CART's Safety Team Changed Racing Those of us who have followed racing for decades know that the sport we love claimed the lives of many drivers over the years. Now, though still very dangerous, it is much less likely to result in fatalities or permanently debilitating injuries. That change didn't just happen by chance; it was the result of a concerted effort by many people, most notably by racing engineers and medical professionals associated with CART and the CART Champ Car Safety Team.
In his book, "Rapid Response," Dr. Steve Olvey says "In the 1960's one out of seven drivers died in the major forms of auto racing, including Formula One." In a December 2009 article by Gordon Kirby, Tony Cicale is quoted as saying "When I first got involved in CART somebody was getting maimed or killed every weekend, or close to it."
In the mid-1970's Wally Dallenbach, then a driver, insisted that USAC should employ a traveling medical team, and USAC hired Dr. Stephen Olvey. Dr. Olvey recruited two other doctors to share the duty of traveling to races so that there could be a consistent and knowledgeable medical response to racing accidents.
Just one of the things CART did to improve safety was to expand the full time Safety Team that traveled with the series. Initially headed by Steve Edwards, the major improvements in safety mostly took place while Lon Bromley was responsible for the overall effort as Director of Safety from 1988 until 2008. Every member of the CART Champ Car Safety Team had some kind of medical license, from Firefighter/EMT-B or Firefighter/EMT-P to Nurse or Medical Doctor.
Among the best known members of the CART Champ Car Safety Team are Dr. Steve Olvey who was the Medical Director of CART from its beginning in 1979 through 2003, and Dr. Terry Trammel, the now famous orthopedic surgeon of choice to the racing community, called the "Magician" by Robin Miller.
While the dangers of racing can still prove fatal, we can all be thankful for the CART Champ Car Safety Team and its successful rescue efforts. None of us will forget the heroic efforts of the Safety Team in saving Alex Zanardi after what looked like a fatal accident in Germany. We also remember how Cristiano da Matta survived a horrific encounter with a deer at Road America while Dr. Chris Pinderski was Medical Director of the Champ Car World Series.
CART Champ Car Friends, a group that initially consisted of CART Champ Car racing fans, has held a Winter Meeting in suburban Detroit each of the past six years. In recent years these gatherings have included former CART Champ Car employees, members of the Safety Team, and racing volunteers.
The 7th Annual Winter Meeting of CART Champ Car Friends will be held on Saturday, January 8, 2011 at the Sheraton Detroit Novi Hotel, 21111 Haggerty Road, Novi, MI 48375. The agenda for 2011 is to honor the CART Champ Car Safety Team. The cost to attend is $35, including dinner, payable in advance (as soon as possible so that we can determine how large a group we need to accommodate).
All former CART Champ Car employees, volunteers, sponsors, team members, and fans are invited to be part of this event. Please R.S.V.P. by sending your check for $35, payable to David Pixley, to 55 New London Rd., Pittsford, NY 14534.
Some of us from out of town may also get together informally for dinner on our own at the hotel on Friday evening. A larger group may gather for lunch on their own in the hotel restaurant and private dining room on Saturday. Those interested in a possible excursion to the Motorsports Hall of Fame on Saturday afternoon should send an email to CCICFriends@yahoo.com so that we determine the size of group for which we need to explore arrangements.
A block of rooms at the Sheraton has been arranged for Friday, January 7 and Saturday, January 8 at a special rate of $79 per night. To get this rate please call the hotel directly at 1-866-837-4180 and tell them you are attending the CART Champ Car Friends event.
Anyone who considers himself or herself a friend of CART Champ Car racing, regardless of current affiliations, is invited to attend this event. Please circulate this invitation to anyone you think might be interested. If you have questions or would like to added to our email list please reply to CCICFriends@yahoo.com.
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