Tag Archives: Stress

That Race Car Got Some Air! [Guest Post, Quarter Life Crisis]

17 Apr

By Steve Puvalowski
CEO, Tri-City Motor Speedway

I have learned to expect the unexpected during a race night at Tri-City Motor Speedway. On August 3, 2012, I thought the burned out scoreboard light was going to be the biggest issue to fix that night. When I was repairing the scoreboard, however, I heard over my headset that a Sprint car flipped and went through the fence and landed in the parking lot. At first I didn’t realize what was said and figured the safety crew could take care of it. Then it hit me. If the Sprint car went through the fence and landed in the parking lot, the car must have launched about nine feet in the air and landed outside of the track where fans park. (Before you freak out, this is not the reinforced 15′ fence that protects the grandstands.)

8 3 2012 SOD flipping over the fence

I hopped in my vehicle to find the driver of the Sprint car standing outside of his car, thankfully unharmed, and his car sitting within one foot from a spectator’s pickup truck. The situation now became fixing the 30-foot hole in the fence and resuming races as soon as possible so that racers and fans could still enjoy a night at the track. Amazingly, the safety crew and I fixed the fence and got the races started again with only a 40-minute delay. The Sprint car driver even got a back up car and he continued racing for remainder of the night!

Safety Crew with Sprint car that flipped over fence  landed in spectator parking

Unexpected situations can easily be stressful, frustrating and just plain difficult to deal with. However, there are some helpful steps for working through these situations and finding a solution. Here are some pointers I’ve learned:

  1. Remain calm. Take a few deep breaths and don’t freak out, no matter how bad you think it is. This will help you think more clearly when working through the issue.

Losing my cool wouldn’t have helped anything. I prepared for the worst as I drove to see the accident, but remained collected so that I could think clearly about what needed to be done.

  1. Assess the situation. Try and find out the facts of what exactly the situation/problem is. Making sure you identify the root problem will help you resolve the issue faster.

My first priority was to make sure the Sprint driver and spectators were completely safe. After that was addressed I was able to focus on the second issue, getting the fence fixed so that races could resume.

  1. Create a plan of attack. Think through the steps you will need to resolve the situation. What’s the biggest priority? Then what is next? Spending a few minutes getting manageable steps in order will save you time in the long run.

What are the steps needed to fix the fence? By sorting out the steps I could give clear directions on what had to be done i.e. taking care of the race delay and current racers, getting the right tools and materials for the fence and organizing the safety crew to make the fixes.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes you simply can’t get everything done by yourself. This is when you need to find someone who can help you with the problem or assist you in working through your action steps. Sometimes another person (or people) can make all the difference in helping with an unexpected situation.

I never would have fixed the fence by myself. I relied on my crew to help me get the problem fixed and they did a great job.

Here are some other notable unexpected situations I’ve faced:

– Finding an abandoned coal mine-shaft next to the track while doing renovations.

– The night the generator broke and the whole track went black.

– When another Sprint car flipped several times and the driver needed to be cut out of his car and was airlifted to the hospital.

Oh, the stories I can tell and I have only had three years of operating Tri-City Motor Speedway under my belt. I guess you’ll have to catch me at a MYPro’s event to get the rest of the details!

Puvalowski, SteveSteve Puvalowski is the CEO and promoter of Tri-City Motor Speedway. He purchased the abandoned track in 2010 and work roughly 16 hour days for eighteen months straight renovating the track and property to get it ready for racing again in 2011. Steve grew up around racing his entire life and raced a Prostock car and an auto cross truck before he became the owner of Tri-City Motor Speedway.
Email: steve@tricityracetrack.com
Phone: (989) 316-6804