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Suspension over Baltimore 'near catastrophe'

A member of the Holmatro Safety Team who was driving a truck head-on into the oncoming cars at the start of the Baltimore Grand Prix on Sunday has been suspended.
IndyCar organisers have announced that they have suspended a member of the Holmatro Safety Team who was working at Baltimore, over an incident that saw a safety truck come within feet of race cars at the start of the inaugural grand prix race on the downtown streets.

The suspended safety team member was driving the truck, which moments before had been assisting in the adjustment of out-of-position tyre walls at turn 5 during the safety car laps. The truck was then meant to move to its race start position between turns 2 and 4 but instead the truck moved around the track into a position at the exit of turn 1 as the green flag came out

That put the truck on a head-on collision course with the leaders as they came through the first corner, at closing speeds of up to 150mph. As Graham Rahal exited the corner on the outside line and used it to sweep around Will Power for the temporary lead, he came within metres of clipping the truck - or worse, a head-on collision.

“It was a near catastrophe,” Brian Barnhart, IndyCar's president of competition and operations, told the Indianapolis Star. “It was an extremely close call”

"Who noticed the Safety Truck coming head on toward us on the exit of turn 1 at the start of the race??? Crazy..." tweeted Ryan Briscoe immediately after the race.

The safety team member has been suspended for two races and will miss Motegi and Kentucky before being able to resume work at the season finale at Las Vegas. IndyCar declined to name the man, but described him as "one of our most experienced, with more than 20 years working with various safety teams [who] unfortunately made an error."

"The safety of our drivers, track workers, safety team members and all exposed personnel is always of the utmost importance during any event," said Barnhart in a statement. "Protocol was not followed at the start of the event and we had to take action by issuing a suspension."

Barnhart said he had also been in touch with all members of staff who operated vehicles on track during the race weekend and had been "reinforcing all of our procedures. We want to make sure we do everything possible to avoid any situation like this in the future."

However, the statement and suspension did not address the question of how the green flag was put out for the start of the race before race control had confirmation that all safety vehicles were off the track and that the track was clear to race on.




Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Close-up overhead shot of turn one on the street course at Baltimore at the double-file start, showing the Holmatro Safety Truck narrowly making it off the track before the leading cars arrive head-on. [Photo Credit: LAT Photo USA for IndyCar Media]
Will Power wheel-to-wheel with Graham Rahal (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud and Ryan Briscoe go wheel-to-wheel during the Open Test at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
The cars of Ryan Briscoe and Sebastien Bourdais go off course during the start of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
The cars of Ryan Briscoe and Sebastien Bourdais go off course during the start of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
The cars of Ryan Briscoe and Sebastien Bourdais go off course during the start of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
The field scatters as the drivers avoid the cars of Sebastien Bourdais and Ryan Briscoe at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Scott Dixon and Simon Pagenaud on the podium after the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal shows off the his new helmet prior to the morning warmup for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay on pit lane prior to the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal gets strapped into his machine before the start of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay navigates the Turn 9 Esses during practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Briscoe enters Turn 3 during practice for the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at the Milwaukee Mile (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay enters Turn 3 during practice for the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at the Milwaukee Mile (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Briscoe exits Turn 5 during the final practice for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay on course during practice for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay on the pit wall at Mid-Ohio (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay at Mid-Ohio (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)

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Peter - Unregistered

September 09, 2011 3:54 AM

The question of "why the green flag was issued while the safety truck was still on the track?" is the wrong question. That truck was already off the track in its correct position between turns 2 and 3. At the very moment Race Control called "Green! Green! Green!", the truck jumped out onto the track from its safe and correct position and, with sirens blasting, did a u-turn and headed toward turn 1 driving like a bat out of hell. I know because I was in Grandstand 8 opposite the truck and listening to Race Control on the radio when the truck jumped out onto the track. I believe a more appropriate question is: who authorized the truck to go back out on the track at the very moment the race went green? Any why the sirens? I never heard a safety truck use its sirens before.



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