Volunteering to Work a Major Race Can Be a Great Deal

Ronnie Schreiber
by Ronnie Schreiber
volunteering to work a major race can be a great deal

How would you like to get insider access all weekend long to a major motorsports event, complete with a catered lunch every day, a commemorative shirt, hat and lapel pin, free parking and an invitation to a gala post-race party, all for just fifteen bucks? Well, the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix still needs about 100 volunteers to make up the balance of the approximately 1,100 volunteers who make the race possible. Okay, so technically it’s not just $15, you also have to agree to work one 8 hour shift each day of the three day event, but it still seems to be a great bargain and a terrific way to get an inside look at big league racing, in this case back-to-back Indycar races, a race in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, a Pirelli World Challenge Series race and the first appearance at the CDBIGP of Robbie Gordon’s SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks Series.

With the race less than two weeks away, May 30-June 1, 2014, race organizers are still soliciting applications to join the Detroit Grand Prix Association (DGPA), the race’s official volunteer organization. Of particular interest to racing enthusiasts is the fact that the biggest need is for circuit marshals, the volunteers who work closest to the track controlling adjacent pedestrian and vehicle traffic and letting people cross the track when it isn’t “hot” with race cars. As a circuit marshal you may be able to get even closer to the racing action than is possible for people paying admission. Other volunteer positions still open will assist with traffic flow within the grounds of the temporary racing facility on the island, including race team and support vehicles in the paddock and near the track.

There are two overlapping shifts, with one starting about 6:30 am and another just before noon. Volunteers have to commit to work one shift per day, attend a training session (and obey all safety rules), and pay the aforementioned fee of $15. In addition to the perks mentioned above, you’ll also get a certificate of appreciation. Appreciation works both ways. The simple truth is that events like the CDBIGP just could not take place without the help of volunteers. If you enjoy motorsports, you might want to consider volunteering for the Detroit Grand Prix or at a similar event in order to give something back to the sport you love.

In case you think that you’re volunteering to help some business, the CDBIGP is not a profit-making venture. The Grand Prix’s chairman, Bud Denker, told me specifically that their goal is to be financially viable enough to be ongoing, not to turn a profit. It’s a civic minded venture, there because folks like Roger Penske and Jim Campbell (who is in charge of performance and motorsports at GM), along with more than a thousand volunteers, think the Motor City should host a major motorsports event.

If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer for the 2014 Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, you can go to the race’s website or contact Hannah Deacon with Volunteer Services at hdeacon@detroitgp.com or (313) 748-1801. If you do end up volunteering for the Detroit race, or if you’ve ever volunteered at a racing event of its magnitude, let us know what the experience is like.

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2 of 7 comments
  • JMII JMII on May 20, 2014

    My parents did this one year for the 12 hours of Sebring. My dad LOVED it because the access level you get: free parking, pit passes, ability to go anywhere the press does (IE: photo ops track side at turn apexes). plus access to all the practice / shake down sessions. I even think they gave them free lunch for volunteering their time. The "free" labor is easily recouped when you realize you can't buy the level of access you get. Even my mother who could careless about racing was impressed at how easily they could move about the grounds and how nice everyone treated them since their IDs showed they were volunteers.

  • Ladyjazz17 Ladyjazz17 on May 20, 2014

    The point of these positive posts and threads, for the haters in this thread and others, is not to make $ or be unhappy about paying a fee to participate. The point is doing something fun while volunteering and enjoying it! I am tired of negative comments in this and other threads (like Caroline's about selling her car). Try this: if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. There is enough negativity in the world. :-)

  • Lou_BC Tassos and EB can each buy one and go in the backcountry to play with their Willys.
  • SCE to AUX Physically removing it from the cars they service tells me the company sees radar as some sort of hazard, despite their ability to disable it across the fleet via OTA updates. Creepy.
  • Art Vandelay So if it now actually costs less than the competition, where will the usual haters move the goalposts too now?
  • SCE to AUX Change "dog" to "child", and then tell me what mfr's lawyers will permit deployment of an autonomous vehicle.
  • Ravenuer I'd go with the Camry.