Keep race cars on tracks and off public streets
Two recent fundraising events that involved professional racing vehicles performing on public roads have resulted in multiple injuries and deaths to spectators.
In June, six people were killed when a professionally-built drag racing car lost control while performing a burnout during a charity event in Selmer, Tennessee. Read the story on tennessean.com. – link
And just last week, a monster truck in Dekalb, Illinois lost control after crushing cars during a show on a public street and seriously injured at least nine people in the crowd. Read the AP story here.
Why does anyone associated with the motor sports industry allow these kinds of shows to take place on public streets? It seems so obvious a question to ask, but don’t professional organizations in all kinds of sports try to promote safety as their number one goal? Even if these events were not officiated, professional racing competitions, don’t drivers of these incredibly powerful machines know that it doesn’t make sense to run so close to a crowd of spectators with little to no protection between the crowd and the machine? If a monster truck or drag car is to roll down a public street, perhaps it should be left in neutral and be towed by a tractor or pickup truck, just like the crews who tow a funny car back down the return road at a drag strip.
Speaking of drag strips, it is of course stunningly obvious that dragsters run on specially-prepared racing surfaces as opposed to the irregular, crowned, paved streets that run through every town around the globe. Even when monster trucks run outdoors at county fairs and other arenas, there are cement barriers in place and the crowd sits fairly far away from the track.
Spectators at public events such as parades are not always familiar with what monster trucks and drag cars are capable of and people are only there to have a good time. Spectators entering a motor sports facility typically sign a release form when paying admission, but have you ever signed a release form before watching a parade?
Even if the dragster and monster truck mentioned above were the only racing machines to ever perform on public roads, it just seems like the wrong way to draw attention to an industry that is already trying to persuade young drivers to race at drag strips and professional tracks instead of illegally racing on public streets.
Even if a driver is a professional (and I was unable to find out if the monster truck driver was a pro), that really isn’t going to resonate with kids watching the event. Even if there were no fatalities or injuries, running a professionally-built, competition vehicle on public streets sends the wrong message to young drivers. You can’t show kids a funny car doing a burnout on a regular road and expect them not to try the same thing in their own cars.
Pro drivers and community event organizers: Drivers of pro-built race cars are physically well-protected. Please protect those who show up to watch these events and the reputation of the motor sports industry will be protected at the same time.
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