Local tracks urge race car drivers to follow safety protocol
Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - After tragedy struck on a New York dirt race track, local race car drivers are facing the reality of the dangers they face when they get behind the wheel.
And local tracks are urging participants to follow safety protocol.
Races went on as usual here at the Buffalo River Race track last night. But at a meeting with all drivers prior to the races taking off, they stressed the importance of staying in the car when on the track.
A fatal collision in New York is sending shockwaves through the entire sprint car-racing community.
Dan Dowling/Driver: "Giving the whole sport a black eye right now."
Dan Dowling has raced since he was 14 years old, and heads to the Buffalo River Race track in Glyndon every Sunday.
Dowling: "We risk our own lives to put on a good show for the fans and race because we love it."
At this weekend's races, all anyone could talk about was that tragic accident in New York, when 20-year-old Kevin Ward, Jr. was killed.
Dowling: "I watched the video probably 50 times and it made me sick to my stomach."
He had gotten out during a race to confront NASCAR veteran Tony Stewart, and was hit by Stewart's car.
Dowling: "There are times in the heat of the moment where the driver will get mad; I've done it before, get out of the car."
But as racetrack officials at Buffalo River reminded their drivers before racing the next day, it's not safe.
They advise racers to stay in the car, buckled in, with safety gear on unless the car is on fire or the driver is told they can get out.
Dowling: "Freak accidents happen, so they just want to make sure everybody's protected."
Officials say they have not ruled out charges against Stewart, but Dowling says people shouldn't be too quick to judge.
Dowling: "There are a lot of people out there that don't understand how these cars work how they react and how things go on a racetrack."
Stewart released a statement saying "there aren't words" to describe his sadness over the collision.