Behind the Scenes: The Build-up to a Race Weekend

by Tom McBeth

To the average fan attending a motor sport event, the amount of setup required often won’t be taken into consideration or be appreciated, particularly when focus is on the racing and the ten or twenty cars that have taken to the track, but the planning required behind the scenes is extraordinary.

The aim for all sporting events is to deliver a spectacle for the fans, but delivering this goes far beyond providing comfortable seats and a good view of the track.

Each driver, for each team, in each series participating in a session over a weekend will need motor homes, awnings, catering facilities and makeshift servicing areas in the paddock, as well as the pit lane. Beyond that, the circuit organisers will need to consider any media requirements, fan access to teams such as pit lane walks, merchandising stands and fan facilities such as catering trucks, large viewing screens and so much more, including any incident or occurrence that may crop up on the day. Arguable most importantly is the marshalling of the track, paddock and circuit entrances and exits including car parks.

In terms of the people power, marshals are volunteers don’t come with a salaried cost, but need to be recruited, trained, managed and organised to ensure that they themselves are able to provide suitable assistance on the day. The number of marshals required can come as a surprising when you consider there are up to eight marshals required at each trackside post, as well staffing of the rest of the venue.

This is all before we consider the impact and concern for effective health and safety in an environment that has the capability of being extremely dangerous to anyone on site.

Mike Tasker, a spokesman for MSL Global, a company who specialise in the provision and sales of motor home hospitality, team catering, awnings and bespoke products for teams, spoke to us about the requirements in setting up for a typical race weekend.

The amount of setup required for a race event varies massively depending on the scale and size of the event, the venue, the number of races, entrants and spectators in attendance.

The venue itself will be responsible for large amounts, and will have to meet certain criteria. For example, an international event such as a grand prix at Silverstone will have much greater requirements on all levels than a national race meeting”

Attending a race event as a spectator, catering facilities, grandstand seating and an accessible and navigable paddock are generally the bare minimum one would expect for the price of the ticket, but circuit managers and event entrants will have much greater things in mind.

When you consider the numbers of mechanics, drivers, public relation figures, administrators and guests a single team might have attending an event, the facilities are essential but something a team doesn’t necessarily want to have to worry about the construction and running of during a busy event schedule.”

With all of this in place to keep the attendees happy, the involvement of such man power and large scale, pop-up facilities also means that organisers need to ensure fans’ safety.

Despite the huge requirements, companies such as MSL Global and the circuit owners and organisers across the world battle through weekly schedules starting in late winter and not ending until late autumn.

This often includes the complete reconstruction of the paddock to remove one series’ set up and to erect the next to tight and non-flexible deadlines.

For larger scale events and big corporate entrants, Mike Tasker explains

We have created bespoke products for the likes of [Formula One racing team] Red Bull Racing, for whom brand recognition is a big part of their company marketing schemes.”

The product mentioned is a two storey pop-up structure plastered with Red Bull’s trademark livery as well as embedded images of the team’s Formula One cars.

This is a common theme for teams in larger series, such as Formula One, NASCAR and Indy Car teams, world touring cars and Le Mans.

All of our larger structures are tailored to suit the needs and image of each team.”

All of this to construct some of the greatest sporting venues and spectacles in the world and to ensure that fans and entrants can be as close to the action as possible, in comfort and safety.

May 2015

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