Imagine what would happen if excitable racers were allowed to just decide amongst themselves how they’d enter a course for practice or qualifying. It’s safe to say that would lead to chaotic scenes at the beginning of many on-track sessions.
For this reason, grid workers are an incredibly valuable and essential squad for race meets, especially at events such as this weekend’s SCCA U.S. Majors Tour at Mid-Ohio where several groups are sporting fields of around 60 cars!
Greg Adams, an Ohio Valley Region member who is Grid Chief this weekend at Mid-Ohio, said the 11-person group working grid this weekend essentially consists of selfless volunteers with incredible patience and organizational skills.
“We put the cars in the correct order to get them out on track,” said Adams, who has been working grids for six years. “It sounds simple, but placing cars in the right spot isn’t all that easy at times. All the drivers seem to arrive at once, sometimes at the 5-minute warning, and it can get a little hectic. But these are all great people and I’ve made a lot of good friends out here.”
Christy Graham, a member of the Cincinnati Region who has also been working grids for six years and plans on being at the 2016 SCCA National Championship Runoffs presented by Garmin VIRB, said drivers could assist the grid process a lot if they’d just make sure their car numbers were very, very visible. Knowing your spot on the grid, following directions and being patient is helpful, too. But even with its challenges, Graham said working grid at an SCCA event is absolutely amazing.
“In our official capacity, we’re right up on the action,” Graham said with a warm grin. “You can see the cars. You can touch the cars. You can talk to the drivers. And the cars will rumble your very soul as they start up next to you on the grid.”
Tom Smolenski, a member of the Western Michigan Region, has been working grids for more than 15 years. He summed up the experience succinctly.
“It's more fun than humanly possible,” Smolenski said. “You'll have more fun than a woodpecker in a lumberyard.”
This weekend’s grid workers will have a great vantage point for what will be two very entertaining days of racing at the SCCA U.S. Majors Tour at Mid-Ohio with races beginning Saturday at 12:25pm Eastern Time. Catch all the qualifying and racing action both days online at www.scca.com/live where video and audio will be accessible so everyone can experience all the excitement.
Photo: One-minute signal from SCCA grid workers, who are #1 in the hearts of a lot of competitors.
Photo Credit: Sports Car Club of America Staff