Two days after a near-disastrous racing car fire during its race at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday night, in which a racing driver and a safety crew worker were burned, the Indy Racing League has issued a statement promising to do better.
For anybody who missed it, a car driven by Swiss rookie Simona de Silvestro burst into flames after hitting the wall and when the first safety truck arrived on the scene the onboard fire-fighting hose wouldn’t work.
There appeared to be some confusion as to what to do next before a member of the safety crew forced himself to go into the fire to get de Silvestro out of the car. He eventually yanked and dragged her out as she struggled to free herself.
No fire extinguishers or water hoses were made to work until after she was out of the car – which seemed like an eternity for people watching.
Here is a video of the fire. Judge for yourself.
In any event, the League emailed this statement today (Monday):
"The Indy Racing League, the sanctioning body of the IZOD IndyCar Series, issued the following statement regarding the response to the oil fire in Simona de Silvestro's car during Saturday's race at Texas Motor Speedway:
"1. First and foremost, we make the safety of our competitors a priority when on the track. The primary hose on the series' safety truck malfunctioned, so the safety team had to go to the backup of the bottles. All equipment is checked prior to going on track before every race. We are examining why the hose malfunctioned to ensure this equipment failure will not happen again.
"2. Our Safety Team consists of approximately 24 highly-trained safety personnel with a minimum of 14 attending each event – 2 trauma physicians, 3 paramedics and 9 firefighters/EMTs. Team members have an average of 20 years of experience in their respective areas. The safety team is recognized for its high standards and high performance and this problem will be addressed."
The key words are right at the end: "This problem will be addressed."
The unwritten words are these: "And will never happen again."
Now, I mentioned in my blog report of this incident (click here if interested) that sanctioning organizations like the IRL would do well to study what happens elsewhere and, in my experience, the safety crew at Oswego Speedway in New York state is the best anywhere.
A reader sent me a link to a video of a disastrous fire during the Budweiser International Classic 200 in 1999 and it is a lesson on how to properly fight a racing fire. As you will see – click here to watch the video – corner workers and the two safety trucks were on the scene in very short order and had the fire knocked down and the drivers safely out of the way extremely quickly.
When I stopped racing at Oswego, I was recruited to be trackside announcer and I was proud to ride on the No. 1 safety truck at that speedway for nearly 15 years every Saturday night during the summer, covering the activities of the best and the bravest speedway safety workers anywhere.
Which explains what I’m doing conducting the interviews at the end of the video.
Finally, sometimes a racing driver – or rider, in this case – is given a sign that maybe the time has come to hang up the helmet – or else switch to a safer form of motorsport.
Multiple motorcycle world champion Valentino Rossi’s crash last weekend at the Italian Grand Prix is frightening beyond belief and I suggest he take up Scudera Ferrari’s offer of a Formula One seat without delay.
He’s been a great champion and he just doesn’t have to do the two-wheel bit any longer.
Watch the video and decide if you agree with me.