A year on from his death it is fitting to remember Mark Robinson, the volunteer marshal who was killed in a freak accident during the final stages of the 2013 Canadian Grand Prix – a true Formula 1 fan killed doing what he loved most.
Robinson 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 [had] been attending the event since the early eighties,” friend Tyler Hall wrote in a message shortly after the tragedy in 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 that 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.
“Formula 1 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.
At the time FIA President Jean Todt said: “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.”
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.” (GP247)