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Thread: Las Vegas Motor Speedway catch fence - flawed design

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    Registered User dwaldrep51's Avatar
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    Las Vegas Motor Speedway catch fence - flawed design

    Here's my picture of the LVMS catch fence taken from the track side during pre-race last Sunday. It is impossible to say if having the more traditional catch fence design would have saved Dan's life, but I firmly believe that having those large cable eyelets sticking out in the direction of the track is just asking for a disaster and is completely unnecessary. I have shared this picture with some of my engineering colleagues and a few fellow racers and it has been unanimous that this is a horrible design for a catch fence. As bad as current design of catch fence is at almost every track in the country with the large support posts sitting immediately behind the fence that is right next to the track, at least having the fence part in front of the posts will give it a chance to deflect the car and driver away before contacting the posts. The LVMS fence will only drive something directly into the posts and its protruding eyelets. I am surprised this hasn't drawn more attention, TSO shared a link today to a Fox Sports story where it was mentioned by Davey Hamilton that the fence was "backwards", but so far that's been the only mention of it in the media I have found.


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    Registered User dwaldrep51's Avatar
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    here is the Fox Sports story containing Davey Hamilton's comments about the LVMS/SMI catch fence(s)

    http://msn.foxsports.com/motor/story...tragedy-102411

  3. #3
    Wow. Hamilton told SMI 10 years ago about this? It almost crippled him and they changed nothing? How could that even be allowed to go on for that long?

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    Quote Originally Posted by DanFan View Post
    Wow. Hamilton told SMI 10 years ago about this? It almost crippled him and they changed nothing? How could that even be allowed to go on for that long?
    I caught that too. Wow...
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    never was wannabe debdrake's Avatar
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    I'm not sure that it's a bad idea to have strong horizontal cables in front of the fence (a car going into the fence may be more likely to slide along the cables, rather than "catch" and come to an abrupt stop), but I do question the mounting. And the fence definitely needs to be on the other side of the posts. I remember that coming up a long time ago, and thought it had been addressed at all of the tracks?

    Edit - to clarify - IMHO, the fence needs to be on the track (inside) of the posts. I can see the logic of putting cables even further to the inside of the fence, but I don't like the way they mounted the cables.
    Last edited by debdrake; 10-26-2011 at 12:20 AM.
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  6. #6
    This is why I commented to another poster in another thread in regards to a lawsuit. This is why not only the track, but the team and sometimes even the sponsor will carry liability insurance.

    I can't tell from the photo, but is wire running across the fence on the inside of the track or outside?

    EDIT, on a second look, am I seeing the fence on the outside of the posts??

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by debdrake View Post
    I'm not sure that it's a bad idea to have strong horizontal cables in front of the fence (a car going into the fence may be more likely to slide along the cables, rather than "catch" and come to an abrupt stop), but I do question the mounting. And the fence definitely needs to be on the other side of the posts. I remember that coming up a long time ago, and thought it had been addressed at all of the tracks?
    No, that is not what happens, it goes through it and the fence will be too soft. Thus putting the car deeper into the fence.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by DanFan View Post
    Wow. Hamilton told SMI 10 years ago about this? It almost crippled him and they changed nothing? How could that even be allowed to go on for that long?
    Typical, they were too cheap to fix it, who in the world let that disaster be installed and approved ?

    I hope LVMS IS SUED and has to give every driver injured by that fence a boatload of $$$

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    ...and proud of it. comfortably numb's Avatar
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    I think it is absurd to think think the fence will "deflect" a car.
    I see the cables as being the main deflectors.
    The fence is there to catch debris and protect the fans.
    I hope LVMS is not sued because they have no liability here.
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    Quote Originally Posted by snow.cap24 View Post
    I hope LVMS IS SUED and has to give every driver injured by that fence a boatload of $$$
    Aren't you forgetting something ??

    Indycar RENTED the facility to hold the race. It was Indycar that wanted and selected LVMS, and so Indycar should be held accountable for MAKING its teams race on a track I am quite sure they had ample time to inspect.

    Some of the legal eagles can clarify if I'm incorrect, but basically that was an Indycar track that D.Wheldon lost his life on.. not an SMI track.
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  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by comfortably numb View Post
    I think it is absurd to think think the fence will "deflect" a car.
    I see the cables as being the main deflectors.
    The fence is there to catch debris and protect the fans.
    I hope LVMS is not sued because they have no liability here.

    I disagree. I just read the Hamilton comments about the fence being on the other side of the poles. That is a deserved lawsuit if they let that happen. Unreal, I am actually shocked with SMI.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by mesquite View Post
    Aren't you forgetting something ??

    Indycar RENTED the facility to hold the race. It was Indycar that wanted and selected LVMS, and so Indycar should be held accountable for MAKING its teams race on a track I am quite sure they had ample time to inspect.

    Some of the legal eagles can clarify if I'm incorrect, but basically that was an Indycar track that D.Wheldon lost his life on.. not an SMI track.
    Liabilty will be held on both ICS and SMI.

  13. #13
    never was wannabe debdrake's Avatar
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    Rather than fixing the blame, they need to fix the problem.

  14. #14
    Registered User tief's Avatar
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    I don't know that I agree that the configuration of the fence is the issue. The problem is the driver hitting the support poles. Not to be graphic, but imagine Albert Pujols taking a section of support pole the size of a baseball bat and hitting you over the head with it. Helmet on or not, that's going to hurt. That's a 90mph impact. When a race car hits it it's a 200mph impact. Someone needs to figure out a way to keep those impacts from happening.

    I think the key is in the development of a strong, flexible, see-through mesh that will withstand the impact of a car. In the current design of most tracks, the catch fence is behind the cement wall and obviously the SAFER barrier is in front of the cement wall. I'm envisioning this mesh attaching to the top of the SAFER barrier and going straight up, connecting with the support poles higher up. That gives you about 3-4 feet of "flex zone" to work with before the car would get to the poles - hopefully enough to slow the car significantly or better deflect it away from the poles.
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  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by comfortably numb View Post
    I think it is absurd to think think the fence will "deflect" a car.
    I see the cables as being the main deflectors.
    The fence is there to catch debris and protect the fans.
    That's basically right. The 1" cables are load bearing, and are what keeps the cars out. The fence (wire mesh) is not load-bearing, and is more or less filler material to keep debris out of the stands. Some tracks have omitted the wire mesh portion in parts of the track where there are no spectators. Relying only on the necessary load-bearing cables.

    I do question the mounting. It doesn't matter which order the three pieces are in for structural purposes (the poles, the mesh, and the cables). They should be mounted so the face is as smooth as possible. That would mean the mesh is the exposed face to the track, the poles are behind the mesh (minimizing the chance you could catch on them), and the cables are on the inside. IIRC, that's how the fences are at Daytona along the mainstrech.

    When they designed the original PEDDS barrier in 1998, they observed that it was causing more problems than it was worth because (one reason) it did not have a smooth exposed face. Cars could 'catch & pivot' due to the jagged face. When they came out with the SAFER barrier, they came to the conclusion that the barrier had to have a very smooth face. Thus the welded steel box beam face. It allows cars to slide along it without catching.

  16. #16
    Am I seeing that correctly, the pole is on the inside of the wire mesh?
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    Quote Originally Posted by ttturner68 View Post
    Am I seeing that correctly, the pole is on the inside of the wire mesh?
    Looks that way to me.

  18. #18
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    Fence should surely be inside the posts.....but I'd be fine with two layers of fence, one inside and one out. Screw my vision at the track, it wouldn't messup the human eye much, although it would wreck my pictures!

    I'd love to hear Jimmie Johnsons opinion of this type of fence design
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  19. #19
    BIG TMS FAN irloyal's Avatar
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    Not to disagree with Davey H, but I can see some logic to the catch fence on the grandstand side of the poles. Once a car is in the fence, the fencing can detach and deflect locally from the poles and disipate some of the energy. If the fence is on the track side of the pole, it is not as likely to do the local detachment and will not deflect as much.

    What is needed most likely is a couple of tests to determine the most effective method of mounting the cables and fenceing and then standardize the assemblies at all tracks.
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  20. #20
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    It should, but would that make a difference? It's inside at IMS, and Conway's car still got shredded to bits.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mesquite View Post
    Aren't you forgetting something ??

    Indycar RENTED the facility to hold the race. It was Indycar that wanted and selected LVMS, and so Indycar should be held accountable for MAKING its teams race on a track I am quite sure they had ample time to inspect.

    Some of the legal eagles can clarify if I'm incorrect, but basically that was an Indycar track that D.Wheldon lost his life on.. not an SMI track.
    Let's say I own a restaurant, and you want to have a private party there. You pay me money, and I close my restaurant to the public for an evening and allow you to have your party. During the party, one of your guests is injured after falling on some stairs that were badly designed and not up to code, which I as the owner was aware of, but didn't fix.

    Realistically, is your guest going to have a better chance at a payday by suing you, for simply renting my restaurant to host a party, or by suing me, for being the negligent owner of the property and the one responsible for the condition of the stairs? I don't see how the fact that this was a track rental vs. a standard sanctioning fee agreement race changes things much.

  22. #22
    All finger point...I am calling it out.

    Poles on the inside is insane WTH!!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by SpeedwayRyan View Post
    Let's say I own a restaurant, and you want to have a private party there. You pay me money, and I close my restaurant to the public for an evening and allow you to have your party. During the party, one of your guests is injured after falling on some stairs that were badly designed and not up to code, which I as the owner was aware of, but didn't fix.

    Realistically, is your guest going to have a better chance at a payday by suing you, for simply renting my restaurant to host a party, or by suing me, for being the negligent owner of the property and the one responsible for the condition of the stairs? I don't see how the fact that this was a track rental vs. a standard sanctioning fee agreement race changes things much.
    So your implying that the fence is improperly designed? And your implying the fence is not up to code? According to who? And your implying that LVMS has violated this 'code', fully aware, and didn't fix it? I guess every single track is in violation, especially if they rent it. We better send the Frances a letter, ASAP.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FlatOut View Post
    So your implying that the fence is improperly designed? And your implying the fence is not up to code? According to who? And your implying that LVMS has violated this 'code', fully aware, and didn't fix it? I guess every single track is in violation, especially if they rent it. We better send the Frances a letter, ASAP.
    Are you serious? I'm implying NOTHING about the fence whatsoever, I'm discussing the issue of liability as it relates to a track rental. Period. Look at what I quoted. The guy was saying that because it was a track rental, it becomes INDYCAR's liability, which I do not believe would be the case, and I created a hypothetical analogy to discuss it.

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    A friend of Hal. midtown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FlatOut View Post
    So your implying that the fence is improperly designed? And your implying the fence is not up to code? According to who? And your implying that LVMS has violated this 'code', fully aware, and didn't fix it? I guess every single track is in violation, especially if they rent it. We better send the Frances a letter, ASAP.
    What do the Frances have with it? It's an SMI, not ISC, track.
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  26. #26
    Pop-Off Valve Grizzlor's Avatar
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    This needs to be studied of course, but IMS changed their fencing after Tony Renna was killed, and it still chewed the hell out of Mike Conway's car last year, and Simona's car this year.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SpeedwayRyan View Post
    Are you serious? I'm implying NOTHING about the fence whatsoever, I'm discussing the issue of liability as it relates to a track rental. Period. Look at what I quoted. The guy was saying that because it was a track rental, it becomes INDYCAR's liability, which I do not believe would be the case, and I created a hypothetical analogy to discuss it.
    Yes, I'm serious. I saw the person that said IndyCar rented it, so what. They rented it, if IndyCar thought they shouldn't rent it because of improper fencing, thats not up to "code" (what code?) then they shouldn't have rented it. Theres is NO fencing violation of any kind. If you can show me where LVMS or any other oval track hosting current forms of moresport are in violation, please point that out.

    And Midtown, I'm fully aware of that. I'm saying we should let the Frances know, that LVMS is in some sort of fence violation or not up to code fencing,. IndyCar rented the track. LVMS isn't to blame.

  28. #28
    Registered User Grinder-Tank's Avatar
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    If the fence is flawed, fix it. If it is an issue, it should be included in the IndyCar safety talks. That is it.
    Get your head out of your past!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by FlatOut View Post
    Yes, I'm serious. I saw the person that said IndyCar rented it, so what. They rented it, if IndyCar thought they shouldn't rent it because of improper fencing, thats not up to "code" (what code?) then they shouldn't have rented it. Theres is NO fencing violation of any kind. If you can show me where LVMS or any other oval track hosting current forms of moresport are in violation, please point that out.
    You're really missing something here. I am saying nothing about the fencing, nothing about anything at LVMS not being up to code. My analogy was meant to discuss one issue and one issue only: that of LIABILITY as it relates to a track rental situation vs. a standard sanctioning fee promoter agreement. You may as well be attacking my post because LVMS is a track and not a restaurant, or that they staged an auto race and not a private party.

    There are plenty of people in this thread that ARE talking about the fence:

    Quote Originally Posted by snow.cap24
    Typical, they were too cheap to fix it, who in the world let that disaster be installed and approved ?

    I hope LVMS IS SUED and has to give every driver injured by that fence a boatload of $$$
    Quote Originally Posted by Bob_Marley
    That is a deserved lawsuit if they let that happen. Unreal, I am actually shocked with SMI.
    Feel free to bring up your issues with them.

  30. #30
    Registered User CARTer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mesquite View Post
    Aren't you forgetting something ??

    Indycar RENTED the facility to hold the race. It was Indycar that wanted and selected LVMS, and so Indycar should be held accountable for MAKING its teams race on a track I am quite sure they had ample time to inspect.

    Some of the legal eagles can clarify if I'm incorrect, but basically that was an Indycar track that D.Wheldon lost his life on.. not an SMI track.
    Speedway Ryan makes a good point with the analogy to a restaurant that is closed for a private event. However, given the size and the sophistication of the entities involved here, I bet the track rental agreement would address who would be responsible for a lawsuit.

    There are all kinds of legal issues that pop out of this kind of situation. I've never seen a track rental agreement, but as a matter of basic lawyering I would be surpirsed if it didn't address allocation of liability. The agreement probalby has a clause that IndyCar will defend, indeminify and hold LVMS harmless for any claims that arise out of the rental. It likely also requires that IndyCar obtain insurance and name LVMS an additional insured under that policy, so if there are claims they will be entitled to coverage under IndyCar's policy. The agreement may even contain a recital that the league has inspected the facilty and found it fit for its intended purpose.

    Under this situation, even if LVMS were sued, IndyCar's insurer would assume the defense and pay any damages.
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