27 March, 2017

A Glimpse Behind the Curtain (Behind the 25, part 8)

Evil lairs are always inaccessible. Impenetrable. And the constant distance creates an aura of mystery about the place. A handful of interactions grow into a half-true caricature of the people who actually reside there.

I had seen the view above many times over the years, and a similar kind of caricature had grown in my mind. In my imagination, the people working in the tower were sticklers for everything. They loved rules, order, and nothing else.

Finally, in 2016, I was able to take a glimpse behind the curtain. And I can say for certain that the notions that I had were not the full story, and they were not a fair depiction either.

Of course, I should have known that. As with any fractal, the traits that I came to appreciate about the pit marshals, the flaggers, and the safety crew also reflect the traits of the race control team itself. And vice-versa. This is definitely a race where the details show you the bigger picture. But the opposite is also true: the big picture can show you hidden details.

13 March, 2017

Muscle (Behind the 25, part 7)

As the race-day sky turns from black, to blue, to red, orange, and finally, sunlight, the members of the Safety crew awake from their last moments of guaranteed sleep during the race. Safety is the last of the trifecta of teams that represent Race Control outside of the tower: the pit marshals are the eyes, ears, and voice along pit lane, and the flaggers fulfill a similar role around the track.

Safety is the muscle. When a car has to get moved, or a dangerous situation needs to be disarmed, Safety is called to the scene. And just like a fire company, they rest between calls, and they work when they're called. But during the 25, they're on call all race long.