Now BTCC has once again entered the closed season, we thought we’d write an article from a slightly different angle, and with a different ‘voice’. A lot of attention is (rightly) lavished on the drivers who compete on track for RCIB Insurance Racing, but there is a whole mini-industry supporting those drivers and ensuring the cars they perform in are tip top, safe, and competitive. Today, we report a day in the life of a AmdTuning.com with RCIB Insurance Racing/Autoaid ‘grid girl’. All season, ‘Michelle’ has loyally and ably represented our brand, and as a petrolhead herself, we think you’ll enjoy her report:
On a raceday Saturday afternoon, after I have done all my mummy duties of standing on a cold and wet football pitch with my 7yr old, I make my way to my hotel whilst listening to the qualifying on the radio to make sure we have good pace and a good grid position for Sunday’s race. After checking in, I then head to dinner and settle down for an early night (well sometimes, depends if other team members are at my hotel…)
I have a 6am wake up call and then set to work on my hair, make up etc before making my way to the circuit in order to arrive for 8am. I then get into my outfit ready for the autograph session which usually starts at 9am. For this, we need to stand with drivers and their name boards and to promote our sponsors, have pictures with fans, hand out sponsors merchandise, interact with fans and smile. A lot.
We normally finish the autograph session around 9:20 which then makes a little time for my well earned breakfast (3hrs after waking up). After that it’s back to pits, ready to make our way to the pit lane for the first race of the day around 11 o clock (ish). We have to be ready and stood with marshals approximately 30 minutes before the start of the race. We spend quite bit of time on our feet, as you’d expect.
On the Marshal’s say so we collect our drivers ”poles which have been laid out in grid order, and we then get in line and make our way onto the grid. When arriving at our position (which is instructed by marshal) you stand facing the oncoming cars with your board in full view for the driver. The feeling of walking out onto the grid in your team colours is amazing, you look up at the stands to see all the fans and different team colours which is great, and of course, it’s nice to acknowledge the fans with a little wave too. When you are in place you then hear the roar of the engines heading towards you and passing you by as they make their way to their grid position. Anyone who loves the sound of a track prepped engine will understand just now that feels.
When the cars have stopped and in place you must turn around with your back to the car to become the face of the team, to promote the team and the sponsors. It’s then that the VIP’s, teams guests, sponsors and commentators and camera crew make their way onto the grid. After more photos, interaction and tv interviews, the track siren goes off and all of the track visitors have to leave the track leaving just the grid girls, and their driver, along with 1 mechanic on the grid. We then leave after a few tense minutes and the race is ready to start. I then make my way (very quickly) to the garage to watch the race and cheer on the team.
Some race weekends can be hot, and some extremely cold and wet to the point where you are actually shaking and your feet are soaking wet, not to mention the windy days that are challenging trying to hold your pole and your umbrella…so it’s not as glamorous as people think.
When race 1 has finished we then need to make ourselves available in the pits to again promote the team, be available for photos with fans, answers questions from passing fans, interact with fans and if they wish to have a look around we take them for a brief tour (usually the smaller fans like to see the cars). We’re always willing to help ensure the fans have a great day.
Races 2 and 3 are relatively the same, making sure we meet with the marshals 30 minutes before, collect boards etc. and do it all again. In between race two and three we have to ensure we grab some lunch…it’s hungry work!
I do this job because of my absolute love of cars, there once was a time when I was a spectator myself and attended as many race meets as I could, and then I had the opportunity to join AmD.
When I’m in the garage I ask lots of questions, I love to get involved and always willing to help where I can. When I’m not working at BTCC I attend the GT Cup, work on, and love to show my Escort RS Cosworth’s and usually found at a racetrack attending a race event of some sort. I’m a real petrolhead though, and as well as often being enthusiasts ourselves, many of the girls who work on grid, also hold down highly professional roles in the workplace during the week too.
RCIB Insurance Racing are incredibly grateful for Michelle, and her colleagues for all the hard work, early mornings, and brand representation that they do!
Thanks also to Marc Waller for the picture!