Airport, Mansfield, Louisiana
or less temporary road course
This is the site of my first
real flagman jobs. "Three Hours du Mansfield" is the memorable
one, March or April, 1960, I think. I have the program around here somewhere.
Jim Brown and I stood at the last corner before the S/F straight, inside
the curved part of the course. It was raining
and cold north wind-ing, and the green flag we had to hold out was a square of
green cloth stapled to a dowel. The wind had the cloth flying parallel to the
ground and to the drivers' line
of sight, so if they actually looked for a signal, they saw the equivalent of
a vibrating green stick. I clamped my handy-dandy GI-issue pocket knife to the
hem of the flag, thereby increasing the visible portion to about 30 percent of
the actual area.
There were no spins after our position, but several
in the curve before us. On the grass infield cars slid a long way toward us without
seeming to slow much. Cold, wet, excited. Joy.
weekend was my third at Mansfield. I was a course control worker a few months
earlier, and a flagman at the intervening event. On the morning of the race, there
was a workers' meeting. Jesse Coleman, known for his role as Starter at prestigious
events including Sebring, asked who had worked as flagman before. I raised my
hand. I looked around. It was the only raised hand. Coleman rolled his eyes and
lectured on the flags and how to use them.
Later that year I had been
separated from the Air Force and was attending the University of California at
Riverside. I had flagged at several SCCA races in Southern California. I read
that Coleman was in town. I went up to the gate at Riverside International Raceway,
where practice for the US Grand Prix Formula One race was about to begin. When
they asked what I wanted, I said I had worked with Jesse Coleman, and would like
to assist, again. In just a few minutes I was passenger in D.D. Michelmore's Porsche
Spyder, white-knuckling my way to Turn Seven, where I was installed as Flagman,
Turn Marshal, Emergency Crew, and Observer-Communicator, all by myself. Under
the name of an assigned flagman who failed to show up. Phil Something. Tough luck.
One of my favorite weeks of all time.