Fence Ripper No Sweat For Eldora Safety Crew

Photo by Jerry Jordan/Kickin' the Tires

By Jerry Jordan, Editor

ROSSBURG, OH – Racecars getting into the outside wheel fence at short tracks isn’t unusual, so when Chase Briscoe hopped the cushion Tuesday night and took out a two-foot section during practice for Wednesday’s Dirt Derby, the safety and repair crew at Eldora Speedway quickly went to work.

Briscoe’s No. 29 truck ripped open a section of the chain link fence and bent one of the massive steel posts, but the damage wasn’t considered a major safety issue because of the two-pronged approach used when it was constructed. The safety fence was designed by racing legend Tony Stewart and former Indianapolis Motor Speedway director of engineering and construction, Kevin Forbes, and uses pvc-coated cyclone fencing for its main protective barrier, as well as a pvc-coated netting – similar to chicken wire, as secondary protection.

“It was designed for late models with the big spoilers on and winged sprint cars and for racing here at Eldora we have a lot of stuff that flips up into the fence,” Slack said. “So, 

we have ready-made patches. It consists of pvc-coacted chain link or cyclone fencing and it has the cable system built into it. On the backside it has the pvc-coated hex-fence. It comes out of the northeast and is used for lobster and crab traps.

“We have a fence truck that is loaded up and ready to go. We have that every week and that is actually one of the benefits of running a NASCAR event, as part of your minimum track safety standards, you have things that need to be ready, so we have just adopted that into our regular routine. We have all of the materials on stand-by and ready to go, just like they did at New Hampshire last week.”

While the poles at Eldora are bent outward from the track for a reason, Briscoe’s truck did damage the Turn 4 post slightly, but not to the point that it will cause an issue. Slack said the design of the fencing is such that it doesn’t “grab” the back of a racecar as it is sliding around the dirt track.

“They are angled in, so that there is room there for the spoilers and room for the wings so that the guys aren’t getting torn up by the wheel fence on the dirt cars,” Slack said. “That is why the guys in the trucks are able to hit the walls as much as they do and it doesn’t rip the spoilers off. Back in the old days, with the old fence where it was right on the way, the fence would catch the wing and it would literally flip the racecars.

“This was something that Tony worked with Kevin on as part of the design, so the fence didn’t wreck the racecars.”

Slack said he was encouraged by what he saw during the practices on Tuesday, and he was also happy to hear that drivers haven’t really noticed that Goodyear brought a different tire compound than what had been used in the past.

 

He said he expects the trucks to be “chasing the brown,” which means the groove should widen out.

“To see guys running four, five and six and running three or four different lanes, right along the bottom wall, and up the top and sliding up on each other,” Slack said, “and that right front tire starts wearing out, that final segment will really get interesting. Then we will see them racing like fighter jets in the corners and that is what I am looking for.”

The green flag for the 2017 Eldora Speedway Dirt Derby will wave at 9:45 p.m. There are still walk-up tickets available.

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