ASA Safety Director Scott Isaacs demonstrates the HatsOff safety system at a driver's meet
"The track should have some sort of pumping apparatus to put out the blaze," Isaacs continues. "These are really cheap to build. A nitrogen-over-water system is simple. We were racing at IRP (Indianapolis Raceway Park) and they had a workable system. They used 30-gallon air compressor tanks filled with foam extinguishing material, and the tanks were charged with nitrogen."
Ambulance crews can benefit from working with drivers on a regular basis. Some tracks and sanctions require drivers to provide medical information (such as blood type and known allergies) for the safety teams. Some drivers have been known to become friendly with the safety crew for a little piece of mind. Getting to know each other can provide a stable place in the chaotic environment of an on-track incident.
"I think knowing the competitors is really important," Isaacs reiterates. "That's one benefit I have working with the same people every week, but a local track can have that, too. We had an incident where one of our drivers was injured. The track crew did a great job, but the driver didn't know them and didn't really want to go to the hospital. I was able to convince him he needed to go. It wasn't a case of not trusting the crew, but the driver sometimes doesn't see a situation right. He may be a little dazed or thinking about something else. By getting to know the drivers, you find their quirks and attitudes and get to know what they're like."
The downside would have to be getting to know someone and then making a run, only to find the driver you have gotten to know to be in bad shape. "I've had to make runs on personal friends before," Isaacs says. "To do this job, you have to draw a line between personal and professional relationships. Now, I can't speak for everybody. As professionals, though, there's a lot about this job that we don't like to do, but we have to do it."
Wrecker crews take over after the fire and medical personnel have cleared the scene. Clean
Wrecker crews may not have the urgency of the fire and medical crews, but they have a key role in the overall safety picture. It's their job to safely and quickly remove the cars that hold up the progress of the race. Urgency in their task rests with keeping car damage to a minimum while removing it. Quick work on their part allows the drivers remaining in the contest to get back to the business at hand as soon as possible.
The track clean-up crew becomes the last line of defense to get the situation cleared. Clean-up crews do hard, physical labor and do it quickly. Spreading absorbing material, using brooms to spread it through the spill area, and directing traffic around the accident site are some of the key jobs. They have to return the track to its previous condition to keep the action consistent from start to finish.
Many of these safety crews do it for one reason. Some get paid, many in perks like race tickets for their families, but that's not the main reason.
"We're doing it because we love it," Isaacs says. "When someone says thank you, it's great, but we don't do it for that. We're not doing it for the money. It's just because we love it and we can make it safer."