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Driver & Instructor killed at SpeedVegas

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Old 03-08-2017, 07:02 PM
  #151
needmoregarage
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Originally Posted by matttheboatman View Post
Just read thru most of the posts on this thread. This is perhaps the most insightful, thought provoking thread I've read on any forum. Thank you all for sharing your wisdom. It is a truly tragic incident.

With only 4 years experience, I am a relative newbie at the track. I got my start from participating in an exotic car experience. I think that exotic car experiences are definitely a part of the sports rapidly growing popularity.

There are things I don't understand about track safety that perhaps someone here can help illuminate.

2. Why do volunteer instructors instruct?

To me, it is so inherently dangerous, I always feel my instructors are both extremely generous and bit crazy for doing what they do.

3. And, finally, with today's street cars being faster than the worlds fastest race cars of just 20 years ago, in your opinion is it really safe to run around a track at near the limit with only a helmet and a seat belt?
Others have responded to the track safety barrier questions.

Instructors volunteer for many different reasons.
- discounted or free track time (not the best reason but it's true and for many the ONLY reason which is unfortunate)
- it's very rewarding to ride with people, see them improve, and participate in a joyful experience
- you learn as much from the right seat as from behind the wheel
- it's challenging
- it adds a nice social element
- it's fun

There are probably more reasons. Those come to mind first. I do it mostly for the reward. It adds a lot to my enjoyment of the sport. In my job (before I retired) I did training and mentoring. I love cars and driving. I get to combine two passions by doing both at the same time. I'm very lucky.

Yes - it is very dangerous. I believe that HPDE is safer than these exotic events (which I instructed several times and have opted out - not worth the risk especially for minimal pay).

Some instructors do the exotics thing because they get to sometimes drive the cars and it's a chance to drive something they otherwise wouldn't have access to. There's a bit of prestige in some circles, but there is a ton of real risk both to your well-being, and also from a liability standpoint. I won't get into it but we live in a litigious society and my understanding is that the exotics companies don't necessarily cover instructors like the Porsche Club does. BIG BIG DEAL to me.

As for safety - it's a risky sport no matter how you do it. You're in control of how YOU drive but there are many elements out of your control including conditions, how others drive, how others maintain their equipment (or lack thereof)....
I think it's far safer to be in a full race car than in a street car with 3 point belts and helmet, and even a street or street/track car with harnesses/HANS and helmet. Full cage and protection is best but not everyone wants a full race car and all that goes with trailering (and I'm one of them).

I compromise and wear helmet, 6 pt, neck/head restraint, but my "race" seats are OEM and lack some safety. I drive at maybe 7/10-8/10 of my own ability, and I'm conservative. I try to be safe, control risk and if I see stupid stuff I back away or pit out. I'm also lucky in that I get enough track time every year I don't feel bad if I skip it sometimes because I don't like who is on track (meaning how they drive). But I go into it knowing I'm taking added risk. I just bought a Simpson Hybrid device for instructing in cars with 3 point belts. It's still risky but reduces my risk somewhat.

All we can do is be aware of the risk, and accept them, and mitigate them to whatever degree we are willing (and can afford).

And sometimes bad stuff happens no matter how safe you try to be which is why it's considered a risky sport.

Originally Posted by sequel View Post
Take this for what it (worthless) is but here is something I've noticed.....
I agree with others - I want to know the organization and the track(s) they run. I have NEVER run with a group as you describe and the clubs I participate with take safety seriously. Driver's meeting are mandated, and if you don't show - you don't drive. PERIOD. Tech is an interesting topic, but cars with fluid leaks would be immediately flagged if it wasn't caught before they went on track.

Sorry you had such a terrible experience. I would not want to drive with that club and would like to know who they are so I can avoid them.

Welcome to RL.
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Old 03-20-2017, 08:51 PM
  #152
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Originally Posted by Berringer View Post
This. A thousand times this. Great post.
Haha! Perhaps it is more the ILLUSION of control
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Old 03-20-2017, 08:55 PM
  #153
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Originally Posted by PLNewman View Post
My wife asked me the other day: "If you could summarize what you do at the track in one word, what would it be? Speed?"

Without hesitation, I answered, "Control."

"Control of the car. Control of myself."

Think back to your early track days...How the car never took the same line on consecutive laps. How there was no consistency in the braking points. How you would get angry and shout at slower drivers who got in your way.

In time, with repetition, we learn control.

The folks who hand over a wad of cash to go fast in a super car for a few laps never get the chance to develop control.
We all like to THINK we are in control.
The only real control lies within the laws of physics.

But ... yeah......For now, let's just say we are all TOTALLY in control.
Because we all are totally cool.
And racers.
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Old 03-20-2017, 08:59 PM
  #154
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Originally Posted by needmoregarage View Post
Your avatar is PERFECT!

I would think VIR is a handful for any newbie- let alone someone with only 6 months driving experience!

Congrats!

Thank you needmoregarage!! This past weekend I was in the right seat and was TOTALLY in control. That is exactly why the car hit the tirewall on the passenger side
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Old 03-20-2017, 10:56 PM
  #155
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Originally Posted by Manifold View Post
Scary scenario.

I've done this kind of team building event with my staff an indoor electric karting facility. We were able to compete, and crash into walls and each other, with close to zero safety risk.

I can't even imagine doing that sort of thing with real cars at high speeds with real risk.

fwiw, I was running in a briggs kart indoor league a while back.. and saw a young girl get her wrist broken when a kart landed in her lap. The karts had full fenders and rubber banding surrounding the wheels and kart. I just didn't think one could catch air, but it did. punched a wall and bounced up into her path.


Another, Sad story ending.

Safety 1st!
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Old 03-21-2017, 12:08 AM
  #156
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May issue of Automobile magazine has a two page article on SpeedVegas.

To late to stop print or add a comment regarding this incident I guess.....
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Old 03-21-2017, 01:33 PM
  #157
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Originally Posted by sequel View Post
Take this for what it (worthless) is but here is something I've noticed.

This year I started running car trackdays for the first time after having tracked / raced motorcycles heavily for about ten years. I sat in on a novice class that was meant to illustrate safety, but what it came off as, to me, was something that was being done because people were forced to do it.

Safety seemed like a wink, wink, nod, nod or joke kind of thing throughout the entire class and there was very little in terms of safely entering and exiting the track (major, major thing to hammer home, in my opinion). It was pointed out that the difference between the fast street car group and the race car group was just in the safety gear required as it is a pain to track prep a car properly. The drivers meetings were not mandatory for all drivers and the safety rules were not hammered home each and every time.

The organizations did not tech and it was clear that some vehicles had fluid leaks.

Students in high power vehicles were stuffing other drivers coming off the main straight because it was the only area to pass in the early groups... yet there were instructors encouraging this overly aggressive passing.

Maybe I'm getting old, maybe I've hit the ground at track speed a few times too many, or maybe I just had a few bad experiences with organizations but I really, really do not get the carefree attitude surrounding vehicle prep and overall safety when tracking cars. I don't even want to get into the acceptance of no runoff.
I agree with your concerns. I've been doing this for 6 years or so, and I've seen a wide variation in attention paid to safety by various DE organizers. Various PCA chapters, BMW CCA chapters, Ferrari Club of America (yes, they'll accept lowly P-cars), NASA, Hooked on Driving, Chin...they're all slightly different in their approach and attitude. I found BMW CCA to be the most safety-conscious in terms of rules and instructors. They're great for starting out, but when I did a day with BMW CCA after running in intermediate for some time with other groups, I found BMW to be overly restrictive and stifling. And I think I'm fairly cautious and conservative. I'll push the car, but only when I think I'm ready for it and conditions are right. On the other hand, some organizations run their events like the Wild West. Very little oversight, no repercussions for bad behavior on the part of drivers, and instructors who run their own cars wildly in intermediate groups. They're supposedly running with lower groups to "monitor" the group, but it's the instructors who appear to need the monitoring.

I've run with groups where point-by discipline is pathetic--a combo of slow cars refusing to give point-bys, and yahoos blowing by without a point-by, dive-bombing into corner entries.

Maybe it's because motorcyclists feel more exposed, even on track, that safety is taken more seriously. But that's no excuse for the lax attitude of some car DE organizers.

Overall, I've found Chin Motorsports to be a great combo of serious, fast, respectful, safety-minded individuals enjoying a day on track.
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Old 03-24-2017, 05:38 PM
  #158
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Wow. Place sounds like a death trap. Convertibles with no roll bars? Inadequate brake maintenance? Forcing instructors to sign loyalty oaths?

http://www.reviewjournal.com/busines...as-vegas-track

SpeedVegas driving instructor sues to close Las Vegas track

A SpeedVegas driving instructor has filed a civil lawsuit in Clark County District Court seeking an order to close the track south of Las Vegas until a series of safety protocols is instituted, including redesigning the track.

SpeedVegas LLC, World Class Driving, which owns and operates the track, and real estate investor and broker Scott Gragson, who owns the track land, were named in the lawsuit filed by Francisco Durban, a SpeedVegas employee since March 2016.

The lawsuit alleges that the SpeedVegas track “is inherently, excessively and unnecessarily dangerous in design and operation” and that brakes on cars used in the operation were not properly maintained.

A representative of SpeedVegas said the company is reviewing the complaint and did not have a comment.


The lawsuit also says a Lamborghini Aventador involved in an accident that killed two people on Feb. 12 had brake problems and was not suitable to be used on the track because it was a roadster with a convertible top that didn’t have a roll bar or cage.

The lawsuit also noted “numerous aftermarket modifications: brakes, rear wing/spoiler and exhaust system” to the car that also had been subject to a safety recall notice.

After the fatal crash that killed SpeedVegas driving instructor Gil Ben-Kely and Canadian tourist Craig Sherwood, other driving instructors, including Durban, were required to undergo a psychiatric evaluation, perform a road test on the track and sign an acknowledgment form that says, “every precaution has been taken to ensure my safety as well as the safety of our guests.”

Durban, who had asked track managers to move a concrete wall farther away from the track at the turn where the Aventador crashed and to install Formula One-TECPRO safety barriers, said his suggestions weren’t taken when the track reopened for business on Feb. 22. He refused to sign the acknowledgment form.

“Unsafe or unreasonably dangerous conditions continue to exist at SpeedVegas following the fatal crash that SpeedVegas had not changed and that are a threat to plaintiff, his co-workers as well as customers of SpeedVegas,” the lawsuit says.

Citing public policy for employers to provide a safe and healthy environment for employees, Durban said he has been effectively terminated because he refused to work in unsafe conditions. He also is seeking an injunction to close the track until safe conditions are installed.
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Old 03-27-2017, 12:18 PM
  #159
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from a respected source: his response: The entire concept is flawed. Driving someone else's car removes the single most restraining factor in the activity. Couple that with the likely fact that the driver is a stranger to high performance vehicles. It's a formula for disaster. This isn't the first time something like this happened.
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Old 03-27-2017, 12:41 PM
  #160
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Apparently this place was named as the official track and studio for Top Gear America.

http://jalopnik.com/driving-instruct...fte-1793639345

Not good timing for that one!
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Old 04-03-2017, 07:12 PM
  #161
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Reading things like :
..."an instructor at Las Vegas driving facility SpeedVegas filed a lawsuit against the track for being “unnecessarily dangerous.”...

Yes, I fully agree : two dead on a track is a tragedy.
But, come on guys, shooting like kids on this track after this this tragedy is simply stupid.
Most of these that are today throwing stones on this track are most probably also talking about "the Nürburgring" as ..being a reference for our sport.
For your info, at the ring, the fatalities is not 2 since the inception, but it is about 2 ..every month.
Or : if one track should be tied down on this sport, before even thinking about Las Vegas, just STOP to think that "the Ring" is the reference.
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