The Repco Supercars Championship’s visit to Hidden Valley earlier this month was special for many reasons, including the fact it served as the championship’s first-ever official indigenous round.
However, it was also special in regard to a new officials’ initiative - allowing newly signed up volunteers to get an exclusive insight into the sport and how being an official works.
Kira Lea Talbot, Ockert Steyn and Isha Yilmaz were the three lucky individuals to get accepted into the program, which is designed to showcase the benefits of being a Motorsport Australia official.
Run by the Deputy Secretary of the Event Janelle Orrock and led by Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia 86 Series Race Director Jessica Nicholson, the three new officials were treated to a jam-packed schedule.
Throughout the Merlin Darwin Triple Crown, the three had educational chats with a range of senior officials, including the Deputy Clerk of Course, Deputy Race Directors, Stewards, Fire and Rescue, Timing and an extended Q&A with Motorsport Australia Motorsport Training, Officials & Operations Executive, David Mori.
In addition to meet and greets, the three participants enjoyed plenty of practical experiences too, attending various flag posts, visiting Race Control assisting the pit lane to help grid cars up ahead of races and receiving a lap in the course car to see the track and how the circuit is opened and closed.
Following the program, Nicholson believed the program was pivotal in educating people about the benefits of being an official.
“The goal of the program is to entice locals to the racetrack that's in their area and see how awesome it is to be a Motorsport Australia official,” Nicholson said.
“The three in Darwin got a real insight into being an official at a Supercars event and were shown what each official area does. It was a learning experience for them to meet officials from the various areas and get an understanding of what they do.
“I think it was really beneficial to have senior officials also speak about their background and Dave Mori to go through the various motorsport disciplines and the pathway as an official.
“The initiative is good as it involves new people in motorsport who wouldn't be aware of this sort of thing. It also allowed people to see how complex an event is and how many officials help make it run, and then the access to the private areas that spectators would never get a chance to see.
“Janelle did an excellent job of setting up the program and I really enjoyed being their tour guide and showing them around an event, meeting other officials, and explaining how circuit racing works in its entirety.”
Steyn, who was one of the three lucky officials to take part, was highly supportive of the program and thoroughly enjoyed having Nicholson as his guide.
"I must admit that I did not expect such a thorough program,” Steyn said.
“It was great to see some white shirts and listen to them as well.... They are all down-to-earth, friendly people.
“Jess is the perfect person to lead this program, as her knowledge of racing and officiating is excellent, being a race car driver herself, and being a senior official and head of the Toyota 86 program. I think that she should do it at all the Supercar events."
The program will continue to run in the hopes of finding more local officials from around the country.