I was a Corner Marshall at MotoGP!

February 6, 2017
By Mark Lopez
(This story originally appeared in our Autumn 2016 issue)

When MotoGP returned to the Circuit of the Americas, in Austin, for its third straight year I had the best seat in the house: this year I was a corner marshal—and the experience was better than I could have hoped for.

A corner marshal is a track worker who keeps the racing safe by maintaining the racetrack. The race weekend ran Friday through Sunday, and I reported for mandatory training on Thursday. Organizers assigned me to Turn 13 and handed me a fire-retardant jumpsuit. I brought my own work gloves and earplugs.
As I waited for the training to begin, I looked around at the others sitting next to me: men and women, young and old, from all walks of life had shown up. A few said they “corner-worked” as often as they could. But most were first-timers like me. Some signed up to work as medical marshals to assist racers after a crash. Others chose to serve as flag marshals, who relay track conditions to racers with different colored flags. Green means go; red means the race has been stopped; yellow and red-stripes means there might be oil on the track.

Each day, we reported for duty at 5:30 a.m., folding chairs in hand, costumed in our saggy, blue jumpsuits. On Friday, it drizzled off and on. Our crew saw half a dozen riders fall and slide unharmed across the tarmac. Whenever someone crashed, we would help the rider rejoin the race or, if necessary, remove the disabled bike from the track. In between races, we cleared the track of debris such as helmet visor tear-offs and chunks of rubber and gravel. After each race, we walked to the edge of the track, waved flags, and cheered the racers during their cool-down lap.

On Saturday, defending MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier crashed while leading in the first race. Coming into Turn 13, he tucked the front while braking hard for the double apex right-hander. He slid straight through the gravel trap, his bike stopping just short of hitting the hard barriers. Our team quickly rushed to his aid. I slid my hands under the tank of Beaubier’s dust-covered Yamaha and pulled it upright. Though his windshield was busted and his clutch lever was broken, Beaubier hurriedly remounted his machine. He thumbed the starter and wrung the throttle hard in frustration. The exhaust roared so loud it left my ears ringing. In a moment he was gone, headed back to the pit.

On Sunday, rider Marc Marquez again decimated the competition and cruised to a convincing victory in the premier MotoGP 2016 race. As the racers took their cool-down laps, all the corner marshals waved flags and hollered in appreciation of a great race. Some riders waved or gave us high-fives; others pulled stand-up wheelies or flashed a thumbs-up.

Then it was time to pack up. As a track worker I had access to the behind-the-scenes flurry that television doesn’t bother to show us. Team members hurriedly packed toolboxes and crated up the racebikes. Others hung out and chatted with friends and members of rival teams. Soon they would all be gone, headed across the Atlantic to the next race in Spain. I said hi to racing legends Randy Mamola and Kevin Schwantz, but I just missed out on getting autographs from star riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo.

This was not the first time I’d been to a MotoGP race, but as I stood there in the pits posing for a picture with race winner Marc Marquez, I realized how different this year had been. And a heartfelt grin spread across my face.

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4th Annual Biker Meet N Greet Rally

April 26 - April 28

Live music all weekend long with shows Friday night, Saturday afternoon (free outdoors), Saturday night. Night shows inside the club with the regular cover charge. Also Friday night inside club Bikini Oil Wrestling. Full kitchen grill inside the club. Saturday outdoor Biker Wedding at 11 am- all bikes start staging at 10 am for the ceremony. Larry Tillery with Scott McGill, Jimmie Barnes, Tim Burge takes the stage at 1:30 pm kicking off the free…
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Bikes on the Bayou

April 26 @ 8:00 am - April 28 @ 5:00 pm

“Bikes on the Bayou” is a three-day festival in Houston, TX. that celebrates motorcycles, bicycles, and scooters in Eleanor Tinsley Park and along Allen Parkway. This all-inclusive festival will bring together all two-wheeled enthusiasts to celebrate music, culture and their riding communities. The three-day event will also provide motorcyclists the opportunity to participate in cruises throughout the festival space and secure overnight parking on festival grounds. Event organizers have meticulously chosen music acts for the…
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Ride to Finish the Fight

April 27 @ 9:10 am

1st annual Fun Run benefiting “Parker County Relay for Life” Rings of Hope Team. Help us help cancer patients and support research for a cure for cancer to end these battles many of us have fought and many fighting today. It’s going to be a beautiful day for riding. Come out for a fun ride, fellowship with new friends and ride for a Cure.
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6th Annual Texas Redneck Ramble Dual Sport Ride

April 27 @ 12:00 pm - April 28 @ 5:00 pm

  Join us for the 6th Annual Texas Redneck Ramble in Jacksboro, Texas. The fun will kick off on Saturday, April 27th with a motorcycle field meet. Trophies will be presented for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place riders. After the field meet, you can join your fellow riders for dinner with some shenanigans on the side Sunday, April 28th, we will ramble off with a 165 mile Dual Sport ride that is sure to…
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Mudbugs for Heroes

April 27 @ 2:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Fundraiser benefitting Veteran Pardners in Mexia, Texas. Sponsored by Brotherhood Forever MC Limestone Chapter. $15 cover includes either a burger plate or crawfish till they’re gone. (700# of crawfish) . Live music by Pushwater from 2:00-6:00pm. DJ Kurt will play until??? Bike Games, Live Auction, 50/50, and more. Family friendly event. kids 12 and under free. Gates open at noon
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