While a doctor's bedside manner is important to a hospital patient, a response team's relationship with the drivers can be equally as vital. "Because of certain regulations about personal information, we try to work directly with the drivers," adds Clarke. "Many of the series will try to collect information that will be helpful in treating the drivers. We still want to establish that communication with the drivers so that they are familiar with us if they see us at the scene of an incident."

Unless there is a red flag, the response team has to face the situation of attending to a mess while cars circle the racetrack. It may not be a problem in many cases, but the potential for disaster is always there. Common sense has saved many safety workers. "We take risks, knowing we can be injured or killed, but we know that it's part of it," Clarke says. "That's why we have brightly colored vehicles with lights. A driver sees the lights, he slows down. I think you can't have too many lights. Drivers are generally good about getting out of the way, and their spotters keep them informed of what we're doing.

"We have to be in communication with the race command," Clarke continues. "We always have a point man at the head of the scene. He's watching the field. All members have a whistle. When you hear a whistle, you stop and look for danger. If the situation is too bad, more tracks will give us a red flag to allow us to secure the scene safely."

Situations involving fire require plenty of haste. These circumstances will draw a red flag, and the response must be immediate. The crews not only must extinguish the fire, but at the same time focus on additional responsibilities related to driver safety. All parties should understand the urgency of the situation.

Before Track Rescue arrives for a race, there is an inventory of equipment that is checked. "You have to be prepared," Clarke points out. "You can't have too much safety equipment at a track. If something fails, and it can happen, you have to have a backup plan and know how to switch to that plan. It's best to work with the track and see what they have that can supplement what you have."

While the safety crews haven't found the job to get easier, they have found an increased awareness in safety at tracks. There are some tracks that have been that way all along. "There really hasn't been much in terms of regulations," says Clarke. "Usually, each track decided what it wanted to do. Some of them were proactive, and others didn't have sufficient resources or equipment."

Safety is the responsibility of all parties. The rescue crews play a role, but it is incumbent upon everyone, including drivers and promoters, to maintain the highest level of safety possible. Rescue crews do their part by providing trained personnel. Don't expect compensation equal to the task performed and the hours spent training. A simple thank you is often enough for these workers. The safety crews know that few come to the race to watch them in action, but countless drivers have been thankful the crews have been there and properly trained to handle the job.

Track Rescue