Track Rescue Keeps Hooters ProCup
HARRISBURG, N.C. - With driver safety as a top priority,
United Speed Alliance Racing, partnered with Track Rescue Fire Department
, has brought an added safety assurance on race day for the last
USAR Hooters ProCup Series hired TRACK
RESCUE to be a traveling safety team in August 1999
out of concern for driver safety. Since, the department has sent
crews to most of the series races.
"We needed the consistency of a safety team", said Gene
Cox, president of USAR Hooters ProCup Series. "Some facilities
just weren't up to our standards."
USAR's standards may be higher than most. According to Tony Cox,
director of series development, the series is the only short-track
touring division with a traveling safety team.
On race day, the primary function of TRACK
two-to-three person teams is ensuring safety. They provide many
services, one of which is information.
While the staff, prepared with medical equipment, assists emergency
personnel when needed, members most often intervene with information,
said Chief Craig Clarke owner and operator of TRACK
RESCUE maintains the
medical records for all active Hooters ProCup drivers, about 117
in 2001, Tony Cox said.
Clarke, who established TRACK
RESCUE in 1982 after
realizing the need for a safety team to protect race car drivers,
said collecting the records was well worth the effort because having
the information on hand saves time. Knowing a drivers surgical history,
allergies and medical conditions helps workers tailor their treatments
to provide the best possible care.
Also, the team is ready to pass on records to hospitals if a driver
needs to be transported. Though safety team members are certified
Emergency Medical Technicians, TRACK
RESCUE requires at least
one ambulance be on track grounds during events.
"Having the records available and working with the drivers
every week makes for a certain comfort level", said Clarke,
a veteran firefighter and EMT.
"They know us and we know their ins and outs", he said.
Jon Kinder, driver of the #08 Mims Chevrolet, agreed. "When
they come to your window, if they have to, its a familiar face",
Kinder said. "It helps keep you calm because you know youre
in good hands. (TRACK
RESCUE) knows the measures
to take and has the right people there to get the job done."
RESCUE also provides
extrication and fire rescue services on race day. G. Cox said many
short tracks on the circuit have minimal, if any, tools to cut drivers
from wrecked cars. "Its good to have people with the right
equipment who are familiar with our car", he said. "(Track
Rescue) trains with our car and practices different emergency scenarios."
Kinder said the fact that the team members are specialists is reassuring.
"They specialize in removing people from race cars, not regular
cars", Kinder said, "and they know where to go when there
is a fire, what parts of the car."
"Fire is a number one concern", Clarke said. "Some
tracks arent very well-equipped and we supplement with what we have."
His trucks are equipped with 100-150 gallons of water, fire suppressants
as well as large chemical systems. "The services provided are
and added insurance", T. Cox said, "and something other
series may look to in the future."
"With the deaths of race car drivers making national headlines,
motorsports safety is resurfacing in the forefront of peoples minds",
Clarke said. "The (Dale) Earnhardt incident alone jolted everybody
Kinder said the realization is a long time coming. "Its a dangerous
sport and we dont want to see anyone get hurt." Though minimum
standards may be on the horizon, most short tracks do not have set
rescue crew requirements and race series officials are not committing
to funding safety teams.
G. Cox said decisions boil down to economics and cost might keep
other series from following in USARs footsteps. However, Clarke
asks, "What price can you put on someones safety", noting
his biggest frustration is dealing with people who refuse to listen.
Currently, USAR pays for TRACK
services completely out-of-pocket, which G. Cox said is well worth
the money and money well spent. "The series is working to find
sponsorship for the safety team to help supplement the cost",
T. Cox said. USAR is also working to tackle the issue of driver
safety from different fronts. Though the series leads the way in
terms of onsite safety and remains a step ahead of other series,
G. Cox said there is still more to be done. "USARs next plan
of attack is to have a physician trained in trauma on site at every
race", he said. "We're trying to make sure everythings
in place so were prepared if something were ever to happen. Gene
Cox said. Safety is our primary concern."