Racetrack Safety Crewmember Struck by Racecar, Michigan
Michigan Case Report: 16MI109
Report Date: 08/05/2019
In fall 2016, a male racetrack safety crewmember in his 40s died when he was struck by a racecar while on the track directing traffic under Caution conditions. During the race, a racecar had dropped oil or some other fluid on the track and the Caution was issued (via radio communication to all track personnel, racecar drivers and Safety Crew); also Caution lights (yellow flashing lights) at the entrance of Turns 1 and 3 were lit. When a caution was issued, all racecars were required to line up single file and travel approximately 20-25 mph around the track until the caution is over. The Safety Crew, wearing the required firefighter turnout gear and radio communication, left their station behind the concrete wall near the exit of Turn 2 and drove to the area of the racetrack where the oil/fluid was located to lay down oil-dry and move the disabled racecar off the track. While laying down the oil-dry, the Safety Crew heard through radio communication that the decedent had been struck. The decedent, who was wearing the required firefighter turnout gear and radio communication, left the station near Turn 2 but did not communicate his intentions to the other safety crewmembers. He stood on the outer/elevated portion of the track to direct the racecars to form the single file line and drive along the inner lanes of the track. A witness indicated that as the racecars came out of Turn 2, one of the cars came out of the single file. The driver attempted to avoid striking the decedent and the decedent attempted to get out of the way. The decedent was struck and the car propelled him 20-25 feet to the inner lanes of the track. The race was stopped and all track crewmembers responded to the area. Emergency responders on site treated the decedent, who was airlifted to a nearby airport and then transported to the hospital where he was declared dead in the emergency room.
- Decedent on track without protection of safety vehicle
- Race car driver did not follow Caution rules
- Decedent did not communicate with other safety team members
- No written safety procedures/protocols for track workers
- Race track owners should utilize National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 610: Guide for Emergency and Safety Operations at Motorsports Venues to guide development of standard operating procedures for their Safety Crews.
- Any paid or volunteer personnel having an assignment or defined responsibility at a motorsports facility or serving a designated function at a motorsports venue should receive training commensurate with their responsibility.
- The racetrack should have written racing rules for drivers to follow and require drivers to sign these rules to indicate they will comply with the rules.
- Ensure all individuals who sign a waiver form indicate the duties to which they are assigned.