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DATE News (chronologically)
03/01/12
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Jet Dryer operators to wear firesuits and helmets  Jet dryer operators will wear firesuits and helmets this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway as part of a safety move following Juan Pablo Montoya’s fiery crash in the Daytona 500.

Montoya’s car spun and he crashed into a jet dryer during a caution period in Monday night’s season-opening NASCAR Sprint Cup race. Neither Montoya nor Duane Barnes, the jet dryer operator, were injured, but the impact caused a huge fireball as approximately 200 gallons of jet fuel spilled onto the track.

The jet dryer belonged to Michigan International Speedway, and Barnes was not wearing a firesuit or a helmet.

PIR spokesman David Lockett confirmed that its jet dryer operators would be outfitted with the safety gear this weekend.

Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage said his track will take action as well. Jet dryer operators, whose job entails blowing debris from the track following wrecks as well as drying the racing surface, do not wear firesuits because they typically are not around fires.

“My guys will [wear them] because, if nothing else, I like them and they’re good guys,” Gossage said. “I want firesuits and helmets for those guys. I want at least four-point [seat-belt] harnesses. I want to look at roll bars. I want to look at the right kind of fire extinguishers in the truck.

“To me the amazing miracle is the guy didn’t die from the collision alone.”

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