Safety reminder and more

Before I get into this month’s subject, how about a safety reminder!

Last week a racer in California died of injuries doing something that was totally preventable in my opinion. I do not know every detail and won’t tell you that I do. In the simplest form here is what happened. He was warming up his car in the pit area, whether it was sitting on the ground, on a floor jack or on jack stands is not known for sure. That is not the important part. The important part is this: He was testing his trans-brake or “putting it against the chip” to test something and the throttle hung wide open. At that point one of two things must have happened.

  1. (If it was sitting on the ground): He let go of the button in an attempt to shut the engine off and when he did the car took off through the pit area.
  2. (If it was sitting on a floor jack or on jack stands): He had the tires rotating very fast or they were held by trans-brake until he had to let go of the button to reach the shut-off switch and the car either lurched and fell of the jack or jack stands and it took off.

Can you imagine the instant that happens how much momentum got transferred to him? He probably did not have a helmet on so he no doubt banged his head off the roll bar and was not ready for that. He probably did not have his safety harness on so he was instantly thrown back and probably up into the seat and roll bars. In an instant he was at wide open throttle and headed through the pit area, probably dazed if not already knocked out. The end result was a terrible crash into another racer’s trailer and the loss of life to the driver.

That is terrible in itself, but what if he had crashed into a family and a bunch of kids sitting beside the trailers he was headed for? PREVENTABLE? Absolutely. YES.

I am not here to condemn the driver but I am here to remind all of us to think about what COULD HAPPEN when things go wrong. Have I ever warmed my car up on a jack? You bet. Did I ever floor it with trans-brake on while on just a jack? NO WAY. Have I done it on jack-stands? YES. Will I do it again? NO WAY.

We have all probably seen guys warm up cars that are sitting with the tires off the ground on a 10-year-old floor jack that is sitting on grass or an uneven surface. Even with jack stands on grass or dirt they are not stable. I watched a guy last week who got out of his dragster while it was idling in hear and the rear tires were spinning about 2000 rpm in high gear and NOBODY was in the car! That is beyond dangerous and stupid, it is reckless and should be grounds for instant disqualification.

I know there are NHRA and IHRA rules about this. I don’t care if there are. Like so many safety rules, they are not enforced. It is time for all of racers to speak up when they see these unsafe practices. What if a car took off through the pits at your track and YOUR FAMILY STOOD IN THE WAY?

All of us must be more diligent on safety, especially if the result could be a car going through the pit parking area at 50 to 100 mph!