I am an ordinary guy who enjoys riding motorcycles. I love riding all makes and models. I love short rides, long rides, and multi-day road trips. I post reviews about motorcycle gear, motorcycles, roads, restaurants, sights, gadgets and more. The Motorcycle Facts,Trivia and History page has a lot of good info. Be safe and enjoy the ride, Oz.

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Why on earth do you do that?

*** The following is also on the I Just Want 2 Ride blog as a guest post ***
I must admit, as a child my parents asked me that question many times. As an adult, I still get that inquisitive look and even if the words are not said, the eyes shout that question to some degree. When I first told friends that I was going to volunteer to get up early, keep my eyes on the track, and pick up crashed motorcycles at the races I both saw and heard “why,” or in a few cases “how did you arrange that?”

Until 2012, the only races I watched were Olympic Track and Field races. I did not watch or follow any motorsport racing. I first started watching motorcycle racing when my son, who was 14 at the time, did a research paper on Valentino Rossi. He and I accepted the invitation of a friend to watch the MotoGP races at his place. After several Sundays of watching races, my interest rose and I began studying the rules, regulations, classes, and riders. Two years later I was hosting MotoGP watch parties at a local BBQ joint in the “party room” and inviting people in the area who either already watched, had the same curiosity I had a few years ago, or were just looking for a way to hang out and meet others who rode. We would connect the laptop to a big TV and watch the replay of races that often happened in the early hours of the morning, as they were held overseas. Some years we had door prizes from local dealerships and shops for attendees at the first and last races of the year.

Opening Race 2023 was well attended and full of fun and excitement.

When it was announced the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, TX was hosting a MotoGP round in 2013, I decided to attend with some friends. The live action was amazing and I was hooked. Before the event, I had received an email from one of the track marshal organizers asking if I would share the request for volunteers with my Christian Motorcyclists Association friends (at the time I was part of the North Texas Leadership Team). I knew nothing about track marshaling or what it entailed, so I passed the information on to others but did not volunteer myself.

Two years later with my son being 18 years old, we researched what track marshals did and both registered to volunteer at the 2015 race. (flaggers and rider assist positions were also available). Our volunteer applications were accepted and we were able to learn even more that weekend at COTA. It was a fun experience and to see and hear the bike go by that close to us was something you couldn’t get from normal seating at the track. I returned to volunteer in 2017, 2020, 2021, 2023, and again this year, 2024. I also was a track marshal for the 2023 MotoAmerica round at COTA. The MotoAmerica paddock is more open and fans are allowed a lot more access to riders.

My son and I were waiting for the trailer to take MotoGP Legend Andrea Dovizioso’s bike that ran out of fuel on the cool-down lap. Dovi placed 2nd and had already caught a ride to the podium celebration.

So why do I volunteer three full days to be a track marshal?

1) A love for motorcycle racing and the view of the races is the best you can get. You not only see the races, you feel the races. DO NOT volunteer if you are trying to get content for social media - there are strict rules concerning personal cameras, cell phones etc…

2) The opportunity to help provide a safe (as much as possible) racing environment for the riders.

3) To help represent the USA on a world stage by being part of a high-quality track marshal team.

4) The chance to promote, and encourage motorcycling in America. Without volunteers, most racing series would not survive.

5) The chance to meet volunteers from around the world i.e. Czech Republic, Australia, Mexico, England, and others. I now have friends in many other countries that I have met while volunteering at these events. One friend, Roberto, I now pick up at the Austin airport and he stays with me and other friends who attend the race at a rental house for the weekend.

6) The opportunity to walk the paddock and meet riders and their team members when allowed. While there isn’t always a ton of time during the weekend, occasionally there will be opportunities to experience some of the event as a fan as well.

7) The opportunity to share your passion for motorcycling and motorcycling racing.

What is needed to be a track marshal volunteer?

1) Willingness and commitment. Please DO NOT accept a volunteer position and then not attend. Each year I am surprised at the number of “no-shows” that take place. One year over 100 volunteers didn’t show! The volunteer organizers work hard every year to recruit, rearrange, and fill in as needed to make sure America does not fail MotoGP.

2) A good attitude. This is not the place for egos. People need to be flexible, humble, helpful, and willing to follow instructions. The only line to be “drawn in the sand” is one’s safety.

3) Willingness to attend virtual training sessions before the race weekend. Usually one or two training sessions of 1 to 1.5 hours.

4) Understanding and commitment to do your best regardless of the weather conditions. Rain, cold, or hot and sometimes all three in one weekend can happen, but the races go on.

5) Come with a humble attitude and willingness to follow directions given by experienced team members. Not following instructions can lead to problems and/or injuries.

The global MotoGP feed is running while I help Aleix Espargaro #41 after a high-speed crash

What do track volunteers get for their time and efforts?

1) The best seats in the house! Nothing blocking the view of the race as they ride by your station.

2) Breakfast, lunch and dinner is provided. Water and sports drinks are provided at each station during each day.

3) Opportunities to walk on the track, meet riders, and be a part of the event

4) “Swag bag” for each volunteer. Items in the bag may change but each year I have received a custom volunteer cap, t-shirt, race program book, and other items. Past goodies have included a COTA or MotoGP mug, sunglasses, a keychain, sunscreen, a small notebook, etc.

5) Free parking (at the volunteer lot)

6) Three complimentary tickets to share with friends or family. Each ticket is good for one entry so one person can enter each day or three could enter for one day. This year (2024) my complimentary tickets helped two friends get seats on the starting grid opposite the VIP suites and stands!

7) A satisfaction and sense of pride in being a part of the team ensuring the event is successful.

Celebrating with Joe Roberts after finishing 2nd in Moto2 - first American to finish on the podium at an American GP since Ben Spies in 2011 at Indianapolis. Joe took my flag on the celebration ride and garage celebration.

What are the “value-added” aspects of being a track marshal?

1) Meet other race fans and make new friends from all over the United States and the world. Over the years there have been track marshals from Australia, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Canada, Mexico, Turkey, Italy, Brazil, Ukraine, South Africa, and others!

2) Future preference when volunteering to marshal other racing events, including MotoAmerica and Formula 1 (provided you fulfill your commitment and aren’t one of the “difficult” marshals). Leadership will even help if you want to try to marshal at an international race!

3) Potential opportunity to help riders who have gone down, and see the most expensive, high-powered motorcycles in the world up close!

4) To be a small part of the MotoGP World Championship and the racing excitement that has made you a fan of the sport. As I mentioned before, they rely heavily on volunteers to make these events operate smoothly and continue to be something we can enjoy for years to come

5) For riders who enjoy track days, club racing, or are considering either can see the best of the world and get a clearer idea of advanced riding techniques.

2018 Valentino Rossi’s bike getting prepared for the race.

What jobs are available for volunteers and what do they do?

Track Marshal - check track for debris before and between races, quickly assist a down rider restart or remove the bike (“be quick but don’t rush’), help ensure riders safely get off the track.
Flaggers - when appropriate or directed display the appropriate flag to communicate with the riders track situations or conditions.
Rider Assist - assist medic in cases where a rider is injured.

*** All three positions work as a team to ensure the safety of riders and volunteers. ***

How does one go about volunteering?

1) Visit the Circuit of the Americas volunteer page and register.

2) Visit the MotorsportsReg page and search for the event you want to work.

3) Central RoadRacing Association volunteer opportunities.

4) Central Motorcycle Racing Association volunteer opportunities

5) Visit the webpage of the track you want to marshal at and search for the volunteer tab.
As a fellow track marshal, Rich Overton, stated "Sometimes it takes until the last race of the last day, but every event I have worked, something happens that makes the whole weekend worthwhile, and you never know what is is going to be until it happens."
Not all motorcycle races have the same volunteer organizers, so you may have to search the internet or call the track. Volunteers are needed at all levels and all types of motorcycle racing so there are a lot of opportunities. Give it a try and I believe you will find it rewarding.


  1. If you want to help out at MotoAmerica rounds or at the next MotoGP contact me. dhawley@motoamerica.com

  2. Can agree with the best views in the house. I took up photography and shoot at the track and get the same positions as Marshalls. Greatest place to be. Except when I've had enough I get to go home early, whilst the Marshalls have to stay to the end.

    1. Photographers have great "seats," especially because you can move around the track at you desire. You also do get to go home earlier :). Each "job" has it's pro's and con's.