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 Columns & Editorials

April 15, 2001

Don't Short Change Your Safety

By Jane Smith
Last night was not a full moon but looking at the message boards, there were quite a few full moon accidents. All seemed to hit the walls very hard. And we all found that the walls don't move, only the drivers and their heads move.
No one wants a driver hurt. No one wants to see a helicopter fly in and a roof cut off a car. Last night at New Smyrna Speedway in the first feature race of the night and in the last lap, Justin Henderson was fighting for his first win. He had the pole and he did a great job keeping the lead but coming out of turn 3, his car got a real bad push, he tried to correct it and thought he had it and he and the other lead car touched just enough that Justin hit the wall extremely hard and on the driver's side.

From that hit, everyone seemed to know that he had to be out. The safety guy got there first, then the track officials, EMT's, flagman, everyone. It was obvious to everyone in the pits and the stands, things were not right. A crowd gather above the pit wall watching as they started to cut him out. More emergency vehicles arrived, more guys worked on him, and last the helicopter flew in.

This scene is not one any of us want to see but when it is someone you know and really care about, it is the hardest thing to do which is stay out of the way, stand back and wait. What seemed like forever really wasn't but finally they got Justin out of the car, on a backboard and strapped down and on that helicopter with our pick-up not far behind it on the ground.

Luckily, Justin had no broken bones. His safety harness had done it's job well. What they thought was a broken collarbone was a really bad bruise from that harness taking care of Justin. His helmet had some window netting in it and scratching from the wall but it too did it's job. The car that was now a pile of sheet metal had done it's job safety wise and protected the person that was in it.

When a dirt driver from Volusia Speedway Park was brought in while we were still there, what the nurse had said really hit home, DON'T EVER SHORT CHANGE YOUR SAFETY. Both drivers had hit walls, hard, full force. But luckily, both did not short change the one thing that can and does save your life - your safety measures.

Daryl Shelnut was hurt at Hialeah and a driver at Charlotte County and two here. But we can still write about them, they are still with us. Their cars may be in shambles, completely totaled but they aren't.

Please, check your helmets and your harnesses and make sure your rollcages are the best. You are the most important person in the world to someone, make sure you are there for them. Don't short change your safety.


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