This past Labor Day weekend during Oswego Speedway's premier event, the Budweiser International 200, my son was involved in a freak accident. Having his right rear tire go down, his car was disabled in a very vulnerable spot on the track. His car was struck by another with the other car's bumper sneaking perfectly between the support tubing, dislodging his right kneecap and breaking his left leg in two places.
We are now in the process of rewriting our rules to plate the right side to protect the driver. We have support bar plating rules in place for our small-block Super division but never thought about it in the Supers because the driver is in the center of the car. In looking at other divisions, like Sprint Cars, the driver could be vulnerable to a puncture situation also. It may never happen, but I think now that we've seen what can happen, we'd be remiss not to address the situation.
We all know racing is a dangerous sport, but as you stated very truthfully we need to protect the most valuable investment, the driver.
Yours in racing,
Steve Gioia Jr.
Thanks so much for writing. We all learn from these kinds of experiences. Racing will never be totally safe, but as we progress, we can move toward a much safer environment. It is important that we analyze each and every accident to see if we can do something different to try to avoid the same outcome.
We promote safety in racing and encourage track owners and promoters to always keep it at the top of the priority list, right above making money. We all lose when someone gets hurt. Unfortunately, many times we see organizations move too slowly when obvious change needs to be made. I commend you for both acting quickly and for sharing this with all of us.
We recently received word of a couple of other freak accidents that happened at Lowe's Dirt track where Chub Frank was injured. From the World of Outlaws website: "Frank, 47, of Bear Lake, Pa., visited a specialist near his home and was informed that he would not need surgery for his injuries, which included fractures in his right cheek and orbital bone. He suffered the injuries during the first heat of the WoO LMS Hungry Man Showdown on Nov. 4 at The Dirt Track at Lowe's Motor Speedway when an apparent clod of thick, hard-packed clay entered his car's cockpit and smashed into his helmet."
Clint Smith and Tim Fuller were also hit by large flying dirt clods at the same event, but were more fortunate than Chub. Maybe it's time to require a heavy screen on dirt cars to break up the larger chunks into smaller, less lethal ones.
Related to Racing
I am a 16-year-old Junior in high school and I need a little bit of help with choosing a major that I would be interested in for college. I work for my dad and stepmom at Fast 1 Fabricating and we build Dirt Modifieds and Limited Modifieds during the week and race on the weekends.
I am very interested in the way race cars work such as the dynamics and weight transfer (especially Modifieds). However, my problem is I'm having trouble finding a major that would increase my knowledge on the dynamics and the way a race car works.
I would enjoy a major in that area because I would like to take Fast 1 Fabricating and the Fast 1 Chassis to the next level and eventually get to the stature of Skyrocket Chassis, for example. If you don't mind, any help would be greatly appreciated.
I recommend working toward a major in mechanical engineering. Everything that happens with a race car is related to the subjects you will learn in that program. Some colleges have dedicated racing programs along with that major as a base.
A Comment On
Parity in Racing
I also think parity in racing is/has killed the sport. I think it is more obvious in IndyCar racing. I remember the excitement of the turbine cars, I saw Jim Hall's ground effects Pennzoil cars run at Indy. These provided some buzz to the sport. People still talk about them and they didn't even win the first time they raced.
Now, it's all about the drivers, some of whom are as boring as bricks, and one can only take so much of Danica.