From Cristina Cordova
On Sunday, February 19 a racecar involved in a multi-car accident became airborne and landed off the racing surface, injuring three participants during the 46th annual DIRTcar Nationals, a World of Outlaws-sanctioned dirt track racing event hosted by Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla.
The three individuals were standing in what is commonly referred to as the “pit area” or “pits.” The pit area at a World of Outlaws event is separate from the main grandstand and is where the teams participating in the event stage their race cars and support equipment. The individuals struck by the race car were treated immediately by emergency personnel on hand at the event and transported to Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Fla.
While racing side by side entering Turn 1 at the Speedway several sprint cars touched sparking a chain reaction accident in the middle of the 24-car field. One car was hit by another and subsequently made heavy contact with a steel guardrail betweens Turn 1 and Turn 2. The car’s momentum carried it forward flipping it into the air and towards the catch fence. The car made contact with the upper portion of the catch fence in Turn 2, tumbling over the fence. As it was coming to a stop it struck the individuals referenced above. The driver of the race car was not injured.
The guard rail used at Volusia Speedway Park is the same type of guardrail used on most major interstates across America and can be found at motorsports venues of all types and classifications. The catch fence installed at Volusia Speedway Park relies on a combination of steel posts, wire mesh and heavy duty steel retention cables as is common in motorsports applications. The World of Outlaws will run 148 races at 83 different race tracks in 32 states during the 2017 season. Each facility is unique, but must meet the safety requirements established by its insurance provider in order to host a World of Outlaws event.
“The safety and well being of every individual attending a World of Outlaws, whether as a participant in the pit area, a fan in the grandstand, a concession worker, race official or emergency responder is a priority.” said World of Outlaws President Tom Deery. “The World of Outlaws compete at the best dirt tracks in the country, we are constantly evaluating and implementing new procedures to improve safety at our events and have already begun that process in response to this weekend’s incident. We ask the racing community to keep the individuals who have not yet been released from the hospital in their prayers and plan to respect their privacy as requested by the families.”