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First a quick word regarding safety and the bad nitro funny car incident at Tulsa Raceway Park a couple of weeks ago. . I want to make it clear that I wasn’t at the event and DRO had no one covering the race so any information I have is second hand. I don’t actually know what happened for sure other than there was as bad of a nitro funny car crash as I’ve ever witnessed. The only people who really know all of the facts were those at that race and they don’t all agree.
For the record I took the DRO AA/FC Challenge series to Tulsa at least five years in a row for track operators and racers Todd Martin and Keith Haney. The one thing I can swear to is that every time the DRO AA/FC Challenge series was at that track I personally checked to make sure all of the safety equipment needed -- fire suppression, ambulance and Top End crew -- were in place and they always were.
Last weekend Tulsa track operator Todd Martin made a trip to the NHRA event at St. Louis and had a meeting with NHRA safety committee executives including Director of Competition, Graham Light. I met with some participants in that meeting afterwards. They said that as far as they could tell Todd Martin and the track had met all of the NHRA safety requirements for that race. So what we have now is a “he said, she said” situation that isn’t going to get resolved to all parties satisfaction.
Here is what I know. I know all of the nitro teams that were present except the driver and owner of the car that exploded and burned to the ground. I also know from talking to several of the teams that not one I talked to -- NOT ONE OF THEM! -- made an effort before they made laps to make insure all required safety measures and gear were in place!
Can anyone of the drivers, which included old men, young men and a woman, explain to me why they made the first pass down the track if they didn’t know for sure that all the safety equipment including an ambulance was in place? We are talking about nitro burning funny cars where fires are often as common as a 5-second ET!
While the track management has an obligation to have all proper safety equipment in place, the crews and especially the drivers who are taking their own lives in their hands are ultimately responsible for their own safety!
Once a driver allows him or herself to be strapped into the seat they are in charge. So, if they decide to stand on the gas not knowing for sure that at least there is an ambulance on site, they are to blame. As I have said many times in the past “You can’t be a victim if you volunteer.”
Just Wondering ... Why does the NHRA continue the senseless and expensive qualifying policy that disallows any qualifying attempt made on Friday that isn’t one of the 12 quickest ETs? The rule came about when 20+ fuel cars were the norm at NHRA national events and there was one nighttime qualifying session which was the second round on Friday. Sometimes the cool night air and a cool track allowed a “budget” team to make an unexpectedly spectacular pass that kept one of the NHRA’s teams with a major sponsor from racing on Sunday.
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