Sep 11, 2001
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This just in via e-mail:<BR><BR><BR>To the Editor:<BR><BR>After interviews with witnesses and the OMRRA safety crews, we wanted to provide Roadracing World with additional information regarding the crash that occurred at the beginning of the second leg of the Formula USA Unlimited Superbike race at Portland International Raceway on September 9.<BR><BR>(1) None of the three bikes involved collided with either the Alpina Air Module sections or the wall. Rather, Craig Connell highsided at the point exiting Turn 9. Ty Howard and John Dugan then tangled with each other. Connell's bike in the meantime chased him to the wall, stopping on top of him.<BR><BR>(2) OMRRA safety personnel were indeed consulted on the placement of the Air Module sections. Our concerns about the placement of the sections came from ten years of experience with that part of the racetrack. And the correct sequence of the event reveals that additional placement would not have altered the outcome and may have in fact trapped Connell as the fuel ignited.<BR><BR>(3) Only one rider (Ty Howard) was unconscious then came around partially, but needed to be sedated as he became combative and could have possibly aggravated his injuries. Connell suffered from a shoulder injury, yet as he was being placed in the ambulance he waved to those around him. I was on scene and witnessed this.<BR> <BR>(4) Marc Palazzo should indeed be commended for turning around on his bike and heading back to help with Connell's rescue. But to state that he reached Connell before any worker did is not correct. The real hero of the day was veteran OMRRA racer and safety worker Richard Matthews who was indeed the first person to reach Connell, pulling him away while dodging the flames that were being fanned by gusts of wind.<BR><BR>OMRRA remains committed to the safety of our racers, and OMRRA officials are always available to media reporters to assist in gathering facts prior to posting a story.<BR><BR>Sincerely,<BR>Spiros Gabrilis<BR>President, OMRRA<BR><BR><BR><BR>(Editorial Comment: The posting referred to by Gabrilis was based on interviews with Dugan, who said he got sideways and crashed trying to turn inside the crashed bikes without any reference to getting "tangled" with Ty Howard, and with Palazzo, who said he was assisted in dragging Connell away from the flames by another racer. The comment that placement of additional Air Module may have made the situation worse is pure speculation. Be that as it may, we acknowledge and appreciate the concern and efforts of OMRRA and the OMRRA corner working crew during the F-USA weekend and in the area of rider safety at all OMRRA and OMRRA-staffed events...John Ulrich, Editor.)