How Do Racetrack Sweepers Save Lives?

racecar odometerFrom the lowest levels of amateur car racing to the final race of the NASCAR Playoffs, tracks around the world host races virtually every weekend. With thousands of fans in the stands, and cars and trucks racing at speeds that can top 200mph, safety is the top priority for drivers, spectators, and track owners. In order to ensure that safety standards are met and the risk level of accidents is minimized, racetrack owners and their maintenance crews need to clear foreign object debris as soon as possible.

Any debris left out on the track poses a significant threat to drivers, crews, and spectators. Since it is dangerous to have a person run out onto the track to remove debris, what is the best way to take care of the issue? Racetrack sweepers and sweeping systems allow track personnel to remove hazards quickly and efficiently so the race can continue with minimal delay. At the same time, they play a vital role in saving lives along the way.

Protecting Drivers from Flying Objects

One of the main reasons to keep debris off a track during a race is to ensure that drivers do not need to navigate obstacles and heighten the risk of crashes. Still, the fact remains that tire blowouts, wrecks, and other factors can lead to all kinds of debris finding its way into the path of drivers.

animated race track

Simple things like gravel can be enough to disturb a vehicle’s traction and send it into the path of others on the track. Gravel and sand can also be kicked up by the car ahead of a driver and interfere with his or her view of the field, making the race that much more dangerous.

In addition to natural items that can make their way onto the track, there are also other pieces of debris that pose a significant threat to the bodily safety of drivers. An item that gets loose from a pit crew or a wind gust that carries an empty plastic bottle down from the stands can instantly become a deadly projectile if hit by a car during the race.

Too many times these items are sent flying into other cars and, while they may not be sharp enough or sent with enough force to shatter a window or windshield, they can severely disrupt a driver’s focus and cause a chain reaction of negative events.

Having a racetrack sweeper or a team of sweepers on hand to clear the track at the first sight of foreign object debris enables you to promptly remove hazards. As a result, races are able to continue on after a brief delay. In the end, sweeping the track to rid it of debris goes a long way toward protecting drivers from harm.

tires

Keeping Debris from Ruining Cars

Not only do racetrack sweepers keep the track free of objects that can cause damage to drivers, they also help protect against the possibility of items damaging vehicles. Debris such as trash blown onto the track can swirl around and find its way into engines and other systems that can cause a world of trouble for drivers.

It can also lead to a drop in vehicle performance and mean the difference between a win and a second-place finish, which is just what happened to Brad Keselowski and his No. 2 Ford at the Pocono 400 in 2014.

In that NASCAR race, trash began to collect on the grille of Keselowski’s car. In an effort to remove it from the front of his car so it could continue to perform at optimal level, he slipped behind Danica Patrick. Unfortunately, the drop in speed and the failure of the trash to dislodge from the car created enough of a window for Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who passed Keselowski and went on to win the race.

The reason that Keselowski’s car could not power past the trash is that NASCAR vehicles are precisely tuned. By blocking the grille of the car, the trash caused the water and oil temperature in the engine to rise significantly. Luckily for Keselowski, the end result only affected his position in the race and not more.

Continuing to drive at such high rates of speed could have led to catastrophic consequences, including the valve springs breaking sooner and head gaskets blowing. This can have a domino effect that leads to potentially life-threatening situations like engine fires, explosions, and crashes with other vehicles.

speedometer

Track sweepers clear the way for cars to race at their optimal speed and hit the performance numbers they need to win. Without them in place, untold amounts of trash and other debris can fly into engines, clog up grilles, and cause much more damage than to just a car.

Tracks without sweepers to keep the course clear and smooth run the risk of putting drivers in danger and creating unnecessary situations that have unimaginable and irreversible consequences. However, these track sweepers do more than just protect those on the road and their crew from items on the track.

Protecting Spectators from Accidents

Drivers are protected by roll cages and the latest in technology when it comes to safety. Even so, they can still be severely injured as a result of debris on the track that isn’t properly or promptly cleared. However, what about the thousands of spectators in the stands or infield that could be on the wrong end of flying debris? Catch fences are supposed to keep items from going into the stands but what happens when these safety devices fail and put lives at risk?

two cars racing

Such is what happened at the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway in July 2015. In that race, a pileup resulted in driver Austin Dillon going into the catch fence and his car sending debris into the crowd.

The incident injured five spectators, including one who had to be sent to the hospital. While there are a number of factors that can lead to these situations occurring, such as high rates of speed, bumps from another driver, and a loss of control of the vehicle, track conditions also play a role in the overall safety of drivers.

For example, a racetrack sweeper that is deployed to clear foreign object debris makes it less likely that trash and other objects get in the way of drivers. With these hazards removed, drivers are able to have much more control of their vehicles and keep debris from being run over and shot into the stands. With these tools in place, track owners and maintenance crews can actively prevent the types of accidents that pose the greatest risk to spectators and save lives in the process.

Implementing a racetrack sweeper is an extraordinarily simple process. You need to ensure that your kit is designed by professionals with the unique needs of racing in mind. Top sweepers are easily towed behind any vehicle and come in a variety of widths to meet your track’s requirements. Not only do these systems remove large debris like trash from the track, they are also advanced enough to sweep up gravel, car parts, rubber, and much more. As a result, drivers can take the track knowing that they can race with the conditions they expect.

crowd of people

Overall, track owners who use professional and advanced sweepers have peace of mind knowing that they are doing everything possible to increase safety and decrease the risk of serious and potentially fatal injuries from flying debris. Learn more about sweepers for racetracks by contacting a representative at Aero Sweep. Email info@aerosweep.com today for more information.

Sources

  1. http://www.nascar.com/en_us/news-media/articles/2014/6/14/debris-trash-grille-cars-overheating-keselowski-pocono.html
  2. https://blackflag.jalopnik.com/fan-injured-in-huge-daytona-wreck-sues-nascar-race-tra-1784178282

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