Tracking storms helps racetracks keep fans and racers safe

Chasing 4 Life is a disaster response organization that was founded by Eddy Weiss, who for several years toured the country as a stormchaser turned disaster-preparedness educator.  For years Chasing4Life's team of storm trackers has set up and tracked storms for large and small racetracks, festivals, fairs, concerts and major events around the country.

Following the early August lightning strike tragedy at the Pocono Speedway in Pennsylvania, Eddy Weiss contacted the owners of the Cordova Dragway Park in Cordova, Illinois. The strip has been hit several times by lightning over the years, even having the timing system knocked out.

"We have done educational events in and around Cordova for a few years now and we knew the (World Series) was coming up," said Weiss. "Looking at the long-range forecast, we were concerned that the event could run into trouble and wanted to assist."

Weiss explained that many times severe weather can sneak up on a racetrack or fair grounds if someone is not watching the weather with that particular event in mind. Setting up a tracking center on-site is the best way to watch the changing weather and it gives the team the ability to update the officials immediately as things change.

"The folks at Cordova care about their attendees and racers which made for a great partnership," Weiss explained.  “They put us next to the tower so we would be visible and we could take advantage of the foot traffic to let people know that the track was watching and they should be prepared to take cover should the officials make an announcement.

“The response was overwhelming! People came up to us the entire weekend and thanked us for being there while mentioning how much safer they felt,” Weiss continued. “Cordova has always dealt with severe weather threats that are difficult to detect due to the Mississippi River Valley and this weekend we gave them the edge."

A storm system made for some anxiety as the Chasing4Life team monitored the weather but the races continued safely into the night before the Mother Nature decided to unleash heavy rains early Sunday, Aug. 26.

The Chasing4Life team utilizes several systems to monitor the weather from their Losberger Mobile Command Tent including ThreatNet, a satellite system that allows them to give real-time updates to the dragway’s tower.