Tragedy on the Racetrack

By now, many of us have heard of the tragic turn of events as a fellow racer and instructor, Kenneth W. Novinger, was killed at Summit Point over the weekend. Although we did not personally know him, we can tell you about him. He was a racer. He was a car enthusiast. He was a teacher and mentor. He was part of a community that entertain many but only a few understand. Our hearts go out to his family.There are no words that can heal and no actions that can undo what has happened. But we are there for you. We feel for you and if there is anything we can do for you, please feel free to ask.

Looking over the past few years, it seems that there have been many of the same tragedies across the country (and world). Both by amateurs and professionals. Cars are getting faster. Racing has become more competitive. One no longer needs to build a purpose built racecar to get deep into triple digit speeds. There are many stock factory cars that can crest speeds well north of 150mph+ on many of our tracks. Some of the reasons that schools and HPDE events exist are to train drivers to handle extreme speed and handing situations. They exist to teach on how to control a car at the limit. But with many modern cars that limit is very extreme and when that limit is breached, the results are often tragic.

We are very interested in what safety features can be added to the track, but we are also very conscience of the fact that safety is not the sole responsibility of the venue. In fact, safety, first and foremost is our responsibility, and yours, and your fellow racers. Safety starts with us. Basic maintenance, tire condition, brakes, etc. are easy items to check and track. Don’t try to push the limit of these. Whether it is to save a dollar or because “it’s not a big deal” attitude. It is not worth it, never has been and never will be. Knowledge is also important. Buying the best of the best isn’t worth anything if you are not using it correctly. The best helmet in the world doesn’t work if it doesn’t fit properly. The best harnesses in the world won’t stop you in a crash if they are mounted incorrectly and can actually cause more serious injury in some cases. If you see someone tracking an unsafe car, talk to them. We are all friends. We are all one community. We need to look out for one another. This is not the time to feel embarrassed or out of place.

Racing is inherently dangerous. We all know this and accept the risks, but we can minimize the risk as well. Not all safety equipment is the same. A well designed, properly fabricated cage is dramatically better than any aftermarket bolt in solution. Harnesses come in many different styles and design. Power control and fire systems are only as good as their installation. If anyone ever has a question about safety, whether it is your car, your gear, how to properly wrap a harness, or installation questions, we are here to help in any way we can.