South Boston Speedway has long been one of the safest tracks in NASCAR for competitors. It is one of the factors that makes “America’s Hometown Track” a great place for competitors to race.
Continuing its efforts as an industry leader in safety, South Boston Speedway hosted a three-hour training class prior to its May 1 racing event involving South Boston Speedway Track Services and representatives from the South Boston, Virginia Fire Department and the Cluster Springs, Virginia Volunteer Fire Department.
Medical personnel from Duke Life Flight in Durham, North Carolina and Centra One from Lynchburg, Virginia also participated, flying their medical helicopters into South Boston Speedway to participate in the training.
“We could not be happier with our team for taking part in this training,” said South Boston Speedway Assistant General Manager Chase Brashears. “We’re firm believers that you can never have too much training, and that includes our track services team that provides expert care to participants during our events. Our team was able to review the basics of driver care during an incident and then put all of those skills together at the end of the training when they conducted a full drill of a driver extrication.”
Having representatives from the South Boston and Cluster Springs fire departments and the medical flight teams from Duke Life Flight and Centra One participating was an important part of the training event.
“We greatly appreciate our local agencies for getting involved,” Brashears remarked.
“We also thank the great people at Duke Life Flight and Centra One for flying in their medical helicopters to discuss scenarios with our team.”
Dave Howell, a flight paramedic with Centra One, said he and his team were glad to have the opportunity to participate in the training.
“This is a little bit unique, and specialized,” Howell said. “We just feel very fortunate to be able to come out and help the community and show these people at the speedway what we are able to do as far as speeding up patient care for them and take care of them in their time of need.”
Joshua Rife, a flight paramedic with Duke Life Flight, gave South Boston Speedway kudos for hosting the training.
“I think it’s a great thing the racetrack is doing with this kind of training,” Rife noted. “It’s always good to train. You work the way you train. We’re very happy at Duke Life Flight to have the opportunity to come up here and train with all of these individuals. We’re happy to serve the South Boston community.”
South Boston Speedway Limited Sportsman Division competitor Kenny Mills Jr. of South Boston, Virginia volunteered to participate in the training by allowing members of the track services team extricate him from a racecar.
"It was different climbing into a car knowing I was going to be extricated from it,” Mills remarked.
“I can honestly say it was a cool experience in regard to being able to watch the safety works do what they do first-hand. The training speaks volumes that South Boston Speedway is investing so much into safety for us drivers and I totally commend them for it."
Veteran Late Model Stock Car Division competitor Terry Dease of Oxford, North Carolina, another of the training participants, was glad to see South Boston Speedway providing the safety training.
“Safety has to be a top priority,” Dease pointed out.
“I thought the training class was wonderful. Any training that can help get somebody out of a car quicker and having people knowing exactly what to do is important. With all of the innovation in racing with the seats, head support systems and things that are around us now, people need to know how to properly undo the hook-ups and belts.”
Dease said knowing that South Boston Speedway’s track services personnel are trained in how to handle emergency situations “makes me feel 100 percent better. I’m glad and 100 percent satisfied that South Boston Speedway is providing this training.”
The training course concluded with participants putting all the applications together in a full real-world scenario that included fully cutting open a racecar, rendering medical aid and extricating a driver.
During the final exercise South Boston Speedway Track Services personnel along with the other participants gained experience using new safety equipment the track obtained this season.
“Our track services team received a great asset earlier this year when ESI Race Track Safety Services and Holmatro joined with us to supply rescue tools on our fire truck,” Brashears noted.
“Those tools were instrumental during the real-world scenario drill, and the value of having those tools here on race day cannot be measured.”
“We greatly appreciate the support of our race teams for this training, and our track services and operations staff for the hard work they put in,” Brashears said. “South Boston Speedway is an industry leader in short track safety, and this training was an important piece to that puzzle.”