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Debris fences - spectator safety


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#1 Buford

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 04:27

Since the Talladega accident Sunday there has been some discussion in Cesspool Comments about debris fences and times race cars almost went into the crowd or would have if there had been a race day crowd on the scene. Look at these photos of the debris fence at Indianapolis 1957. Think that would have kept a car out of the seats if tested? Anybody up for a discussion of debris fences and spectator safety through the years?

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Edited by Buford, 30 April 2009 - 17:31.


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#2 Ivan

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 04:52

It's funny you should post this. The first time I went to a race I used to think what is this fence for, it's not going to stop anything coming through it. I think the way tracks are built are backward. The fans should be in the middle of the track not on the outside. Dale Earnhardt once said that as well.

#3 Roger39

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 06:28

The fans should be in the middle of the track not on the outside. Dale Earnhardt once said that as well.


Good idea but that won't happen to any exsisting track. The fencing will probably have to be so closely "woven" to stop debris going through from a 200mph wreck that nobody is going to see through it, so that could be a problem. From watching NASCAR it seams that most high speed impacts with the wall take place on the exit of turns so maybe "shape" the seating to give a little more room in these "hotspots"?

#4 Catalina Park

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 08:46

Having sat behind that fence at Talladega in 1992 (In the front row!) I was impressed with the fence and how well it stood up. Where I was sitting the front row was row 13. They removed the first 12 rows of seats at some stage to improve safety.

I have been in a lot worse places. I have been to some speedways where I would not stay in certain places in the spectator area as I thought that the fences were not going to stop a sprint-car from going into the crowd, I was unfortunately proved correct when a spectator was killed at that track.

Things are a lot better than in the old days, I once stood in a spectator area with nothing between me and the F5000 cars but a bit of rope and 25 yards of grass.

#5 Flat Black 84

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 14:58

Having sat behind that fence at Talladega in 1992 (In the front row!) I was impressed with the fence and how well it stood up. Where I was sitting the front row was row 13. They removed the first 12 rows of seats at some stage to improve safety.

I have been in a lot worse places. I have been to some speedways where I would not stay in certain places in the spectator area as I thought that the fences were not going to stop a sprint-car from going into the crowd, I was unfortunately proved correct when a spectator was killed at that track.

Things are a lot better than in the old days, I once stood in a spectator area with nothing between me and the F5000 cars but a bit of rope and 25 yards of grass.



Total fan safety is impossible. What's more, if one stresses safety evermore there is a law of diminishing returns that results in only marginal safety improvement and dramatic loss of entertainment value. Modern racing, in many incarnations, has arguably passed through this threshold.

#6 Uwe

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 15:31

Since the Talladega accident Sunday there has been some discussion in Cesspool Comments about debris fences

I once had immense respect for you. To see how you destroy this with your vitriolic attacks and outright trolling in RC makes me sad.

#7 RStock

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 17:04

Oh Buford , what did you do now ?

This , if I remember correctly , is 4 times at least that NASCAR has dodged this bullet , as far as spectators being killed . I'm not sure what the answer is , moving the stands back further ? Chad Knause suggested putting a chicane in the turn , which would get the cars seperated .

I was at a Sprint car race several years back where a car cleared the fence and landed in the stands . Fortunatly no one was hurt . The crowd was sparse as it was a preliminary event . If it had happened the next night , the seats would have been full .

There was a concrete wall about 5 to 6 foot high , plus about 12 to 15 foot of fence . The car cleared it with room to spare , so he must have been at least 20 foot in the air . Which begged the question , how high is safe enough ?

#8 Flat Black 84

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 17:11

Of course, to be as safe as possible the fences would have not be not only extremely high, they would have to be strong enough to withstand a ton of metal moving well over 100 miles per hour, and they would have to have mesh so fine as to prevent tiny bits of debris from flying into the stands and injuring/killing spectators. That is a huge engineering task, and even if effective, would probably render the trackside action virtually invisible.

I've got another idea: if your fear of live racing is greater than your thirst for it, stay home and watch it on the boob toob.

#9 Buford

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 17:13

Oh Buford , what did you do now ?


Who knows. I try to talk racing, I get attacked by know nothing mopes, and then when I fight back, apparently too effectively, the hand wringers come out. I never have attacked any individual
who hasn't attacked me first though I have launched unprovoked attacks on broad groups, like well ummm... Know nothing mopes. Apparently sometimes the shoe fits and they wear it.

Wow a sprint car all the way in the stands? One year about 1980 cars flipped into the fence in front of the stands at the start of the Knoxville Nationals. It held but a shock went into the crowd and hit a woman in the head and I don't think she ever came out of a coma.

Edited by Buford, 30 April 2009 - 17:36.


#10 Buford

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 18:32

The photos in the first post disappeared but I put them back so if they are gone again when you look I don't know what's going on. Those photos are of the debris fence at Indianapolis in 1957 but I think it was the same construction in 1961 when I first went to Indianapolis and beyond in the early 1960s. Because I recall going down to that area on practice days and sitting in the front row and thinking if a car was coming at me I had to duck down behind the wall. Of course that wouldn't help much with flaming fuel. Considering the height that some cars got flipping during crashes, for example Bill Vukovich and Jerry Unser and Jack Turner in that era, I think it's nothing short of a miracle that somebody didn't climb a wheel and somersault into that turn one grandstand. I know humans throughout history don't know stuff until they know stuff, but how did they think a garden fence was going to keep a race car out of the grandstands? I think the sport dodged numerous bullets there, year after year.


#11 Uwe

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 18:51

Who knows. I try to talk racing, I get attacked by know nothing mopes, and then when I fight back, apparently too effectively, the hand wringers come out. I never have attacked any individual
who hasn't attacked me first though I have launched unprovoked attacks on broad groups, like well ummm... Know nothing mopes. Apparently sometimes the shoe fits and they wear it.

I don't have anything against a harsh reply to someone who attacks you and obviously has never driven a racing car. However what you did in this thread and here again is plain old trolling. There are enough reasonable posters at RC and insulting them with your rants isn't what will get you (or keep) their respect.

I might quote gt40jim (the nice bloke who told about his experiences in Formula cars and the GT40): "I enjoy ALL the Atlas forums!" to which you apparently had no reply to. Modesty contra mud-slinging...

#12 Buford

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 18:59

I don't have anything against a harsh reply to someone who attacks you and obviously has never driven a racing car. However what you did in this thread and here again is plain old trolling. There are enough reasonable posters at RC and insulting them with your rants isn't what will get you (or keep) their respect.

I might quote gt40jim (the nice bloke who told about his experiences in Formula cars and the GT40): "I enjoy ALL the Atlas forums!" to which you apparently had no reply to. Modesty contra mud-slinging...


I had no reply because I enjoy all Atlas forums also and if I didn't I wouldn't participate. I also like mocking infidels so if you call that trolling so be it. I would say the reasonable posters at cesspool comments are less than 20%. Your mileage may differ. I don't even participate in the Formula One threads they are so filled with nationalistic know nothing morons and because I never participated in Formula One I am no more knowledgeable than they are.

There are some things I know about however and when I am told I don't know what I'm talking about I don't deny I don't suffer fools gladly. I drove racing cars in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. I had published magazine articles and photos, was a Race driving instructor, a corner worker, pit crew, chief steward, and general hanging around for five decades. When some know nothing punk who never got out of row 23 of the grandstand tells me I don't know what I'm talking about, you can call it trolling if you want but I will respond the same manner they respond to me. No apologies.

#13 RStock

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 21:25

Wow a sprint car all the way in the stands? One year about 1980 cars flipped into the fence in front of the stands at the start of the Knoxville Nationals. It held but a shock went into the crowd and hit a woman in the head and I don't think she ever came out of a coma.


Sad outcome . I hadn't heard about that , or don't remember it anyway .

I was in the pits the night that car landed in the stands . It landed about where I would have usually sat if I had been . Jeff Swindell was the driver . He almost ran over me one night in the pits on a later occasion . I began to wonder if he was out to get me .

Seems I remember an F1 car getting into the stands . Jochen Mass and someone else involved . French GP , early 80,s I think . I don't think anyone was hurt . Perhaps someone else remembers better .

#14 scheivlak

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 21:40

I once had immense respect for you. To see how you destroy this with your vitriolic attacks and outright trolling in RC makes me sad.

Vitriolic attacks?? Trolling??
/"puzzled" icon (lil' head with question marks/ (still searching for that one)


#15 jm70

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 21:43

Buford, keep it up. I sorta have the same background, some driving, lots of corner time, years as a Steward, crew chief, etc. I always read your posts, and have to agree with them 90 % of the time. If you look at the thread a little further up, with the photo's from T6 at Riverside, notice where the motor homes are on the right of the photo of the IROC cars. That cut and wall was done sometime after I started out there in 1968. We were working an SCCA Drivers School, few weeks before the Can-Am. I can't be sure of the year. Some guy managed to put a Mk 1 McLaren in the grandstands. About 4 rows up, landed square on it's wheels. Was a hell of a job to get the thing down. Finally ended up with a bunch of workers and crew just lifting the thing up, and walking it down. Had another car get over the fence into the spectator area at T7b one time. Another was a FC over the fence on the back straight between 7b and the bridge. Things sure have changed over the years, and for the most part, for the better. But it was REAL racing, if you ask me.

#16 Buford

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 22:30

Buford, keep it up. I sorta have the same background, some driving, lots of corner time, years as a Steward, crew chief, etc. I always read your posts, and have to agree with them 90 % of the time. If you look at the thread a little further up, with the photo's from T6 at Riverside, notice where the motor homes are on the right of the photo of the IROC cars. That cut and wall was done sometime after I started out there in 1968. We were working an SCCA Drivers School, few weeks before the Can-Am. I can't be sure of the year. Some guy managed to put a Mk 1 McLaren in the grandstands. About 4 rows up, landed square on it's wheels. Was a hell of a job to get the thing down. Finally ended up with a bunch of workers and crew just lifting the thing up, and walking it down. Had another car get over the fence into the spectator area at T7b one time. Another was a FC over the fence on the back straight between 7b and the bridge. Things sure have changed over the years, and for the most part, for the better. But it was REAL racing, if you ask me.



Yeah it sure was. Thanks for the support. OK I admit I razz the twerps a little but that's just racer mentality mind games. Once one always one lol. I never attack anybody as an individual who doesn't come at me first.

One year at Michigan International Speedway a Trans Am car went into the crowd off in the back somewhere and killed somebody. I don't think there was anything but a light fence out there to keep the cars out of the crowd..

#17 WGD706

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 00:07

"Seems I remember an F1 car getting into the stands . Jochen Mass and someone else involved . French GP , early 80,s I think . I don't think anyone was hurt . Perhaps someone else remembers better ."

It was in the French GP at Paul Ricard on July25,1982. There was a spectacular accident on the 11th lap when Jochen Mass (March) and Mauro Baldi (Arrows) tangled at Signes. Mass's car hit the barriers and flew over them, landing upside-down in a spectator area. The car caught fire but Mass quickly scrambled out. Several spectators received injuries but incredibly no-one was killed.



#18 Buford

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 00:20

Here it is...

#19 Dave Ware

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 14:08

I started dragging Dad to road races, as a spectator, in the early seventies (F5000, Can Am, etc., at Mid Ohio, Mosport, the Glen). When we chose our viewing areas we were always aware of the direction a car might take if it went off course, and where we might drop and roll to get out of the way. We took responsibility for our safety.
You can get hurt or killed doing just about anything. You have to decide what is a worthwhile risk, what isn't, and then just carry on.

Dave

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#20 Russ Snyder

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 18:10

Buford - The 1973 Indy 500 has Salt Walther almost go into the grandstand crowd at the start of race. You were there and will probably remember that horrible incident that seemingly should have been worse results for the crowd. I believe about 14/15 or so were injured. A miracle considering the force Walther hit the fence. The fence at that time helped throw him back into traffic, so between 1960 and 1973 improvements in that fence must have been made? Also, if IRCC, owner Tony Hulman was very afraid that his racetrack would suffer the same fate as the 1955 Le Mans race (pieces of the mercedes benz scything into the crowd) therefore, he made improvements to the racetrack as a whole over the next few years. Weren't some of the stands moved back from the straightaway at that time?

#21 Phil Rainford

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 18:14

It's funny you should post this. The first time I went to a race I used to think what is this fence for, it's not going to stop anything coming through it. I think the way tracks are built are backward. The fans should be in the middle of the track not on the outside. Dale Earnhardt once said that as well.


His point was well made.

If you look at modern day WRC safety, fans are not allowed on the outside of corners

http://www.rallynorw...fety_rules.html

PAR


#22 Der Pate

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 18:45

Were there any victims at Talladega...or were the fences strong enough...???

#23 Buford

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 19:20

Buford - The 1973 Indy 500 has Salt Walther almost go into the grandstand crowd at the start of race. You were there and will probably remember that horrible incident that seemingly should have been worse results for the crowd. I believe about 14/15 or so were injured. A miracle considering the force Walther hit the fence. The fence at that time helped throw him back into traffic, so between 1960 and 1973 improvements in that fence must have been made? Also, if IRCC, owner Tony Hulman was very afraid that his racetrack would suffer the same fate as the 1955 Le Mans race (pieces of the mercedes benz scything into the crowd) therefore, he made improvements to the racetrack as a whole over the next few years. Weren't some of the stands moved back from the straightaway at that time?


Oh yes that happened right in front of me. We sat on the front row of the Paddock Penthouse in those days in the seats owned by Thorton Bardach who give the ring to the winner and who was a good friend of Tony Hulman. Yes that 1973 fence was considerably stronger than the one in 1957 and had steel cables for reinforcement. Walther's car threw raw fuel all over the crowd but it fortunately didn't ignite until the car landed on the track so the people who were drenched were burned by the fuel itself but not fire too. I think the main straight debris fence was strengthend after 1961 when Tony Bettenhausen rolled up in it,

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The fence on the main straight in 1973 that held in the Walther crash further down the track.
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And yes you can see how far back the crowd had been pushed back after the Bettenhausen crash. Formerly there was box seats in that grassy area.

Edited by Buford, 01 May 2009 - 19:23.


#24 Buford

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 19:21

[quote name='Der Pate' date='May 1 2009, 18:45' post='3620232']
Were there any victims at Talladega...or were the fences strong enough...???
[/quote

A 17 year old girl got a broken jaw and lost teeth and 7 others got bumps and bruises type injuries.

#25 RStock

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 20:29

A good picture , Buford , showing the seperation from the track . That should be the required minimum at Super Speedways . There are spots where it's closer . Still better than Talladega though .

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#26 Flat Black 84

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 21:39

Pretty sure some spectators got banged up from Ongais' smack at Indy in '81.

#27 canon1753

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 02:55

Massa threw a tire in the grandstand at Montreal in 04. He lost his brakes or something broke on the way to the hairpin. He plowed into the tire wall and bounced a tire into the grandstand. Suspension pieces that stayed with the tire and wheel scraped a guy. Tire bounced into stands and bounced on to the landing. That could have been bad, which is why they paved the run off there even further down, where Kubica had his incident.

I also was at the local 1/3rd mile paved oval track and got sprayed with oil or radiator water in the front row. Part of the benefits of the front row...

Later edit. I just wiped it off. No burns or anything.

Edited by canon1753, 02 May 2009 - 17:44.


#28 TrackDog

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 04:02

Massa threw a tire in the grandstand at Montreal in 04. He lost his brakes or something broke on the way to the hairpin. He plowed into the tire wall and bounced a tire into the grandstand. Suspension pieces that stayed with the tire and wheel scraped a guy. Tire bounced into stands and bounced on to the landing. That could have been bad, which is why they paved the run off there even further down, where Kubica had his incident.

I also was at the local 1/3rd mile paved oval track and got sprayed with oil or radiator water in the front row. Part of the benefits of the front row...



A friend of mine told me of an incident involving him and a friend of his as they were watching a race at a local dirt track in Ohio during the late '50's. There was an accident and a fire...one of the cars lost a wheel that was also burning. The wheel flew into the stands and my buddy and his pal caught it in their hands, saving an elderly woman from having said flaming wheel land directly in her lap. She was sitting right in front of them. He lost his taste for racing after that.

As for limiting spectator seating to the inside of the track; somebody touched on the problems associated with such a move...the biggest one is the vantage point that is only available from sitting on the outside of the turns. I always try to sit on the outside of the track at Indy, you can see so much more of the track. The sightlines are much longer, you can sit much higher...and that probably makes it safer, at least in most instances. And, if you take into consideration tracks like Daytona, Talladega and Lowe's(Charlotte) that have a tri-oval configuration, the sensation that the cars are coming directly at you would be lost...I've never been to Daytona or Talladega, but that dogleg front straight at Charlotte really made the whole day for me...

The catch fence at Talladega held up well, but it probably could have been a little higher...I'm not sure if there is a way to come up with a wire mesh fence that would be tightly woven enough to be inpeneterable and still allow the crowd to be able to see through it or not...it would almost have to be solid. And, didn't some of the debris from the Talladega wreck come from the fence itself?


Dan


#29 Ivan

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 04:13

Canon,
How badly did you get burned from that?

#30 Peter Leversedge

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 05:53

Buford The crash you mention about at the Knoxville Nationals was 1981. I was there and as I remember it happened at the start of Sat. night feature [ A Main ]. Two cars high in the air, made heavy contact and there was bits flying off the cars. I can't remember the drivers names but think they may both have been from Oklahoma??. Also I understand that was the last non wing Nationals. I had traveled from New Zealand to see the Nationals
Keep up the interesting posts as they are from some one who has "been there and done it"
<peterleversedge.blogspot.com>

#31 Buford

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 06:38

Thanks Peter. Isn't it amazing I don't get paid for all this quality information and entertainment? Instead I have to take my payment in Keir pelts and mocking posturing know-nothing blowhards in Cesspool Comments. No seriously though I would say what I want and how I want to even if there was 100% opposition, but still it is nice to hear once in awhile someone thinks I do make a contribution in knowledge or entertainment.

OK 1981 for the Knoxville crash. I knew it was around there somewhere. I was standing on my van just off turn 4 where I could see the track. There was no grandstand there then or debris fence so I had already made an emergency plan with the 2 girls up there with me if I grabbed them or yelled go, where we were jumping to off the side if something was coming at us. Anyway I had a full straight on view of it and it was a vicious crash. My vague recollection was Shane Carson was one of the drivers, and yes he is from Oklahoma.

Edited by Buford, 02 May 2009 - 06:42.


#32 Chezrome

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 08:05


Regarding the pictures starting the thread: I would not even dare to watch a tennismatch behind those fences...

(I once watched a match of Richard Krajicek behind a nylon curtain. He was serving right at me. After I while I moved to the side of the court)

#33 fines

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 09:48

And yes you can see how far back the crowd had been pushed back after the Bettenhausen crash. Formerly there was box seats in that grassy area.

I don't believe that's true - the stands on the exit of Turn 4 have always been seperated from the track by this grassy bit, I believe there was even a large tree there before WW2! Only the stands opposite of Gasoline Alley (i.e. much closer to Turn 1) are directly adjacent to the track.

As for the whole subject of spectator safety, things have come a long way, indeed! In my research of twenties and thirties dirt track racing in the US, I am getting used to the fact that it was common for tracks to have had no seperation at all from the spectator areas! Only fairly major Fairgrounds had any fences at all, mostly flimsy two-by-fours nailed to posts that could be pulled lose by your average granny. County Fairgrounds, and even more so tracks built on private grounds often had dense woods lining the tracks, and spectators clinging to the branches of the trees. It's a wonder really that scores of spectators weren't killed every other weekend...

Edited by fines, 02 May 2009 - 09:56.


#34 Paul Taylor

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 10:21

Modern catch fencing does its job well. Seeing Edwards fly into it at Talladega last weekend at 200mph was quite scary, but the catch fencing seemed to withstand it just enough. There's been too many incidents in IndyCars lately though involving catch fencing, but there's not much that can be done about it...Kenny Brack in 2003, Tony Renna the same year, Ryan Briscoe in 2005, Pablo Perez Companc in 2007.

I've seen footage of NASCAR and CART incidents from around 1979/1980 and was surprised to see circuits like Phoenix having armco barrier instead of concrete walls, which folded over in a heavy impact.

#35 ghinzani

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 10:57

Were there any victims at Talladega...or were the fences strong enough...???


Seems there were more victims than initially reported....

http://www.crash.net..._talladega.html


#36 B Squared

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 13:02

My Dad's first "500" was in 1957 and very close to the area in turn one that is shown in the photos that Buford posted at the beginning of the thread. It's very interesting, for me, to see those. Thanks.

I remember walking through the infield at Indianapolis with my family the first time we went in the mid-'60's. My Dad gave us all a talk on how no matter where you were at, at any racetrack, there was potential danger in even the most remote places. You must never take your safety for granted. There is no guarantee that something untoward will not happen.

I put myself in the line of fire too many times to count when I worked corners for the CART series for 13) years. I was hit by the rear wheel and assembly of Randy Lanier's Arciero-March during the 1986 Michigan 500 on lap 99. I'm lucky to be able to recount the story. I put myself there, I knew the risks. I told friends and family that if I was ever hit by anything substantial that I would likely not survive. I dodged a huge bullet that day. I went back to working corners in 1988 after a year in Tech. I know that this is a spectator concern at Talledega, but every individual at a racetrack should have a sense of the physical forces at work and be aware of what can happen when it all goes wrong.

Brian

#37 Flat Black 84

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 13:42

Of course the crowd proximity standards in F1 were astonishingly lax even well after the Le Mans tragedy and the Tripps horror. All the way through the 60s (and into the 70s?) fans and photographers were allowed to stand, literally, strackside. High danger, but man what excitement! Funny how the two often go hand-in-hand.

#38 canon1753

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 17:46

Canon,
How badly did you get burned from that?



No burns or anything. One of those no harm no foul things. Sorry about making it sound more dramatic than it was....

Edited by canon1753, 02 May 2009 - 17:48.


#39 COUGAR508

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 18:02

Of course the crowd proximity standards in F1 were astonishingly lax even well after the Le Mans tragedy and the Tripps horror. All the way through the 60s (and into the 70s?) fans and photographers were allowed to stand, literally, strackside. High danger, but man what excitement! Funny how the two often go hand-in-hand.


Yes, I was recently watching some footage from the 1973 British GP, and the spectators,photographers and officials were almost brushed by the cars as they turned into Copse. The people just casually stepped out of the way...

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#40 Phil Rainford

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 19:26

Total fan safety is impossible. What's more, if one stresses safety evermore there is a law of diminishing returns that results in only marginal safety improvement and dramatic loss of entertainment value. Modern racing, in many incarnations, has arguably passed through this threshold.




Once a car gains momentum such as this Porsche two years ago, it is incredible the height and distance it can travel

It does not bear thinking about the consequences of this accident if any spectators had been on the service road at the time of this incident

PAR


#41 Buford

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 19:53

I don't believe that's true - the stands on the exit of Turn 4 have always been seperated from the track by this grassy bit, I believe there was even a large tree there before WW2! Only the stands opposite of Gasoline Alley (i.e. much closer to Turn 1) are directly adjacent to the track.


OK I stand corrected. They did remove the box seats in the middle of the straight in front of the starting line down to turn 1` but maybe they didn't have them in the area in the photo.


#42 mpatter4207

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 03:42

Who knows. I try to talk racing, I get attacked by know nothing mopes, and then when I fight back, apparently too effectively, the hand wringers come out. I never have attacked any individual
who hasn't attacked me first though I have launched unprovoked attacks on broad groups, like well ummm... Know nothing mopes. Apparently sometimes the shoe fits and they wear it.

Wow a sprint car all the way in the stands? One year about 1980 cars flipped into the fence in front of the stands at the start of the Knoxville Nationals. It held but a shock went into the crowd and hit a woman in the head and I don't think she ever came out of a coma.



Yes Buford, I remember that very clearly. I do not remember exact year but I was around 3 or 4 yrs old. I was only two rows directly behind the couple that was hit by the Monroe shock. My Grandfather jumped on me to cover me from anything. I remember that the woman took the brunt of the hit to her head and her husband was hit in shoulder and it was the longest delays in racing at Knoxville, the rest of the race was just not the same. On a good note the lady did eventually come out of the coma quite some time after accident but I am uncertain of how long after. That is one of those very impressionable memories that I will never forget and I could go on and on about it but the point is even though the track's hold a responsibility to make the fans safe they have been doing a great job doing so, even for that accident. Heck, the car stayed on the track. I've seen a guy cartwheel over a 1/2 dozen times down the front stretch and a guy from out side of track walking on the sidewalk brought back his front wing which landed only a few feet beside him. These things are going to happen and we as fans know or should know the possibilities of accidents when we attend these races.

#43 mpatter4207

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 03:43

Who knows. I try to talk racing, I get attacked by know nothing mopes, and then when I fight back, apparently too effectively, the hand wringers come out. I never have attacked any individual
who hasn't attacked me first though I have launched unprovoked attacks on broad groups, like well ummm... Know nothing mopes. Apparently sometimes the shoe fits and they wear it.

Wow a sprint car all the way in the stands? One year about 1980 cars flipped into the fence in front of the stands at the start of the Knoxville Nationals. It held but a shock went into the crowd and hit a woman in the head and I don't think she ever came out of a coma.



Yes Buford, I remember that very clearly. I do not remember exact year but I was around 3 or 4 yrs old. I was only two rows directly behind the couple that was hit by the Monroe shock. My Grandfather jumped on me to cover me from anything. I remember that the woman took the brunt of the hit to her head and her husband was hit in shoulder and it was the longest delays in racing at Knoxville, the rest of the race was just not the same. On a good note the lady did eventually come out of the coma quite some time after accident but I am uncertain of how long after. That is one of those very impressionable memories that I will never forget and I could go on and on about it but the point is even though the track's hold a responsibility to make the fans safe they have been doing a great job doing so, even for that accident. Heck, the car stayed on the track. I've seen a guy cartwheel over a 1/2 dozen times down the front stretch and a guy from out side of track walking on the sidewalk brought back his front wing which landed only a few feet beside him. These things are going to happen and we as fans know or should know the possibilities of accidents when we attend these races.

#44 Buford

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 04:07

Thanks for the info mpatter4207. That is wonderful news that she finally came out of the coma. I never knew what happened. Hope she recovered. Amazing you remember being so young.

#45 mpatter4207

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 04:27

Thanks for the info mpatter4207. That is wonderful news that she finally came out of the coma. I never knew what happened. Hope she recovered. Amazing you remember being so young.



Many great memories from Knoxville. The specifics on that accident such as coming out of coma, was talked about years later with my Grandfather. I just listened to Donnie Schatz win at Knoxville tonight. :) I love the internet...I moved down to NW Arkansas right on border of Oklahoma and there is a local track that runs Late Modifieds and twice a year they bring about 20 or so winged 360 sprints and last year I recognized Danny Smith only. The Chilli Bowl has been a great show the last couple of years but I'm getting excited to for '10 Nationals. Might have to make a couple week vacation out of that one.

#46 raceannouncer2003

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 04:55

My son and I were at Michigan International Speedway in 1997 when Alex Zanardi won. A year later Adrian Fernandez crashed, and three spectators were killed and six others injured by a wheel and other crash debris that flew into the stands. Those spectators were one grandstand over from where my son and I had been:



Vince H.

#47 Russ Snyder

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 14:53

Michael - According to my late Father, dirt track oval racing in America during the 1930's and 1940's was very dangerous for spectators. He told me how he and my Grandparents would be covered in dirt/mud at places like Langhorne Pa, where they stood behind those 2 by 4's that you allude to as being "fence protection" from the cars. He was amazed to recall that they were never injured in all the times and tracks that they frequented, and all the accidents/spin outs they witnessed. He told me that they could literally reach out and touch the cars, thats how close they stood to the action.

Buford - even though you and I disagree about the re-birth of Oval racing in recent times, you are a treasure trove of info in regards to the best times in Indy history. I always enjoy the personal recollections you bring forth about those glorious Indy 500's from yesteryear. I have no idea how many deaths would have occured if Walthers car breached the fence in 1973, but one would assume it would have been on the level of Le Mans 1955, amd one would think that Mr Hulman would have had trouble getting a 1974 race, and future races, organized.


#48 scags

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 15:09

I think the fence in the firs pictures was there to keep drunks from falling on the track, not to keep cars out of the stands.

#49 rdrcr

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 15:16


I have read much of what has been written here and over at RC. THere is an inherent risk to the sport. Everyone participating, fans in the stands included, knows very well what can and sometimes does happen. So, using that simplistic statement, efforts to mitigate the risks are warranted whenever possible so long as they don't further reduce the feel or the color of the sport.

The plate races have long been the scourge of NASCAR drivers - I'll reserve my opinion of how they're perceived by management, media and the fans for the moment. I have always held the opinion that he best course of action is to remove the plates and let them run. While speeds of 215+ mph may be seen and while that would definitely define the sharp end of the field, the catastrophic results during a crash greatly heighten the chances for fatalities - to drivers, fans and anyone else within proximity of that shrapnel. Perhaps additional aero devices could be installed to enhance stability - though when they get turned, they take off anyway it seems.

One way to mitigate debris flying into the stands, is to have tall, replaceable, lexan panels between the track and the crowd. However, these panels would be very expensive and many replacements would be required to keep the viewing aspects as best as possible.

Slowing down the cars with smaller engines isn't in the fabric of my mindset (and I suspect, NASCAR managements as well).

Back to the simplistic view - racing is dangerous. There are and will be risks involved. If the whole thing was like watching fish swimming in a bowl, the adrenaline factor would be reduced to nothing and with that, much of the excitement, revenue streams and fan base (I'll assume).





#50 rdrcr

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 15:33

BTW, as a side anecdote to this subject...

I was acquainted with the late, great and legendary LSR driver, Don Vesco from Murrieta, CA. I was in his shop in '96 right after he lost his eye at a Sprint car race at Perris Speedway (I think that's where he said it was). Just another Saturday night out with the guys watching some locals racin'. He told me, "I've been on my head at 300+ mph without so much as a scratch - go figure. After decades of racing, I lost my eye to a stone, kicked up by a sprinter"... no bitterness, no regret, just a matter of fact comment with a touch of amazement in his voice. He didn't sue, he didn't do anything but, get a patch and then a glass eyeball - continuing to tinker with his bikes and cars and racing - setting more records in the process, (over 450 mph IIRC), until his passing in 2002.