During a recent incident response...
During a recent incident response training session at Iowa Speedway, Safety Initiative members took part in a variety of exercises including driver extrication.
Under cold and windy conditions, Iowa Speedway team members participated in a variety of potential emergency situations, including windshield removal, fire suppression, rollovers, extrication of drivers, and much more.
"We did everything from putting out fires to cutting roofs off cars for extrication," says Williams.
In addition to the hands-on experience on Sunday, several tabletop discussions took place in a classroom-type setting Saturday, allowing the free flow of information and opportunities to work with different team members.
"The class was very beneficial because the focus was a hands-on experience," says Gale Nungesser, director of operations at Iowa Speedway. "Learning what we can from textbooks is always a great idea, and to be able to apply what we learn from the books to real-life scenarios was beneficial to all.
"The experience allowed us to work and think together as a team. Since the class ended on Sunday, we've already received several phone calls asking if we could do this again next year."
Not only does Williams and his team travel to tracks for seminars such as the one at Iowa, but they also attend all the open tests with the Hardcore Motorsports ARCA Safety Initiative truck and trailer. The test sessions allow for initial inspection on all safety-related items from fuel cells to head-and-neck restraints.
"We have developed a detailed process designed to examine every aspect of safety equipment on the racecar during testing," says Williams. "The process involves several ARCA inspectors, including myself, culminating in the final approval for a car to be cleared for competition."
Current Crafts-men Truck Series driver Chad McCumbee has driven in a variety of different sanctions: go-karts, Allison Legacy cars, late models, ARCA, NASCAR trucks, and Nextel Cup. He has seen a lot of different safety crews and programs during his 12-year racing career.
"Having the same people at the track every week makes a huge difference," says McCumbee. "You have consistency, they know what they need to do and need to accomplish, and there is no way that can't be a plus."
The consistency McCumbee talks about is key to a successful safety program. But it wasn't always that way. "In the old days when I first started doing this, you'd go to a certain racetrack and they would really be up on safety," says Frank Kimmel, eight-time ARCA Series champion. "They'd have a good truck and good fire extinguishers and everything they should have. Then you may go to another venue that's not as equipped. Maybe it's a lower-budget track and maybe they're just not able to bring in that kind of thing. They may be getting volunteer help that's used to dealing with a modified car or a dirt late model or something like that. Those volunteers have no idea what it's like to get in and out of one of these types of cars."
Kimmel and his fellow competitors are excited about the continuity the program brings to the touring series. "Now we have the people that Marc himself has trained and you have the same general crew and core group at every single race. It has stepped up the entire program."
The Hardcore Motorsports ARCA...
The Hardcore Motorsports ARCA Safety Initiative Dodge, ready for action in the infield of USA International Speedway in Lakeland, Florida.
Fully stocked with the latest...
Fully stocked with the latest safety equipment, the ARCA Safety Initiative truck can run multiple air tools at one time.
The Safety Initiative crew...
The Safety Initiative crew loves having the Jaws of Life handy but hopes they never have to use them.
The strides the program has made in just its year and a half of existence is all the more impressive when you consider that ARCA resides in a world devoid of $20,000,000 sponsorships and private jets for every driver. "ARCA is still very small in what they're able to spend and the amount of people they have work for them and everything," says Kimmel. "For them to step up and bring in the Hardcore Motorsports company, get a sponsor, and have a full-on, out-and-out safety crew has been tremendous."
The success of the Safety Initiative at the RE/MAX Series level has led the sanctioning body to expand the program to their other touring series, the ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series for 2007 and beyond. Circle Track readers may recognize the name Terry Kibler, ARCA's new Truck Series safety inspector. Kibler, who already has a racing and emergency services background, also serves as the safety director at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. Essentially, he will serve as the safety liaison between the Truck Series and the tracks they visit.
With the addition of Kibler, accolades from the drivers and financial support from Hardcore Motorsports, the future is bright for the ARCA Safety Initiative. As McCumbee says, "They are definitely on the right track."