SEBRING — Anyone who’s been to Sebring International Raceway knows the value of having a vehicle to get around.
And anyone who’s driven a vehicle at through the Paddock behind the grandstand knows Reggie Northern, even if they didn’t know his name until now. His imitable style of directing traffic has made him a race fixture among the many dedicated staff who attend the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida each year.
“This is my 13th year,” Northern said while taking a break from directing traffic at his usual spot, the first intersection as motorists enter the Paddock from the Crossover Bridge.
He’s hard to miss. Bright orange gloves give away his signature motion of waving both his arms up and down, in opposite directions to each other, to tell traffic to pass through the intersection. When lines get too long for those waiting, he’ll put up a stop sign — usually a closed fist, open palms, or both, then turn 90 degrees and repeat his signature move.
He said the trademark move started by chance.
“It started just one way,” Northern said, “then I thought, ‘I could use both hands.’”
When he holds up traffic for pedestrians, he usually adds a verbal instruction:
“Walk with confidence.”
While he ushers traffic, another track worker stands by at the intersection to help police drivers from bringing personal vehicles into the Competitor Paddock, which is exclusive for golf carts, parts carts and competing sports cars. The intersection is vital during the day of the big race to bring all of the competing drivers and cars to Pit Row.
Northern, who works for Contemporary Services, a contractor with Sebring International Raceway, has had a bit more exposure since he first started directing traffic in 2004. In 2010, he got to take his “show” on the road to Road Atlanta. He said he hasn’t been back there for the last couple of years, but hopes he will get called to go there again.
Rumor has it a lot of people up there liked his style of traffic direction, too. He was happy to confirm that.
Until then, he’ll remain a fixture at this and many future Sebring races.