Reporting Jason Allen
FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Texas Motor Speedway is planning safety changes for its jet dryer trucks, following an unprecedented crash and explosion at the Daytona 500. Speedway president Eddie Gossage said his staff met Tuesday to discuss changes to the two custom-built trucks at the track.
The accident Monday sent 200 gallons of burning jet fuel spilling down the banked turns in Daytona. Gossage said the TMS is already prepared for fuel spills. The changes he said will be focused more on protecting the truck drivers from the impact of a crash.
Bumpers may be added to the rear of the truck, where the jet engine is mounted. Drivers may wear fire suits, helmets, and move to four or five point safety harnesses instead of standard seat belts used now. A truck CBS 11 looked at already has a small fire extinguisher inside, but Gossage said fire safety could be reviewed as well.
“If you rear end it, as you transport simply from event to event on the interstate, there isn’t a bumper back there to protect everybody from the jet engine that’s just hanging there,” he said.
The trucks at TMS are designed differently than those in Daytona. The truck that was hit was pulling a trailer with the jet blower on it. The TMS trucks are standard Chevrolet dually trucks with the fuel tank and jet engine built directly onto the bed. Gossage said the jet is a surplus engine from the 1950’s that is nothing fancier than a giant hair dryer. TMS trucks do carry up to 400 gallons of jet fuel, twice as much as what burned in Daytona.
“If it had been our trucks, it might have been a little bigger situation,” he said.
Truck driver James Farrell said he usually goes no faster than two to three miles per hour when he’s on the track. He is in constant radio communication with a control tower where someone tells him where to go, and if a race car is coming up behind him. Still, an impact like the one at Daytona is something that had never really been a big concern for him.
“I was thinking what could he have done differently,” he said, talking about the driver Monday. “And there’s really nothing he could do differently, you know.”
Gossage said it was possible the changes could extend to the seven other tracks owned by Speedway Motorsports, Inc. It would be up to NASCAR to make any rules changes regarding car speeds and locations while the cleaning trucks are working on the track.
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