Two N.Y. dirt tracks mandate all drivers must stay in cars after on-track incidents


A common question that has been asked by many in the aftermath of Saturday’s Tony Stewart/Kevin Ward Jr. incident is if it could have been prevented.

After Ward spun out at Canadaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park on Saturday night following a wheel-to-wheel battle with Stewart, an angry Ward exited his car and walked down the racing surface to show his displeasure with the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion.

Sadly, Stewart’s car ended up striking Ward, who was transported to a local hospital and pronounced dead on arrival. The 20-year-old will be laid to rest on Thursday.

Now, in a likely response to the tragedy, two New York dirt tracks have adopted an immediate rule change that mandates all drivers must stay in their cars in the event of on-track incidents.

As part of the change, the 3/8-mile Fulton (N.Y.) Speedway and 1/3-mile Brewerton (N.Y.) Speedway now decree that only safety and wrecker crews are allowed on their tracks in the event of an accident.

Additionally, should a driver leave their car on the track during a caution period for any reason, the race will be immediately red-flagged and all cars will come to a stop.

Drivers will be allowed to exit the car if they are requested to do so by a safety crew member or in cases of emergency such as a fire.

However, if drivers leave their cars without permission for any reason, they’ll be subject to fines and/or suspensions at the discretion of track management.

Some have wondered if the Stewart/Ward incident will be enough to compel tracks and series across the country to implement rules such as these to further protect their drivers.

It will bear watching if other organizations follow the lead of the Fulton and Brewerton Speedways. And if they do, how widespread and how quick will such a movement be?

NHRA: Alexis DeJoria brings free mammograms to Texas, Las Vegas races

DeJoria pink race car for breast cancer awareness month
(Photo courtesy Alexis DeJoria Racing)
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Some drivers see red when they’re behind the wheel of a 300-mph Funny Car.

But NHRA Funny Car driver Alexis DeJoria is seeing pink in the month of October – and she’s proud of it.

DeJoria, who owns Alexis DeJoria Racing and drives the Tequila Patron Toyota for Kalitta Racing, is using the color pink to call attention to breast cancer awareness month in October.

DeJoria has partnered with Baylor Healthcare Systems to offer free mammograms to race fans attending this weekend’s AAA Fall Nationals at Texas Motorplex (Friday and Saturday) in Ennis, Texas.

She’ll reprise that role, partnering with Nevada Health Centers for the Toyota Nationals at The Strip in Las Vegas Oct. 30-31.

According to a media release, ‘”Mammovans’ (mobile mammography units) will be parked in the nitro pits of the racetracks, and free mammograms will be available on-site during both weekends to female ticketholders over the age of 40, regardless of whether or not they have health insurance.”

Those who seek to be screened do not need an appointment or referral. If you have health insurance, bring your insurance information to the race. Test results will be sent via mail approximately ten days after the event.

This year’s initiative continues a program DeJoria began three years ago when she launched the “Free Mammograms for the Fans” program.

Also, DeJoria will drive a hot pink race car in both events.

“I really want to thank the Patrón Spirits Company and Toyota for their support, as well as Kalitta Motorsports, everyone who bought items on our eBay fundraising page, purchased our pink Fight Like a Girl bracelets and made donations,” said DeJoria. “It all goes toward this very wonderful life-saving cause and we would not be able to provide this service to our fans without their support.”

Added Ed Laukes, vice president of marketing, performance and guest experience for Toyota Motor Sales USA, “If we are able to save the life of so much as one mother, daughter, sister, wife or friend, it will be well worth our additional investment in our partners at DeJoria (Alexis DeJoria Racing). It truly is rewarding to be able to assist one of our race teams on a program that is so meaningful to so many people.”

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Sir Stirling Moss: Enclosed cockpits in open-wheel racing ‘ridiculous’

Sir Stirling Moss Getty
(Getty Images)
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While IndyCar mulls some type of enclosed cockpits or canopies in their race cars as early as 2017 to enhance driver safety, one racing legend scoffs at the notion that open-wheel racing should go down that path.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” Sir Stirling Moss told Road and Track at the recent Lime Rock Historic Festival. “Motor racing is dangerous. And one does it – some of us do it – because it is dangerous. I was one of those. And I think to go and put forward things like that is absolutely ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous.”

MORE: IndyCar CEO: No safety changes for 2016 car, despite Wilson death

It’s the opinion of the 85-year-old Moss that safety elements in one form of open-wheel racing – namely, Formula 1 – are as good as they can be at the moment.

“I think quite honestly, most events have good flag marshaling, which is very important,” Moss said. “The drivers know what they can do and they usually stick within their realistic limits.

“But of course, obviously, the sort of racing and etiquette you have on a circuit like this, or, a club circuit, is necessarily pretty different when you start talking Formula One.

“But, I think (danger) is part of the sport. I don’t think anybody wants to get hurt, but they’re all going to push themselves up to their limit, and that’s pretty good.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski