Copyright 2001 Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.
A rider hit two cornerworkers during an eight-lap LRRS Expert/Junior Heavyweight Superbike race at New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire on Saturday, July 7, injuring one of the cornerworkers seriously.
The incident started when a rider crashed at the exit of turn two, with the rider and his bike ending up in the middle of the track. Cornerworkers displayed waving yellow and debris flags to riders entering the turn as two runners attempted to retrieve the bike and the crashed rider crawled off the track. The cornerworkers worked at righting the bike and getting it moved as race traffic passed on both sides of them. Finally, 76 seconds after the original crash, three riders came out of the corner and approached the cornerworkers holding the motorcycle. One rider went left, one rider went right, and the third rider ran right into both cornerworkers and the crashed motorcycle, at speed. Three bodies and two motorcycles were strewn across the track, and a red flag was then thrown.
Obviously, news of this crash didn't circulate via a press release from the track. Most people who know about it saw a video of the crash, which was posted on the Internet. Although we don't know who shot the video, we can direct readers to two internet sites where the video can be seen:
8.98 mb video for lower-speed connections:www.13x.com/images/T2-owSM.mpg
Sandy MacPherson of the U.S. Marshalls was acting as Race Control that day, according to Loudon Safety Director Jerry Wood, who was not at the track himself that weekend. MacPherson has not responded to an e-mail inquiry seeking comment, but Wood was reached by phone on Tuesday, July 17.
"It was just a bad deal," said Wood. "Rob Dages was the cornerworker who got hit. Rick Currier was the rider involved. I believe there was a second cornerworker involved, and I don't have his name right here. He wasn't hurt anywhere near as bad as Rob. Rick was hurt, too. Rick had a head injury. Everybody is going to be okay, though.
"They were shipped up to Lakes Region Hospital in Laconia, then they were airlifted out to, I think it's Dartmouth-Hanover out in Lebanon, New Hampshire, a place that does brain trauma because they all got a whack to the head. It ended up being okay. We had heard all kinds of rumors, though."
On Dages' own website www.broadsquad.org/rob/turn2.html
, it's reported that he fractured his pelvis and tailbone, broke one rib and bruised many others, suffered serious lacerations to his forearms, and assorted bumps and bruises. While Dages has medical insurance, it covers only 80% of medical expenses and he will be out of work while recovering, so the LRRS and U.S. Marshalls have begun fund raisers to help defray Dages' medical costs. To find out how you can make a donation, log on to Dages' website.
"They did the CAT scan on Rick," said Wood. "The CAT scan was negative, but for some reason he was still having some combativeness that was not normal. So there was some pressure somewhere that wasn't showing up on the CAT scan. Fortunately, the CAT scan was negative and there was no bleeding on the brain, but it was a pretty severe concussion. He ran right into the downed motorcycle (and flew over the bars) and hit his head on the track.
"It was a scary thing, and we're looking at the whole thing. Some people feel that it should have been a red flag instead of a waving yellow, and on and on. I haven't talked to Sandy MacPherson about that yet. Certainly, we're going to address the problem.
"Many times we have riders that don't slow down enough on a waving yellow situation. Of course, that's one of the things that I do in giving them my little lectures and stuff. And so when we get up there we're gonna talk about that some more to make sure they understand particularly in a spot like that where you really can't see around the corner and you get a waving yellow and you go around the corner and there's the stuff.
"I wasn't there, and I haven't seen the video yet. I've been monitoring the NEAR (New England Area Racers) Listing which is our racing group's list and talking to people on the phone. Some people just have the feeling that the rule says that there's no passing under a waving yellow. Other than that you're all set. You don't have any other responsibilities. I posted the difference. They (riders) have to pay attention more. They just can't charge into that situation that hard. So we're going to have some meetings and make sure that that doesn't happen again. But sometimes you just have a bad day and that's what some of this was."
At some tracks, there are corners that if involved in a situation call for an automatic red flag. Examples would be turn 15 at Indy Raceway Park or the "Tunnel Turn" at Memphis Motorsports Park. Does Loudon have any areas that produce automatic red flags?
"No, there are no automatic red flag situations at Loudon," said Wood. "They (cornerworkers) work a ‘hot' track a lot at Loudon, and they are a very well-trained crew. Sandy (MacPherson) runs the thing from the tower up overhead from where she can see everything. Any cornerworker can call red at anytime. All they have to do is say, ‘Stop this.' and she pulls the red. Obviously, these cornerworkers felt that they had the thing covered, and it just didn't work out. It's just one of those deals.
"There's such a brouhahah going on about Loudon that people are looking to see if something happened. But this had absolutely nothing to do with the racetrack. This was a people and motorcycle thing. Like any other racetrack, it's hard when you hit your head on it."