INDYCAR.com is celebrating Black Historical past Month by honoring women and men who make important contributions to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.
Moments into the primary observe of the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, a automobile bounced off the Flip 1 wall at Texas Motor Speedway.
The AMR INDYCAR Security Workforce charged with aiding drivers in such moments was rapidly on the transfer and first on the scene, per normal. Ron Marks was driving within the again seat of what’s often called “Security 1” as a firefighter and EMT. A rookie on the group, this was his first second in motion.
Earlier than opening the door, Marks remembered what he had been instructed to do first: Safe every thing, together with your self.
“You’ve received to keep in mind that as you bounce out of the truck the monitor is banked (at 20 levels) and though vehicles are slowing down they’re nonetheless flying below you at greater than 100 miles per hour,” he stated. “You don’t dare drop something as a result of it would slide down the monitor and we don’t need (one other automobile) to hit it.
“So, I keep in mind considering, ‘Seize your instruments and hold on.’”
Though Marks has been a member of the Indianapolis Fireplace Division for 17 years, little in contrast for this second. Many of the work in his day job facilities on serving to residents in comparatively routine conditions, reminiscent of being on the scene of a site visitors accident. Even within the busiest of these runs, vehicles round him have slowed to about 10-15 mph.
Not right here.
“This,” he stated of being on monitor with INDYCAR, “is thrilling, a really surreal expertise.”
Marks labored six INDYCAR occasions final yr, together with observe for the Indianapolis 500 offered by Gainbridge at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Along with Texas, he was on the job for races at Street America, the Mid-Ohio Sports activities Automotive Course, the Harvest GP on the IMS highway course and the season-ending Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
In St. Petersburg, Marks was within the truck stationed at Flip 4, a busy place to be on race day as NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers tried to strong-arm one another in an necessary passing zone.
“I feel I received out of the truck six or seven instances (within the 100-lap race),” he stated. “Superb!”
Marks has tried to elucidate the feeling to buddies who’ve attended INDYCAR races and people who have solely seen it on tv. He couldn’t do it justice to both group.
“It’s one of the thrilling issues in sport as a result of you may really really feel this sport – you may really feel INDYCAR, you may really feel the horsepower,” he stated. “There’s a pulse because the vehicles come by that goes by way of your physique. It’s a tremendous factor, and that’s what makes this sport distinctive.”
Marks’ love of horsepower may be traced to his highschool days in Dayton, Ohio. The city is a muscle-car city, he stated, and he needed to have a machine that roared. He purchased a 1971 Pontiac possessing loads below the hood.
“I’m certain my mom didn’t recognize my fondness for the best pedal as a result of I received her insurance coverage canceled,” he stated, laughing.
Marks by no means grew out of a love for pace. In 2016, he bought a C7 Chevrolet Corvette, which got here with a chance to attend the Ron Fellows Efficiency Driving College in Las Vegas.
For years, Marks labored throughout the corridor from Tim Baughman, a member of the AMR INDYCAR Security Workforce since 1996 who at this time is INDYCAR’s senior director of monitor security and medical providers. When Baughman invited Marks to contemplate a task with the group, Marks equally wasted no time in accepting.
“It didn’t take a lot convincing, for certain,” he stated.
The AMR INDYCAR Security Workforce is comprised of roughly 40 members representing varied components of the emergency rescue system.
4 folks occupy every of the three Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew Cab security vans, plus a Honda Pilot SUV security response automobile, whereas vehicles are on monitor. Different group members are stationed on pit highway, bringing the race weekend workers to about 18 members per occasion.
The vans carry a 360-degree digital camera within the windshield and a rear-facing digital camera, hydraulic rescue instruments, reciprocating saws, firefighting tools, fundamental life-support provides, materials for fluid cleanup and 35 gallons of water and FireAde. The employees in every security automobile have particular assignments.
Marks is scheduled to work a half-dozen races within the upcoming NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, starting with the opener April 16-18 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.
As a Black man, Marks is proud to indicate that INDYCAR is a sport for everybody. He’s believed to be the primary Black particular person on the AMR INDYCAR Security Workforce.
“Youngsters have to see somebody who seems to be like them in motorsports and in INDYCAR, and that is one thing they will obtain,” he stated. “That’s no totally different than firefighters. Youngsters have to see folks reply to their wants that seem like them, and I’m proud to do this.
“All of us look alike as soon as we get the uniform on, which is form of the attractive a part of it. Like the fireplace service, none of us need to step out (individually) as a result of we’re part of the group. We definitely don’t do that alone.”