Flagmen

Frank Rant

Every part of a motocross race and every participant is important.  You cannot have a race without racers, without a track, without someone putting the race on, or without flagmen.  The flagmen are what make a race a race and not pure bedlam.  As I said all the parts are equally important, but flagging has been a crusade of mine since before I became a promoter.  One of the reasons I became a promoter was someone once told me “if you can do it better put your money where your mouth is.” One of the things that I had bitched about for years was the lack of flagmen at big races.  Despite what I do at REM for safety, it has not done much for the state of flagging at many of the big events.  I have seen big races with over 500 racers on a track with 6 or 7 flagmen.  Yes, it costs a lot of money for flagmen.  Most of them expect to receive some type of compensation at the end of the day.  At REM we usually have 12 to 15 flaggers working every event no matter if there are 50 riders or 300 riders.  Safety has always been number one to us.  There is nothing worse than a racer getting injured.  And it is important to do everything that you can to avoid additional injuries.  Sometimes there is nothing that can be done. Sometimes it is just your day to get hurt.  There is no rhyme or reason for crashes.  I have seen the very best to the very beginner get off.  I have seen so many crashes I can usually predict the crash before it happens by watching the wheels of the bike.  Sometimes it is a spectacular crash, when you just know the racer is going to be hurt, and then they jump up grab the bike and motor on like nothing happened.  And sometimes the most innocent of crashes ends up being the worst injuries.  As I said you just never know.  Have you as a racer ever said thank you to a flagman or flag-girl?  Do you know how hard it is to stand there all day, in the hot sun, in the cold, in the rain, in the wind?  To be roosted, to be cursed because you watered too much, you watered too little.  To be second guessed at every thing you do.  A lot of flagmen are racers.  They would much rather be on the track riding than watching.  Try watching 16 straight motos some time, just one section and you will get a feel for what it is like.  Try standing in one location from 9am to 3pm, knowing that you have to watch everything going on around you.  Race tracks are not the most accommodating places.  There is not a lot of comfort out on the track.  REM has one of the best staffs around.  Most of our flaggers are there every week, they know our program they know what is expected of them.  Some are old, some are young, some are there because they want to be, some are there for the money.  They put up with a lot of garbage.  I have always been quick to defend them and quick to chew them out if they do something wrong.  With the National coming up in less than a week I will be taking on another challenge, making sure that we have a qualified flagging staff for the pro races.  It will take more than 50 people putting in 2 very long days.  I have been working on this since last year.  The majority of the staff are racers who are volunteering their weekend to make sure that the best racers in the world are protected as well as they can be.  With both championships to be decided this weekend we are going to do our best to make sure that the racing decides those championships and not a downed racer.  Only time will tell if we can meet the challenge.  And since I don’t expect the racers to say thank you, I want to say thank you to all of the flagging crew of the 2007 Glen Helen National.