Local News

Enforcing Amateur Racing Events Can Be Challenging

Posted June 24, 2007

— When a race car plowed through a crowd of unprotected spectators in Tennessee recently, it brought back painful memories for many in Franklin County.

In August 2003, a modified jeep at Five County Raceway lost control and slammed into a crowd killing a young mother and injuring several others.

Without a state or federal regulating body, the responsibility for monitoring and permitting amateur racing events often falls under the jurisdiction of local planning directors like Franklin County's Pat Young.

“It’s incumbent upon us to look at best practices across the country where these events are ongoing,” Young said.

Even with local rules, enforcing them can be a challenge.

Right before the 2003 accident, Franklin County repeatedly ordered the Five County Raceway to stop the mudsling event that led to the crash - citing a lack of permits. The owner insisted he was covered with his permit for go-karts.

While Young wouldn’t talk specifically about the case, he said special-use permits are hard to come by.

“The permit process is very vigorous,” he said. “It has to go through staff review, before the planning board and then the county commissioners.”

When the race track owner attempted to re-open the track a year-later, the county denied the request. Five County Raceway has been dormant since.

Four years after the crash, there are no amateur race tracks operating in Franklin County. Young said no new applicants have come forward with any requests.

There is still pending litigation in the mudsling accident. As for the case in Tennessee, state officials are promising a safety review.


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  • Jokers Wild Jun 25, 2007

    ltbarkley - Apparently you are not on the same page as us? These accidents DID occur at sanctioned events. Exactly what Goverment Regulation are you speaking of?? I think the Whole Issue is Liability, Noone is willing to sponsor these Event's because when things get out of hand, it can ruin them. There has to be someone held liable for these events or you would really see things get carried away! Tracks are not shutting down because of "regulations" , Tracks are being shut down because of noone wants to be responsible!

  • ltbarkley Jun 25, 2007

    THANKS GOVERNMENT. No. Talk about short sighted. A few people that get injured at a legal race track, shut down the track. Now we have thousands getting killed because of street racing and doing the fun things that would be better confined to a track. If there were several race tracks for everything from road racing to drag racing to mud racing to drifting, I guarantee there would be less deaths related to those on the street. I cant say how many times I have wanted to take my car on the track - but there are no tracks near by. Why? Because of stupid government regulation like that.

  • Adelinthe Jun 25, 2007

    Mom & Pop's need to have a 20' fence just like the big boys, and if they can't afford it, they need not to be open. PERIOD!

    The problem comes when they erect stands outside of the fenced audience area. Wake County Speedway, the owners of which are very concerned about their responsibilities, has a small area intended for tow truck and ambulance drivers, but I've seen families of the drivers, etc., sitting there as well which I can't understand.

    I've seen a pile of THREE racecars go over that 4' concrete retaining wall and smack into the tow truck, so if it would have hit about 10' to the left, it would have gone right into that area of stands because there's no fence there. It isn't intended for general audience members.

    And there IS a way to monitor these things. Make those that approve the zoning and issue the licenses racefans who will be attending the events regularly enough that they can cite the establishment for infractions.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • Jokers Wild Jun 25, 2007

    Refiman2 - I figured you were the ignorant one because of your ignorant comments. Calling a spectator stupid for spectating makes as much since as your spelling is the only thing I was pointing out. My point stand's and calling someone a little boy... Real cute i'd have to say! Anytime you want proof and can take one for the team, let me know.

  • sflemon Jun 25, 2007

    The government loves to chose topics like street racing above rape and murder, but refuse to do what it takes to open legal racing facilities and maintain them. Given the opportunity to do so, most people will do the right thing (go to the track and keep it off the street).

  • Refiman2 Jun 25, 2007

    Jokers Wild, you show your lack of education and pettyness by making an issue over a typo. Grow up little boy

  • Jokers Wild Jun 25, 2007

    Refiman2 - Obviously stupid enough to mispell "WELL".

    Seriously though, Anytime there is a spectator sport such as Racing or Mud Slingin' There are always risk, and there will always be accident's that are going to happen! Just because someone is involved in an accident such as the vitims here does not mean they are any more stupid than someone killed in a car accident driving to work! There are Dangers in EVERYTHING we do really, the only thing that has changed is how we perceive these danger's. Look at driving for instance, most of us are fairly comfortable on the interstate going home for the holidays in bumper to bumper traffic right?

  • Refiman2 Jun 25, 2007

    weell, how stupid do you have to be to stand right next to the fence at 1 of these events

  • anaconda Jun 25, 2007

    problem is its a mom and pop,nickle and dime operation.its also a cash buseness.slim profit maggin.
    the owners of the operation at best own the land.the 25 doller more or les entry fee go, in the owners pocket.these operations dont have the money to have nascar type safty,ie catch fences,guardrails ect.
    unless your superman you cant react fast enough to jump out of the way like someone suggested.

  • ladyblue Jun 24, 2007

    I can't see how any race track can be safe if it has no guard rail, fences, and grandstands to keep people out of the direction of traffic. If they were properly fenced in and the stands set up like a Nascar race wouldn't they be safer? You may have to dig a drag pit road deep in the ground but wouldn't it be worth it. It may not be possible. I am just asking.