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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]
Ryan Briscoe steps into the #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda in place of the injured James Hinchcliffe. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, May 21 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Briscoe steps into the #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda in place of the injured James Hinchcliffe. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, May 21 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Briscoe steps into the #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda in place of the injured James Hinchcliffe. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, May 21 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Briscoe steps into the #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda in place of the injured James Hinchcliffe. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, May 21 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
A safety vehicle inspects the track as Indy 500 qualifying is rained out at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday May 16 2015. (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya, Will Power and Graham Rahal celebrates after the Angie`s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on Saturday May 9 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay straps on his helmet prior to practice for the Angie`s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Thursday May 7 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal on opening day at IMS (Photo by: Dana Garrett for IndyCar Media)
Justin Wilson and Ryan Hunter-Reay discuss practice at IMS (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
The podium of Josef Newgarden, Graham Rahal, and Scott Dixon celebrate with champagne following the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Sunday April 26 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal in action in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Sunday April 26 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal celebrates in victory lane after finishing second in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Sunday April 26 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
The podium of Josef Newgarden, Graham Rahal, and Scott Dixon celebrate in Victory Circle following the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Sunday April 26 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
The podium of Josef Newgarden, Graham Rahal, and Scott Dixon celebrate in Victory Circle following the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Sunday April 26 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
The podium of Josef Newgarden, Graham Rahal,and Scott Dixon hoist their trophies following the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Sunday April 26 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
The podium of Josef Newgarden, Graham Rahal,and Scott Dixon hoist their trophies following the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Sunday April 26 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal sits in his Honda machine prior to practice for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Friday April 17 2015. (Photo by Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

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chasmunch

September 12, 2011 4:45 PM

Seems to me the chain of command leading to the Start Finish flag man are actually at fault...the green flag shouldn't drop til there is an all clear from every safety check point around the circuit. Having been at Baltimore, there's plenty to sort out before 2012. A headon with the safety truck would have been the exclamation point on a very lucky week end for all concerned



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