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Thread: Terrifying accident at the GP of Long Beach, race control / flagging failure

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    http://www.trackhq.com/Banners/yellowsitesponsor.gif Blackbird's Avatar
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    Default Terrifying accident at the GP of Long Beach, race control / flagging failure

    Just came back from watching a full day of action at the GP of Long Beach.
    Lots of good racing to watch on a weekend like that but one incident clouds it all and left me rather shaken.
    Before the Toyota pro/celebrity race started, Erik and I were joking that the celeb race is always a bit of a crash-fest, so Erik was asking me where I thought someone will most likely stack the car into a tire wall or something, and I tell him that I think T8 is where the action will be, so we head over to watch the race from the balcony that is directly above T8.
    What followed my guess work is something that I hope to never see again in my life.

    3 laps into the race, my guess proved to be accurate as one of the celeb understeered himself into the tire wall at the exit of the turn.
    For those who are not familiar with the course, it is a blind apex right hander that is barely 3 lanes wide and lined up with Concrete barriers.
    As soon as the first car was in the tires and partially spun it was almost inevitable that one of the next car will collect him and it did - full on T bone into the side, very hard hit, the first car now had the front wheel / upright torn off the chassis and the car was blocking the left lane out of the three, and the second car was stopped maybe 25 feet away in the very middle of the course, blocking the middle lane.

    What happened next was a complete failure of race control and flagging staff to analyze the situation and react accordingly.
    This is a blind turn with a very narrow course which is now 2/3rds blocked, in a race full of red misted amateurs, and they dropped local Yellow.
    This was a situation to put down the Red flag or at the very least a safety car and FCY!
    They had plenty of time to assess the situation, the FR-S probably take a good 1.5+ minutes to get the entire field back into the same corner, and they failed miserably.
    This is a televised race, they have cameras in every corner and angle possible around this course... WTF were they thinking?!

    People were watching this unfolding mortified, when about 45-60 second later a tow truck arrived to rescue the car that was parked in the very middle of the course and parked right in front of it, like 4-5 feet ahead of it.
    The crew was now getting busy on trying to connect the big tow bar to the car, one of them standing right between the front of the car and the pointy edge of the tow truck's bed, and then the entire field of red misted amateurs who did not slow down to even 95% pace rolled into the turn.
    The guy that stood between the car and the truck realized that he was about to die and jumped sideways and his feet did not even hit the ground yet when one unlucky bastard that could not even see that there was a car and tow truck parked in the middle of the track stacked into the back of the car, HARD.
    The car that he smashed into rammed the tow truck so hard that it jumped forward with the rear wheels in the air.
    Had the towing crew member stayed in his spot 1 more second we would watched the man die a sure horrible death!
    The guy was unharmed due to nothing but his pure instinct, this was a death sentence waiting to be carried out.
    People were now screaming at the very top of their lungs at the flag station to drop a Red flag before someone dies and the entire situation seemed like complete chaos.
    I have not witnessed a more terrifying situation in my life unfolding right in front of me in a racing environment, my hands and knees were still shaking half hour later..

    I'm glad that at the end of the day the guy was able to go home to his family, but someone HAS to answer for that unbelievable failure.
    Whether this was in the hands of the flaggers or the call from race control, someone should go home and not be doing that job ever again.
    There is no excuse for that failure.

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    Not Certified Slow SDSUsnowboards's Avatar
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    That's wild.

    I was under the impression that the yellow flag means slow down and no passing; and, red is reserved for total blockage and medical emergency.

    If the drivers were going so fast through a blind corner that they could not observe an obstruction and avoid it, then they are not obeying the yellow. I'd put the fault squarely on the driver(s) for this incident if my understanding is correct.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SDSUsnowboards View Post

    If the drivers were going so fast through a blind corner that they could not observe an obstruction and avoid it, then they are not obeying the yellow. I'd put the fault squarely on the driver(s) for this incident if my understanding is correct.
    That is the difference between being right and being smart.
    Race control was trying to be right, not smart.

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    Senior Member Eric Richter's Avatar
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    I believe that CalClub flaggers and safety work that race. Glad to see everyone is ok.

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    Agree. Leaving that as a local yellow with rookie drivers around a blind turn with a course worker in the track out/impact zone does not make any sense. Come to think of it even in the Pro Race that would have been sketchy.
    Totally different world but I have standing orders with Aaron to red flag supermiata in a situation like that. In SPM a disabled car that is either on the racing surface or at it's edge is red flag. Overly cautious? you bet. SPM is no frills racing without any significant prizes or ladder to something bigger.
    Zero reason to take risks for the sake of preserving a 6 lap Supersprint.
    Last edited by emilio700; 04-17-2016 at 10:05 AM.
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    I thought the same, even in a pro race it would have been a very sketchy call, but in this race it was just a terrible call.

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    Senior Member robburgoon's Avatar
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    Yay cal club. A+.

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    Smack-Talkin' Member J. Tyler's Avatar
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    When are racing organizations going to stop sending f'ing tow trucks onto hot tracks?

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    Senior Member KJSCV's Avatar
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    We were at the exit of turn 7, they (probably the same tow/safety crew) dodged bullets on the first couple laps when Lawson got into the wall on the exit... same thing waving yellow and a bunch of close calls as they pushed the car backwards down the track to spot where they could get it behind the wall.

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    It was the same crew, we watched them rush over to T8 the second they were done with the car in T7... At least the track is very wide at the exit of T7 and the visibility is better.

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    Senior Member bellwilliam's Avatar
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    if it were me, I am not getting out of a damn tow truck, unless:

    1. a big fire truck between traffic and me.
    2. SCCA is paying me big money !! not volunteering for this crap....

    This reminds me that more F1 corner workers have died than F1 drivers
    Last edited by bellwilliam; 04-17-2016 at 10:56 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bellwilliam View Post
    if it were me, I am not getting out of a damn tow truck, unless:

    1. a big fire truck between traffic and me.
    2. SCCA is paying me big money !! not volunteering for this crap....

    This reminds me that more F1 corner workers have died than F1 drivers
    Yeah, I was thinking where was the big truck between the stopped cars and moving cars? Very glad no one was seriously injured or killed.
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    All your opinions are great, but there is a lot of stuff you are very unaware of. I was the Corner Captain at Turn 8. I did everything in my power to protect the exposed Emergency Workers. We are at the mercy of the people Operating in Race Control to throw Red Flags, etc. All you SCCA and Cal Club Haters can go **** yourselves. We risk our lives to keep you racers safe, then you come out and accuse us of doing something wrong... pisses me off.... Rob, you are a bigger ass than I gave you credit for. This race was operated by TOYOTA... all we did was work the race. I was responsible for the Corner, I stood in the middle of the track to try and get drivers to slow. You really need to get away from the CAL CLUB hating and blaming. Not one of you has even asked about the health of the tow guy...

    Mark Smith

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    Smack-Talkin' Member J. Tyler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark View Post
    All your opinions are great, but there is a lot of stuff you are very unaware of. I was the Corner Captain at Turn 8. I did everything in my power to protect the exposed Emergency Workers. We are at the mercy of the people Operating in Race Control to throw Red Flags, etc. All you SCCA and Cal Club Haters can go **** yourselves. We risk our lives to keep you racers safe, then you come out and accuse us of doing something wrong... pisses me off.... Rob, you are a bigger ass than I gave you credit for. This race was operated by TOYOTA... all we did was work the race. I was responsible for the Corner, I stood in the middle of the track to try and get drivers to slow. You really need to get away from the CAL CLUB hating and blaming. Not one of you has even asked about the health of the tow guy...

    Mark Smith
    I think we are all apalled at the situation you guys were put in.

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    Senior Member KJSCV's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark View Post
    All your opinions are great, but there is a lot of stuff you are very unaware of. I was the Corner Captain at Turn 8. I did everything in my power to protect the exposed Emergency Workers. We are at the mercy of the people Operating in Race Control to throw Red Flags, etc. All you SCCA and Cal Club Haters can go **** yourselves. We risk our lives to keep you racers safe, then you come out and accuse us of doing something wrong... pisses me off.... Rob, you are a bigger ass than I gave you credit for. This race was operated by TOYOTA... all we did was work the race. I was responsible for the Corner, I stood in the middle of the track to try and get drivers to slow. You really need to get away from the CAL CLUB hating and blaming. Not one of you has even asked about the health of the tow guy...

    Mark Smith
    I haven't read one post in this thread putting blame or hating on the corner workers for that particular incident..

    That being said there's always room for discussion on how to increase safety for everyone involved, dissecting the incident to see what could be improved to make sure folks are not put in that type of danger again

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    http://www.trackhq.com/Banners/yellowsitesponsor.gif Blackbird's Avatar
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    Yeah, not entirely sure at where this is aimed at (other than Rob), if anything, this thread should show you that everyone DOES care about the flagging and rescue crew, way more than race control did.

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    That was a scary event to see live.

    If you told me that once a year for 40 years you were going to put on a race at a street circuit where more than half the field has little to no racing experience and no one is going to die, I would call BS. Even bringing back past winners means you had a field (less the pros) of drivers that have run two to four races ever, and maybe had eight days in a classroom, that is not enough experience for you to count on those drivers to make the right decision.
    People make mistakes, inexperienced (or unskilled) people in high risk situations have the potential to make life altering mistakes - fortunately no one was seriously injured this time. I have seen highly experienced drivers make dumb moves, and we have seen workers injured at real pro races.

    Hopefully everyone comes away from this with a little more respect for the flags, and the safety of those guys that you might need to help you some day.
    Last edited by RacerJason99; 04-18-2016 at 06:06 PM.
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    Senior Member robburgoon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark View Post
    Not one of you has even asked about the health of the tow guy...
    Didn't they say he's fine in the video?

    Maybe it would be best if cal club didn't work the LBGP if the workers can't manage to keep vulnerable tow personnel from getting killed?
    Last edited by robburgoon; 04-18-2016 at 02:30 PM.

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    Senior Member robburgoon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KJSCV View Post
    I haven't read one post in this thread putting blame or hating on the corner workers for that particular incident..
    I'm happy to throw everyone (workers included) under the bus for that incident.

    That includes tow guys who attempted that tow.
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