Over the past few days, several drivers and pit crew workers have told Channel 13 the track at the Iowa State Fair was “dangerously slick” when a volunteer worker was killed last week.
One pit crew worker, who asked us to shield his identity because he was afraid he would be black listed from the sport, said the track was so slick drivers couldn’t get any traction. “Nothing but spinning,” he said. “We have drivers that have been racing their whole lives spinning out in the first turn. That’s a sign the track was just terrible.”
Richard Welch was killed when an out of control race car slammed into a barrier. It’s bumper flew off and hit Welch. Some drivers we spoke with say the race should have been stopped before that happened because the track was just too slippery.
Race promoter Tony Moro of Midwest Racing Promotions disagrees.
“It’s just, it’s gotten out of control,” Moro said. “It’s too bad that people can’t understand that the track surface itself had no determination in this. I mean I’ve seen much slicker tracks. I’ve seen much tackier tracks. But we built a race track that night that was plenty safe to race on.”
Moro said he has spent considerable time and money making this track as safe as possible. It’s so safe, he says, even his son drives on it, “My son races here every week.”
Moro added, “And if I thought this track wasn’t safe I would set him down before I did anybody. And he didn’t have a problem with it. Matter of fact he won that night.”
Parts of the track were watered down before the race and race cars did several laps to mat the dirt track down.
Some drivers we spoke with believe the track should have been matted down more, but they were pressured to get on with the race by promoters.
And the pit crew worker we spoke with says, because of that pressure, Moro is directly responsible for Welch’s death. “I feel he is for not letting the track work in, rushing everything, making it rush, rush, rush, rush to get the races in before curfew.”
“Well I hate that he thinks that,” Moro replied. “But if it were my fault I’d step up and be counted because I certainly don’t see it that way. I certainly do not.”
Moro said there was no pressure to go ahead with the race because they were running ahead of schedule. He added the track had not been watered down in the area where the crash happened and Moro no drivers indicated to him or the flag man that the track was too dangerous.
Drivers we spoke with said they did give the thumbs down symbol, meaning they were not ready to race.
The Iowa State Patrol continues it’s investigation into the accident.