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VOLUNTEER KILLED: Track Was ‘Dangerously Slick’

The promoter of the Iowa State Fairgrounds Racetrack say the death of a volunteer Friday was just a freak accident.

But drivers told Channel 13 the track was dangerously slippery, and one driver says this is the most dangerous track he has been on in his 40-year career.

“Slick. Real slick. Shouldn’t have been raced on. There was no traction,” the driver said. “My back end was sliding around real bad. I saw people ahead of me signaling the flag men, putting their hands in the air and I had thumbs down”

The driver asked not to be identified because he was afraid of being black listed by other promoters, but says he and other drivers indicated the track was too slippery to race on but the race continued anyhow.

Half way through the first lap, a car lost control, slamming into a barrier. The bumper flew off the car and hit 45-year-old Richard Welch, killing him.

Drivers we spoke with say they were pressured by the promoter to race even though they didn’t feel it was safe.

“They’ve got a time schedule. They got a curfew there and they gotta get the race in. We didn’t have a drivers meeting or anything that day because there was a big rush to get things going to meet the curfew. So they were hurrying it up. They were more worried about getting the race in than the safety part of it.”

We could not reach the race promoter for a comment. The Iowa State patrol, meanwhile, continues it’s investigation into the accident.

32 comments

  • truth hurts

    Greed and stupidity killed that man from all partys involved including the blood lust of race fans.

    • Dp32

      Truth hurts you are a idiot this isn’t any gladiator stuff…blood lust?? Really?? Every year people die from other sports…is that blood lust?? No it’s called being a competitor and doing what you love!! Greed?? Your stupid!! There is no greed as far as this goes..all the time and money that are put into these cars of course they wanna race and if there was no money involved most of these guys would still race for the love of the sport so you can just shut up with your uneducated opionions

  • Tyler Thompson

    No one was pressured it was wet and probably shouldn’t have been raced on but it’s not like Tony Moro forced anyone. Tony is learning just like the driver of the car that lost control what happened was a legit ament series of unfortunate events that led to Richards death everyone that knew him knows he was a die hard race fan and he died doing what he loved so to blame it on anyone is a rediculous terrible thing to do! If you weren’t there to race you shoulda loaded up and went home like the poser you are! Racers will race anywhere anytime just ask me I’ll tell you!!!

    • Wyatt Rodden

      Learning??? It’s one thing to have a driver learning, but promoters should NOT be LEARNING at other peoples expense. It’s a hobby for us not for promoters. It is not the drivers fault. Why are we pitting in the infield when it’s not necessary? The water should have been worked into the track, and if all of those barriers weren’t there the driver may have been able to slide through the infield and either regained control or spun himself out. What experience does the promoter and his “partners” have to run or prepare a racetrack? Have they ever done it before or even worked at a track? Don’t take my word for it ask them.

      • ISFS_Racer

        The water was only dumped on the topside of the turns, the ACCIDENT happened on the backstretch! Get a freaking clue before you spout off with your ignorance!

  • Curt Schroeder

    Track was slick but it was not dangerously slick. Racing on a hard slick track takes more skill then racing on a wide open hooked up track. If you are scared to race on a slick track then load up and go home, no one is forcing you to race. Really sad that in such a tragedy we need to try to place blame on someone/something.

  • race official

    There is no such thing as a perfect track so it was slick . Some drivers prefer a moist track no racing conditions are perfect or the same every time. it has nothing to do with greed it is for the love of the sport as myself I am a track worker know the risk every time I put the yellow vest on. ( I do not work for ISF Speedway ) A ACCIDENT TOOK HIS LIFE

  • Race Fan

    People will find any reason to complain about anything. Personally I feel like that gentleman that died, died doing what he enjoyed doing. People can nitpick any little thing to death but how about we look at the life that was lost and realize that he was out doing what he wanted to be doing, enjoying life to the fullest and holding nothing back. Rest high in racing heaven pal!! To the rest of us here, lets make it a point to live life with no regrets, enjoy life instead of destroying others!

  • ISFS_Racer

    This story infuriates me. This so called “racer of 40yrs” is credible enough for such a ignorant twist of this horrrific ACCIDENT, yet cannot give his name? The track was no slicker then it has been in weeks past, and for someone to say that this was all the fault of the racing surface is just pure ignorance. There are a few “racers” who would like to see Tony Moro and crew fail all because he will not tolerate the shenanigans that they have gotten away with in the past! I would bet that one of them are behind this garbage! May you RIP Bones! I’m sorry this ignorance has to cloud what a truly great race fan you were!

  • complete crap

    Sounds like Todd Cooney’s…his comments like those above are all over facebook too! Used to be a fan..no respect now.

  • ISF Racer

    The track was way better then 2 weeks ago when it was a dust bowl. Keep complaining and there won’t be a track to race on. The track is as dangerous as you make it. Lot of people do not have no sense of throttle control, can’t mash the pedal all the time. Where’s the comments about the racer, who hasn’t finished a night with out wrecking his car.

  • Racers wife

    Seriously? The so called “racer of 40 years” has only raced at the fairgrounds a few times, I know exactly who he is and usually races the smaller tracks around. This track is on it’s way back, they have put many hours into it, you can blame Bones’ death anything but an accident.

  • Todd Cooney

    First off I’ve never talked to any media second the driver there talking to said he’s been doing it for 40 plus years third I’m only 40 last but not least what I say is my oppion doe sent mean it’s right or wrong . What happened to bones is horrible he was just at my shop a few weeks ago and he was such a great guy and will be missed by everyone. The new promoters are doing a lot of things that are Awsome and really cool but I think these a few things that need addressed that they don’t think is a problem

  • Makes me sick

    Time to write Casey’s General Store a letter..who would want to sponsor someone like this? No class, no control of his temper, poor attitude, losing fans 1 word at a time…yep that is someone I would want to sponsor my company..not

  • Joe Mastin

    I was there & the track was slick yes . but driver fan & workers all know the risk . what happens is so sad . these things happen from time to time . but to say they made u race is bs are u not a man ? They can make u do anything . it was a choice & again it was very sad bones paid the price doing what he loved .

  • Jerry Hinton

    The question I have is, how do you write a news story with only one persons opinion? Out of all the drivers crew and track officials WHO TV 13 finds the one and only person that had a problem with track conditions and bases an entire story on just one opinion. I don’t understand that? The driver that they interviewed didn’t even car about his own safety enough to stay off the track. Sad story that someone was killed but to follow it up with a terrible story with zero facts and one persons opinion is even worse. Terrible reporting from my favorite news channel. Very disappointed!

  • ISF Racer

    Most importantly my thoughts and prayers go out to bones family & friends. May he rest in peace.
    There were many veteran racers that were upset that they put water on the outside portion the track prior to the feature. Still not sure why they did that, however, I knew it would be slick so I stayed low. We went about 5 or 6 laps before the start of the feature to pack it in. To the racer of 40 years if you felt it was to dangerous to race you had the opportunity to pull off but to give blame to the new promoter on local TV for all non-race fans to see Shame on You!!!!
    We all know the risk we take every time we go to the track and that is our choice to make. It is was an unfortunate accident that happened and took one of our fans and dedicated workers.
    Prayers also need to go to Frankie the driver of the car. He will have this weight on his shoulder forever.

  • hans houfek

    We are proffesional drivers! If the track surface scares you, dont race. It is terrible to loose anyone involved in racing, thoughts and prayers to his family! I would race on the moon if there was a track there, its all about common sense and skill, and racing takes lots of both!

    • Bryan Galde

      Amen ! when I started racing Enduros they wet the track down super wet at start of race and then again 1/2 way through sometimes . If you can’t drive ,park it . Media hype trying to find fault ,,and the one or two idiots they take as experts words on it . RIP ,,sad deal,,,,

  • Ashli Smith

    Someone could have wrecked in any condition. To put blame on Frankie or the track officials is obsurd. To the driver who was interviewed, they will say anything to get their 15minutes of fame. Instead of posting blame, post prayers to all involved. Makes me sick to know there are people out there blaming the driver of the flying debris. I personally would love to see frankie get back into racing. You have to start racing at some point.

  • Randy McColley

    Channel 13 has a real problem with overdramatizing all the news, weather etc… To have one opinion on the track is ludicrous, talk to more than 1 witness please.

  • Troy V

    after watching the story and reading it again today my opinion is that the racer (whoever it is) that was interviewed probably called the TV station since he has an axe to grind with someone (not sure who).

    I feel terrible for Bones’ family as well as the driver of the car (may affect him more than anyone).

    Was the racing surface un-safe? doubtful, I’d say it being slick is the least of people’s worries, when it’s rutty and cars get airborne, that’s when things get scary (to me as a fan and as a sibling to a competitor).

    Is there more the track can do in the name of safety? probably, but when it comes down to it, nothing in life is completely 100% safe and auto racing is definitely not tops on the list of unsafe sporting activiites

    Should there be charges filed? IMO, no there should not. You can do as much as you can to make things as safe as possible, but you can’t account for every possible scenario (it’s just not possible). Is it the driver’s fault (IMO, if you file charges against the driver and he is convicted, auto racing in this country may be completely shut down in a few years or less — too much financial risk for the hobby racers that make up 99.9% of the racers in the USA). Do you charge the promotors? IMO, their insurance company will ask for additional changes for safety, but odds are that what they ask for wouldn’t have prevented this tragedy.

    Will this accident end up being teh end of the ISSF Speedway? I personally hope not, but I’m afraid that some on the Iowa State Fair Fairboard will see this as their angle to convince others to close the speedway and expand the parking area for the Fair ($10 per parking space x 10 days x 500 additional parking spots = $50,000. every additional spot is worth another $5000 per year. Unless they are turning a PROFIT at the track (the fairboard that is) on concessions and rent equal or greater to this $$ amount, it’s a real possiblity.

  • Stephen

    Every driver has the option of pulling to the infield if they feel the conditions are dangerous . Many a professional drive has done that.

  • truck pit crew man

    As a family member of Richards Yes it was a freak accident and theres nothing anyone could have done to stop it. there is no one to blame. all of the safety devices did there job. the main thing right now is the driver is safe and i hope he gets back on the track. the two families have talked to one another and my family is happy that the driver is ok after rolling his car so many times.

  • Racefan

    Track was slick yes, which in turn caused a few cars to spin out in the 1st turn of that lap. Then watching a cluster of cars racing down the back stretch trying to get into turn 3 first. Reason for this tragic accident in my opinion, too many drivers trying to win on the 1st lap.

  • a long time race fan

    Channel 13 thrives on negative and sensationalism reporting. It is a very sad situation for both families involved and I wish the best for both of them. This was an accident that happened. No one to blame. They made it sound like it was the first race of the night when in reality it was the first feature of the night. All heats and a makeup feature for the sprint cars had been ran. Please TV13, do a complete job of reporting, not just one opinion.

  • Cody

    its not todd cooney for 1 he races late model not hobby stock and it dont even sound like him and the track wasnt any worse than any other night racecars crash all the time with the track wet or dry its racing maybe if we didnt have the pits in the middle would be a good thing also even tho the track workers have to stand out there what if a kid watching his dad race was standing there and the car hit him plus the crew of other race teams cant see there driver race besides the straight and 1 turn pits in the midway you can see the whole track.

  • Troy V

    Pittingg in the infield has no bearing on this wreck IMO. There are tons and tons of racetracks across this country that pit inside the track.

    IMO, the person that is saying all the negative things to the TV reporter isn’t even a driver. in one story he says he’s driven there for 4 decades, in another he’s a “crew member”. My guess is that he’s neither, he may just be someone that lives near the Fairgrounds that wants the track shut down. The “driver” on KCCI is no better, he wasn’t even there, yet he thinks he knows for FACT that is was unsafe (he doesn’t, he can’t as he didn’t even see the track surface).

    Cody, even with pitting outside the track, the corner workers,safety personnel, tow trucks, etc. are in the infield as even though the flagman can see the entire track with no obstacles, he can’t see the whole thing at the same time, corner workers watch only their area of the track and radio in when a caution needs to be thrown to try to avoid bigger accidents or when a driver is in need of assistance (do you want the ambulance/fire crew to be back behind the wall in the midway area so it delays response time if a driver is hit with a rock and it breaks their shield and they are bleeding, or a part fails and the car catches fire?)

    A driver in Pennsylvania got burned badly earlier this year for no reason other than the fire truck being too far away from the racing surface. His father came from the pit area (outside the track) with a 4 wheeler and a fire extenguisher and had to push people out of the way to get the fire out (and the fire truck still hadn’t arrived as it was located behind the wall outside the track).

    Auto racing is not and never will be 100% safe, but then again, neither is riding a bike, jogging, driving a street car, playing football, being a referee in football (they get hurt sometimes by players running over them or get hit in the head).

    This was a tragic ACCIDENT, nothing more to it than that.

  • Dave

    I’ve been driving off and on for 30 years. It takes finesse to drive on slick. Less is more, some never learn.
    The other thing is I didn’t see what happened, but there are ways to keep the bumpers from flying off.

    A terrible tragedy,

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