Penalties, Staff Changes And New Position Announced In Wake Of Recent Tire Safety Issue At Waterford Speedbowl

New Speedbowl LogoWaterford Speedbowl owner Terry Eames announced Thursday the creation of a new safety position at the track in the wake of a major breach of safety precautions that took place during last Saturday night’s racing card.

Eames announced the track has created the position of race vehicle safety coordinator, as part of the track’s tech inspection staff.

Eames said SK Modified drivers Keith Rocco and Craig Lutz have been fined $500 for not having their cars equipped with front wheel tethers, as mandated by the track rulebook.

Eames also said that longtime tech inspector Everett Marvin is no longer employed by the facility. Eames said the departure was a mutual decision between Marvin and track management.

The issues stem from an on-track incident early in Saturday’s SK Modified feature at the track when a tire assembly off the car of Lutz broke off during an accident, flew from the car and nearly hit head starter Rich Keator and assistant starter George DeCoster in the flagstand.

After the accident it was found that there was no safety tethers on the front tires on the Lutz car. Later, during tech inspection of Rocco’s car, which won the race, it was found the he also did not have the front wheel tethers on his car.

“After reviewing the events of the night with tethers, we are definitely accepting responsibility for not ensuring that these tethers were on the cars 100 percent,” Eames said. “That’s why we’ve created this position, to make sure that other things like this are not being overlooked. Regardless of whether or not the drivers were responsible to make sure they were on the car, that has nothing to do with our responsibility, that stands on its own. It was horrifying to see that happen and we never want to see that happen again.”

Eames said longtime Speedbowl competitor Bill Leonard will take on the role of race vehicle safety coordinator on an interim basis.

“The new position of race vehicle safety coordinator was created with the sole responsibility of seeing that all race vehicles are compliant with the latest Speedbowl safety regulations,” Eames said. “… Candidates are being sought to fill the position permanently. The position will report directly to the race director. We’ll take a systematic approach to seeing that every car is inspected before races and re-inspected after major incidents on the track.”

The Waterford Speedbowl rulebook states that: “NASCAR approved wheel tethers must be used on the front spindles/hubs.”

The tethers link the front spindles to the chassis and are in place to keep the tire and wheel assembly from flying in the event of an accident. The tethers became standard as a safety item in many divisions of racing after three fans were killed during an IndyCar Series event at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1999 after a tire and suspension parts flew into the grandstands following a crash during an event.

“We take safety very seriously at the Speedbowl, but despite our best intentions, things were obviously overlooked by us as well as the racers involved” Eames said. “We know Bill Leonard will create system of safety verification that will prevent this from happening again.”

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  1. $500 EACH? What a joke, If it was anyne other then Rocco they would have been hammered.

  2. John Flock says

    This tether rule is well known. Teams running without tethers should be referred to NASCAR for penalties. $500 fines solve nothing. My choice would be year-long suspensions from NASCAR competition.

  3. Bull call says

    I’m sorry but what’s 500 bucks to these teams. They knew the rule and chose to not think of the fans or track officials safety. Ridiculous! Shame on them!

  4. The track made changes as direct result of this incident. That’s how companies deal with such issues. People can argue the driver penalty all they want but you can’t fine a Saturday night guy $25K or whatnot. I give them credit for making necessary changes.

  5. Best departure in a LONG time! Kudos

  6. You guys are tough! 500$ sends a message without breaking the wallets of these teams. The new personnel is something I was not expecting, but I’m glad the Bowl is investing the time and money for these new positions.

  7. I think Terry did the right things across the board. Maybe should have been $1000 on the fine each, but love the actions being taken all around.

  8. Crazy in NY says

    Don’t know Mr Emes but yes, kudos from me too. I don’t think a 500 fine is too little.

    If it happens to either of them again then..yes drop a bomb on them. Looks like the track

    is stepping up to take their share of it and now there is a chance for all concerned to

    learn going forward. Nice job Speedbowl.

  9. rocco should not get the race points !! bs the car was illegal

  10. I love how people look at modified teams (including Keiths) and just automatically assume they are loaded. Couldn’t be further from the truth. Anyone who believes that $500 is too little is ignorant. As was said above, $500 sends a message and that’s all that was needed. As I said in a previous note, tethers, while nice, would not have prevented this particular incident. The spindle broke completely in half from it’s mounting location. The situation has only been amplified by the fact that the tethers were not in place.

  11. Great management response from Terry Eames .

  12. As a new sk lite team owner i am pleased to see penalty’s handed out for blatant disregard of a safety rules. I think the fine was correct, but i would have also added a one week suspension, $500 does not hurt teams with big budgets, but points do.

  13. Wooohooo says

    Well now the bowl has a a grand to pay the people it owes money to. HA.

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