Solo events are operated and staffed by the competitors. Each competitor in a Solo event must perform the requirements of work a position.
Whenever possible, the Course Captain is an experienced autocrosser who normally works with the red flag and the radio. The Course Captain assigns the course workers at their station to cover particular areas of the course. It is a very good idea to ask the workers you are relieving which of the cones are being hit repeatedly by cars on course to position the workers at your station accordingly. See the Course Worker description below for further information. Also be familiar with our Radio Protocol.
Along with a partner(s) and/or a Pole Chief or Course Captain, you will be stationed at a post on the Course. We usually assign course stations by pole number at FedExField (F33, F44, etc). Your job is to watch all the cars on the course, specifically the ones closest to your post. The course station will have a Radio, Flag, and Fire Extinguisher. The Radio is for calling in course issues; please keep the chatter to a minimum. The Flag is to STOP a car on the course in the case of an emergency or when told by the Timing Truck. The Fire Extinguisher should only be used to put out a fire on the course.
Keeping an eye on the cones, make sure none are moved or knocked over. If any are moved, they must be repositioned immediately providing it is safe to do so, always seeing the cars on course. Do NOT risk your life for a cone.
If it's a penalty, you must call it in describing the car by number, class, and type. A penalty is called when the cone is lying on its side or when it is standing but not in/or touching the box. If the cone is standing and is touching the box AT ALL, it is NOT a penalty
If a car does not go through a gate (providing it does not stop, back up, and go through) it is OFF COURSE. They are also Off Course if they miss a gate AND go through another gate. This needs to be called in as well with a description of the car. A car should not be called off course for hitting a cone. If the car hits the outside of the gate it is still on course, although a cone penalty should be called if necessary.
Remember, this is a very important job!! Two or more people will be assigned to work a specific station. They are responsible for carefully watching as each vehicle passes through their assigned section of the course. They are to report any penalties (missed gates, displaced cones) or safety violations (leaking fuel or oil), reset any cones which have been displaced by the vehicle, and always be ready to throw the red flag.
One final note on course work. The course worker/captain is the work assignment most exposed to injury. At all times on course, be aware of the operation of the entire course and all cars. Never turn your back on car. While it is possible to considerably delay an event through unnecessary use of a red flag, remember that the basic role of course work is safety. The Course Worker is closest to the course, so if you have any doubt, use the flag.
Here are a few tips to remember when it's your turn to work the course:
- Know your area of responsibility.
- Keep "situational awareness" of what goes on in your area.
- Make sure your station has extra cones, fire extinguisher, red flag, radio.
- Make sure all the cones in your area are in the proper place when you first come on station. If there is a pause in the run group, check that the cones are all in their proper positions.
- Know the "down or out" rule for assessing penalties
- If a cone is displaced resulting in a penalty, raise it above your head to signal the penalty and then reset inside "box".
- If a cone is displaced but a penalty is not to be assessed, reset the cone inside the "box" and give a "safe" (as used in baseball) or "no penalty" signal to the radio person at your station.
- Pay attention to the cars on course for accurate cone counts AND for your safety.
- Stand, do not sit, at your assigned station - you must be ready to move quickly at all times.
- Replace cones as soon as possible - run, don't walk!
- If only two people are assigned to work a station, one person (almost always the Pole Captain) should hold the radio and red flag; the other person runs to reset displaced cone(s).
- If you are a flag person, hold the red flag in your hands at all times, unfurled by your side, and be ready to throw it when necessary.
- The person holding the red flag does not also have the responsibility to reset displaced cones - no running on course with the red flag unless you are waving it!
- If a red flag is to be thrown, get the driver's attention without placing yourself in danger.
- Know how to use a fire extinguisher - always aim at the base of a fire, never raise the hood of a vehicle on fire.
- At the end of your work session, leave radios, fire extinguishers and red flags at the station for the next group of workers unless directed otherwise by timing or a worker chief.
- Be prepared for exposure to sun/rain, wind, heat/cold.
- Turn your back to the cars on course
- Forget about the next car coming when replacing cones.
- Sit down or wander away from your post.
- Wave the red flag unless instructed to do so OR if it is an emergency. If in doubt, error on the side of safety!
- Pick up car parts dropped on course - they may be HOT!
- Use a camera without permission and a spotter.
- Talk on your cell phone
entrance / gate worker
Although away from most of the action, Gate is one of the most important functions at an autocross for insurance and safety reasons. A Gate worker must be a member in good standing with the SCCA because all signed waivers must be witnessed by an SCCA member. The following list describes the tasks to which Gate must adhere to help maintain event safety:
+ adult waivers
- All persons age 18 or over entering the event, driving or not driving, must sign the Adult Waiver (download here from SCCA).
- Gate Worker must complete the MS-1 form by filling in the fields on BOTH sides of the MS-1 form i.e. do not begin a new sheet until both sides have been used.
- Gate worker must give each entrant a wrist band to be worn as proof of signature.
+ minor waivers
- Minors are any persons under the age of 18. The parent(s)/legal guardian(s) must fill out the Minor Waiver (download here from SCCA) to enter the event grounds.
- All minors receive wrist bands.
- The Gate Worker must complete the Minor Waiver by filling in the fields of the form.
It is vital that cars leave the line approximately every 20 to 25 seconds to maintain event flow. Your primary responsibilities are:
- Ensure that cars ready at the start line, are always staged and that the pipeline never runs dry.
- Ensure that two-driver cars are sequenced such that there are no two-driver changeovers left at the end of the run group to impact the schedule.
- Ensure that cars are sent to the start line sequentially in a "run, one plus run" order. To the best extent possible, make sure the two-driver cars are sent out in a manner that keeps them on the same run as the one driver cars.
There are several keys to accomplishing this. You can forestall problems by getting on station early and verifying that everyone in the two-driver line is a two driver car. Your job will be to verify that car class, number, name and tech check off are complete.
Before you begin to direct cars to the start from any line, make sure every driver/car in the line is ready to go. Make another driver find a missing driver. Do NOT allow driver inattention to delay staging. Send cars to the Start staging area in an organized manner. Send the entire two-driver line out first, followed by the next adjacent single-driver line. When the next two-driver cars come up, sequence them in and send them immediately, even if it is one car at a time, and even if the first single driver line is still emptying. Work your way through each adjacent single-driver line, continuing until each participant in the group has had their first run. Repeat the process, always sending out two-drivers as they come up. Driver changeover time at the end of the run group is dead time, and in some instances, it may be necessary to direct them to complete their runs in the next run group. It is good practice to memorize the first and last car in each line, but if you are unsure of the number of runs a line has had, ask drivers as they come up.
Re-runs: Cars being allowed a re-run should come off the finish line and be sent immediately back to the start, bypassing the grid, subject to the traffic already staged and any safety considerations. There is a 5 minute provision in the Solo II rules for reruns and second drivers for two driver cars.
The Grid Chief has a radio to communicate with the timing van and Start as well as a clipboard with a list of the cars in the heat.
Along with a partner(s) and following the lead of the Grid Chief, you will be in charge of making sure each competitor gets to the starting line in an orderly and timely fashion. When they return from their run, make sure they get parked in the grid correctly and not cause traffic issues. One person should be releasing the cars from the grid to send to the starting line, while the others are making sure upcoming competitors are in their cars, ready to go, with HELMETS ON. The Grid Chief will have a radio to call in any competitors that are out of order or need a mechanical?. Generally, there should be three to five cars waiting at the starting line at all times.
A Solo Safety Steward (SSS) is a person who has been licensed to act as a SSS by SCCA. A SSS duties are to to increase and/or improve the safety at SCCA Solo events by highlighting potential hazards of uncontrolled spectator areas, uncontrolled spectator movement relative to Solo courses, and driver/worker safety relative to course design or layout.
Solo Safety Stewards in the Washington D.C. Region must report to the Chief Solo Safety Steward for duty rather than the worker chief. The Chief Solo Safety Steward ensures adequate coverage of the events by licensed Solo Safety Stewards.
The Starter is one of the more demanding assignments and requires experience. Misjudgment on the part of the Starter can have substantial schedule consequences, so the Starter must have total "course presence". Only experienced autocrossers should be assigned to this position. You must visually monitor the entire course (or as much of as you can see from the start) and all other course workstations. Timing will be in constant communication with the Starter over the radio. When instructed to hold the start for any reason, acknowledge it to the Timing van and the visually to the next driver. The Starter is responsible for establishing the proper interval for cars on the course, ensuring safe starting distances for all cars entering the course, and holding the start if an unsafe situation develops. Verify from the previous starter, Timing or Chairman where on the course it is safe to start the next car. The rule of thumb is approximately 15-20 seconds after the previous car left the Start line. In some instances, you must use your judgement to make small adjustments if a particularly fast car is staged following an obviously slow car. You may also be called upon by the timing and scoring crew to clarify obscured or missing number problems.
Every car should all stage the same relative to the line. Require each driver to bring the front of the car to the line. Check the cones in the vicinity of the start after each car passes. You are the turn worker for the Start, and report any downed cones to timing. After the Start is cleared, motion the next car to the line. Acknowledge the next car coming to the line and let them know that they are in the right place. Watch the course right up to the time you will start the next car, and be ready to hold the start if a problem out on the course develops. Make sure the driver of the next car acknowledges being ready. Do a last minute course check and then send the next car out.
Pre-Start is the on deck circle for the event. The pre-starter makes sure that cars are moved on to the starter in a consistent and fluid manner. They also check both the cars and competitors before sending them to the starting line for fastened seat belts and Helmets on and buckled. They do a last minute visual on the car looking for hoods unlatched or possible dangerous lose items in the vehicle.
The announcer is one of the most visible/audible positions of the event. It is the announcer's responsibility to announce the following items over the Public Address system:
- Any announcement the Solo II Committee or Event Chiefs need to have announced.
- Series Sponsor names should be announced (and thanked) hourly. Encourage event participants to support our Series Sponsors. The names and suggested text are usually listed in a binder in the announcing truck.
- Adjunct Sponsor names should be announced (and thanked) as time permits. Encourage event participants to support these sponsors. The names and suggested text are usually listed in a binder in the announcing truck.
- As competitors cross the finish line, announce their name, car number, class, make, model, and color, their raw time, and the number of penalties (cones) incurred on their run (if known).
- If time permits, announce the competitor (name, car number, class, make, model, and color of car) who is at the start line waiting to go on course.
- Add tasteful FLAVOR! The more interesting you make your chatter, the more people will listen! Things to consider adding to your chatter include: a person's current standing in the class (after their latest run), how much time they need to make up to catch the driver currently in first place, how much time they gained/lost on their latest run compared to their current best, and discuss current overall point standings in the class (if known). Let your creativity shine!
PROJECT YOUR VOICE! The event participants need to hear you over the roar of car engines/exhausts and other event noise.
The Timing Radio Operator is one of the most critical positions during the event. This person is responsible for course control while cars are running. The Radio Operator must be familiar with the Radio Protocol and be able to communicate effectively with both Course and Timing Van workers.
The Timing Writers are responsible for keeping an independent, written log of each car, in finishing order, including it's elapsed time and any penalties. Accuracy and neatness are critical, as it being able to pay attention to the Timing Radio worker, the timer, and the cars on course.
Report to the Chief of Tech to get your exact assignment. You will be inspecting cars as they come in to the grid at the appropriate times in the morning and afternoon.
Tech Inspection Checklist
- Approach car and inspect overall condition. Make sure no body panels are falling off or there's anything else dangerous on the car.
- Enter vehicle and check inside is clean. Floor mats removed if not held down.
- Verify brake pedal works and holds pressure. (Step on it!)
- Verify seatbelt locks under tension. Check for any frays on webbing. Check that after market belts are adequately anchored and are acceptable type.
- Check helmets. Should be SNELL approved 90, not DOT only. M (motorcycle) helmets are OK for Solo2.
- If car has a roll cage, check that there is enough padding and it's secured.
- Exit vehicle and check inside trunk. If battery is back there, check it too.
- Check under the hood.
- Check for strong battery tie down and cover over terminals. If in a different location, verify wiring is covered and not pinched anywhere.
- Quickly check major belts and hoses for squishiness, cracks or excessive play. Squeeze them and pull on them.
- Verify throttle return springs and throttle action does not stick, etc.
- Check spark plugs wires are all fully connected and neat.
- Check brake master cylinder for leaks.
- Verify coolant overflow bottle.
- Close hood and verify locking mechanism or lock pins.
- Check wheels, for cracks, clearance and suitability.
- Check lug nuts (all are there, can't move by hand).
- Shake wheels for play. Give them a solid push/pull.
- Check tires for cracks, under-inflation, cord, etc.
- Take a quick look underneath for anything obviously broken or leaking.
With 250 entrants and worker changes happening on the fly, there can be a lot of confusion amongst workers. Our radio system allows us to keep the corner worker stations separate from the administrative and grid/timing discussions, we still run into situations where two stations talk over each other and calls are missed. To help alleviate this problem, we have initiated a Radio Protocol similar to that used at National events to help timing keep better control over what is happening on-course.
Short version: Call "Control" asking for permission to report. Control replies to you when they are ready for your report, telling you to go ahead. You make your report and Control acknowledges it.
Long version: Example scenario - cars 14, 15, and 16 are on course. Car 14 hits a cone near station 44 and another near station 52. Station 44 is slow getting the cone reset and car 15 comes close to the cone in question and slows down to avoid a dangerous situation with the worker on course, thus earning a rerun. Car 16 motors through without issue, far enough behind 15 that no red flag is needed to stop him/her.
The radio communications might sound something like this:
Station 44: "Control this is 44."
Station 52: "Control this is 52."
Control: "Go ahead 44."
Station 44: "Car 15 plus 1."
Control: "Copy 44, car 15 plus 1. Thank you."
Control: "Go ahead 52."
Station 52: "Car 15 plus 1."
Control: "Copy 52, car 15 another plus 1. Is that correct?"
Station 52: "Yes, a total of plus 2 on 52."
Control: "Roger, thank you."
Station 44: "Control this is 44."
Control: "Go ahead 44."
Station 44: "Car 15 stopped for a corner worker and gets a rerun."
Control: "Copy 44, car 15 gets a rerun. Thank you."
Notice that stations 52 and 44 had to wait for their reports at one point or another. As a course captain you may be required to remember a car and cone count for a moment or two if we get unusually busy but normally it will be an immediate call and report. Control is in charge of the radio network - for all but emergency reports.
Hopefully we'll never have need of these, but the nature of the sport, the conditions in which we compete, and the number of participants make having a plan essential.
Radio protocol still holds for an emergency situation with some changes. First, the corner with an emergency to report will announce themselves at their first opportunity with "Station XX Emergency" and wait for Control to acknowledge. If acknowledgment does not come quickly, try the call again and stay calm.
Control will tell all stations to hold all calls, will hold start and tell station XX to go ahead with their report. Once again, stay calm and give full details of the situation so Control can decide how to proceed. Control will contact the appropriate Safety Stewards and Committee members to handle the problem and will provide further direction to the course captains as appropriate.
As a course captain, your job is to report the situation calmly, not to try and decide what should be done nor to control the event. The extra 10 seconds needed to make a calm report is usually more than made up for in a more timely, correct response.