TOLEDO, Ohio (March 21, 2016) – Safety never stops, not in this business anyway; that’s why ARCA’s Director of Race Operations & Administration Joe Wells is driving down the road today, headed for Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville from the home office in Temperance, Michigan.
“I’m headed down to observe some drivers who intend to race in our next event at Nashville,” Wells said. “It’s all part of the approval process to be eligible to compete in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.”
Rookie Christian Eckes is one of the drivers under observation at Nashville. Wells has served in a full-time capacity at ARCA for 25-plus years.
While no driver was under observation this past weekend, the annual Toledo/Flat Rock Speedways safety seminar was held at Toledo Speedway for track officials participating in the 2016 race season at either or both tracks.
“Each year, we gather up the officials who will be working at each track and go over safety procedures,” added Wells. “For some, it’s a refresher course; for others, it’s an introduction to our safety procedures and processes.”
In addition to putting pencil to paper to get the official application process rolling, the officials on hand participated in a classroom style seminar before they head outside and utilize the “tools of the trade.”
Toledo-Flat Rock Safety Director Tom Rogers takes the officials to task for some on-the-job training.
“This is something we do every year…get our officials familiar with the safety tools,” said Rogers. “Many are already familiar with what we use and how we do things, but we also had three new people attend, so we spent some time getting them up to speed and familiarized with the tools.”
Rogers is well trained to teach his trade. He’s a certified/licensed EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) with CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) and Firefighting credentials/certificates. He’s also certified in first aid, ice rescue, water rescue and Hazmat (hazardous materials) operations.
“One of the things we do is go over the procedure for using the Amkus cutter-spreader combination tool.” The tool is often referred to as the “Jaws of Life”.
“The combination tool can be a life saver. We use it to spread metal and use it to cut as well. A&D Auto Parts provided the car that we used to cut up. It gives our officials time on the tool, which is critical to getting ahead of a potential rescue operation.
“When the tool grabs, it can go either way on you, so you really have to make sure you’re free and clear to maneuver the tool as necessary.”
Rogers also teaches the officials about various on-track activities.
“We talked about a lot of track activities, how to position the safety vehicle when you approach a scene, and so on. Positioning the safety vehicle is critical to the overall operation, from the way you position the truck to which way you point the front wheels. The proper positioning of the (safety) truck indicates to the drivers which way we want them to go, whether it’s high or down low.
“In order to do our jobs correctly, we’ve got to concentrate on keeping ourselves safe first, so we can assist at the scene the way we need to. It’s not just race out there and hurry up and stop. There are a lot of moving parts to keeping everyone safe.
“We try and throw a lot of different situations at the officials because no two situations on the track are alike. Safety is a continual learning process for everyone involved. There is so much that’s racing through your head, and every scene is different. You have to really be on your game and be thinking way ahead…do your best to get out in front of it.
“We’ve a got a really good bunch of guys working with us this year at both tracks. I feel really good about it.”
Toledo and Flat Rock will be using the same safety truck this year that was utilized in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards last year. The ARCA Racing Series is currently outfitting a brand new safety vehicle-chase truck for 2016 – a 2016 Dodge Ram 1500, powered by a 5.7 liter Hemi engine.
Don Radebaugh, firstname.lastname@example.org