Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Longtime IMS, INDYCAR Medical Director Dr. Henry Bock Dies at 81

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Indianapolis Motor Speedway media release

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, May 30, 2018 – Longtime Indianapolis Motor Speedway and INDYCAR Senior Director of Medical Services Dr. Henry Bock, a pioneer in motorsports safety and medical treatment, died May 26 in Indianapolis. He was 81.

Bock, an emergency medicine specialist at IU Health Methodist Hospital and Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis, served as senior director of medical services at IMS from 1982-2006 and in the same role for INDYCAR since its inaugural race in 1996 through the end of the 2006 season.

Bock also worked as a consultant for IMS and INDYCAR after his retirement from both organizations.

“Dr. Henry Bock was one of the great leaders in safety for everyone involved in motorsports – drivers, crew members and spectators,” said Tony George, chairman of the board of Hulman & Company, Hulman Motorsports and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“His work saved many lives and helped to form the standard for care today, and his selfless dedication to safety and innovation will influence the sport he loved for a very long time.”

Bock was a familiar, trusted specialist to every driver who was cared for at the infield medical center at IMS and at IndyCar Series events throughout the United States. He also worked tirelessly to promote motorsports safety, producing revolutionary advancements in treatment of injured drivers and helping to create state-of-the-art medical facilities at racetracks across North America.

Perhaps the greatest of Bock’s numerous contributions was his work on the development of the Steel and Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) Barrier, one of the most revolutionary safety advances in motorsports history, which debuted in 2002 at IMS.

Bock began his motorsports medicine career in 1966 when he was a medical student at Indiana University School of Medicine. After graduation from IU in 1968, he served as a medical provider/consultant to the production crew of the motion picture “Winning,” starring Paul Newman and with scenes filmed at IMS.

In 1970, Bock joined the emergency medical staff at Methodist Hospital of Indiana in Indianapolis. He was instrumental in establishing the LifeLine Air Medical Transport Service at Methodist in 1979.

In the late 1970s, Bock travelled with the United States Auto Club’s Champ Car safety team as an on-track physician and served as an assistant to IMS Medical Director Dr. Thomas Hanna, before succeeding his mentor in 1982.

Bock was a longtime member of the International Council of Motorsports Sciences, an organization of medical professional and scientists dedicated to improving injury prevention and promotion of safety in the motorsports industry.

Bock was recognized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for his contribution to emergency medical services and was named as the 1998 Indy Racing League Achievement Award winner for his outstanding contributions to driver safety and the success of the series.

In 1999, Bock was recognized with the Safety Award from the Championship Drivers Association. In 2004, he received the Herb Porter Award for his contribution to the development of the SAFER Barrier.

Bock also received the Sagamore of the Wabash distinction from Indiana Governor Frank O’Bannon in 2000, a top civilian honor given in the state of Indiana.

Bock is survived by a brother, Bob, and a sister, Marianne.

American Flat Track puts emphasis on fans in building 2020 schedule

American Flat Track
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American Flat Track put an emphasis on fans and feedback from other series while also acknowledging everything is tentative while hammering out its schedule for the 2020 season.

The 18-race schedule over nine weekends will begin July 17-18 at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Florida, about 20 miles from AFT’s headquarters in Daytona Beach, Florida.

The dirt track motorcycle racing series, which is sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, shares a campus with its sister company, NASCAR, and American Flat Track CEO Michael Lock said the series closely observed how it’s handled races in its return during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and also built AFT’s procedures from NASCAR’s post-pandemic playbook of more than 30 pages.

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“I speak personally to the committee within NASCAR that has been put together for the restart, regularly talking to the communications people, general counsel and other relevant operations departments,” Lock told NBCSports.com. “So we’ve derived for Flat Track from NASCAR’s protocols, which I think are entirely consistent with all the other pro sports leagues that are attempting to return.

“Obviously with NASCAR the scale of the business is completely different. There were some times more people involved in the paddock and the race operations for NASCAR than the numbers of people at flat track. Our scale is much smaller, and our venues are generally smaller. So we can get our hands around all of the logistics. I think we’re very confident on that.”

While NASCAR has had just under 1,000 on site for each of its races without fans, Lock said American Flat Track will have between 400 to 500 people, including racers, crews, officials and traveling staff.

But another important difference from NASCAR (which will run at least its first eight races without crowds) is that American Flat Track intends to have fans at its events, though it still is working with public health experts and government officials to determine how many will be allowed and the ways in which they will be positioned (e.g., buffer zones in the grandstands).

Lock said capacity could will be limited to 30-50 percent at some venues.

American Flat Track will suspend its fan track walk, rider autograph sessions for the rest of the season, distribute masks at the gates and also ban paper tickets and cash for concessions and merchandise. Some of the best practices were built with input from a “Safe to Race Task Force” that includes members from various motorcycle racing sanctioning bodies (including Supercross and motocross).

There also will be limitations on corporate hospitality and VIP access and movement.

“I think everything the fans will see will be unusual,” Lock said. “Everything at the moment is unusual. We will roll out processes that are entirely consistent with the social distancing guidelines that will be in place at the time of the event. So we’re planning for a worst-case scenario. And if things are easier or better by the time we go to a venue, it’s a bonus.”

Lock said the restrictions are worth it because (unlike other racing series) AFT must have fans (even a limited number) for financial viability.

“We took a decision fairly early on in this process that it was neither desirable nor economically viable to run events without fans,” Lock said. “I can think of some big sports like NFL or like NASCAR where a huge chunk of that revenue is derived from broadcast, which means that your decision making as to how you run an event, where you can run an event has a different view than a sport like ours, or even like baseball, for example, that needs fans. Because the business model is so different.”

Broadcast coverage is important to American Flat Track, which added seven annual races over the past five years and can draw as many as 15,000 to its biggest events.

Lock said AFT ended the 2019 season with more than 50,000 viewers for each live event, making it the No. 1 property on FansChoice.TV. This year, the series has moved to TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. “We’re expecting a really strong audience from Day 1, particularly with all this pent-up demand,” Lock said.

NBCSN also will broadcast a one-hour wrap-up of each race (covering heat races and main events).

Because the season is starting three months late, the doubleheader weekends will allow AFT to maintain its schedule length despite losing several venues. And there could be more, Lock said, noting that there still are three TBA tracks.

“There may still be some surprises to come from one venue or another of delay or cancellation,” he said. “But we are intending to run as full a season as possible.”

Here is the American Flat Track schedule for 2020:

July 17-18 (Friday-Saturday): Volusia Speedway Park, Barberville, Florida

July 31-Aug. 1 (Friday-Saturday):  Allen County Fairgrounds, Lima, Ohio

Aug. 28-29 (Friday-Saturday): TBA, Northeast United States

Sept. 5-6 (Saturday-Sunday): Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield, Illinois

Sept. 11-12 (Friday-Saturday): Williams Grove Speedway, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania

Sept. 25-26 (Friday-Saturday): TBA, Texas

Oct. 2-3 (Friday-Saturday): Dixie Speedway, Woodstock, Georgia

Oct. 9-10 (Friday-Saturday): TBA, North Carolina

Oct. 15-16 (Thursday-Friday): AFT season finale, Daytona Beach, Florida