My Heroes, The Orange Army
It's a strange thing to experience your first real crash on a race circuit. That moment that you know the impact is inevitable and there is nothing more you can do is fairly surreal. I was going really well on Friday consistently lapping in the 53s on old tyres, confidence was high because I was quick. But the point where my wheels locked as the ABS failed, to the moment when I hit the barrier seemed to last forever. I remember thinking 'this is going to hurt'. And it did. A lot.
I hit the wall pretty hard at around 70mph. The first thing I did after the car stopped moving was check I could still move my arms and fingers, which were all working fine. But then came the panic, I could see clouds of dust and smoke all around me. Should I press the fire button? Should I exit the car? At least turn the bloody engine off! After quickly hitting the kill switch I undid my harnesses and thought about exiting the car when a glorious site of orange immediately calmed me down. Within seconds of the impact a bearded man wearing an orange suit, covered in dust and gravel, arrived by my door armed with a fire extinguisher, 'Are you ok?' he asked. A Marshal. There is nothing more reassuring than the site of one or a team of these wonderful humans after a moment like this on a race circuit. A minute or so later more orange men arrived along with the medical team and I knew that everything would be OK. They did their job flawlessly and quickly recovered me and my car back to the pits. Given my previous spinal injury the medical staff popped me on a comfy bed in the back of an ambulance and took me to hospital just to be on the safe side. Although I knew I was ok, I'm glad they insisted on this as the piece of mind the x-ray gave me allowed me to move on quite quickly from the crash and focus my mind on getting the car sorted for the next race.
No one quite appreciates how very special these marshals are until they really need them. These people give up their time, for free, don an orange proban suit and stand at the edge of our race circuits in all weathers to ensure the safety of the people who choose to race. That's right, these men and women are volunteers, often putting themselves second to ensure our safety. So the next time you see one of these wonderful human beings, please tell them thank you, because without them we wouldn't be able to race. Marshals make races. To the many medics and marshals that helped me on Friday, or last season and any further races I will be involved in, this is a heartfelt thank you. My heroes, The Orange Army.