Race Marshals – the unsung heroes

marshals strolling down the track enroute to their positions 700px slim

When it comes to racing, it’s the riders who get the limelight.

They’re the ones who get the crowd cheering, get on camera and get all the plaudits when they cross the line.

But there are lots of unsung heroes that play a vital role in race days, from mechanics to team managers, PR staff to race coordinators that don’t get the credit they deserve.

Arguably, it’s the guys and girls in overalls and fluorescent bibs that get overlooked more than most, here we give a bit of insight into the role race marshals play on race weekends.

Marshals – their importance

Without marshals there would not be motorbike racing because they oversee efficient and safe racing.

Stationed at various points around a racetrack, marshals keep an eye on racers and make judgement calls if an incident takes place on track.

Whether that’s an accident, an oil-covered section of track or debris causing a nuisance, marshals will decide if any disturbance is putting the racers in danger and act to rectify any issues safely.

Marshals pushing fallen bike

The different roles of race marshals

At any one race, there will be a wide range of marshals on hand to help the event run safely and smoothly.

At the top of the tree is a chief marshal but below them is a myriad of different marshals that look after different sections of the course and race.

Marshals will patrol the paddock area, be situated at different points around a track as well as designated start and finish line marshals.

marshals waiting between races

Each marshal is usually armed with a head set and walkie talkie, keeping them in contact with the chief marshal and their colleagues around the circuit.

In certain locations, marshals will also be armed with an array of flags, used to give safety messages and signals to racers.

You can read our guide to race flags here.

marshal waving red and white striped flag


Perhaps the most significant thing to remember about race marshals is that they are volunteers, unpaid but passionate enough about racing to turn up on a cold and wet Sunday morning because they love racing.

Race marshals don’t often get thanks but they should because they keep motorbike racers safe and on the track.

Next page: What to expect from a motorbike trackday