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'I feel like a child who's got new toys'
How does one pick a face from the hundreds of men and women, all hidden from view, who make sure everything goes according to plan in an F1 race? For the inaugural Formula 1 Airtel Indian Grand Prix, nearly 1800 people from all over India applied online to the Indian Motorsports Marshal Club. Over the past 18 months, this number has been whittled to somewhere between 800-1000 people. This army of foot soldiers comprises doctors, teachers and even corporate executives, all petrolheads at heart who have volunteered to work at a race weekend for free, purely for the adrenaline rush.
The F1 marshal training programme invited applicants for various departments like pit, paddock and service areas, radio operators, start line observers and flag, rescue, recovery and response.
TOI-Crest tracked down Randeep Miglani, a rally enthusiast and driver who has opted to volunteer for the rescue, recovery and response marshal team. The 37-year-old explains why he is so keen to be a part of the Indian GP experience ...
I've been a rally driver for the past sixodd years. From the moment I heard there would be a Formula 1 race in India, I knew that I had to be a part of it. I've been to the Malaysian Grand Prix but the chance of getting to actually work in one is an unbelievable opportunity.
Volunteers are not paid but that is something I knew from the start. I'm not bothered about the money. I was just so excited about the fact that I would get to work on the track. The excitement is hard to describe. It's the kind of excitement a child feels when he gets new toys to play with.
I know that being a marshal at the track means a lot of hard work. There's nothing glamorous about standing in the sun. That much was made very clear to us at our induction session in April. They focused on small details like what clothing to wear, and how important ear phones are. They took us through the history of Formula 1 and explained the basics: what happens during a race and how the different departments work.
The final training session is on Sept 3-4 in Chennai and Sept 9-10 at Greater Noida. That is when they will train us on what we are expected to do and how we can perform the duties assigned to us. Things like how to push an F1 car, and what precautions to take. I've personally requested to be a part of the recovery team, because I believe that will be the most exciting. I'll also get to be trackside. Most of the instructors who spoke to us were foreigners and I think that is to be expected, since this is our first year at organizing a race. In the next couple of years we will be able to train volunteers ourselves.
(As told to Ruhi Batra)
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