the driver’s wife frantically asking for updates in the background back at race control. We had just learned, to our shock, that he was still alive.
Third is the selfish one. I get to the track at 7:30am and leave around 5pm. As mentioned, these are on the nicest weekends of the year and I blow the whole day. I eat badly, get sunburns and bug bites and it costs me about $20 round trip in gas. In April, May, September and October it is very cold by the river and when it rains it really sucks.
Fourth is the risk that volunteering presents. Corner workers do get killed/hurt occasionally. Not at my track yet, but the risk is always there.
But then, there are the reasons to stay. I enjoy the people individually, the cars are cool, loud and fast and there are frankly worse ways to spend a weekend. It makes for good photos and I get the satisfaction of supporting Motorsports in my community.
Anyway, sorry to rant, but I genuinely feel stuck on what to do. I’d love to have so many weekends back for spending time driving and with my wife and dog, but feel bad abandoning the racing community up here. Every year there are less and less volunteers and sometimes they have to pull family of racers to help as we can’t run a race without a minimum number of workers.
What would you do?