This past weekend I was working as an assistant clerk of the course for the DAC weekend at Shannonville Motorsports Park. I was working under George McCullough. I was one of two vehicle dispatch communicators. It was a busy role, but I shared it with another assistant clerk.
On the vehicle dispatch radio network, we had all the emergency vehicles, the safety car, two tow vehicles, pit lane marshals, and scrutineering. Shannonville is a good place to learn in the control tower because 90% of the track is visible from the tower. We could see nearly everything happening. At other tracks, you can typically only see the front straight and the clerk must rely entirely on the radio calls from the corners for details.
We had some issues with the radios during the weekend. The safety car in particular did not have headsets and they had difficulty hearing our calls. This means that sometimes they missed picking up the leaders when we had a full-course yellow condition. For example, we would call for the safety car to ‘stand-up’, which indicates to them that they should start the car, buckle up and be ready to roll out on the next radio call. That allows them to prepare. Where possible, we should also give them the current leader car number and car colour. Then if we do next the safety car, we can then dispatch them immediately. However, if the first call was missed because they could not hear over the noise of the race vehicles on track, they would not be able to roll out as quickly as possible.
Another issue was having two people doing the same vehicle dispatch role. We kept stepping on each other. I understand that it was because George already had a vehicle dispatcher when I asked if I could clerk as well.
Overall, I enjoyed the weekend as an assistant clerk of the course. I could see how other clerks operate, how important clear communications are for running an event, and about the interactions between the different groups (clerk, timing, vehicles, pit lane, registration, and so forth).