Tragedy in Racing Strikes Again

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Tragedy in Racing Strikes Again

Post by RealRacer4 on Mon Aug 18, 2014 2:00 pm

I don't know how many people here have heard about the news by now, but having grown up racing and watching races there, this hits very close to home for me.

http://www.nj.com/monmouth/index.ssf/2014/08/wall_stadium_midget_car_race_crash_kills_1.html

The driver of a three-quarter midget car was killed in a crash today at Wall Stadium Speedway, state police said.

Amanda Gambacorto, 21, of the Belford section of Middletown, was pronounced dead at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune at 1:20 p.m., less than an hour after the crash, State Police Capt. Stephen Jones said.

Gambacorto was participating in a driving clinic involving the small race cars and was going around an asphalt track when she lost control of the car and hit a wall, Jones said.

Gambacorto was the only person in the car, and there were no other injuries, Jones said.

The driver was following another vehicle at the time of the crash, he added.

Gambacorto's LinkedIn page says she is a student at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and another website says she was studying environmental humanities and philosophy.

Brick-based Green Flag Driving Experience, a recreational racing company, operates the program at Wall Stadium for novices as well as for advanced race car drivers.

Its website describes the three-quarter midget cars as small-scale race cars “with a very high power-to-weight ratio” that can reach speeds of more than 90 mph.

It says drivers, who must wear race suits and helmets, are given an introduction and an orientation that covers the basics of safety skills and car handling.

A representative from Green Flag did not return a call and email for comment.

A sub-unit of the state police’s fatal accident unit that investigates speedways was on the scene.

Jones said an initial review showed the safety equipment in use was in compliance with New Jersey regulations.

The Wall Stadium Speedway opened in 1950, and is located off Route 34.

All scheduled events at the track were canceled tonight.

At one point, I was very worried that the person who died was someone I actually knew, but it wasn't the case. It's still sad over the fact this person is the same age as me and all that she was doing was just turning laps hours before Wall Stadium was supposed to have their weekly show.

I've spoken and read some of the comments from friends I've raced with or worked there at the track. One of them said that the Three Quarter Midgets that the driving school have are old chassis but are de-tuned so the people not familiar with the TQ Midgets will have an easier time to control the power of the cars. The driver had died as a result of head trauma, which made me think right away that she wasn't wearing a neck restraint. It turns out to be the case as she was only wearing a neck collar, which does nothing to prevent neck injuries, and the walls the track use are guardrails.

All of the deaths that have occurred in the past week have been pretty hard on me, but hearing the news over this made it hard for me to grasp that this happened at a track that I grew up racing on 1/2 an hour from my home. Of course, my thoughts go out to the driver, her family, and everyone that was there last Saturday when the accident occurred.

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Re: Tragedy in Racing Strikes Again

Post by day500champ1 on Mon Aug 18, 2014 2:14 pm

Sad to hear, dude. Surprises me that the track didn't mandate that these drivers wear neck restraints. Maybe they felt it was a liability issue (not that they don't have one now). Seems like this month just hasn't been a good month.
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Re: Tragedy in Racing Strikes Again

Post by RealRacer4 on Mon Aug 18, 2014 2:42 pm

The way it's always worked at the race tracks in New Jersey is instead of drivers and teams following track rules like they do in many other states, the state government gets involved with racing and mandates these laws that they have to follow. The state gets so involved with racing that you'd need a whole another race car just to be able to race in New Jersey with the rules and laws that the state puts out.

I've also looked at the rulebook for the track regarding wearing head-and-neck restraints, and this is what it says:
HEAD & NECK RESTRAINT DEVICES/SYSTEMS
-At all times during an event (practice, qualifying, and competition) drivers must
connect their helmet to a SFI approved head and neck restraint device/system.
-The head and neck restraint device/system when connected must conform to the
manufacturer’s mounting instructions, and it must be configured, maintained,
and used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
-It is the responsibility of the driver, not WSS, to insure that his/her device/system is
SFI approved, correctly installed, maintained, and properly used

I think being that the driving school is a separate program from the track, I don't think they mandate anything about having to wear a HANS Device. I think this was one of the main reasons why this happened.

Having been in this sport long enough to see some of these tragedies like this to occur, the only thing I have to say is this: I don't care what division or what track you're running at or if it's some practice session or race. ALWAYS wear some sort of neck restraint that will prevent these kind of injuries from occurring.

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