It's been a good ride for Chief Flaggie

Tuesday 21 May, 2019
William Gaff has been a key part of the Victorian Flagmarshalling Team for many years.

When William Gaff looks back at spending the past 33 years as an CAMS Official, not a single moment of regret enters his mind thanks to the incredible journey he has been on. 

Before 1986, the Victorian was just your average car fan and loved heading to his local track to get his fair share of adrenaline through the mighty roar of motor sport.

However it all changed that year for the budding photographer when he decided to become an official in the hopes of getting closer to the action.

With his first ever meeting taking place at the iconic Sandown Raceway, Gaff never looked back and through a combination of his light sense of humour, competence and uncanny way of getting the job done under pressure, he quickly became a highly-respected flag marshal.

Despite Gaff having been an official for more than 30 years, 16 of those being in the Victorian Flagmarshalling Team (VFT), he has no intention of stopping any time soon. 

“I am the Chief Flag of the VFT - There are so many things to do, places to go and people to see so I am not allowed to slow down,” Gaff joked.

“I am a little surprised that I am still doing it after all these years but I enjoy volunteering and I figured if you enjoy doing something, then you should keep doing it. I always had an interest in it. 

"A friend and I are going to Pukekohe in New Zealand this year for Supercars which will be nice and we try to go to a different track every year to get a look at different areas and keep it fresh. 

“We’ve been to Bathurst, Gold Coast and seen lots of things, so it’s been a good ride.” 

As a member of the VFT, Gaff has had a wealth of experience as a Flag Marshal, something, which paved the way for him to earn a call up as a Sector Marshal at many of the country’s high profile events.

These events include the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship visits to Gold Coast, Sandown, Phillip Island, Adelaide and Bathurst, as well as the iconicBathurst 12 Hour.

Most impressive is Gaff’s attendance at state and national level events in his home state, with the veteran attending around 95 per cent of all Victorian race meetings for the past 10 years, executing his role with a tireless pride and without a blink for them.

Looking back, Gaff is proud of what he has been able to achieve in motor sport, putting down simple moments as some of the ones he cherishes the most.

“I’ve had it good in motor sport but some moments that stick out for me is going to Korea with the training team and being highly regarded by the late and great Peter Nelson,” Gaff added.

“Through him many years ago, I was promoted by Roger Chirnside at the Australian Grand Prix from a trackie to a turn one flag marshal and it was an eye opening experience, something I’ll never forget.

“As for officiating itself, I just love how there are so many people all with the common goal and all these different groups of volunteers coming together for a race meeting and somehow just making it work.

“The camaraderie you find at these events and the friends you make over the journey make it all very interesting. I can safely say that I have come across a number of characters in the sport, which is fantastic.

“I have no regrets about being an official for all these years. I didn’t have money to be a driver and the next best thing is to be on the other side of the fence.”

This article is part of a series celebrating motor sport officials around the country.