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Tribute To Corner Workers

Corner Workers at work at Daytona. [Photo by Jack Webster]

Corner Workers at work at Daytona. [Photo by Jack Webster]

by Jack Webster & Eddie LePine

A veteran of many races.  [Photo by Jack Webster]

A veteran of many races. [Photo by Jack Webster]

On June 3 at Road Atlanta during a motorcycle race, there was a bad accident and the motorsport community lost one of its own – Hazel Harrell, a worker who was tragically killed while she was doing her job, her passion – participating in racing as a corner worker at Turn 7.

There would be no racing if it weren’t for people like Hazel – people who volunteer their time and expertise to make racing possible and safe for all involved. These people take time away from their regular jobs and their families to do something that they love. They spend their own money to get to the track, and are rewarded with perhaps a few free meals along the way. They are a close-knit group, many of them having served for many years at countless tracks and events around the country – and even around the world.

They are angels, dressed in white – signaling cars and drivers in all conditions. They work in the heat and the cold, the dry and the wet for hour after hour. They do not hesitate to put themselves at risk to help others and in many cases their actions have saved lives.

Corner workers doing their job at Sebring. [Photo by Jack Webster]

Corner workers doing their job at Sebring. [Photo by Jack Webster]

We have worked as photographers at many races, worked from many of the corners where these people ply their trade. They are always kind to us – offering cold water on a hot day and shelter from a sudden rainstorm. They all share a singular passion for motorsport. In speaking with many of them over the years, you could not possibly find a more knowledgeable group of racing enthusiasts. They know the sport; they know the history of the sport. They see things others would not see – in an endurance race they know the difference in driving style of each member of a car’s team, they know who is good, who is bad and who is an accident waiting to happen. They observe cars closely, constantly on the lookout for dripping oil, loose bodywork or anything else that could be dangerous to other competitors. Their focus and attention is complete during a race – they cannot afford to slack off because someone’s life could depend on their actions.

So the next time you are at a race and see a corner worker in their white coveralls, go up to them and say “thank you” – thank you for your dedication to racing, thank you for your sacrifices, thank you for always being there when needed.

We couldn’t race without you.

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Jack Webster has been shooting motorsports since the early 1970’s, covering Formula One, CanAm, F5000, TransAm, GrandAm and American Le Mans races, among others. In addition to his photography, he has also worked on racing teams, both in IMSA and IndyCar, so has a complete knowledge of the inner workings of motorsport. Both his photography and writing can be seen here on racingnation.com. Eddie LePine has been involved in motorsports for over 30 years as photographer, columnist, and driver. Eddie also is now a retired racer (well, retired unless a good ride pops up). You can usually find Eddie in the paddock area, deep in conversation with a driver.