Behind the scenes – Glen Cousner; Race Marshall

Over the course of the season F1 hopes to talk to those people behind the scenes that make the show happen. The unsung, under-appreciated, under-valued heroes of our sport. Without these guys we would not have any racing to watch at the race tracks.

The views and opinions in these interviews are of the individual and may not be those of the Promoting body, the Governing body or any other organisation involved with Oval Racing.

Name: Glen Cousner

Role at Race Track: Race Marshall Currently for Coventry, and previously for Incarace

Give us a brief description of what this involves? Running a safe and organised practise session pre-meeting. Ensuring drivers are gridded correctly and belted up before each race.
Watching a specific section of track for illegal moves….Checking the physical being of drivers after heavy impact and stopping the race if required. Extraction of seriously injured drivers (removal of roof). Extinguishing fires. Cleaning the track of oil spills and/or debris. Communicating with Race Control where required

How long have you been doing this? 4 years

How did you become involved in doing this? I have been watching Stock Cars for 35 years, I dabbled a bit in Rebels and a couple of F1 meetings – but with a family and mortgage I am unable to do it to any decent level – so I decided to be involved keeping the drivers safe instead. (Not that some of them appreciate it lol…)

What’s the hardest part of this job / role? On average a normal meeting lasts 9 hours for Marshalls. From getting the safety gear out, to parking the transporters up in the pits, through to clearing up at the end (even painting the armco silver at the WF weekend last season at 11pm!!!)
It’s a long day at a £1.50 an hour…

Do you have to undergo any training to do this job / role? Or was you mentored? Yes, all marshalls have to attend an ORCi training day to be allowed on track, there is also on the job training generally from the clerks of the course. This can be anything from where to position yourself when working on the outside of a bend (the mental job!) to operating the hydraulic cutting gear.

What would be the best way for others wanting to do this job / role at a race track to get involved? Just ask for the Clerk of the course or write to the promoter…. there’s always a need for more marshalls!!

How has doing this job / role changed how you now view racing? It has made me appreciate the dangers of Stock Car Racing…. You get such a different perspective from the inside of the track – you also appreciate just how hard the cars hit the armco. When Mick Sworder and Mick Randall went into the armco at NIR last season, I was stood 3 yards from the point of impact…. I honestly thought the end had arrived…..

From doing your job at the race track, what frustrates you the most from common misinformation / missing knowledge from the every day race fan? It frustrates me when fans moan at us for waving the yellows when a driver has indicated they are injured. We have to make decisions all the time regarding injured drivers…. we always count to ten or double check….but we can invariably see the state of the driver far better than the fans who complain. We all want the races to run straight through….we get to the bar quicker!! But the safety of the driver always comes before “the flow of the show”!

Do you still enjoy watching racing when you’re not involved with your chosen role / job?
I love it… I go to Coventry every month and really enjoy sitting down in that nice warm bar with a cold pint and hearing the fans all screaming for their favourites. You don’t hear the crowd at all when your marshalling…

What do you think could be done to make BriSCA F1 better for –

1, The Fans – Stop the promoters working individually to form a “NASCAR” style organisation. Pool the resource, employ a professional marketing team, gain corporate sponsors, bring the venues up to the 21st century and watch the sport grow. Premier sports is helping to build the sport….but how many “first timers” would come back given the average facilities at any UK stock car track? The profile of the average stock car fan is getting older….BriSCA needs to be thinking now about how to recruit a new generation of fans, and I think the individual promoters need to work with each other not against each other for the future of the sport!

2, The Drivers – Tarmac all pits at every track… The conditions the guys work in across all tracks are appalling in my opinion.

3, The race track / sport as a whole – All tracks should have a covered seating area for 1000 people as a minimum standard. The investment would encourage more people along and ensure a minimum requirement for each world final.

How would you describe BriSCA F1 Stock Car racing in 2 sentences? It’s the most explosive and action packed sport most of Britain has never heard of….
Real people racing monsters brutally ….under the lights – nothing beats F1 stock car racing.

Do you remember the first F1 meeting you attended as a fan? Where, When and memories of.
1977 – Brafield stadium….the only driver I remember was Dave Chisholm 252… I loved his orange car. I also remember being blown away by the noise making the old green grandstand rattle and vibrate!!!

What is you fondest memory of the sport

1, in your official role?
Feeling really proud to be part of the team on World Final weekend at NIR 2011. I know it had it’s critics because the fireworks weren’t “NYE Sydney”, but for me, being involved that night and seeing one of the nicest guys in the sport (Paul Harrison) win was brilliant. The only bad part of the night was the Peter Rees incident which was horrible and I was delighted to see him back at the track on the Sunday.

2, As a race fan?
Taking my boy to his first World Final at Ipswich a few years back. Sitting in the little wooden stand next to the starters rostrum and seeing the look of shock on his face as 32 cars thundered past was unforgettable. My wife was blown away too as I was at NIR in 1977…

What / who’s had the best F1 Stock Car or Cars in your opinion?
I don’t think you have to look much further than Frankie Wainman for consistently bringing out beautiful machines….having said that Chris Elwell’s car in the 90’s was a real piece of art at the time in my opinion.

Thanks for doing your job at the race track.

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