Fraser // Clerk of the Course // The Boss

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Fraser Martin – a super cool and very dry humoured Scottish Gentleman is known to most of us and those that spend time down at the Autodrome as the Clerk of the Course – Or as I like to call him…”Boss”

I’ve been wanting to write a little ditty on Mr Martin for a while now but thought it better and more entertaining to let Fraser write his own words down…

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I first got involved in motor sport, as probably most people do, whilst still at school, by being conned into sitting in the middle of nowhere in the rain, waiting to see if a rally car actually came past you. Visits to Ingleston Race Circuit (outside Edinburgh, now defunct) whetted the appetite and I got involved in the cheapest motor sport around – autotesting – because it was all I could afford as a student.

Inevitably, and maybe because I’m considered by some to be a devious and opinionated bastard, I got roped
into the organisation side and used to set events. Later, and though it was strange to organise and compete in the same event, I had a go at Land Rover trials (a sort of slower autotest, but uphill and in the mud) and was reasonably successful, competing nationally, for Scotland.

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Nothing much happened whilst I spent my first two years in the Middle East in Saudi Arabia, though I’d go home regularly enough to compete in both autotests and trials. But when I came down to Dubai I was conned into sitting in the middle of nowhere – in the sun this time – waiting to see if a rally car came past me, by none other than our illustrious Chief Scrutineer, Terry Plant, who at that time was the organiser of the Masafi Rally, predecessor of the Desert Challenge. Various organisational roles in the Masafi and then in the early Challenges kept me busy at the weekends, whilst later on, I drove the chase car, wrote PR and kept the stickers and windows in order for Toyota Team Middle East, during Mohammed Bin Sulayem’s several clean sweeps of the Middle East Rally Championships.

When the Autodrome opened, I used to visit Hamish Brown and Brian Pallett when they were still in the Portacabin overseeing the building site, which is now the circuit we have all come to know and love. I first met Chris Norman the day he arrived in Dubai, looking like a lobster on his first assignment as Observer on a kart race I was either Clerking or Stewarding.

I Stewarded the first year of the National Race Championships, with Chris as Clerk, and worked as Deputy Clerk during the second year. When Chris left, I was asked to take on the Clerk role and spent my first season as Clerk both learning more and upsetting a few people, either with a fairly intransigent interpretation of the Sporting Regulations or with what was referred to as a ‘dictatorial approach’ by some of the competitors!

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The Clerk’s job at a race circuit is a fairly thankless task at the best of times – the main responsibilities are to see that everything is done as far as possible to keep the playing field level from an activity point of view
and to ensure that the safest standards in the running of the event are met. The Clerk is the funnel through which all information goes from both the Organisation and competitor’s side of the race event, and it is his
responsibility to refer to, or advise the Stewards of, any infringement of regulations or organisational procedures that may require judicial procedure. It’s a bit of a balancing act, and one does fall off the rope now and again.

I think I have mellowed a bit though, as the role has become more familiar and the discipline of the racing has become more accepted, and I’m now looking forward to an even busier 2009/2010 Season up in the hallowed halls of Race Control!

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The Clerk’s door is always open – unless, of course, someone’s ‘having a word’!

Categories: Lifestyle,Race

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  1. All hail the Boss!

    I can’t say enough about the way the Kommandant handles things really – it’s always comforting being out there and knowing that there’s someome keeping an eye on things who is completely unafraid to reign fire and brimstone upon anyone who thinks they might have a bit of a hoon at the expense of the safety of others on the track just because they ‘know better’.

    I can recall a few particularly glorious moment and anecdotes about the Boss…but perhaps the most amusing what when the Arabian Run crew decided they’d dispense with Mr. Martin and his pace car on their Parade Lap.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a red flag being waved with such vigor, and if looks could kill…!

    And then there’s the story about the Royal chap in the Lambo…

    All amusing of course but in all seriousness it’s those kind of bold, buck-stops-here moves which have made the credibility of the Autodrome so rock solid when it comes to organizing and managing events.

    As a result, the Autodrome is (ironically) quite likely the only place in Dubai where all the drivers behave all the time. 😉