By on May 18, 2014


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 [email protected] 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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7 Comments on “Volunteering to Work a Major Race Can Be a Great Deal...”

  • avatar

    I urge anyone who’s the least bit interested to sign up! If I still lived in the Ann Arbor/Detroit area, I’d be there myself.

    I volunteered at the San Jose (California) Grand Prix the second year it was held (after three years the downtown construction canceled all future events), and had a great time! Although I did end up with blisters on my heels from all the walking. I was part of the San Jose REVs (Race Event Volunteers) hosted by a nonprofit called the Canary Foundation, and didn’t have to pay a penny for the privilege. I worked the pedestrian crossing area near the SJ Convention Center, which was right next to the area where the cars came in and out. There were four classes of cars including NASCAR (actual cars used in past races on that circuit) and the fan favorite Formula Drift.

    I moved the next day to the hairpin turn (around the boulevard divider on Almaden Avenue) and got great photos of cars rounding that corner, as well as one NASCAR entrant that missed it and the adjacent runoff area, and plowed into the barrels etc. I was between the pit wall and the pedestrian fence, so I had to sign a waiver that if I was injured or killed, the event sponsors would be held harmless.

    Have fun if you decide to volunteer!

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    A commemorative skirt??

    Volunteering can be not only good for the community, but it also can benefit many who don’t realise the work many volunteers do around the world.

    A bonus are the people you meet and the skills you learn.

    I hope you maintain this sense of community.

    I started out volunteering to be the projectionist for our outdoor cinema about 4 years ago up here in the NT Outback. This was when you had to build a movie from 6-7 reels on a flat turntable and run the movie through the projector. Lots of work.

    As it panned out I’m now the head projectionist with our new 3D setup we received last year.

    Still a lot of work, but worth every bit of effort.

    I hope you received the same gratitude and appreciate what you’ve done.

  • avatar

    Pardon me but the concepts of volunteering and paying a FEE do not quite jive together. For an event that’s designed to MAKE MONEY for the organizer. How about a truthful ad: Are you a sucker who just must feel important on a race day? Do you like to wave flags and listen to your own radio set? Do you want to impress your girlfriend with a polyester Made in China tshirt you just bought from a real racing organization? Well, Sucker, this Job is for you! Just pay up the $15 entry fee and you too can become part of the team of SUCKERS. Complimentary Amway “associates” meeting after the racing – participation mandatory.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. Paying $15 to be allowed to give them 24 hours of free labor. Even at $7.40 an hour, that’s $177.60 of labor they are getting for free, and then they want $15.

  • avatar
    Jonathan H.

    I used to work security for events at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and was paid to do it. Minimum wage if I recall. My friends and I would choose the overnight security detail that usually wrapped up by 7 AM. So we’d work all night and then sleep for a couple hours before the race. For the rest of the day we had pretty good access to most of the track with our security credentials but we’d mainly just watch from the grass in the infield. I worked the Indy 500, the Brickyard and the USGP. Got a cool hat every year.

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar

    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. :-)

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