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Thread: Thrill Ride Turns Deadly For Instructor At Racing Attraction

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    Track Whore Pure EvoIX's Avatar
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    Default Thrill Ride Turns Deadly For Instructor At Racing Attraction

    Thrill ride turns deadly for instructor at racing attraction
    By MIKE SCHNEIDER

    ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) For fans of speed, the Exotic Driving Experience at Walt Disney World offers a heart-pounding thrill.

    People who drive minivans during the week can settle in behind the wheel of a Ferrari, a Porsche or another one of the fastest, most finely engineered cars in the world and hurtle around a track at up to 120 mph with a professional driving instructor offering advice from the passenger seat. The cost: $200 to $440.

    The customers are just pretending to be race car drivers, but the danger is real.

    TaVon Watson chose a Lamborghini on Sunday for his 24th-birthday thrill ride. With instructor Gary Terry by his side, they raced around the one-mile course until Watson lost control of the sports car and slammed into a guardrail, killing 36-year-old Terry.

    "It's not the kid's fault. It's a freak thing that happened," said Timothy Horvath, a Terry family friend. As for Terry, "if he thought he was in any danger, he wouldn't have done it."

    It was at least the third death in the past year at speedways in the U.S. that allow customers to get behind the wheel of a fast car. Last September, an Indiana man was killed in a crash at the Rusty Wallace Driving Experience at Kentucky Speedway, and a New Jersey woman died at the Wall Stadium Speedway in New Jersey.

    View galleryThis aerial image taken from a video provided by WFTV …
    This aerial image taken from a video provided by WFTV shows the scene after a deadly crash at the Ex
    Watson had paid under $400 for the chance to drive the Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera, which sells for around $240,000.

    He failed to maneuver the high-powered vehicle through the course while driving around 100 mph, and the passenger side struck the guardrail, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Terry died at the scene. Watson was treated at a hospital and released.

    Both Watson and Terry were wearing helmets and lap and shoulder belts, said Sgt. Kim Montes, a spokeswoman for the Florida Highway Patrol.

    Watson doesn't face any traffic charges since the accident took place on a closed track, and there are no indications he was doing anything criminal, authorities said. Investigators from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration are looking into what happened.

    Terry was a former race car driver and was also senior operations manager at the tourist attraction. Working there was his "dream job," Horvath said.

    View galleryThis aerial image taken from a video provided by WFTV …
    This aerial image taken from a video provided by WFTV shows the scene after a deadly crash at the Ex
    Watson, a hotel bellhop, didn't respond to emails or an inquiry via Facebook. He didn't have a phone listing. On his LinkedIn profile, he described himself as self-motivated, professionally mannered, humble and "a very quick learner." He told authorities he had been at the Exotic Driving Experience before.

    A spokeswoman for Petty Holdings, which operates the track, wouldn't comment on whether the Lamborghini had any special safety devices like a driver's ed car, and Montes said investigators had yet to examine the Lamborghini. But online reviews of the attraction said instructors had override control of the sports cars.

    Customers must sign a waiver in case of an accident, watch a five-minute safety video and then spend 45 minutes with the instructor going over the track, the car and safety tips.

    The instructor drives first, showing the customer how to maneuver the vehicle, and then the customer can take the wheel. Afterward, customers can buy photos and a video of their driving.

    Petty Holdings has other Exotic Driving Experience attractions at speedways in Atlanta; Daytona Beach, Florida; New Jersey; Kansas; New Hampshire; and Texas.

    The Exotic Driving Experience and its sister track at Disney World, the Richard Petty Driving Experience, were slated to close this summer for reasons Disney said were unrelated to the wreck. Disney said it wants to put a new transportation project in the spot.

    Driving classes at both attractions will be put on hold for the rest of the week, said Lauren Swoboda, a spokeswoman for Petty Holdings.

    Terry grew up in a racing family in Michigan. His brother, Adam, was also a race car driver. Terry was married with a toddler-age daughter, said Horvath, who grew up with the Terry family and runs a graphics business in Michigan that specializes in motor sports.

    "Gary was one of the best," Horvath said. "He was a natural-born talent behind the wheel."


    Something about giving the keys of a rwd supercar with 500+hp to a track noob scares me. Someone with zero experience or maybe 1 day experience and going out doing a buck 20 while turning sounds soooo sketchy. 5min safety video, and an hour with instructor showing you ropes. They really need to dumb down the power a bit. OR make the course more safe. Of course things can always happen and can't completely eliminate all risks. It should be a tiered program. The more experienced drivers allowed to drive the faster and higher hp cars. I am sure all the traction control stuff was fully on.
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    AROSC Comp. Director Slaysman's Avatar
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    Sad top hear. It would be good to know why kind of overrides the instructor had in the car, if any.
    Terry Watson
    AROSC Competition Director

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    Senior Member bellwilliam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slaysman View Post
    Sad top hear. It would be good to know why kind of overrides the instructor had in the car, if any.
    one (Exotic Racing) in Fontana and Vegas - instructor has a brake pedal.
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    A pretty blunt assessment of the incident posted on jalopnik:

    Please Stop Killing My Friends

    Mark
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    Track Whore Pure EvoIX's Avatar
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    [This is what makes me so angry: They were driving the track in the opposite direction (clockwise) that it was designed to be driven
    This right here is the smoking gun. The student is not at fault.
    ATTACH=CONFIG]8693[/ATTACH]

    They were going the wrong direction when it occurred. Accident happened at the worst possible place, at the end of the unprotected guardrail passenger side first.
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    Senior Member bellwilliam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markn View Post
    A pretty blunt assessment of the incident posted on jalopnik:

    Please Stop Killing My Friends

    Mark
    I like a quote from one of the poster:

    "Deaths are a tragedy. Preventable deaths are frustrating. Easily preventable deaths are enraging."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pure EvoIX View Post
    They were going the wrong direction when it occurred. Accident happened at the worst possible place, at the end of the unprotected guardrail passenger side first.

    That's a terrible shame. Organizers never should have let them run counter-course.

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    I coached from the passenger seat once........... The what the hell am I doing light quickly turned on.
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    Track Whore Pure EvoIX's Avatar
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    Yeah definitely put blame on management for not mitigating potential risks (tire walls/barrels with sand/water/etc), the staff for not making sure protocol was being followed to the T, and instructor for not following protocol. Instructor either allowed some high speed maneuver in wrong direction and didn't stop or correct the student driver. Student doesn't know any better. Lots of negligence to go around.

    There should be an experienced Safety Official that goes around to make sure courses around the country are safe to be driven on. Make sure tracks are up to safety standards. Or else it is negligence. Management was not doing their due diligence to make sure everyone is as safe as reasonably possible. They have a duty to their staff, customers, guests.
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    Track Whore Pure EvoIX's Avatar
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    I was teaching a guy at SOW CW. we were going stupid slow (top speed maybe 70 if that), and i was sooo scared during that outlap that i made him come in to the pits because he was simply not listening to what i was saying. I try to use hand gestures and keeps words to minimum. I even briefed him on the basic stuff before even heading out for a good 5min. I had to make sure he does exactly as I say and to listen to instructions. It was his very first time. Car was an automatic FIT.

    He was like 300lbs and had very little leverage on the steering wheel even with all the adjustments i made him do. I was like turn turn TURN....lol. omg we are gonna go off if he doesnt fricken turn. Same with braking. We were probably going not even half the speed my evo would do in a turn. I even told him don't even bother accelerating on the straight bits, just coast and let's get your lines right.

    warm up lap T2, he was hand over hand shuffling steering wheel. I was like no no no. hold 9 and 3 and keep hands on steering wheel at all times. He had trouble with that. And when he brake he would maybe brake 40% of threshold. I was like we are gonna fly off if he doesn't brake harder. Our braking pts were sooooooooo early too. I kept telling to brake harder, harder, harder. Only on the 3rd or 4th instruction would be get something like 80-90% of braking capacity. lol. Yeah it was pretty scary going through the chicane and braking. lol. 65-70mph if that.

    I swear we probably didnt go faster than a 2min 10s lap. lol.

    Ok, so now yo u have that in your head. Imagine this dude behind a 550hp Lamborghini. i know right...sounds stupid silly to even think of putting him behind that type of car.
    Last edited by Pure EvoIX; 04-14-2015 at 10:56 AM.
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    Senior Member bellwilliam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pure EvoIX View Post
    There should be an experienced Safety Official that goes around to make sure courses around the country are safe to be driven on. Make sure tracks are up to safety standards. Or else it is negligence. Management was not doing their due diligence to make sure everyone is as safe as reasonably possible. They have a duty to their staff, customers, guests.
    you talking about WSIR ?
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    Quote Originally Posted by bellwilliam View Post
    you talking about WSIR ?
    yeah, wsir and sow. I mean at least grade it, fill it in all the ditches and ruts.
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    2:03.026 @ Thill CCW Bypass - 12/20/14
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    1:23.128 @ SOW CW - 7/27/14
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    1:46.0xx @ ACS Roval - 11/23/14
    1:11.299 @ ACS Infield - 5/18/14

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    Track Whore Pure EvoIX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bellwilliam View Post
    you talking about WSIR ?
    yeah, wsir and sow. I mean at least grade it, fill in all the ditches and ruts.
    Zhong (Evo IX) | Angry Panda Racing

    1:53.396 @ BRP CW13 - 11/14/13
    1:47.2xx @ Laguna Seca - 11/28/10
    2:03.026 @ Thill CCW Bypass - 12/20/14
    2:05.100 @ CVR CCW - 1/16/11
    1:58.151 @ CVR CW - 5/5/13
    1:25.56x @ WSIR - 10/13/13
    1:23.128 @ SOW CW - 7/27/14
    1:22.2xx @ SOW CCW - 7/26/14
    1:46.0xx @ ACS Roval - 11/23/14
    1:11.299 @ ACS Infield - 5/18/14

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    Senior Member TYP85's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pure EvoIX View Post
    yeah, wsir and sow. I mean at least grade it, fill in all the ditches and ruts.
    Has anybody ever tried to put together a petition to get Willow springs to make some improvements??

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    Senior Member rhouck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TYP85 View Post
    Has anybody ever tried to put together a petition to get Willow springs to make some improvements??
    They won't bother until enough people stop showing up that they are forced to make improvements. And that's never going to happen because there is an endless stream of people that are unaware/don't care about the issues.
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    Senior Member TYP85's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhouck View Post
    They won't bother until enough people stop showing up that they are forced to make improvements. And that's never going to happen because there is an endless stream of people that are unaware/don't care about the issues.
    I was one of them util I started to read this forum!

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    Senior Member bellwilliam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TYP85 View Post
    Has anybody ever tried to put together a petition to get Willow springs to make some improvements??
    funny you should ask:

    Petition for Improved Track Safety - The Initiative to Fix Turn 9
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