The biggest obstacle faced by any speedway is down-time. What happens when there is an on-track incident that requires extensive clean-up and perhaps medical attention? Grandstands everywhere are filled with paying customers who are there to see a show and although even a casual motorsports fan understands that crashes and mechanical failures are part of the game, they want to see the high speed action and thrills of their favourite driver compete for the checkered flag.
Like other tracks, Kawartha Speedway is faced with the added pressure of a curfew imposed by the local municipality. Once the cars roll from the staging area at 7:00 for the first qualifying heat race, the entire show needs to be in the books by 11:00. That allows just a 4 hour window for a program with the track’s 3 regular divisions and a variety of touring series. With the restrictions of a tight schedule, the support staff needs to bring their best effort to the track for each and every show and Kawartha’s crew is one of the best in the industry.
The emergency response unit – supplied by Todd Equipment in nearby Millbrook, Ontario – is a fully-equipped ATV, manned by professionally trained personnel who arrive on the scene within seconds of trouble on the racetrack. Mark and Deborah Edgerton have the background and experience to do the job and co-ordinate the activity at the accident site. After starting with the track’s clean-up crew, Mark Edgerton – a veteran of nearly 30 years with Cavan Monaghan Fire Rescue – proposed the idea of an Emergency Response Team to Promoter/General Manager Derek Lynch when the track reopened in 2004. A racer himself, he says Lynch was immediately behind the program.
“Derek’s said his main concern has always been with driver safety,” said Edgerton. “In our first meetings, he related some of his own experience and told me that every racecar is designed to take a crash but his biggest fear is to be trapped in a car that is on fire.”
Mark Edgerton says he and his wife Deborah have upgraded the ERT’s equipment and supplies every year since the team’s inception. The unit rolls to every crash scene on the racetrack, not matter how minor it may initially appear.
“There’s no way to evaluate anything until we’re actually on site,” said Edgerton. “Deborah has close to 10 years experience with St. Johns Ambulance and more than 5 years as a first aid and CPR instructor. Her background can quickly gauge the severity of any injury and communicate instructions to the crew from Apollo Patient Transfer if needed.”
All members of Kawartha Speedway’s support crews are linked by way of radio communication with the control tower and race director Rob McCrae and look to keep the show rolling. Debris on the racetrack is quickly taken care of by the clean-up crews started by Dave McKinnon and taken over by Bill Prince in 2010, while Dave Ephgrave from Fitzsimmons Towing and the Nadeau Auto Body/Eggy Car Care towing specialists John McMahon and Gary Ainsworth get any damaged racecars back to the pit area.
Its not just about the speed, Kawartha Speedway is committed to safety on and off the racetrack and their support teams have set the bar as high as possible.
Kawartha klips: 2012 race action gets started with an open test session Friday, May 25th. Fans can see the complete schedule and the latest off-season news anytime at www.kawarthaspeedway.com.
By Jim Clarke – Clarke Motorsports Communications