Mathieu Navarre has loved motorsport since he was a boy. Three years ago, ACO offered him his dream job after a lifetime of dedication.
Like many of the kids from Le Mans, Mathieu Navarre was bitten by the motorsport bug at an early age. As a teenager, Mathieu stood out from the crowd by his strong sense of duty. He became a fire cadet and, aged just 16, joined the first-aid team at the circuit. “That was fifteen years ago,” he points out. “You have to be at least 18 nowadays.” For three years, he worked either in the marshal posts or assisting spectators – a period of his life he looks back on fondly.
He then joined the ACO and, with his first-aid experience behind him, joined the medical centre team. Like many of ACO’s volunteers, Mathieu spent many a weekend over the next ten years at the circuit, often using his leave from his job at a security firm to help out with preparation or coordination. And would evidently have been more than happy to continue, but a golden opportunity arose.
It doesn’t feel like I’m going to work
Mathieu was offered a job as a chief track marshal. An offer that was too good to refuse. As chief track marshals have more than one iron in the fire, he was logically kept on in the Medical Centre, but as a salaried employee. For the last three years, Mathieu has been splitting his time between checking (several times a day on race weekends) – and, where necessary, repairing – the track, and coordinating the medical crew. For an event such as the 24 Heures Motos, the medical centre team comprises around fifteen doctors (mostly emergency physicians), eight nurses, ten paramedics (for the ACO’s own five ambulances), three controllers, four logisticians, three radiology technicians (as there is an x-ray room) and three physiotherapists who work with the 44 trackside first-aiders supporting the marshals.
Mathieu can now devote himself full-time to his favourite pastime, which has become his occupation. “When I get up in the morning, it doesn’t feel like I’m going to work. It’s more like a hobby!” That may be so, but it's a hobby in which he is showing more professionalism than ever.