Is your local drag strip safe?

Illustration for article titled Is your local drag strip safe?

A busy drag racing season's been highlighted by more than just quick times, with a series of high-profile incidents revealing tracks with empty ambulances, locked firetrucks, and untrained volunteers. BangShift wants to know: is your local drag strip safe or just pretending to be? — Ed.


While there is still a fair amount of action left in the 2011 racing season, we're a lot closer to the end than we are to the beginning. It has been interesting this year to see a number of high profile incidents involving the preparedness or lack thereof of drag strips across the country.

YellowBullet has been at the forefront of publicizing these incidents, and for good reason. Each one of them could have resulted in the death of the people involved if circumstances had been different. It has been both neat and horrifying to see tracks exposed for either being totally unprepared or even worse, pretending to be prepared and they actually aren't.


Last winter, we went to Lakeland Dragway in Florida. The place is an outlaw track with a giant sign at the gate that reads, "NO INSURANCE - RACE AT YOUR OWN RISK" . There was no sign of a safety crew, no sign of an ambulance, and no one pretending that there was a safety crew there. While we certainly don't think it is the brightest idea to race your junk at a place with no active safety crew, we at least respect the facility for letting people know what they're getting in to when pulling through the gate. There wasn't a single person that came in to race that missed the sign.

The flipside of that scenario are the tracks that pose to be fully equipped and operational in the safety department when in fact they are not. Back in early September, video surfaced on YellowBullet showing the "track ambulance" at No Limit Raceway in Morocco, Indiana (Formerly US41 Raceway). Watch the video below and prepare to be shocked.

Another incident caught on camera hit the internet during the second week of September. This time, it was not an empty ambulance, it was a locked, unmanned fire truck at the top end of the track. Put yourself in the shoes of this racer who rounds the corner at the top of the track with his car on fire, only to see a fire truck sitting there.

While it may have been a great sight at first, you can see him get out of the car, and run to the truck, which is locked and serving only as a paperweight or set prop. reportedly this video was taken at Motor Mile Dragway in Virginia. Press play below to watch this nightmare unfold.


Earlier in the year, there was the infamous Vinny Dirose "Black Ice" '57 Chevy crash and fire at Capitol Raceway that seemed to show a safety crew eager to help but under-trained, under-equipped, and under-performing in a very high pressure situation. You can watch that video by pressing play below...

It seems very fair to say that the majority of drag strips in this country are prepared and staffed with trained safety people. It also seems fair to say that the majority of drag racers take for granted the fact that someone will be able to help them if/when the shit hits the fan.

As illustrated by the videos above, this is not always the case. As a racer we think it is your responsibility to make sure you know what the safety preparedness level of the track you are racing at is. Is there an ambulance ready and able to help, or is there a telephone to call the fire station 15 miles away for help.


Bottom line: know everything you can about the track you are racing on, especially their safety crew and preparedness!

(Photo credit: Erazmilic!)

This story originally appeared on BangShift on September 23, 2011, and was republished with permission.


Email us with the subject line "Syndication" if you would like to see your own story syndicated here on Jalopnik.

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Andy Sheehan, StreetsideStig

Stick with twisties. They're safer.