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Old 1 Jul 2011, 21:47 (Ref:2909607)   #1
chernaudi
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Food for thought: Speed TV article about recent accidents

Speed's Marshall Pruett has written an article about recent accidents in sportscar racing that raise some questions about safety and if things could've been done different to mitigate the effects of the accidents.

The Allan McNish and Mike Rockenfeller LM accidents, the Grand Am Camero accident from Road America, and the BMW that took out a guardrail at the N24 are examined and the main point that Marshall brings up is the state of the barriers and their technology and paved vs gravel run off zones, and the pro vs am driver debate.

My take is that track owners/sanctioning bodies should do more as far as catchfencing technology to protect media and fans. However, paved runoff areas are a basically the same doubled edged sword that gravel traps are. In the dry, they may work better, but in the wet, the wet asphalt will do little to slow a spinning car.

And I also feel that sanctioning bodies should be a little more strict about certifying drivers in the pro-am classes--when one ignores blue flags/lights 10 times, he's either intentionally blocking (which is bad enough), or is ignorant of the situlation around him. And at the speeds these cars can achieve, we can't have that, as mayhem very well can--and sometimes does--ensue. Also, depending on experience level, rookie drivers at LM--be it pro or am--probably shouldn't drive at LM unless they know the circuit and have night racing experience.

Feel free to discuss the points in the article and if anything could've made a difference, or if we should take the fact that racing can be hazardous to anyone one involved and accidents happen. Just as one corner worked told Pruett in his comment on the Speed article "I appreciate your concern for us, but this is racing and we know and accept the risks."

As a side note, Marcel from Planet Le Mans and DSC warned the ACO officials about photogs getting too close for comfort and the ACO advised them to move back.
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Old 1 Jul 2011, 22:45 (Ref:2909628)   #2
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As a side note, Marcel from Planet Le Mans and DSC warned the ACO officials about photogs getting too close for comfort and the ACO advised them to move back.
No - we advised the ACO that members of the public were in an area at Imola that they shouldn't have been (its reserved for photographers)
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Old 1 Jul 2011, 23:02 (Ref:2909630)   #3
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Yawn.

Might be an idea to actually post a link to the article:
http://auto-racing.speedtv.com/artic...ces-4-crashes/
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Old 1 Jul 2011, 23:23 (Ref:2909633)   #4
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In summary, let's put the safer barrier around the entire Nordschleife and let's put extra thick catch fencing in front of all photographers.

Lets tarmac over every gravel trap and let's put gravel traps over all current tarmac run offs. In addition, no gentleman drivers should be allowed to compete at Le Mans. They are a new phenomenon and are not integral to the sport at all.

Tell you what, let's just not race at night.
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Old 1 Jul 2011, 23:29 (Ref:2909636)   #5
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If you're kicking up gravel in a gravel trap, that's friction; it means energy is being dissipated, and you can see it. Unless I'm seeing massive white clouds of tire smok, I can't necessarily tell that any energy is really being dissiplated over paved run-off. And I'm convinced that gravel is better for stopping out-of-control vehicles not matter was the weather is. Also, if you're going to run bikes, the FIM makes gravel traps mandatory anyway.

Besides, the Camaro effectively lost its brakes, so I'm quite certain it would have gone over, perhaps at even greater speed, if the run-off at Elkhart Lake had been paved.

Unless there were people there between the two layers of barriers at the Nurburgring, I'm not sure what the huge problem is. the BMW would still have had to jump another wall, with catch fencing, to really leave the circuit.

Le Mans is a temporary circuit, which means there are only a select few times ANY driver can get experience at the place. Therefore, I'm not sure how you police that reasonably. I mean, EVERY driver that ever runs the 24-hour had to be a rookie at some point in time! It doesn't help that there is NO OTHER CIRCUIT of the same magnitude that a field of Le Mans cars currently runs at. In principle, it would help if they still ran the combined circuit at Monza, or the TT circuit at Dundrod, or something else of that scale.

Le Mans ought to look at placing the photographers at decent locations, but ones that are decidedly LESS likely to be major impact zones.

And personally, to finish this off, if they paved the run-offs at a track like Road America or Le Mans, a part of me would consider the tracks wholey "ruined", and no safety argument would ever be able to console that portion of my being, period! I'm already somewhat upset with certain modifications at Watkins Glen.
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Old 1 Jul 2011, 23:36 (Ref:2909638)   #6
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And it must be noted that in the US for sure that track workers most likely, and photographers/media definently have to sign waivers that unless gross neglegence can be proven, the track owner, race promoter, and sanctioning body can't be held liable for personal injury or damage to property as a result of such accidents.

I also believe in Europe and elsewhere there are similar rules regarding that in place (Graham or Marcel can provide input on how their rules and regs differ from that of those of North America).

And in America for sure, fans, once they buy a ticket and enter the gate "sign" an implied waiver over similar deals--IE, a case of read the fine print. Granted, after those fans got injured in the Carl Edwards accident at Talledega in 2009, NASCAR and ISC probably helped pay for those guys' medical bills and such, but legally, they weren't obliged to do so.

I think the big issue that Marshall was trying to bring up was the fact that several cars have either nearly cleared barriers in accidents (McNish), have cleared barriers (Grand Am Road America), or have either gone thorough (BMW N24) or nearly pierced barriers (Rockenfeller), as well as the on going pro vs am driver debate. And as I said, gravel can slow a car if it's wheels dig in. But when it's wet, the cars tend to skim over it. And with non-pourous asphalt, the same problems in the wet exist as well. And, depending on cirumstances, neither will not always slow an out of control car.

For track workers and media members, is or should it be a deal that the sanctioning bodies should try to protect them, or is it a deal that they sign the waivers, accept the risk, and hope for the best?

And, are wheel tethers manditory for LMP and GT cars (I haven't found any info on that subject)? They seem to be a pretty widespread item in racing, but even on F1 cars, Indy Cars and NASCAR stock cars, they aren't 100% infalliable.

Last edited by chernaudi; 1 Jul 2011 at 23:43.
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Old 2 Jul 2011, 01:46 (Ref:2909671)   #7
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And in the extreme, you want those tethers to have a fail point, because that' a lot of energy being carried while those assemblies are swinging around. At some point, you want that energy dissipated from the main cell where the driver is located.

Certainly on suspension components, there have been segments on the V8 Supercars coverage where the TV guys talk a bit about various components that are intentionally designed to fail before other pieces do.
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Old 2 Jul 2011, 02:41 (Ref:2909687)   #8
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Don't mess with Le Mans. Period. Want to stay alive then go somewhere else. Agree just be cause you can get a license to race there should not be the most important qualification for running the 24. Look at Kaufman and the mayhem he caused. Anyone know if all the emphisis on safety recently has finally shut down your favorite track. I personally only have the big track at Indy as my favorite so I don't fully know the impact of all the safety implimentations. The trend is slower and slower if you ask me.
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Old 2 Jul 2011, 03:15 (Ref:2909697)   #9
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I think it's a matter of common knowledge that any kind of car and moto racing can be obviously dangerous...

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Old 2 Jul 2011, 10:18 (Ref:2913822)   #10
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I think it's a matter of common knowledge that any kind of car and moto racing can be obviously dangerous...

Exactly my point ..... we have folk saying that the Coupe is the way to go cuz of safety , but if they hadnt been able to extract the driver , then folk would be saying the open topper is the way to go .

It is my experiance that nothing is foolproof ..... accidents happen and the laws of gravity can never be assumed , with respect to accidents .

Which is why I agree with a mix , and not a knee jerk reaction of some folk in here .

Possibily , leave P1 closed and P2 open , which would also assist the layman in iding the class too .
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Old 2 Jul 2011, 14:51 (Ref:2913911)   #11
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One thing that was very evident to me when watching N24 after Le Mans is that the more dangerous and punishing track resulted in greatly higher driving standards. Even the thought of going a small off, brushing a wall and having a puncture to then struggle to the pits for 20km resulted in far less silliness then we've seen at Le Mans. The accidents that happened at N24 were really freak accidents due to misunderstandings or tiny mistakes. At LM some drivers were really pushing their luck too much.
Some accidents happen exactly because racing isn't seen to be as dangerous as before.
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Old 2 Jul 2011, 17:12 (Ref:2913967)   #12
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The most potentially catastrophic accident was the Grand Am one because the car vaulted the catch fencing. I dont know if it was but if that was a spectator area we are just lucky no one goes to watch Grand Am
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Old 2 Jul 2011, 17:46 (Ref:2913977)   #13
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I don't think it is a spectator area. And even if it was theoretically open, it's below track level, so it's practically useless for viewing anyway.

And yes, Panda, it's a documented phenomenon that increasing safety margins has a record of corresponding increase in less safe behavior by human beings.

Last edited by Purist; 2 Jul 2011 at 17:53.
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Old 2 Jul 2011, 18:17 (Ref:2913993)   #14
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The most potentially catastrophic accident was the Grand Am one because the car vaulted the catch fencing. I dont know if it was but if that was a spectator area we are just lucky no one goes to watch Grand Am
That one almost went out onto a public road or public perimeter road.
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Old 2 Jul 2011, 18:32 (Ref:2913996)   #15
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I also believe in Europe and elsewhere there are similar rules regarding that in place (Graham or Marcel can provide input on how their rules and regs differ from that of those of North America).
There are 'Motorsport is dangerous!' waivers on every ticket sold in the UK plus numerous signs saying the same around the circuits. There's been a couple of nasty crashes fairly recently, with cars ending up in spectator areas (both at Brands Hatch). Thankfully, nobody was hurt. But we all know the risks, as do drivers. It's a damn site safer than it was 30 years ago!
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