Saturday, March 8, 2008

Confession of an F1 marshall

F1 job has him DANCING
S'pore PR thrilled to win race marshal post for inaugural grand prix here

HE was up against more than 2,700 others for the chance to experience life in the fast lane.

His training includes three weekends in the classroom, online sessions and two overseas trips.
But Mr Anurag Avula won't get a cent from this job; he's doing it for the sheer thrill of being involved in a Formula 1 race.
The avid F1 fan was among 800 volunteers short-listed from 2,720 applicants to be race marshals in the Formula 1 SingTel Singapore GrandPrix (GP).
He also made the cut to be one of the key senior race marshals, although his exact duties on that day have not yet been spelt out.
The race marshal post is one of the hottest volunteer jobs in town, with applications outnumbering the number of vacancies three times over.
The selection process took about 1 1/2months, during which shortlisted applicants for the key senior officers positions were interviewed, said race promoter Singapore GP.
These marshals also had to complete an e-module online, it added.
Mr Avula, 36, a Singapore permanent resident from India, is among the 30 to 40 senior race marshals who will be receiving specific training and hands-on experience for the job, so that they can direct the race and train others.
Mr Avula, a global account manager for a multi-national company, has been an F1 fan since 1996.

His wife of 13 years, a homemaker, is also a keen fan.
The father of two children, aged aged 3 and 6, told The New Paper yesterday how excited he was when he found out he had been selected.
'I was so happy. I did a little jig and immediately forwarded the e-mail to my wife.'
If not for his family's support, Mr Avula said, he would not have been able to volunteer.
'I have a passion for the sport, I like co-ordinating things and it is a historical event. It was very hard to let the opportunity pass.'
Preparations for the inaugural GP on 28 Sep, the first night race in F1history, has been picking up pace.
Mr Avula was among 35 senior marshals who recently returned from a five-day training stint in Adelaide organised by the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (Cams), which has been appointed the official race organisation consultant.
'It was hard work. We didn't know what we were in for and by the end of the first day, we were dead tired.
'We had to stay on our feet most of the time and concentrate on what was being said. And it was hot,' he said.
'It was not easy, but I enjoyed every minute of it. I didn't realise how quickly how time passed.'
He added: 'It was a fantastic learning experience.'
Mr Avula said that he has watched only one race live - the Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang last year.
'I've never had the occasion to be involved in the race itself, as I have now. Now I know what goes on behind the scenes.'
He is looking forward to going to Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix next weekend.
The air fare and accommodation of race marshals are paid for, but they need to take time off from work or business for the training.
The volunteers are from all walks of life and include some doctors.
Apart from the two overseas trips, the key race marshals will also go through three weekends of classroom training and online sessions from time to time.
The Singapore Sports Council is also helping to manage the volunteer marshals.
Marshals carry out duties essential to the smooth running of an F1 race. These range from signalling race conditions to clearing debris from the track and checking on car crashes.
Different marshal roles require different training at varying lengths of time, said Singapore GP.
The marshals are expected to be ready for action by July or August - at least a month before race day.
As for Mr Avula, he is not just gearing up for this year's race, but also for future races.
The Kimi Raikkonnen fan said: 'I'm in this for the long haul. Absolutely.'

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