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« ICONIC Committe Members Answer Questions, Chassis Decision Coming June 30. | Main | Simona Talks About The Fire »

June 07, 2010


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So, like you, I did my share of yelling at the TV, the very same thing you did. Difference was, I was in a busy bar, which definitely drew stares when my yelling was louder that the din in the bar.

After reading this, you are right, of course. Take a deep breath and analyze. Also, let's give respect where due. These folks have an amazing record. With that said, I had a fair amount of egg in my face when discussing with my NASCAR friends that I constantly badger about their series poor safety worker performance. Let's hope they review and correct. While I understand the main hose failing, the worker with the fire extinguisher looked ill-prepared. As a corner worker with the SCCA, we'd never expect this kind of fumbling when going to an incident like this. Better performance is expected and needed.

One final note...thanks for providing the identity of the amazingly dedicated safety worker Mike Yates. Even in my immense displeasure for what I was watching, I saw how he amazingly stayed with it. Kudos Mr. Yates. An amazing performance!

Johnny Montona

Totally agree with you on not going overboard, however, I will say, having not seen the safety team in a true emergency situation for awhile, they looked nothing like the superstars of old.

Andy Bernstein

Might want to fix this line. Not one of your better jokes:

"Simona is OK and showed immense clam..."


I hope they look beyond the extinguisher problem and into an emergency release system. No doubt the current restraint system has prevented many serious injuries and perhaps saved lives, but there has to be a panic button. Tie it in so that it can activate only when the car is stopped. Hit the button and you're free to get the bloody hell out of there. I'm sure you'd want to apply other safe-guards to the system but these are not impossible or indecently expensive problems to solve. Watching a trapped human being on fire is a perfectly legitimate reason to hyperventilate. It doesn't have to happen again.


A question I have and was going to blog about but of course have not gotten around to is this. Do we know what exactly was burning? I have been conditioned to expect two things in an accident. Oil fires happen but they go out quickly and that the fuel cell is made to be impenetrable and not "burstable" to prevent the fireballs we saw in the 70's. But in this case the fire did not go out quickly and continued to accelerate. I guess what I am getting at - was the fuel cell compromised? Is this a problem we should expect in the future, are the cars and some of their more important components beginning to show too much age? That what was engineered to be impenetrable when initially manufactured has now degraded to a substandard level? Anybody with the expertise here should pipe in.


It seemed to take a an uncomfortable amount of time to just reel out the hose on the first truck. Wonder what the trade-offs of hose vs. hand carried extinguishers are -- I's bet the hose would handle fully suppressing a big fire better, but it might be nice to have someone able to beat the flames back faster with a hand unit to get the driver out.

H. B. Donnelly

JP, I have to think this was an oil fire, and perhaps the oil pump kept operating or an oil line burst and leaked into the fire. That most certainly was not a fuel fire, as those are a sort of transparent orange with little to no smoke (see Vitor Meira's pit fire from last year's 500).

I'm with the 'dog on this one; we count our lucky stars that no one was seriously hurt and we learn from this, just as with Mike Conway's accident and many others over the years.


I think we were seconds away from horror and that it was unexcusable. I understand the personal heroics and the historical consistancy of the safety crews but it doesn't make up for the frozen crew and that broken hose and what could have been. It's way past the norm, needs a review and an immediate fix. Sorry, but it pissed me off and I'm still a little hyperventilated about that deal.


It’s disappointing to see what a shill you’ve become for the front office, P-dog. I haven’t read such namy-pamby drivel masquerading as calm reflection in a long time. The nearly universal consensus across all motorsports news outlets, forums and blogs during the last 24 hours is that the performance of the safety team was a disgrace. No need to go into all of the details, they are clear on the video (in spite of your assertion that we can’t go by “appearances”). The yanking of a potentially injured driver out of a burning car is heroic only to a point; in the main it was an act of desperation due to the failure to control the situation. Your proper role as a blogger is to contribute to the rightful outrage to help pressure for change. You may get a pat on the head by the IndyCar suits by writing such pablum as this, but you lose huge cred among knowledgeable enthusiasts.

Andy Bernstein

Redd, very well stated,

B-Man, I'll disagree that Dog is a shill, even as I disagree with some of his views.

But this line from your letter:

"The yanking of a potentially injured driver out of a burning car is heroic only to a point; in the main it was an act of desperation due to the failure to control the situation."

That is a piece of work, and one I would be proud to say I had written.


They give me a cookie, B-man. Not a pat on the head. Just wanted to be clear. And for my race notes that said, essentially, the Indy 500 has become a boring street oval, they gave me a whole cake!


"Simona is OK and showed immense calm and poise in the aftermath."

Simona Rocks!

The Ricky Bobby replay caused me to hyperventilate yet again.

Thanks for the humor pressdog.


The reason this incident is disturbing is that every aspect was a flub. The first man on the scene waves his hands but does nothing effective, the hoses failed to charge, the extinguisher man balked then ran to the wrong side of the car, the driver was extracted improperly slowing the operation... I haven't seen this kind of cockup in US professional formula car racing since the early 80's. Total fail.

IMO this is a management issue. Time to fire Brainfart, bring back Tony Cotman and get Lon Bromley to take charge of the safety crew.

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