JUST ANOTHER THOUGHT
Got a lot of comments in my Inbox over last week’s Blog in which I referenced knowing just what causes certain on-track accidents. This was in regards to the loss of Lucas McKinney, who lost his life at a North Carolina track. We’ll probably never find out what really caused this to happen although the “keyboard crew chiefs” have been noting their own reasons.
Regardless of it all, it really is a shame there is no “central group;” as was noted to me; who can get involved in a major crash investigation. Once again noted to me, it maybe because of the fear of a lawsuit in this litigious society we live in today. Should it be found a car is in fact illegal by the rules, could this cause a lawsuit to be filed against everyone including the sanctioning body for allowing that car to run. And when you couple in the fact that today there is no real tech inspection at national or divisional races; including at most weekly events; this could open up a real can of worms.
But as I noted last week, we’re all a very small family and knowing why a certain accident occurs may have a tendency to save one of us.
It’s been quite a while ago, but it was noted Division 2 racer, the late Woodro Josey who found himself upside down in a lake at the end of Gainesville Raceway. First of all, Gainesville Raceway has one of the longest shutdown areas in the country, not to mention who ever thought there was a lake at the end, and maybe it was more of a swamp but… Fortunately, Woodro didn’t get eaten by any of the many alligators which frequent that area around the track. The cause was the master cylinder pushrod becoming unhooked out the master cylinder resulting in no brakes whatsoever.
I had a similar situation back in 1980 with my first dragster, when at Englishtown, the pushrod also disconnected from the master cylinder probably shortly after leaving the starting line. With no brakes and a parachute that hadn’t slowed the car down much, my thoughts ran to “I’ll end up in the sand trap at the end of the track; what a mess it’s going to make; blah; blah; blah;” all the while traveling at 150-160 mph at that time.
All of which brings up another issue. Having run at Englishtown since I began racing, I always “assumed;” and we all know what that means – to make an “ass out of you and me” – that there was a sand trap at the end there. As I approached that area – surprise, surprise – no sand, just a grass field. I ended up through a cyclone fence coming to rest on Pension Road which bordered the track with a front end tore off the dragster along with other damage. The issue it brings up is to always know where things are at a race track, especially at a facility you’ve never run at before.
Nonetheless, back to the Woodro incident. Shortly thereafter, the NHRA released a directive to have everyone check their master cylinder pushrods in that they were adequately connected to the master cylinder. Kudos to the association to do just that, which is what we need more of. It was done then, why can’t it happen again.
As for the McKinney incident, I still don’t have any hard knowledge as to why or how it happened and probably never will. It could have been just “his time.” No one knows the time or place except for the Big Man upstairs. That might sound harsh in McKinney’s case but it is the truth. No one person on Earth can say when that time is, we can only pray to do work which is pleasing to God, and doing it to the best of our abilities.