Wristbands? We don't need no stinkin' wristbands!
This past weekend while making the rounds, I happened upon a karting event and noticed that the paddock area was packed! Not bad for a regional club meeting I thought. So once my "official duties" at a nearby facility were complete I decided to head over to take a look.
Wondered through the paddock and thought, cool, lots of trailers, karts and racers. Everything from novice four-stroke to Rotax DD2. As I watched, some senior Briggs karts were out and the action was .... Oh ... wait!
As I stood by the fence just ahead of /start/finish at the lower end of the pre-grid, a young lad came up and asked if I had a wristband. I replied that I did not. What happened next almost made me giggle.
The young lad intoned (in the most official voice he could muster), "You have to leave. This is a restricted area." He then proceeded to "escort" me off the grid area. I proceeded to walk off the grid ... slowly. This seemed to raise his ire as he kept looking back at me with this scowl. Really? OK kid, fine. Not only am I leaving the grid. I am leaving your event.
Now let's make something clear – I had on a racing supplier company shirt (I was attending to other business on behalf of a client) and, as usual, I had on a lanyard festooned with various series and event hard cards (I always have these with me at any track event) and around said lanyard was my most recent Verizon IndyCar Race Mode sticker. I also had my camera to get some racing shots for the story I intended to write. The young lad seemed to have missed all that ... "You have to leave."
Now don't get me wrong ... I fully understand the whole 'sign the waiver – get the wristband' policy – goodness knows, my signature must be on at least a thousand waivers – but really, I have to leave? Ok, he did point out that it was a restricted area I was 'violating'. Maybe he surmised I was there to steal some valuable kart setup secrets. But (again) C'mon man!
In discussing the matter later that evening with a friend (an IT guy that deals with processes who also happens to be a concert/show promoter - so he knows something about wristbands and access), it was suggested that you can't blame the kid as he was (where have we heard this before) 'just following orders'. No Wristband – No Entry. OK, fine. I get that. My friend's opinion is that whoever instructed this young man (and any of his watchful colleagues), was entirely at fault for not instructing them properly by simply stating, "No Wristband – No Entry" when what should have happened (and what I fully expected when the incident occurred) was that I should have been directed to the proper admin/location/authority to acquire said wristband.
"Excuse me sir, if you do not have a wristband, could you please check in with the office/race steward/race control (or whatever) and sign the waiver. They would be happy to give you the appropriate wristband so you can continue to enjoy the event."
Yeah – that's what should have happened. In fact it did at another karting event earlier this year. As I made my way to the gate, in a team shirt, once again lit up with hard cards plus carrying two cameras, the young man at the gate said, "You must be media", whereupon he handed me the appropriate wristband. It wasn't really rocket science to figure out – plus he had been properly advised about what to look for.
Okay, some of you probably think I am making a big fuss over nothing, but I'd like to add some perspective based on some of the "Woe is us" stories that have been coming out of the karting community lately. Over the first six months of the racing season, there have been a few links shared and some articles written about how the karting community can grow their sport and quite honestly, gain some support from the outside world to help foster the sport. How the heck do they expect that to happen when, at an event, someone – who by all appearances seems connected to the industry and could be a possible asset, is treated as I was. Makes you wonder how the casual fan is treated. I have some thoughts on that – but it's an issue for another story entirely.
I implore all race directors, club organizers and those in charge of race event staff, to take a little time to teach them to be helpful, inclusive and above all, polite. If you won't do that I can safely say that you will not have to ask me to leave an event ... ever.
Race reports? You don't need no stinkin' race reports!
© Chris Jameson / 2014.07.28