Page 1 of 3

oval racing safety improvements

PostPosted: February 18th, 2014, 4:55 pm
by Fontaine Racing
I think this subject deserves its own topic !
and I see some talk about it on A vintage site that i got snubbed off of. hopefully some of those guys will chime in with there thoughts here.
unfortunately the few ice oval races I attended this season, I supported them as a spectator.
and I hope I dont piss any one, or any group off ! as that is not my intention. but I did have a lot more time to scrutenize race facilities and safety details, and as most that know me, recognize that I can be kind of a pain in the ars when I see thing s that aren't quite right in my eyes.(just ask Todd, or Jerry) this doesnt allways work out the best for me, or worst yet my kids. so I have been trying to just play the game with everyone else lately, but seems as though there is allways room for improvement.
the one thing I allways look at is the way the track is bailed especially in the corners, and out of of turns 2 and 4 the crew at Beauseaujer have it figured out!! the ORA has adapted this procedure, also the 525 group has adapted this procedure. and the crew from alexandria took the same procedure to the enth degree (very nice)! I am sure that if you dont know what I am talking about ,you can find some pictures on this same gadget you are looking at now. and you could get ahold of any of the above mentioned groups , or my self and they will tell you why and how it works,and maybe I can explain it in another post. but the short of it is you have to have some room for the hay bails to move and absorb some impact .
you can put 3 rows of hay tight together up tight against a frozen snow bank or a wooden wall or CONCRETE wall , and you have sucsesfully created the same results in all three senarios. A DEAD STOP. (sorry to be so blunt)

getting a little long winded here but in another post I will get into why we need 4 spotters together watching there designated areas during the champ race, or any other class that creates sno dust condions. the calmest and most trained spotter has a raceciever radio, every driver and flagman also has a raceciever in there ear. should one of the spotters see a problem the man with the radio relays the message to everyone that should know of this issue immediately.
just a thought - If you were at alex, give me your opinion do you think this would have made Ryans mishap end up a little better ? and just thinkof the other drivers, nobody wants to run over thier buddy.
now ther is allways a that gready little self supporting issue for someone encouraging some sort of change?
here is mine. hopefully we will be back at the track racing next season and if we can make things that little bit safer I will feel a little more relaxed watching my kids and our friends.
Doug Fontaine

Re: oval racing safety improvements

PostPosted: February 18th, 2014, 5:56 pm
by Yamaski
As I stated in another thread, we spent a number of years boat racing before entering the world of ice ovals.
Every race has a boat stationed in each corner with flag men. The flag men are racers and we volunteer for this duty when the schedule permits. Not saying this should be the case, but flag men should be adequately trained.

Anyways, we're not there to hold flags, look pretty, and take pictures of boats going around: we are equipped with radios to report directly to the referee on shore to report lane changes, chopping, unsportsmanlike conduct, etc. If we see an accident in our end, the red flag goes up and it gets radio'd in immediately after. We don't wait for instructions, everyone else gets instructions from the closest set of eyes to the wreck.

Give the flag men/spotters the authority to throw up a red flag when they need to. Teach them signals when a caution flag is flying (yellow flag up, arm signals to warn where the sled is stopped). I remember Marcel's SCM guys used to do this brilliantly.

Push back the snow banks in the corners to help with visibility. Sometimes they are so high, it's like going around a blind corner.

Move the cones out on Sunday if there is a noticeable hump in the track (wheb space permits. No one likes to get squeezed to the inside only to launch yourself off a snowcross style lump on the inside line. So many tracks have large, sweeping corners and the room to do this. Moving the cones out 5-10 feet allows us to use another 5-10 feet of fresh track.

Just my $0.02. I'm thankful for all the volunteers that make a race happen and I understand a lot of the folks running the races are volunteers. I just think there can be some careful instruction from the race director to make things safe and consistent.

Re: oval racing safety improvements

PostPosted: February 18th, 2014, 9:20 pm
by OLD MOTOR HEAD
I totally agree with all these great ideas, here is my 2 cents when we are racing our nascar late model @ final or feature time the spotters are in a spotters stand or a certain area where that guy or gal watching there car or sled that they have put so much time,effort and money in to make sure they have the safest and best time they can on that day. now practice,heat, hot laps spotters can do what they want . When 1 person is watching 1 car,sled or 1or2even 3 people watching a pro champ final with 12 guys in maybe 3 min. can totally fill up a track with so much snow dust like valcourt or e.r. then the leaders are lapping the slower guys by lap 5 then what a you do throw er in there and hope for the best, or if there is a broke sled ,corner guys cant see that guy in the back stretch. I know i would like to have some reassurance in my ear entering turn 1 @ 95-105@ valcourt that you are about to lap sled that you cant see running in the middle groove and dont know you are there cause he dont have spotter either and dust in so thick he cant see passing flag. There could be alot of great,safe racing without alot guys getting hurt. Well that was maybe 5 cents worth. Thanks Fred LaGoy

Re: oval racing safety improvements

PostPosted: February 18th, 2014, 10:36 pm
by Spy-Guy 74
Doug I think talking about safety items is a good topic every year. I like the idea about spotters watching the track, but at the same time I would only want officials being able to talk to corner workers or drivers that are on the track. Not people involved with a team that's on the track.

Back to your question, the accident in Alex happened so quickly I'm not sure if a spotter would have helped Ryan out. Close racing, full field of drivers, and conditions with poor visabilty I guess I really don't know. The field is so close now compared to the earlier days of champ is part of the problem, but that's what makes champ racing so great for the fans now.I do think in most cases spotters would help and should at least be tried at some venue next year.

At the same time I really think the promoters and the racing circuits did a great job with safety this year at the events our team attended. We've been at eight and have one more to go and we raced at there venue earlier in the year. There's been snow dust and ice crystals, but really who does have a good fix for them.

I sometimes think the dust is worse say on a track that is iced during the night when the races are going on. Sort of makes for poor ice in most cases, but that's only my own personal opinion nothing more. I sometimes think the smooth tracks like glass have more of a problem with dust too, but in all reality should really be better as the ice gets cleaned better when things are smooth.

Glad to here you maybe coming back racing Doug,good luck to you and both of your drivers. At this time I'm kind of sad as Shane says his next race is his last, but at the same time it's sort of a relief for his mother and I. We'll see if he can spin the wrenches and tune sleds instead of dicing it out on the track.

Re: oval racing safety improvements

PostPosted: February 19th, 2014, 7:45 am
by Bob Vehring
Having a kid that suffered a season ending trip through the bales at Wausau I can offer these suggestions to be considered.
For decades we have also used bales in Kart racing, about 10 years ago we started putting a contractor size black plastic bag over each bale when we placed them in spring to help keep the water out. A wet bale can about double in weight when soaked, the bag also promotes some "slip" between bales when hit.
For the sake of comparison, karts weigh, with driver from 250 for the kids to 400 lb for the big guys, Speeds range from 50-70 on sprint tracks 70-130 on the big tracks.

About 7 years ago we went to the interlocking plastic barriers. These can be tied together in any length you choose. The more you link, the greater the "accordion or snake" effect" which greatly softens the hit.
Our first line of defense in corners are 4 ft X 6ft foam filled vinyl pillows, many times my kids have gone through these, even at 70 with little to no pain or damage.

I would say IMO with sleds, it would take at least a row of hay in front of either of the above to lessen the chance of puncturing them with a ski, but it would provide a much softer inpact in most cases

Re: oval racing safety improvements

PostPosted: February 24th, 2014, 7:19 pm
by hammerman
Why don't they stop putting 15-16 sleds on the line? Take top 8 from the heat races and put them into an "A" pool final and take the bottom 8 and put them into a "B" pool final. That way you put the fast sleds together and the slow sleds together. It will dramatically increase safety and creats more parity. I'd much rather finish 3rd in the "B" pool final then 11th with smashed equipment and/or worse!

Re: oval racing safety improvements

PostPosted: February 25th, 2014, 11:54 am
by Dahlke882
Though I've never seen 15-16 sleds on the line, I agree completely. Especially in the so called "amateur" or semi pro classes. There is no reason to start 10 on the line and 2 in back when they are ski to ski. Take F 500 for example, now that the class has grown, you've got 10-12 or more FAST sleds every weekend. The sleds are closer in speed now then they have ever been. Now line them up ski to ski, on a rough track, and at most tracks with the exception of Wausau, darn near inside to outside haybail and expect them to make it through turn 1 without incident, besides the next 5-7 laps. You have drivers of all abilities and strengths, some inexperienced, some not strong enough to save/handle a sled in the rough, and some who haven't had enough experience in traffic all lined up and heading into turn one ski to ski... NOT SMART!! Even a great driver, with tons of experience and conditioning can have the sled get the best of him. You need to allow a little wiggle room incase something does go bad.

I'd suggest 8 in the front row, and two in the back if the track and conditions allow. Drop the LCQ, and run another 8-10 sled B Main and give the winner a checkered flag.

Everyone wins, more laps for the younger/inexperienced drivers, more room on the line/track if things go bad, another good final for the fans, less snow dust and a most likely a few more happy drivers at the end of the day.

Just an example, I lined up on the outside at Ironwood and could have reached over the outside haybail and shook the fans hand in the front row, and was ski to ski next to the sled inside me. That should never happen. No room for error there. None of us are pros, nor are we racing for thousands and thousands of dollars, nor do we want to take home a twisted up sled, much less a trip to the hospital.

Later, Alan

Re: oval racing safety improvements

PostPosted: February 25th, 2014, 1:24 pm
by HRA motorsports
I agree completely with Alan and I do believe this needs to be brought up at the spring meeting. This isn't professional champ racing and shouldn't follow the same rules when it comes to the number of sleds at the line.

Re: oval racing safety improvements

PostPosted: March 17th, 2014, 9:08 pm
by Hairball27
FYI , I contacted the people at Airfence about there safety systems ( air bags) that are used in speedway , dirt track in some venues I believe, they would be collapsible and easy to transport. A little pricy at 900.00 cdn per meter (39") roughly. these units are maybe 10 to 12 feet long but may offer a advertising opportunity to cover cost of the units. just a thought # 27 http://www.airfence.com/images/airfence_nav_home_f2.gif

Re: oval racing safety improvements

PostPosted: March 18th, 2014, 6:38 am
by that 31 car
Having spotted for asphalt cars for a number of years, I know that angle of view, distance, perspective, and time of day can add to the difficulty of the job. Add the snow dust, and the situation that few if any tracks have a true spotters area for viewing, makes me wonder how effective spotting would be. I know from being around it, all USSA champ features have key individuals in key locations around the track, and frankly at times these experienced individuals have vision problems with the dust. Only a few teams in Champ really want radio communication, most don't. While I am personally a proponent of radio use, I have lost that battle several times over the years at rules meetings.
As to Doug's request, it's good to analyze all the different ideas, the most effort in my opinion should be on the ski's and limiting the ski's ability to create vast amounts of snowdust.