How Can Racetracks Improve Security?

Aaron Cole
by Aaron Cole

News on Thursday that two teens were injured at Lime Rock Park near Salisbury, Connecticut brought forward questions about track safety and security.

Namely, how could tracks be safer and more secure when they’re not operational? And could insurance companies, who already charge a considerable amount of money, eventually sink small town tracks that can’t afford to lockdown tracks completely?

Many tracks are rural parts of the country, and run with skeleton crews — even during race events. That’s because tracks are like golf courses and graveyards, most of their open ground isn’t consistently used and therefore, not always insanely profitable.

A reader told us that Lime Rock’s moveable metal fence was an “open secret” about a decade ago. The reader took their car onto the track at night and when local hotel staff heard about their antics, the staff made it sound like they had done the same.

A while ago, Steven Cole Smith accurately detailed the difficulties of owning a track in America: insurance costs are high, profits are low and NASCAR (or any other form of televised racing) is free. Those all make it incredibly difficult to justify opening a racetrack — but an iconic park like Lime Rock has a different set of problems. Old tracks need to be fitted with new, expensive security systems.

Like anyone who’s been to Road America, or whatever they’re calling Sears Point Raceway, a walk through the trees is sometimes all you need to get up close to the action.

It’s not just tracks in their downtime that are susceptible to their grand size and skeleton-crew security teams. Recently, a young man spectating at Brands Hatch — one of the most storied circuits in Britain — drove a Volkswagen Polo onto the track, during an event, while other cars were racing.

The points also raise important questions about track accessibility. Should tracks be more open to invite people onto the surface in a controlled environment? Have you ever gone on an open track night?

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2 of 21 comments
  • JimC2 JimC2 on Aug 20, 2015

    The real question is not "how," it is "whether." And the answer is "no." It's a shame these kids died from doing stuff just as dumb as what I've done (different dumb stuff, different from this dumb stuff that is) but it's entirely their own fault.

  • Tjh8402 Tjh8402 on Aug 20, 2015

    How expensive are some concrete Jersey barriers? Could you put them across the racetrack at various points to make it where you can't complete a lap? Worth noting that Lime Rock's problems were two fold: the access to the go karts and then the ability to get them on track.

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