The 2017 Watkins Glen Motorsport Safety Seminar is in the books, and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to participate.
Training is crucial in this highly dangerous hobby that we choose to do, and not a lot of places provide it on a regular basis. Certainly none is offered by the SCCA in the New York City metropolitan area, but five hour drive north at Watkins Glen International, RSI and NASCAR put a very thorough and educational program together every year to both teach the newbies and refresh the skills of the old hands that attend. There were newbies for all specialties, from flaggers to fire fighters. And there were plenty of old hands who wanted to handle a fire extinguisher which we seldom get a chance to do with “on the job” training. The fire rescue folks had about half a dozen cars they got to cut up with the jaws of life, AMKUS tool – the official tool of NASCAR. People from Pocono Raceway helped with the training and rescue folks came from as far as Calabogie Canada to receive this training. It was essential and awesome at the same time. I really enjoyed it!
This is a two day event. Day 1 it snowed… not much when I arrived, but there were icebergs and fresh snow on the ground at the track.
It was also freezing!
The beauty of this training, whether for fire fighters or us flaggers, many of the things taught were meant not just for the track, but everyday life. Street cars were used for extrication practice to show how they ought to be cut correctly… whether for road accident or track accident (for track and club days, non-pro events). similarly caged cars were cut to practice specifically race car extrications.
I cashed in a favor and CouchSurfed in downtown Watkins Glen.
My host invited me to check out their neighbors barn bar… it was pretty awesome. Always nice to nibble on venison sausages and beer! These are real NASCAR fans… “So who’s your driver?”
Day two was significantly warmer. We got to shoot the extinguishers:
Same cut-away car from two years ago, but it works well!
Not sure what this fella was up to.
Chief really knew his shit, and presented it in understandable manner.
The wind was coming in from the front, blowing the extinguisher powder back at us. So some adjustment in positioning was required.
Everyone had a go… I went last.
By the time I got the bottle there was barely enough pressure to reach the fire.
So I sprayed, and I sprayed, and I sprayed… and I have a feeling one of the fire fighters cut the propane so the flame went out on its own.
But boy was it fun just doing it. Pulling the trigger. The excitement of fighting a fire. Better to do it under these circumstances and knowing what to expect than during a racing event when a car pulls up on fire and you’re the closet one with a bottle there. It’s nice to know what to expect from it once you’ve called for help.
Thank you RSI. Thank you WGI. Thank you NASCAR!