A Need for Speed...and Safety
Almost one-and-a-half years ago, Gerald Sessions was racing on Gainesville Raceway when his car, Big Iron, unhooked or lost its traction on the strip.
"I was probably doing 80 to 85 miles per hour and it just turned sideways," he recalled. "Before I could get it stopped, it hit the wall on the right-hand side lane, the opposite lane from where I was running.
Other racers say they see the same problems; appoximately 200 people have signed a petition to upgrade track practices.
"We've turned some of them in and we're still collecting signatures, but as of yet, we've received no response back from the National Hot Rod Association or the Gainesville Raceway."
According to Sessions, the Gainesville Raceway does not follow N.H.R.A. Rules and regulations on "Test and Tune Nights." Gary Lefever said the problems go deeper than that, employees are not prepping the track correctly.
"The different tracks that I race on, you can walk out of your shoes," the Rogue Racing crew chief said. "It sticks so hard that you can pop your shoe right off your feet. At Gainesville, that doesn't happen."
Gainesville Raceway's operations manager, Rick Robinette, said he and his crew spread VHT, a concentrate designed to create adhesion between rubber and asphalt for traction, before the races, in the middle of the races and whenever else it is needed.
"We prep the track the same way each and every time," Robinette said. "It doesn't matter if it is "Test and Tune Night" or Gator Nationals."
Lefever said that his hard to believe though.
"We're all having the same problem at a thousand foot, and we don't make enough horse power for our wheels to start spinning at a thousand foot," he explained. "There's no way that should happen.
Robinette said the VHT is diluted with alcohol during the summer, but that is in accordance with VHT instructions to spread it properly.
The racers said avoiding another needless accident is their biggest concern; it is hard to stop racing once it gets under your skin.
"Racers are a courageous bunch of guys," Sessions explained. "They're going to run their cars regardless of the risk to their personal safety."
By Ted Latiak, WCJB TV20 News.
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