Speedway Safety & Efficiency

09/09/2016….Pam Franz

During the course of last season our sport saw the tragic circumstance of an infield official struck and killed by a race car whilst performing his duties at a speedway in South Australia. This occurred on top of the death of a driver who was out of his car and on track under yellows at a speedway in America. As a result of this Work Safe South Australia has introduced huge penalties for any safety breaches at tracks in their state.
In this day and age a speedway is classed as a work place and as such, officials that are part of a team running the race meeting are required to provide a safe environment for all. We are also responsible for the smooth running of the racing and with speedway now becoming more of a business than a sport, the paying public expect to attend and be entertained with non-stop racing and a minimum of hold ups.
Remember there are a lot of other activities competing for our patrons money. These points will be of assistance to all.
– Have an absolute minimum of personnel on the infield during a race meeting.
– Only personnel with a duty are to be on the infield during a race meeting.
– Consider having your corner stewards officiate from the outside of the safety fence instead of being on the infield.
– All personnel to wear a high visibility shirt/jacket or vest, preferably all wearing the same colour.
– Appoint a person to oversee all infield duties – could be titled as Infield Coordinator or Director and is answerable to the Chief Steward. A competent person leading the infield team is of huge assistance to the Chief Steward
The Infield Coordinator:-
*Liaises with the Chief Steward regarding the crash crew and ambulance personnel if their services are required on the track or infield during the race meeting.
*Is to be familiar with the tracks insurance policy requirements regarding infield activities and protocols.
* Know the location of each infield person and ensure they are not needlessly exposed to danger and are behind barriers or at a deemed safe distance from the race track edge whilst under green flag racing conditions.
*Restrict personnel from being on the race track with cars under yellow flag conditions unless absolutely necessary.
* In the case of an accident he is to make sure no one leaves their post to attend until the Chief Steward has brought the race under yellow or red lights and given the all clear to attend the accident.
* He is to ensure an accident scene is not congested by push utes, tow trucks and other officials whilst crash crew or ambulance personnel are carrying out their duties.
* Ensure vehicle movement on the infield is at low speed – it is not a competition to see who can get to the on track accident first.
* Inform the Chief Steward of any issues or complaints that the infield personnel may raise.
* Ensure that all protests, questions or requests from drivers are relayed to the Chief Steward.
* All other duties as directed by the Chief Steward.
* He is to lead the infield team in a way that he and everyone else acts in a professional manner.
Remember the paying public is watching.
Whilst most spectators and driver’s accept delays due to weather conditions or racing accidents, they no longer wish to be at a speedway until late at night due to problems that they see as unnecessary. Time can be saved in many ways to ensure a 10p.m. -11p.m. finish.
– Have the Pit Marshall dummy grid the cars in their starting positions and educate drivers to enter the track and stay in that order.
– Convey to competitors by one way communicator as much information as possible whilst under yellow/red flag conditions. The one way communicator has been the biggest improvement to our sport in the last 30 years, use it to its full potential.
– If after the first round of heats track conditions are good, don’t have 2 roll up laps prior to the race starts, cut it to 1 lap.
– By keeping the cars rolling around it also assists with track packing without adding further time delays.
– Inform the drivers of the restart order as early as possible during a stoppage. Don’t have the cars stopping on the line to check grid line ups prior to a race start. Once we had to do so but now with one way communication, drivers can be informed if the line-up needs to be adjusted.
– If under yellows a driver is wandering around not sure where to go, instruct him to increase or decrease speed, inform him who he starts behind and inform the driver starting behind the wandering driver to leave a gap for him to enter the line-up, then coach him into the line-up.
With most races usually consisting of 12 cars or less this is easier to do than you think.
– Tracks with separate track entry points can have cars leaving by one gate and entering by the other at the same time.
– Advise them if you are behind schedule and need their help by lining up quickly and correctly.
– Always thank them for their help and co-operation and the drivers will usually continue to do as they are asked.
In all of the above you will be surprised how willing the drivers are to comply.
Like everyone else involved in speedway, I do not want to see someone injured or worse whilst participating in a sport they enjoy.
Some officials and tracks have already implemented some of the above and have improved both the safety and efficiency of their race meetings. We are sure some of you will have further ideas that can be tried.
Remember there is no “I” in team and by working together we reduce the risk to everyone and still provide a fair and unbiased environment for the driver’s and quality entertainment for the public.
Allan Jennings
Qld Chief State Steward

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