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A Safer Routine
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Got a phone call from a good friend of mine – who will probably ***** at me because I didn’t mention his name but – to tell me about an incident that happened to him on the starting line which ended with him in a hospital stay. And it brings to mind something we were probably told about as kids.

How many times did you hear your mother comment she had eyes in the back of her head to see when we were doing something wrong? This sort of brings up the fact of – maybe call it intuition – when you’re walking around the starting line area; or any area in the pits for that matter.

This “friend” is actually quite an accomplished crew chief, having walked around starting lines at least as long as I have been doing it myself. He currently has built a very fast turbocharged motorcycle driven by a very experienced and talented young woman. As is usually the case of a motorcycle, it requires lining them up properly on the starting line. As he stood on the line signaling where she should aim for, the throttle of the motorcycle inadvertently stuck with the bike in gear, jumping forward, running my friend over, knocking him to the ground. The end result as he puts it is, “several screws, rods and other paraphernalia which will need to be inserted in my legs.”

That being said, I feel it’s time to remind everyone just how dangerous our sport is. I always got a kick out of the disclaimer tag which was sewed into a Simpson fire jacket simply stating “Auto racing is dangerous.” Duh? However, it’s not only dangerous for those buckled tight in a race car, but also anyone, especially those walking around the starting line or in the pits. You’ve got to develop those “eyes in the back of your head.”

Of course, accidents happen, it’s in their description: “an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury.” They’re sometimes hard to escape, but we should at least do our best to protect ourselves. Isn’t that what we do when we suit up and buckle tight – you do buckle your belts tight, don’t you? – inside our cars?

I’m sure a lot of you have seen the countless videos of several events where the starting line is jam packed full of people standing around trying to gain a view of the happenings. Or maybe you’ve also been a willing participant in one of those events. Thankfully, there haven’t been any “accidents” that I know of, but there could be. Some of my colleagues have viewed those as “an accident waiting to happen,” and I have to somewhat concur.

If anyone remembers years ago, there was an alcohol dragster testing incident where the car inadvertently spun around after leaving the line and headed straight back up the track, hitting her tow vehicle and fatally injuring her son sitting inside. I’ve mentioned this before but, s—t happens.

Incident No. 2, and I hesitate to bring this up so as not to embarrass anyone, but…. I happened to be at a track where I noticed a person in a motorized wheelchair wheeling around the starting line and burnout area lining up his driver. I applaud their enthusiasm, but don’t believe that wheelchair can move all that fast should something happen.

Earlier this year; although I wasn’t there to witness it; noted racer, crew chief, teacher, et al, Roy Hill found himself in one of those predicaments, getting backed over in the burnout box. Here’s a guy who I believe has walked around more starting lines than both myself, my friend and probably countless others combined. A guy who even with those “eyes in the back of his head” found himself in a precarious situation.

It’s somewhat impossible to predict when and where, but at the very least, do your best to protect yourself, and when it comes to walking around on the starting line, you need to develop those “eyes.” Just like a lot of things in life, you need to be aware of your surroundings.

As for “my friend,” through prayers he’ll survive and be able to walk around on the starting line again, but he’s also determined to develop a safer routine in order to line up his motorcycle. Of course, “eyes in the back of his head” probably wouldn’t have helped as he was staring right at the problem at hand. But shouldn’t we all develop a “safer routine?”
 
Posts: 154 | Location: Beaver Springs, PA | Registered: February 07, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Personally, if I were king for a day, I would ban EVERYONE except the driver and the guy operating the tree from taking one step past the head of staging. No need for a posse to accompany every car to "put them in the water" or line them up in the groove or any of that crap. It's on the driver to learn how to do that stuff.


Mike
 
Posts: 1571 | Location: Marietta, GA | Registered: December 09, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Well said and something that concerns me about a lot of the procedures at the track that we all do. It can put us in vulnerable positions that can lead to injury or worse. Loose clothing around running engines. Starting lines are dangerous places. Working under cars and equipment. Burns and cuts are of course not uncommon. This stuff would be unacceptable in a lot of large work places that are committed to safety. But when we race fast cars we figure we are invincible to other incidents and injuries at times. Be aware.


Foxtrot Juliet Bravo
 
Posts: 6426 | Location: Illinois | Registered: July 08, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I race where the alcohol dragster accident John referenced happened and it was terrible.

When I travel from time to time I have race officials tell me to start my burnout when the starter or someone else has walked out onto the track to clean up rocks or small amount of fluids. I have been kind of scolded (by that person motioning over and over) for not doing so just to keep the program moving. I won't do it. I'm not going to be responsible for hurting someone should something bad happen.

I also won't sit directly behind a car doing a burnout because my open roadster has no real protection should a wrench or something shoot out from the car ahead. I will be in the box as soon as they are done so it really doesn't hold anyone up but I get the same thing of motioning over and over for me to pull up. Nope!

Everyone please stay safe out there.



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Posts: 3006 | Location: KIEFER, OK. | Registered: August 17, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Many years ago I got knocked flat and a gash in my head while standing behind a car doing a burn out and a wheel weight came off. Last time I made that mistake
Years ago I backed up to square up my car, which I rarely do, and knocked a friends wife flat as she was bent over picking up something off the track with her back to me. Didn't hurt anything but her vanity but worried me to death.
Tighten your belts!
 
Posts: 6230 | Location: everywhere | Registered: March 15, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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RT66 has/had one of the strictest operations i have ever seen. The actual starter plus two additional front line.. 2 before the water and 2 in the tunnel. A couple in staging pulling lanes and another stage man before staging. The one year i had parked in my end spot like i usually do.

Door down, foam on cables and 2 cones on the end.
Here comes some guy hammer down, ATV.. Going to snatch his TS car after the run. Fly's over the rear door with the ATV .He didn't realize just how close he came to actually being decapitated.

Then there was the wreck in staging. 3-5 cars.
You don't put it on the limiter checking the brake. DUH....

Good friend of mine. His daughter exploded the driveshaft in the water. 2 DS hoops in the car.
Cap shot out of there and missed her mothers face by an inch. She felt the cap zoom right in front oh her face. Someone was watching over her.. 250" Altered. Had the best joints money can buy also.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: TD3550,
 
Posts: 1410 | Location: Under a Truck | Registered: August 23, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The amount of people that watch their car leave the starting line, and walk directly in front of a car that just got the thumbs up to do a burn out is unbelievable.
 
Posts: 293 | Location: Midwest  | Registered: January 12, 2015Reply With QuoteReport This Post



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People are stupid.
 
Posts: 700 | Location: At the beach | Registered: August 05, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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What Malicious said…….

The one that gets me is the IDIOT who straddles the car while it’s running or it’s an altered and he’s straddling the front end to squirt alky in the blower. WTF are you thinking?

Wake up out there folks!!


Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right. Here I am.......
 
Posts: 5325 | Location: stuck in the middle with you! | Registered: March 11, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Cashflow:

The one that gets me is the IDIOT who straddles the car while it’s running or it’s an altered and he’s straddling the front end to squirt alky in the blower. WTF are you thinking?

Wake up out there folks!!


My son rides horses. The ONLY thing I know about horses is never to walk or stand behind one, lest you get kicked. It's the same thing right? Smile


Mike
 
Posts: 1571 | Location: Marietta, GA | Registered: December 09, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Mania

Craziest thing I ever saw, was a lady step on the front side of a dragster slick to grab a wrench, that was left on the intake.

The dragster was on the starting line, on the leave chip, tree was coming down!!

Everyone saw it, no one seemed to acknowledge or didn't process what just happened, when she stepped back in time.

Longtime racer couple, at Sunshine - Bradenton.

That could've been horrid.


Mania!
 
Posts: 9398 | Location: Madeira Beach Fl. | Registered: June 12, 2018Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Back in the day when Top Fuelers had short wings someone left a wrench on top of one. There was an El Camino tow vehicle behind it in the staging lanes. The wrench vibrated off the wing in the burnout and it stuck in the radiator of the El Camino.

A guy has a Falcon Pickup and drives it up the ramps on his trailer. Then he jacks up the rear end and removes the ramps and crawls under it. Obviously the jack started rolling and the thing came down on top of him. Luckily he wasn't killed.

I won't stand next to cars even in the staging lanes when guys are starting them unless I'm helping the guy and it's absolutely necessary.

Too many crazy things have happened over the years! Be safe out there guys and gals.


Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right. Here I am.......
 
Posts: 5325 | Location: stuck in the middle with you! | Registered: March 11, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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We participate in a sport where most everyone ignores safety in one way or another. When's the last time anyone legitimately checked neutral safety switches? Guy started on if the lanes in reverse the other day, they didn't send him home, they didn't check anyone after that. They made an announcement about how you need a NS switch.
Honestly if you police and refine it you'll kill it. All you can do is control yourself and your surroundings.
 
Posts: 1496 | Location: E TN | Registered: February 13, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Eman:
We participate in a sport where most everyone ignores safety in one way or another. When's the last time anyone legitimately checked neutral safety switches? Guy started on if the lanes in reverse the other day, they didn't send him home, they didn't check anyone after that. They made an announcement about how you need a NS switch.
Honestly if you police and refine it you'll kill it. All you can do is control yourself and your surroundings.


I may check mine now and then. Just not on purpose.


Foxtrot Juliet Bravo
 
Posts: 6426 | Location: Illinois | Registered: July 08, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post



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quote:
Originally posted by Eman:
We participate in a sport where most everyone ignores safety in one way or another. When's the last time anyone legitimately checked neutral safety switches?


Or, goes 180+ in a dragster and has never used the parachute. If it stays packed all season it’s not going to open when you need it.
 
Posts: 730 | Location: Upstate NY | Registered: July 02, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Great post.

I'm appalled by the number of folks I see letting a kid or friend or other non-race car driver load their car onto the trailer. Honestly, I think loading the car is one of the more challenging and dangerous things we do at the track. A little wrong move can make for a big mistake.


Matt Ward



 
Posts: 1394 | Location: South Carolina | Registered: March 20, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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