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May 6, 2013

Miller Motorsports Park Director Of Track Operations Says New Steel Barriers Are Temporary

Miller Motorsports Park says this new steel barrier and tire wall in the corner called "Witchcraft" is just temporary. Announcing that in advance might have been a good idea. The corner shown is used as part of both the East and Perimeter Courses.
Miller Motorsports Park's Director of Track Operations Dan McKeever has sent a letter to Roadracing World stating that new steel barriers installed in two corners called "Witchcraft" and "Faster" are temporary and that the track is working with UtahSBA and AMA Pro Racing officials to resolve safety concerns.

But officials at motorcycle racing organizations, track day providers and racing schools that run at the track told Roadracing World that they knew nothing about the new walls prior to their installation.

The new barriers affect three of the four course configurations at Miller Motorsports Park, including the Perimeter Course, East Course and Full Course. The West Course is not affected by the new barriers.

UtahSBA has a race scheduled on the Perimeter Course at the Tooele, Utah track later this month. The WERA National Challenge Series plans to run a double-header on the Perimeter Course July 27-28, and AMA Pro Racing is scheduled to run the Perimeter Course on August 2-4.

Officials from one group were told that it would be too expensive to remove the barriers and that if the organization didn't feel comfortable with the barriers in place, then it should only run on the West Course.

A UtahSBA rider who has seen the new walls said in an e-mail obtained by Roadracing World, "There is Armco on the outside of Witchcraft that honestly has no purpose at all. There's a small slope down the hill, but I'd rather take my chance than hit Armco. Hopefully they can simply remove the Armco before we race (the) Perimeter (Course) on Memorial Day.

"Faster is a different deal," the e-mail continues. "It's a disaster. The Armco is right off the track, with dirt whoops right behind it. I know at least a dozen guys (including me) who have left the track right there at 120+. Even running (the) East (Course) and not (the) Full (Course), I'm running 90+ according to my data. Sadly I think we'd need more pavement to add a chicane or add a cone chicane or something. Ghetto. I'm at a loss here.

"We had a lot of vocal, unhappy racers see the changes last week."

Airfence modules have been positioned in front of the barrier installed in the "Faster" corner on the East Course. Which is curious because Airfence soft-barriers are not used for car events. Which would seem to indicate that the track planned to run motorcycles on course with the barrier in place.

The problem is that there is a limit to how much energy Airfence can absorb given very little available run-off room outside a very high-speed corner. The potential for a crashed racer to land on the motocross track located behind the barrier makes it worse.

The installation of Armco barrier normally involves setting steel support girders in concrete footings. Which begs the question, how temporary were the barriers intended to be, when they were installed?

The letter from MMP's Dan McKeever follows:

In response to the article that appeared on on May 5 entitled, “Rider Safety Disregarded: New Steel Barriers Installed In Impact Zones At Miller Motorsports Park,” I would like to point out the following:

1. There are, in fact, steel barriers installed at the Witchcraft and Faster corners on our East Course.

2. These steel barriers were installed as a temporary solution to facilitate getting our Ford Racing School and automobile races on track for 2013 as our new motocross course was being constructed.

3. There have been no motorcycles on the East Course thus far in 2013.

4. We are currently working with track designer Alan Wilson of Wilson Motorsport and consulting with both the Utah SportBike Association and AMA Pro Racing to determine the final solution to our barrier systems for motorcycle schools, track days and races.

5. No motorcycle schools, track days or races will take place on the East Course until this solution is determined and installed.

6. The safety of our participants, whether in automobiles or on motorcycles, always has been and always will be our primary concern.

Thank you for your service to the motorcycling community, and I trust you will give this response prominent placement on your website.

Sincerely yours,

Dan McKeever
Director, Track Operations
Miller Motorsports Park