Mark Robinson, the volunteer marshal who was killed in a freak crane accident shortly after the Canadian Grand Prix, was a Formula 1 fanatic, steeped in knowledge about the sport he loved, to the point that his friends called him ‘THE Formula 1 fan.’
“I can only tell you that Mark was not a Formula 1 fan…he was ‘THE’ Formula 1 fan. He had knowledge about the sport that would just boggle anyone’s mind and has been attending the event since the early eighties,” friend Tyler Hall wrote in a message to CTV Montreal.
Quiet spoken and known fondly as ‘Coach’ by his mates, Robinson would open up and speak with passion when anyone ventured to talk about F1 with him. Although his tight knit circle of friends did not share his following of the sport, this did not stop him trying to convert them.
Another friend, Marty Devey said F1 was “like a religion” to Robinson and his annual work at the Canadian Grand Prix over the last decade was always a highlight of his year. He died a few days short of his 39th birthday.
“F1 for him was kind of like getting a chance to be a roadie for the Rolling Stones once a year,” Devey said. “He thought about it, talked about it. For a quiet guy, if you started talking F1 with this guy, you wouldn’t be able to quiet him down.”
Robinson worked in logistics for UPS and had an encyclopedic knowledge of trivia — from sports, to 1970s and ’80s rock and roll, to science-fiction flicks, but F1 racing was his passion.
“This tragedy has affected us deeply, and the whole of motor sport is profoundly touched by it,” said the statement from Jean Todt, president of the FIA. “In volunteering to be a marshal, Mark had made the choice to give his time, his knowledge and passion in the service of motor sport.
“All over the world, it is men and women like Mark who make possible the organization of motor sport events. Without these thousands of volunteers who give their all selflessly, motor sport would simply not get off the starting line.”
Reports indicate that Robinson was run over by a crane recovering the stranded Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez. He was airlifted to Sacre-Coeur Hospital by helicopter after being stabilised by race track trauma nurses. He was declared dead at the hospital.
“It is very, very sad to hear that a marshal tragically lost his life. The work of marshals is not always seen, but it is vital to our sport and without their commitment, time and dedication, there would be no motorsport,” said Montreal race winner and triple world champion Sebastian Vettel. “I am very, very sad to hear this news and my thoughts are with his family and friends.”
Volunteering for the Canadian Grand Prix, every year for over a decade, was a dream come true said Devey. “He looked forward to it every year.”