The Colour Marshal
Fans of long-standing will recall that riders frequently lost their helmet colours in days-gone-by. This would often lead to some confused faces on the terraces as fans tried to work out which of the two red helmeted riders they should be cheering for.
Prior to a rule-change in 1988, riders were provided with a helmet colour before each race. These were often a bad fit for the rider's helmet, leading to them flying off once some air got between the helmet and the cover. The '88 amendment to the regulations made it mandatory for the riders to purchase and use their own set of helmet covers.
One consequence of this (very sensible) change was that the tracks themselves no longer needed to provide covers for the riders to use, rendering the nation's Colour Marshals redundant.
In "The Speedway Annual" (1969) by Len Silver and Peter Douglas, the role of the Colour Marshal and the challenges they faced was described thus:
"As his title indicates, the Colour Marshal is the man responsible for seeing that every rider has the correct colour cover on his helmet. Whilst most of the time this may seem very simple, and in fact it is, there are occasions when his job can be a nightmare.
Consider a position when the helmet colours at his disposal are all in the possession of the riders who will need them for their future races. Suddenly there is an accident and a rider is carried off in an ambulance complete with all his equipment including his helmet cover. A reserve is going to take his place and needs a helmet colour. Now the Colour Marshal must chase up one that he has previously issued to another rider, but he does not want to take one from a rider who might be appearing in the very next race, so he looks for one whose heat is not so close.
Think however, of the time when such a rider is temporarily missing, perhaps attending to something on his machine away from the main section of the pits. While the Marshal is searching for him, the Clerk of the Course is bursting a blood vessel, suddenly the team manager realises that instead of a reserve he can use some other rider. He cannot tell the Colour Marshal because he is missing owing to his search . . . you can imagine the temporary chaos!
So the Colour Marshal needs to be a methodical type who can keep control in all situations."
Are there any other speedway "jobs" that have been phased out over the years?
This article was first published on 10th July 2016
"Toffee apple salesman."
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