Speedway Looking at Spectator Safety as Races Approach - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Speedway Looking at Spectator Safety as Races Approach

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DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - As summer zooms closer, so does another season of racing at Dover International Speedway. And a horrific crash earlier this year in Datyona has both fans and the track thinking safety.

That huge crash happened in late February during a Nationwide Series race at Daytona. The fiery accident sent debris flying into the stands and hurt more than 30 fans.

Dover says there's been increased focus on safety both for race teams and fans in recent years. But major crashes are still an inherent risk of the sport.

Ed Klima heads emergency services at Dover International Speedway. He was working out and watching the race at Daytona when the crash happened.

"Any time there's a significant incident at one of the tracks we like to look to see what lessons to learn there may be," he said.

He says it becomes a discussion internally with response crews and externally with public safety.

"A - could that situation occur here? B - how would we respond?"

Klima says the answer to that first question is yes, but it's less likely than at Daytona. Daytona averages speeds 20 to 50 MPH faster than at Dover. The cars race in a much tighter pack at Daytona, which leads to more crashes. And the tracks themselves are different - example, Daytona has much longer straightaways.

"It's less likely a car could get airborne here in that kind of scenario. Never say never. We have had cars that have gone airborne and rolled in the last ten years but not in the same dynamic as what you see at Daytona."

If there is a crash, debris fences protect the stands at Dover. And if necessary, there are care centers both in the infield and outside track.

For now, Klima isn't sure there's anything he'd change about Dover's emergency procedures based on the Daytona crash. He says he'd be perfectly comfortable sitting in the stands as a fan. But, when the after action report comes out on Daytona, he'll take a good, long look at it.

"If there is anything we can learn and apply to our operations," he said. "We will certainly do that."

The race weekends at Dover this summer are May 31-June 2 and Sept. 27-29.

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