Monday, 18 June 2007

One Mistake Ruins it All

I guess it doesn't matter how many times you do something, it only takes one little thing for everything to go horribly wrong.

SEVEN people have been killed when an out-of-control drag car crashed into
a crowd of spectators at a children's charity event in Tennessee.

http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,21923424-2,00.html

A simple burnout and straight run, which this professional drag racer had probably done hundreds of times, went terribly wrong due to a slight difference in track surface.

It also seems people overlook some of the in-place safety regulations at these smaller charity events when trying to create an atmosphere for the people attending.

A witness who said he was only metres from the spectators who were hit, said:
"It ain't really safe to do anything with drag cars on a city street. They shouldn't have done it".
Another spectator said: "There should have been guard rails, but even if there had, it wouldn't have mattered".

The US modified dragster which crashed into specators on a charity run
As a chaplain at the local drag track here in Ipswich, I’ve had a behind the scenes look into how a track is prepared for a race event. Glue is laid down on the track and then a tractor drags sets of old tyres across the glue leaving a sticky, rubbery surface which produces huge amounts of grip for the drag cars.

Track officials spend hours getting their surface to the optimum grip levels so that drag cars car run straight and true as full power. If it begins to rain the track is automatically closed, and once the rain has stopped the officials set about laying another layer of glue and rubber so that there is no chance of a slippery track. They vacuum the track regularly to make sure there is no dirt, car parts or other alien objects lying on the track. Even if the smallest amount of oil or water is dropped by a car they stop the racing long enough to ensure it has been mopped up.

For this driver in the USA to do a run on a city street it would only take a slight change in the surface grip, or even a small amount of water or dirt on the road to unsettle a car with that amount of power.

To run with spectators lining the street is pretty crazy, and dangerous. I don’t know who should cop the blame for this, the organiser or the driver.

The body [USA drag racing authority] later said the driver was a 20-year veteran of drag racing and that road conditions had caused the loss of vehicle control, AP reported.
The accident took place during an annual "Cars for Kids" charity day, which raises money for disadvantaged children. Drivers were performing "exhibition burns" in which they smoke their tyres on a road before tearing off down a track.
Cars for Kids, which holds similar events across the US which raise hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, said on its website: "The loss is deep within our hearts and we will carry the scars of each loss forever".
Money raised for kids is great, but to fore-go the safety measures when dealing with these amazingly powered cars is irresponsible.

And all the money raised could never replace the lives now lost. I hope this sparks a look into armature racing events and their safety. Because I’ve seen it done properly at Willowbank Raceway and the safety levels there are fantastic. Motorsport is dangerous, but the amazing work of officials is not to be taken for granted, they ensure the safety of both specators and drivers.

1 comment:

Deano said...

A bit of a P.S on this post.

Later news reports have reported that it was an Australian driver involved in the accident. He was living in Tennessee and competing in US Drag racing rounds.

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