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Aug 16, 2002

Updated Post: Corner Captain Comments On Himmelsbach And Yates Incidents At VIR

Copyright 2002, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>From e-mail:<BR><BR>I was the corner captain on turn 15 on Friday. I live in Pennsylvania about 30 miles from Bill (Himmelsbach) and knew it was he on the track. I could not believe how long it took for medical to show up after I called for them for Bill's incident. I called almost immediately. The crash started before my station and he slid down the hill coming to a stop almost in front of my flag station, about 10 yards off the track. My runner was with Bill in seconds, turned to me, requested an ambulance and proceeded to attend to Bill to the extent that we are allowed. He left Bill only to turn off his bike, which was still running.<BR><BR>I could see an ambulance outside the fence at turn 16, which was not moving. (No lights, nothing). I questioned control as to the status of medical and why the ambulance in 16 was not responding. I should have requested the practice be stopped but thought I'd provided control with enough information to make that decision.<BR><BR>The practice was stopped after an inexcusable length of time. The end result was that the medics from 16 after a short drive in the infield walked to the incident. After they had arrived an ambulance showed up on the infield side of the fence.<BR><BR>I was the corner captain on turn 4 on Sunday. I hand-signaled the flagger (who had the radio – I had a scanner) to call control to stop the race as soon as I saw the bike on the racing surface. He did so. The flagger could not see Roberts' bike or Yates on the track because of the triangles that were in the grass. The fire started while I was requesting the stoppage. From the direction I was running I never saw Yates on the track but I was watching traffic, which was getting heavy, so as not to become part of the incident and the flagger to make sure the red flag came out. I was also concerned that Roberts seemed to be wandering around the bike and may have had his bell rung as he was not paying much attention to the traffic. The red flag was out when I got to the bike and Roberts and Yates were off the track. There were fire bottles coming from turn 5, as they were closer to the incident than we were in turn 4. There were only three of us in turn 4. If I had one or two more people I'd have placed them at the end of the Air Fence approximately at the location of the incident. We do the best we can with what we are given.<BR><BR>The flagger is an experienced cornerworker (including com) and racer. He had a leg injury and was not in the best condition to run and pick up riders and bikes. Considering the elapsed time from the start of the incident to the red flag being shown with the "stop the race" communication to control things happened reasonably well. (Approximately 20 seconds) The red flag was coming out before Yates laid on the track. No one else got involved in the incident. When I'm assigned as a captain, I use the people assigned to me at jobs they are best qualified to perform in the interest of race safety. I did this in turn 4 on Sunday.<BR><BR>Jim Simpson<BR>aka "Homer"<BR>PA Posse and others<BR>Reading, PA<BR><BR><BR><BR>More, via e-mail from a racer:<BR><BR>I wholeheartedly agree with Sean Jordan's sentiments that cornerworkers are the unsung heroes of road racing. Unfortunately, his comments did little to show any competency on the part of the AMA with respect to its cornerworkers. In fact, many of Sean's comments actually supported my case. <BR><BR>I'm glad he clocked the response time for cornerworkers to get to Nicky's bike. Nearly two minutes! In that time, one of Nicky's teammates could have ridden back to the pits, picked up a fire extinguisher and been back around to put out Nicky's bike! After all, a lap only takes a 1:26 or so, right? Add in some extra time for the weight of the extinguisher and there you go! Can you actually imagine seeing a World Superbike rider or Grand Prix rider being left unattended following a crash for two minutes? It's unheard of and completely unacceptable. <BR><BR>The AMA should have had cornerworkers situated so that it would never take that long to get to anyone. If cornerworkers are going to be placed so far from where they'll be needed, then they should at least be conscientious enough to run (not walk, mosey, or saunter) when someone goes down.<BR><BR>Further, Sean's argument that the cornerworkers at VIR were quick and efficient is completely thrown out the door when we see what happened to Himmelsbach on Friday. 17 minutes unattended! Broken pelvis, broken ribs, collapsed lung. It is beyond all defense. How can Sean stand behind the AMA and the VIR cornerworkers? I'm sorry, but the AMA has some serious answering to do. Aaron Yates is the least of their safety problems. <BR><BR>Stephen Robinson<BR>AFM #756<BR>San Francisco, CA<BR><BR><BR><BR><BR>My blood is boiling when reading about the Bill Himmelsbach incident. I think there needs to be a wave of Safety Vilgilantes take over the racetracks in this country!<BR><BR>Apparently, riders need to police the racetrack for their own safety. From now on, I encourage all riders who see red flag situations that are not being addressed by race officials to simply stop at the start/finish line, pick up the red flag and stop the race themselves.<BR><BR>The most single most assinine thing in motorcycle racing is that someone in a box removed from an incident is in charge of stopping a race. The situation must be explained by a cornerworker, thought about by a remote person, and then acted upon by the same person who can't even see what has happened.<BR><BR>What if the friggin' batteries died in a radio? "Oh well, we don't have permission from race control to stop this race, I guess this guy and the people who are going to run him over will have to die..."<BR><BR>Last spring at Daytona I saw a guy fall in the first horseshoe; he was laying knocked-out cold so close to the track that one of his hands was on it, right in the impact zone. They pulled an ambulance up, right in the impact zone, got out and worked on the guy like there was no danger, and never stopped the race. Gotta keep the day on schedule I guess.<BR><BR>There should be 3 instances where the corner should be able to call red flag WITHOUT EXPLAINING ANYTHING TO ANYBODY:<BR><BR>1. Body on Track<BR>2. Bike on Track<BR>3. Fluid on Track<BR><BR>If the sanctioning bodies can't be certain that a cornerworker is smart enough to see that one of those three events has taken place and not stop the race unnecessarily, then they are not smart enough to work in a corner. I don't think there is any cornerworker who is not smart enough to be trained and entrusted with that much authority.<BR><BR>While people are busy explaining and thinking somebody is going to die.<BR><BR><BR>Max McAllister