Keep race cars on tracks and off public streets

By Mike Mello

08.13.2007

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.

COPYRIGHT Autosavant.net – All Rights Reserved

Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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3 Comments

  1. It’s stupid to do burnouts right next to people because you’re just asking for trouble. Sooner or later the car will get a little twitchy and go sideways. It will happen.

  2. Hear, hear.

    These incidents show that there will always be event “promoters” whose first priority is the quick buck, and the second priority is… umm… what was the second priority again?

    Safety! Yes! Safety. Phew!

  3. It is absolutely misleading that this author chose to identify the vehicles in question as race cars. A monster truck is certainly not a race car and dragster is a more accurate description of the other vehicle. Furthermore, the term “race car” also leads one to believe they were involved in a bonified race activity. By way of example, if someone had a personal pet elephant and it stepped on someone and this resulted in a death, it would not be fair to identify it to the public as a “zoo animal” in an report of the event even though an elephant could be indentified that way. The animal was obviously not in a zoo or acting as the public perceives an animal to act in a zoo. This title to this article is misleading in the same way as it would lead the reader into believing these vehicles were engaged in a race activity on the street. They were instead involved in questionable demonstrations or stunts, not racing. I would expect the vague identification and sensationalism of these incidents by an author in the often ignorant print media at large, but certainly not by an automotive writer.

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