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 Columns & Editorials

February 8, 2001

The Lead is Flying!

By Craig Clarke
Recently at a racing event somewhere in Florida, (I promised not to say where, but it is near the center of the State, oops), several cars decided that they didn't want their extra weight...in the form of lead blocks, attached to them any more.

Imagine that! I would like to shed some weight too, but not like that. Numerous unidentified "bricks" of lead, somehow managed to break free from their mounting positions under and around the cars. One of the pieces was thrust through the firewall section of one car narrowly missing the driver coming to rest between his clutch and accelerator pedal.

Driver barely escaped very serious injury and is helped by track safety officials

Fortunately he escaped with minor contusions. During another event at the same track, we encountered a lead "brick" fly through the lexan windshield, which barely missed the driver who probably had to replace his fruit of the looms.

Broken Winshield caused by flying lead on the track at USA International Speedway

Upon inspection of the lead weights, it was determined that they were NOT MARKED with the car # that they belonged to which is part of the series rules, and that they were not painted white or another bright color which also is part of the safety rules. The important point to remember with these weights is that some of them weigh in at a hefty 50-100lbs, and if propelled under power become a deadly missile.

Now I am not one to point fingers or blame anyone in the tech. department that is supposed to inspect the cars, but the fact of the matter is that accidents do happen, and all we can do is try to prevent them from becoming big problems instead of small ones. If you race or do safety with a series or a track, encourage them to maintain a good program of inspection that all "ADD-ONS" to the race vehicle, can withstand the force of the impact with another car or the wall. In addition, make sure that these items are clearly marked so that if they do become dislodged from the vehicle, they can be easily spotted by track workers before they are hit by another car and become a torpedo to the stands, pits or another car. Race cars if they are built to published standards, can normally take a lot of abuse, but when you modify them such as in the addition of weight, lots of unforseen variables come into play. Make your track and/or series as safe as possible!

STAY TUNED FOR MORE SAFETY NEWS...Next time we will talk about the Concession stands, and how you can prevent becoming a casualty. Bye for now, and stay safe!

Chief Craig C. Clarke
"Safety for Racers"

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