Toledo, Flat Rock Speedway Officials Learn Safety Procedures, Train for 2011 Racing Season

Toledo, Flat Rock Speedway Officials Learn Safety Procedures, Train for 2011 Racing Season

Fifteen officials that comprise the safety team and work on the Emergency Response Vehicle for weekly racing at Toledo and Flat Rock visited the speedway on a cold Saturday morning, in what ARCA president Ron Drager described as a combination between a refresher course, for safety personnel veterans, and an instructional session, for new members of the team.

"As with most track emergency response personnel, these are people that are giving up summer weekends to provide a vital resource to the racers and our tracks," said Drager. "They're conscientious about what they do, so much so that they gave up a weekend day - in less-than-ideal weather conditions - to make sure they're on their game."

Safety officials were given instructions on the use of firefighting and extrication equipment, all the while using the Emergency Response Vehicle provided by Stanford-Allen Chevrolet Cadillac of Monroe, Mich. and outfitted with supplies from numerous ARCA Safety Initiative participants. Drivers of the tracks' flatbed and wrecker trucks were on hand, as were other assorted accident response operators.

The day's instruction was separated into two segments: a classroom-style course in the Toledo Speedway Bar & Grille, and hands-on training to practice rollover methods and other techniques with the use of AMKUS Rescue tools. Hammer's Towing of Toledo provided the car used in training.

Tom Rogers, a safety official at Toledo Speedway and Flat Rock Speedway for over five years, helped to lead the training session. He said that every member of the on-track safety team is either a registered emergency medical technician, a certified firefighter, or both. For Rogers, working in a safety capacity is important and rewarding.

"I really enjoy doing it," he said. "You know, for me, it's not even really a job. It's enjoyment. To be a part of this is really cool."

Rogers reflected on the importance of training before the season.

"It's nice to have training every year like we do," he said. "It refreshes everybody. It helps out to have training, especially when things happen on the track. You're able to act, not react. Everything's fresh."

Rogers typically drives the safety truck, and says his job is about more than simply getting to the scene of an on-track incident quickly.

"We drive the truck to where we need it and make sure that we're prepared in every situation," he said. "Not every situation we respond to on the track is the same. They're all different.

"Our training helps us make sure everyone on the truck knows what they're doing any given day. And even though we have this training, we talk every single Friday at Toledo and every Saturday at Flat Rock. We know that one person has to go to the driver, one checks under the front of the car, and someone else is looking under the back of the car to see if we have fluids leaking or something like that."

Rogers remembers a day when he was on the other side of the speedway fence, yet still focused on safety.

"I was actually one of those people in the stands. I can remember going to Toledo and Flat Rock as a kid, mostly Flat Rock, and I just remember sitting there and thinking that it would be really cool to work. I actually started out volunteering on the wreckers. I owe a big thanks to John Wallace, who used to do this for a number of years. He asked me if I wanted to come on board and it blossomed into where I'm at now."

The ARCA Safety Initiative is the culmination of forward thinking, combined efforts, and the desire to achieve a higher level of responsibility within the safety sector of the ARCA sanctioning body. In all, the Safety Initiative is designed to steer the safety efforts of the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, as well as all action at Toledo Speedway and Flat Rock Speedway, ARCA's signature track properties.

Five years after its creation, the focus of the ARCA Safety Initiative remains exploring, examining, and reacting to the elements that comprise the safety environment in the sport, as well as ensuring the wellbeing of those who participate, observe, and manage. 

The past half-decade has seen significant improvements regarding driver safety in the sport. The combined and independent effortstoledotraining2.jpg of the leading motorsports sanctioning bodies worldwide have brought tremendous advances to the safety of automobile racing.

Racing begins Saturday at Toledo Speedway, with the JEGS/CRA All-Star Late Model Tour Presented by GM Performance Parts. The VR-12/Easter Bunny 100 is scheduled as the tour's first race of 11 in its inaugural season.

Founded by John Marcum in 1953 in Toledo, Ohio, the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) is recognized among the leading sanctioning bodies in the country. Closing in on completing its sixth decade after hundreds of thousands of miles of racing, ARCA administers over 100 race events each season in two professional touring series and local weekly events.