Local News

Enforcing Amateur Racing Events Can Be Challenging

Posted June 24, 2007 7:28 p.m. EDT
Updated June 24, 2007 10:42 p.m. EDT

— 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.