Semper Paratus

A serious accident in the pits recently got me to thinking very deeply about pit and crew safety. A lot of thought and effort is expended on driver safety and for good reason; they’re the ones strapped into the squirrely fast machines. But accidents happen in the pits and to crew members too. Cars run over people, fingers are broken (and even severed), stuff happens.

When was the last time you considered how prepared your pit is for an emergency? Got fire suppression on the race car? Great, now how about a fire extinguisher in the trailer? If you have one, when was the last time it was inspected? And does every pit crew member or volunteer know where it (or they) are and how to use them? There are lots of flammables in a typical pit, so this is worth spending a few minutes on.

How about a first aid kit? You should at least have the basics: gauze, emergency cold packs, disinfectant, burn ointment, eye wash solution, and adhesive bandages in a few sizes. You can put your own kit together or buy one and again, make sure everyone knows where it is and what’s in it.

Not to get too crazy on the topic, but what about some first aid training for at least one crew member? The American Red Cross offers classes all around the country. You can check their website and send a crew member through the training. While you’re at it, do you or any of your crew know CPR? If they do, is their certification current? I know that there are trained emergency personnel at every track, but I can tell you from experience it may take several minutes for someone to let them know there’s an emergency and for them to get to you. Those minutes can be critical if someone is injured, choking, or having a heart attack.

At least once a year you should assess your pit’s emergency readiness and supplies just as you do your race car’s safety features. The life or limb you save may be your own.

Update on Larry Dewees 1966 Built for a Purpose Coronet

Photo by Brett Christenson of Inland Impressions Photography

As we told you in our April 2012 story, Built for a Purpose, Larry Dewees built his beautiful ’66 Coronet to drive. Drive on the street and drive on the track. But he had a specific track goal in mind: he wanted to run 11.5 seconds in the quarter mile or 7.35 in the eighth. But just as his car was being completed, he got hit with the same double whammy all of the racers in Southern California did — the double closure of first Irwindale Raceway and then Fontana Raceway. This ended, at least for a while, Larry’s plan to drive to the local tracks and run the car.

But all was not lost. Larry rented a car trailer and hauled the Coronet to Barona Drag Strip in Ramona, California. On the eighth mile there, on his first day out, he ran a best of 7.45, within a tenth of his goal. As I’m writing this, the last week of April 2012, Irwindale Raceway’s 1/8th mile track was opened again, raising from the ashes of its bankruptcy filing. Under new (actually returning old) management, hopes are high, not only that the ‘Dale is back, but that it may even be upgraded and improved. So now that Larry knows his goal is within reach, hopefully a little tuning and setup (and maybe some good air) will get him his heart’s desire time slip. We hope to be there to see it.

I’m very happy to see the ‘Dale back in operation. At least three illegal street racing related deaths occurred since the shut down of our two local tracks, so having a legal venue to settle arguments and wring out cars and bikes is a win-win. Good for racers and good for the community. I hope to see you there on a Thursday night, it’s always a lot of fun.