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From Marshal to Driver – March 2018

Ruth Nugent

March was a busy enough month for me. Preparation for the race season is in full swing writes Ruth Nugent

At the beginning of the month I had heard that the North Dublin Motocross Club were running an event down at the Gormanston track which is very close to where I live so I decided to go down to have a look as it is something I’ve never gone to watch before. It’s safe to say I surprised myself and fell in love with motocross on the spot. My Dad used to do trials and used to marshal at some motocross events and was delighted by my reaction and answered all the questions I fired at him. I even ran into a few familiar faces down there and just generally loved the atmosphere and the sense of a close community.

Race Season Preparation

On the 16th of March I attended the trackdays.ie rescheduled track day for some practice with my Dad. Thanks to PTG (Precision Window Tinting & Graphics) I got the last few graphics sorted and I have to say, it’s strange seeing my name on the side of a car! New tyres were put on the Fiesta and I felt really good about the day ahead. It was important to me that I signed Dad up as a driver on my car that day because it happened to be the same day as my birthday and it was the best present I could’ve asked for seeing the immense joy on his face when he came in from a few laps. Racing has always been something we’ve both dreamed of doing but could never afford so I intend to share this experience with him in whatever way I can and I can genuinely say I’ve never seen the man smile as hard as he did when he got out of the car. He loved it.

The track was a little damp in the morning and there had recently been new tarmac laid down on certain sections of the track so it took a good few laps to get comfortable with my lines. After I got into the swing of things I started to see a gradual increase in my lap times and the encouragement from different people around on the day made me more and more determined to keep at it. After lunch I was invited to get a test drive in one of the trackdays.ie’s Civics and get some advice from one of their instructors as to where I might be able to improve my times. I loved it and took on board the advice I was given and found an improvement in my lap times afterwards. Overall, it was a day full of learning and a lot of fun. The best way to celebrate turning 24!

Marshalling

The 24th and 25th  of March saw the first round of the Masters in Mondello Park and all of us in the Motorcycle Marshals Association were excited for the bikes to be back. On Saturday morning I arrived in the marshals room and was delighted to see we had up to thirty marshals signed on for the day. Clodagh Brennan, our Queen Bee marshal, has been working tirelessly to get more marshals in and works so hard behind the scenes along with many others to ensure we all get what we need. To see the sea of orange along the banks over the weekend was incredible. On some posts we had up to four people! We were also excited to invite race driver Nicole Drought to the banks for the first time. We love having new people join us and it’s great to see a driver work alongside us and see what goes on on the other side of the track. We marshalled turn 1 and overall it was a quiet enough day on the Saturday which allowed us to talk Nicole through some of the procedures and methods required when marshalling. When we get a new marshal in it’s important that we go through everything from the fire extinguisher procedures to what to do in the event of an incident along with examples.

After a cold sleepover in the paddock we woke up to a frosty track and in desperate need for a cup of tea on the Sunday morning. Once again we had up to thirty marshals sign on and everyone was in great form and ready for the day. I was working turn 1 again and it was much busier than the previous day. We had up to about twenty bikes/sidecars either crashing or needing assistance. There were many more incidents around the track and because we had so many marshals we were able to run and attend an incident at other sections of the track just in case we were needed. It genuinely made me so proud to see us be able to do that. And from speaking to a number of riders over the weekend, they themselves seemed to feel the effect of this. One rider said to me “You were all down in the gravel before we even stopped sliding through it!”, and we were. It felt great that we had enough numbers that we could attend to each rider and bike without being stretched for hands. One of the things I love about being on the banks is the people you meet whether it’s new marshals, spectators or the riders or drivers that end up in our care. What I love the most though is being able to be one of the first people there to help. What I will say is marshalling isn’t for everyone, we do see some horrific things sometimes and either you can react on the spot and make vital decisions or you cannot. We also rarely get such good weather like what we were lucky enough to have that weekend so you do need to be willing to brave all elements! But if you love motorsport and the buzz of racing, marshalling is definitely worth a try. And we love meeting new people!

So if you’re interested in trying it out you can message me on Facebook here and I will provide you with all the information you’ll need or follow me on twitter

 

Ruth Nugent

4th April, 2018

Author: Ruth Nugent

Ruth Nugent a 23 year old from Gormanston has been volunteering as a Motorsport marshal at Mondello Park in Co. Kildare for nearly 12 years but for 2018 she is moving from marshal to driver and will race in the Fiesta Zetec Championship in 2018. You can follow Ruth on twitter @roothnoogent

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