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Track Flag Crews - A danger to the riders!?

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In the recent past I have witnessed [on TV and in person] flag crews who appear untrained, unqualified and/or clueless as to why they are on the track.

Case(s) in point:

1. During a race [Grand Junction Colorado] a rider went down hard over a fast triple. The flag person watched the rider as he lay on the ground and "FORGOT" to wave off on-coming riders. This resulted in a small pile-up. I looked around and the "flaggers" were looking in the direction of the crash but not doing anything to warn on-coming traffic. [nuff said, local race]

2. I was watching the Glen Helen replay and saw the Kevin Windham practice crash. Didn't see the flag person jump into action... however Kevin sure jumped up and tried to wave people off... unfortunatly RC was the next guy in line and landed right on K-Dub's bike. Later on during the race Broc Hepler goes down... again... Broc is down and the flag person is standing way off the side while other riders are blowing by Broc on the ground.

Perhaps... just perhaps... the flag personnel at a race should get a little more training on signaling, rider safety and communication. IMHO

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At the arenacross track here, inmates (I'm dead serious) are used as flaggers. Saw a little kid take one out last Friday night as the kid was rolling a double. Both went down, but neither seriously hurt.

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rws.

I was thinking the same thing after watching RC hit KW. I flagged my first race on Sunday at Hangtown. Thank goodness nothing exciting happened, but I see your point. My training was not much. I am fairly perceptive and thus not worried about myself doing the job, but can certainly see your point. I imagine a lot of flaggers want to enjoy the race as well.

I am going to be flagging at the SF Supercross this year. That should be an adventure.

MIr

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Last summer at a race in watkins, Co, a kid on an 80 looped out over a large table, the flagger was sitting down looking away from track. We started yelling at him to wave the flag, he just looked at us with a confused look. Someone from the crowd jumped up on track and began waving at the oncoming riders. The Flagger stood up at this point. The kid was hurt pretty bad, I think he may have broke a leg. After everything the was cleared the flagger went and sat back down. :cry:

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that's ridiculous, they could get someone hurt and maybe even killed, i think the tracks that hire them need to actually train them and not tell them to just go out there and watch the race. :cry:

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Mike_In_Roseville,

1. Perhaps you can be a trend setter and get the flag-crew up to speed on the duties and responsiblities. It has to start somewhere!

2. Ok... so how do you get to be on the flag-crew for a pro race? I'd love to have the chance to be part of the team here in Atlanta [Feb 2005]

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trailrider25,

I couldn't agree more. I found myself actually yelling at the flag crew [yep even while watching on TV] because it was so obvious that it was dangerous to both the downed rider and all on coming traffic. I think the track officials are responsible for ensuring the flag crew is informed, trained and capable of doing the job. If not... get someone else and definately have someone on stand-by just in case a flag crew member screws up so badly others are getting hurt.

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joethunder,

sounds to me like this is definately not an "isolated" issue. Seems like an awareness needs to be made across the country for both pro and amateur races. :cry:

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125Shifter,

I suspect the track officials [race promoters] figure it's cheaper. However what they aren't considering or caring about is the safty of the riders. Don't get me wrong some of the inmates may be genuinly concerned about their duties but I suspect like other flag crews, they may be just there to be out in the world and to watch the race up close. :cry:

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I lived 5 miles from Gatorback in Gainesville, Florida in the late 70's early 80's. I was flagging there at age 12 or so.

I was on it. If we sat, it was between motos, not during! If we were caught sitting during the race, we were asked to just go home and lost our opportunity to come back again.

If someone went down on my section, I made sure that flag was visible, waving it dramatically not just standing there with it limply hanging by my side. Once the pack passed and no further riders were coming, only then would I assist the downed rider. We were required to be there from 7am to after 6pm, sat and sun, I got free admission, a couple free cokes and a single hotdog for lunch. I would make $20 cash each day. :cry:, I got to watch great mx at a great track. The promoter always was a big :cry:. He got rich, very rich. But he eventually got his just reward!

Our club up here has a group of Young Marines come out to assist with flagging our races. The club gives money to their organization to compensate. Last year, it was horrible. We had 7 and 8 year olds out there flagging. They rarely paid attention. They ended up throwing dirt clobs at each other across the track. They left their posts to help riders. Finally, several of us spoke up and demanded that only teens be used.

This year, it wasn't much better. I recall a pimply faced 17 year old darted back onto the track from the pits after a bathroom break in the middle of a race. He didn't check the track at all. A pro coming over the front table top was already airborne! The kid was crossing right in the landing area; as we yelled he froze. The pro did a huge mid-air correction. They missed each other by the slimmest of margins. It was soooo close. :cry:. Their instructor just waved the kid to go on out to his post.

What can you do but shake your head. :cry:

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I've been a corner worker (Flagger) for the last 4 years at the Hangtown national. I got involved by knowing someone in the club that puts the race on (Hangtown is the ONLY national round still put on by a local MC club the Dirt Diggers North). Every year the club pays close attention to who is doing a good job and who isn't. Those who do good are asked to return, those who don't, aren't. They stress we aren't there to watch the race, we're there to protect the riders. Most everyone who works at Hangtown know's what's happening, most of us race, and are trying very hard to do the best job we can.

Now for your situation, go to the local bike shop and enquire about flagging the race. The shop may be able to hook you up with whoever is in charge of the track crew.

More times than once I have been in the middle of the track, waving my flag furiously, and if the oncoming bikes are going to hit the downed rider, they gotta ride over me to do it. :cry: Scary, but what a rush!!! I can hardly wait until next year......

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imho, the biggest problem with flagers is the habit of helping the rider pick up his bike rather than run up the track to warn oncoming riders that someone is down. see it all the time, even in pro sx. don't know if they are trained that way, or if it is instinctive. been that way forever. on the rare occasion that you do see one react properly, i know that the head flager knows his job, and has trained his crew well. god bless them for wanting to help, but please don't let someone jump on us while you help me off of the ground.

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More times than once I have been in the middle of the track, waving my flag furiously, and if the oncoming bikes are going to hit the downed rider, they gotta ride over me to do it. :cry: Scary, but what a rush!!!

While I admire your dedication, I question your wisdom/sanity.

You must have great insurance or like pain. In over 30 years, I haven't met a promoter yet who I would trust to "take care" of you or your medical bills were you to get injured making such a selfless act. :cry:

Think about this one again before acting. :cry:

Do you really think that you are going to protect the downed rider by placing your body between a few hundred pounds of steel coming in at lord knows what speed. And if you do, guess what you are now the injured person and they have to get a new cornerworker! :cry:

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I was so pissed at arena cross officials here in Nasville last year I couldn't see straight... not only were the flaggers poorly trained they were understaffed by probably 50%.Left a poor taste in my mouth.Two night sell out and they could not come up with enough money to fully staff the flag crew.

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ButchWR250F,

More times than once I have been in the middle of the track, waving my flag furiously, and if the oncoming bikes are going to hit the downed rider, they gotta ride over me to do it. Scary, but what a rush!!! I can hardly wait until next year......

That's dedication and committment to the job :cry: I hope that kind of dedication spreads for the sake of everyone involved.

Thanks for the insight on how to get onto the track and become part of a flag-crew. Keep up the good work! I will begin the inquiries to see about getting out there in the future.

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elsinoredaze,

I think this is becoming more the norm than the exception. As race organizers continue to attempt to maximize their profits it appears that the safty of the riders may be getting jeopardized.

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chipwich,

god bless them for wanting to help, but please don't let someone jump on us while you help me off of the ground.

I agree completely. The key here is training and of course it's the responsibility of the flagger to adhere to his/her training.

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NOMADAK,

I think it's like you point out... some promoters may not be overly concerned about the flag crew, thus the flag crew may be the least "looked after" group out there during a race. This "mis-treatment" if you will, may cause qualified flaggers not to return, ultimately resulting in unqualified people doing the job week after week. Of course there are the dedicated few that do the job [like yourself] because you enjoy it and know its importance. :cry:

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my local track pays $70 to flaggers,they train them and feed them,usually they work out,but in ama pro racing there should really be no excuse,the ama needs to train and license flaggers for pro events not just hire some regular locals,they need to bring them to all the ama races,but they wont,why?because the ama are a bunch of money hungry A holes!they are too busy spending my money in washington to help some joker with a street bike with loud pipes!AMA :cry:

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etownyzf,

Sounds to me like your local track is setting a good example. :cry:

I agree more should follow suite. And like you said... the AMA professional racing organization should set the example! However, their current example is not one that I believe is good for the sport. :cry:

Your local track race organizers should be commended for leading the way. :cry:

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