The timing crew is a very important part of any autocross, and we can never have too many people who know how to work timing. If you’re at an event early in the morning, find out who is setting up the timing equipment and offer to help them do it. Ask if they have time to give you a quick lesson on how things work. The equipment isn’t complicated, but there are some tricks to it.
Timing is a fast-paced operation that requires two experienced people for each run group. We usually have a car starting and finishing every 20-30 seconds, it keeps you on your toes! The timing system itself is mostly automated, but the timing crew has to enter the car number of each car that starts, verify that the timer records their time properly, and document any penalties. All while communicating with course workers via radio, and dealing with things like false starts and finishes and other issues that come up.
If you’ve got a quick mind, work well under pressure, and are good with software (and sometimes hardware), you might enjoy working in timing. It is definitely more than just “a shady place to do your work assignment”, though! Not everyone has what it takes, and we select those who have demonstrated strong ability to work in timing. We will occasionally put someone without timing experience in with a very experienced person for training, of course.