Around The Track: Current News
Deaths Mar Memorial Day Weekend Racing On Short Tracks
Atlanta, Ga., May 30, 2013 – A Memorial Day weekend that was fast but safe for major professional racing series was another reminder the sport’s weekend warriors still face safety risks.
A sprint car driver in Bloomington, Ind. and two Dwarf car drivers competing near Reno, Nevada were killed by accidents during the Memorial Day weekend and a 12-year-old girl suffered critical head and neck injuries in a quarter midget racing accident in Graham, Wash.
These incidents were a sharp contrast to Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa walking away from two heavy crashes aboard his Ferrari in Monaco. Graham Rahal and Dario Franchitti each hit the wall during the closing laps of the Indy 500 – but suffered no serious injuries.
“It’s not news that weekend warriors are often at greater risk when it comes critical or fatal injuries than pro drivers in major series,” said Jim Downing, co-founder of HANS Performance Products. “All of us in the motor racing safety business are aware that sanctioning bodies, track promoters, car builders and drivers need to put a greater focus on safety on the short tracks, road courses and drag strips where many competitors race each weekend.”
Last December, Downing presented a white paper at the IMIS Safety and Technical Conference that confirmed weekend warriors are at greater risk. Downing’s presentation was based on the Charlotte Observer’s landmark study of racing deaths in the U.S., undertaken after Dale Earnhardt’s fatal crash at Daytona. According to the Observer study titled “Death at the Track,” in the years 1991 to 2001 the total number of driver deaths from crashes was 144. During the ten-year period after Earnhardt’s death, the total rose to 171, an alarming increase of 27 driver fatalities due to racing accidents.
“We sometimes get criticized for drawing attention to the appalling rate of deaths in motor racing among weekend warriors,” said Downing. “But it’s part of our responsibility to keep the entire community informed. It’s been almost two decades since Ayrton Senna was killed by a piece that came off his car, for example, yet we’re still having accidents where this problem takes place or where a roll cage doesn’t hold up. The over-all pattern confirms safety practices are well below par for weekend warriors.”
As part of its push for greater safety among weekend warriors, HANS Performance Products will publish a Best Practices presentation later this summer for use by sanctioning bodies, track promoters, safety personnel and competitors. Focused on information about the proper use of seat belts, helmets and Head and Neck Restraints, the presentation is entitled “15 Minutes Could Save Your Life.”
For more information, visit hansdevice.com or follow us on Twitter (@ProfessorHANS) or Facebook. HANS Performance Products is a division of Simpson Performance Products.
Contact: Gary Milgrom