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Safety changes at local race tracks
Batavia/Canandaigua, N.Y. - The crash that killed Kevin Ward Jr. in Canandaigua Saturday has already prompted other area race tracks to make changes.
Its a big reality check for all the race tracks, says Annette Mazur, owner of Raceway 5, a dirt track in Batavia.
20-year-old Ward got out of his sprint car after he spun out into the wall of the dirt track Canandaigua Motorsports Park Saturday night. In the video taken from the stands, it looked like Ward was spun out by NASCAR driver Tony Stewart. Ward then got out of his car, and began walking toward the center of the track, when he was hit and killed by Stewarts car.
Who would ever think you'd have to enforce a policy like this? Never in a million years would you think that you'd have to tell your drivers to stay in their car, Mazur says.
While its common knowledge in the racing community, a lot of tracks either don't have an official "stay in your car" rule and most that do, don't have penalties to enforce it.
In the wake of Wards death, Mazur is just one area track owner that has decided to reevaluate the rules and make sure theyre enforced. At Raceway 5, if a driver is not in immediate danger or doesnt have permission from officials, anyone who gets out of their cars during a race will lose points and money. Mazur said the she hasnt determined the amount the track will fine drivers who break the stay in your car rule, but the penalty will be steep.
Points [are] the most important thing because in these kinds of races, lets face it, these guys aren't making any money it's just mostly for the sport, all for the bragging rights.
Mazur said its always been an unwritten rule and that no one should be out on the track during a race and drivers, unless they are in immediate danger, should stay in their cars.
It's a known a fact at most tracks that you just don't get out of your car, Mazur says. It's like walking across the thruway, why would you get out?
On Saturday, Ward walked out onto the track, pointed at Stewart and then was struck and killed by Stewarts car.
I think his temper was flaring a little bit. He got out [and] probably wasnt thinking straight, Mazur said. I was shocked, horrified at the whole thing. Being the mother of a racer, you do not want anything to happen to them.
Canandaigua Motorsports Park, the track where the crash happened, is scheduled to reopen Saturday. Those who run the track say they will be racing in honor of Ward. They would not comment on whether or not any changes will be made to the rules or track before then.