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Safety first, please


debwill

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I'm rewording my original post, but I still wanted to post this picture.

 

We had a serious incident at Thunderhill Raceway on Saturday night, and I thought I'd share the picture below. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt.

 

In our post-race staff meeting, we discussed ways to keep someone else from getting hurt again, and we'll probably put in a double-fence barrier near the pit stands. But we also ask that everyone in the pits and grandstands do their best to help us out by staying off the fences, etc.

 

post-29-1251695762.jpg

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Nobody forces anybody to stand by that fence to watch the races. There is plenty of room on the grandstand side. I know it is a lot closer to watch from there and it can be a long walk, but that is by choice. I have stood on that hill too in that same spot because I was too lazy to go to the other side.

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Unfortunately what happened in this case could have happened on the grandstand side as well... That tire easily was thrown high enough to go over the front stretch fence when the accident happened ... Unfortunately area is kinda small but there are other ways to use that area safely... Either build the fence higher or build out the deck of the suite area there where people could stand for instance...

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One other suggestion is on this section of fence,

 

#1 raise the fence about 8 feet, with the top 4 of those feet angled in towards the track...

 

Still need to move people back.. but from the angle i saw.. the wheel/axle hit the tire barrier and went up in the air.. landing on the other side of the fence..

With the fence arched back toward the track.. it should send that tire back towards the track instead of over the fence..

 

Even with no people standing on the fence... i think the safety issue is keeping that tire from clearing that fence.. especially with the pit's that are on the other side of the fence..

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The tire barrier needs to be higher because it sometimes actually serves as a launching ramp rather than a momentum killer. Yes Aaron, the fence needs to be about twice as high and built out of much stouter stuff. Dan and I have sat in the stands on many a night and discussed this very subject. Combined we've been around tracks for over a hundred years and witnessed some pretty unimaginable schtuff happening. Even with that said, THR needs to keep folks away from there. Areas at the ends of straights need to be "NO MAN'S LAND." Those areas have always been the most dangerous areas at any track.

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I know saturday's incedent was uncommon. Not every week do you have a tire wheel and axle come off the car. But in my opinion thr needs a wall all the way around the track. This would keep all the cars on the track and not even close to the fence in the pits. The wall would also keep everyone from driving off into turn one way to hard. Or keep them from driving off in the dirt on the back stretch. A wall would make e eryone a better driver because they won't have the run off room. I agree a taller fence would help but a wall would keep most of the carnage on the track and out of the stands.

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JR.. you ever hit one of those walls in a race car? We would keep EMS real busy with a wall all the way around..

THR has walls in the right place...

 

 

 

I know saturday's incedent was uncommon. Not every week do you have a tire wheel and axle come off the car. But in my opinion thr needs a wall all the way around the track. This would keep all the cars on the track and not even close to the fence in the pits. The wall would also keep everyone from driving off into turn one way to hard. Or keep them from driving off in the dirt on the back stretch. A wall would make e eryone a better driver because they won't have the run off room. I agree a taller fence would help but a wall would keep most of the carnage on the track and out of the stands.
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From a safety stand point, walls are really good at destroying racecars and getting drivers hurt. The fewer the better if you can get away with it. Run-off areas are much better I think.

 

Some disagree and say walls make drivers behave themselves better. There is probably some validity to that.

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I know saturday's incedent was uncommon. Not every week do you have a tire wheel and axle come off the car. But in my opinion thr needs a wall all the way around the track. This would keep all the cars on the track and not even close to the fence in the pits. The wall would also keep everyone from driving off into turn one way to hard. Or keep them from driving off in the dirt on the back stretch. A wall would make e eryone a better driver because they won't have the run off room. I agree a taller fence would help but a wall would keep most of the carnage on the track and out of the stands.

what makes thunder hill alot more fun to us .is it is open .. your carry the kinda speed at thunder hill and hit a wall .your in bad shape... i suppose you didnt see the april tps race at thunder hill .bb9 hit the front wall and that didnt feel good nore did his car look good ... one of our drivers hit the wall at cc last week and tore up the car and hurt his hand ..and was not going as fast as thunder hill cars are going into the turn ..i would hate to think what shape our driver would have been in if thunder hill had walls .and he hit it the same way .......... if the track dont want anyone standing there .put up tarps on the fence .till they can do something different next year ..

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those boxes there arent safe either. A car went through that fence and over the wall years ago and landed right where the support legs are. So really no one is safe right in that area. It's a race track. People need to think about where they are at all times no matter what your doing or where you are. You cant make racing 100% safe. All you can do is make it as safe as possible for everyone. Putting up a 2nd fence and moving the fans back 2 feet isnt safer. If a tire or car gets into that fence it's going to get through it. And stepping back 2-3 feet isnt going to make me safer. I always thought makeing me step back 2 feet was a little stupid IMHO. I just laughed everytime someone told me to step back. It's not making it safer for me to step back. It's like putting a bandaid on an axe wound. It's not going to do any good.

 

So take this as you will, but I'm not trying to be an a$$. Just being honest. If you want it to be safer. Put a wall at the tracks edge to keep the cars on the track. The drivers will hate it and it will eat some cars. Thats a lot farther from that fence than the car can reach right now. But it still wont stop tires and parts from flying over the wall. That will take better fencing and cables to stop it. Big NASCAR track style fencing.

 

So in short. You cant stop it. You cant control it. You can only try to make it better if possible. Good luck doing this.

 

PS..... Lova ya THR.. :)

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As a fan...I think the walls are perfect right where they are. Freak accidents are part of the risk of being at a race track, THR has done a great job with safety, I think some extra fencing may be helpful in the turn 1-2 pit area but you just cant prevent everything.

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Nobody forces anybody to stand by that fence to watch the races. There is plenty of room on the grandstand side. I know it is a lot closer to watch from there and it can be a long walk, but that is by choice. I have stood on that hill too in that same spot because I was too lazy to go to the other side.

 

FWIW, I didn't mean anyone was 'forced' to stand there but there aren't many options to view from the pits and it is not practical to walk to the stands just to watch a few laps.

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I know saturday's incedent was uncommon. Not every week do you have a tire wheel and axle come off the car. But in my opinion thr needs a wall all the way around the track. This would keep all the cars on the track and not even close to the fence in the pits. The wall would also keep everyone from driving off into turn one way to hard. Or keep them from driving off in the dirt on the back stretch. A wall would make e eryone a better driver because they won't have the run off room. I agree a taller fence would help but a wall would keep most of the carnage on the track and out of the stands.

 

No offense but if you were a car owner/driver (assuming your not) you would look at that a different way. It doesnt have anything to do with "controling" your car cause a wall is there. Wrecks will still happen and then you will have less space to miss somebody else's mistake. I was able to miss the first big wreck saturday night cause I could drive off the track, had there been a outside wall Im not sure I would still have a drivable car. A wall is not the answer.

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JR.. you ever hit one of those walls in a race car? We would keep EMS real busy with a wall all the way around..

THR has walls in the right place...

 

 

 

I know saturday's incedent was uncommon. Not every week do you have a tire wheel and axle come off the car. But in my opinion thr needs a wall all the way around the track. This would keep all the cars on the track and not even close to the fence in the pits. The wall would also keep everyone from driving off into turn one way to hard. Or keep them from driving off in the dirt on the back stretch. A wall would make e eryone a better driver because they won't have the run off room. I agree a taller fence would help but a wall would keep most of the carnage on the track and out of the stands.

 

Yep, Ive hit walls at about every asphalt track in texas and I still come back to race. However, every other asphalt track in texas has walls. Kyle is the only one with out. I will defend a little of what JRFan is thinking. W/o walls the THR regulars know that they have that escape route if the do something stupid, bad thinking. Because it gets worse. You keep pushing that envelope until you end up wadded up in the turn four grandstands or send 3 cars into the bilboards on the back straight, or better yet try launching a whole car into the pit fence. Gee didnt that happen a few times in the last couple of years. Ive seen people loose a complete car in a wreck at San Antonio due to some issue or another but they still kept coming back to race. I never saw anybody refuse to race at a facility because it had a wall. Why are so many people so afraid of walls anyway? I sat in the stands sat night with my wife and watched the first few races until I had to get ready and a gentleman sitting in front of me and I were discussing this very topic and his responce was "...if they put up a wall around this track I will never bring my car back here again". I was a little amazed at the amount of anger he said it with, like walls are the enemy.

I will say that Mary Ann and H probably dont want or need that expence and I for one am not asking for walls to be installed but I do not believe that walls are a bad idea. Personally they should of been there since the beginning. But then would we be having the exact opposite discussion now? What if we take the walls down... :lol::P;)

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It's hard for me to imagine the millions of dollars in damage to race cars and hurt drivers caused by the walls at SAS over 30 years. Car count could be expected to decrease over the course of a season.

I still have a plate with 3 screws in my arm. The wall wins every time.

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I will admit that I am not "for" walls. You are absolutely correct Pacecar. And speaking from my experiences from SA Speedway, the wall did WIN EVERYTIME! Ask Donnie Merideth what he thinks about walls (Anyone remember Houston a couple of years ago)?? You want to put a right front wheel and tire into the firewall of your racecar, well SA Speedway is (was) a good place to do it. Yes the speed was incredibly fast there and you felt it on every turn. OMG was it fast!! You better have brought your 'A game' every time you strapped in there or else that wall would let you know it can bite and bite hard. But it never kept me from rebuilding and coming back for another try. That's racing. I think alot of what happens (wrecks/spinouts/etc.) in turn 1 & 2 at THR is because of the entry angle of that turn. Drivers carry more speed into that turn (as opposed to turn 3) because of the D shape of the front stretch. And of course that means more speed into that turn and maybe for some a little less control. Dare I say "bonsi". Cars do seem to speed-up when they hit that grassy area above turn 1 & 2. There is diffenetly no control then. The only thing stopping you then is the tire barrier or fence. I agree that should be off limits for everyone. Would be cool to have some stands back there that could be as tall as the pit suits though. We could all see the races then. Just money.

 

D.

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Like I said " in my opinion" but if those drivers that do end up n the run off areas all the time hit the wall a few times and have to fix their cars they will then learn how to control them.

in our case .in which the driver had no control . was on the left side of one car .and ended up on the other side of same car in the wall .so sometimes it isnt the driver who hit the walls fault .and with close high speed racen at kyle .things happen .i would not want to be the one who hits any wall at kyle ...... plus could you picture the cost of building walls at thunder hill .. dont get me wrong i dont have problems with walls being there .but it does not make a bad driver a better driver .in fact our driver would not have gotten hurt if this had happend at kyle ..

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If the THR track was as wide all the way around like the backstretch is then maybe walls would work there. But as long as you have those narrower turns which at best can accomodate 2 cars side by side without paint being rubbed then walls would not work there. I agree with Aaron and Buddy with the higher fence with the inward top to turn any debris back into the track as one solution. And it would not hurt to use a heavier gauge of fencing. A heavier gauge of fencing would not hurt either because I've seen too many fences bent enough to allow cars to pass over them. I will not sit low on smaller tracks for that reason and if you want to find Buddy or I, look high. Was it last year when either a grand stock or a thunder stock ended up against that fence just off turn one. Had that fence pole not penetrated and stopped that car right on that fence then it could have well ended up in those boxes. That is what I saw from my viewpoint that night and at first I thought that was exactly where it was going. No I don't drive and I don't own a race car but I watched a lot of that bent metal at SAS never return and when they did with a new car it usually was many many weeks later. Some of the very best racing I ever witnessed on the shorter tracks were tracks with no walls in the turns. It would not be a bad idea to make that area No Mans Land as Buddy suggested and to accomodate those owners and crew who want to watch the race by increasing the size of the crew stands at the entry into turn one inside the grandstand area. Its close to the pits and they can return quickly if need be. I see a lot of owners and crews walk up the hill by the grandstands to watch their cars compete.

Its not a good idea to test Murphy's law too many times because if it can happen it will happen and no one knows when. I've seen serious injuries to spectators at races because of minimal safety measures so I believe one can not be to safe when around the sport of racing. Stuff happens with regularity in racing so no use testing to see how far one can go before a serious ouch happens. This is just my opinion and I am not a racer or a car owner. Just an old fan who has seen maybe more than I would have like to have seen in my lifetime. Safety first is not a slogan. Its a must. :(

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If I may, for just a moment, allow me to step back from the subject matter of this thread, to make a point. I've seen at least a couple of instances on this thread of people apologizing for having an opinion. There is no need for that. An opinion is just that ......... an opinion. We all have them. One member's opinion is just as valid as any others. That is what this forum is all about ......... the free expression of thoughts, ideas and opinions about all the various subject matters of racing. There is no need to apologize for that.

 

Thanks, now back to the subject. :)

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