The track worker who fell off the tractor and lost his foot is eager to get back to work
On Firday night, Tri-City Motor Speedway brought in the winged sprint cars for a show at the Auburn, Michigan dirt track. At many points throughout the night, tractors will likely be used at dirt tracks for a wide range of reasons.
Watch the video of the runaway tractor below.
During track packing, tractor operator Pete Badgero collided with a Chevy Suburban that was out of place. That sent him flying out of the seat. The tractor then rolled over him and amputated his foot with the roto-tiller.
The tractor then took off without its operator. The runaway tractor did a full lap around the speedway as track owner Steve Puvalowski jumped in a backhoe and attempted to chase it down.
“Everybody away from the fence! Why would you stand by the fence when there’s machinery going by itself? Come on now,” the track announcer stated over the intercom.
Many times, the tractor escaped the grasp of the pursuit tractors. Unknown that a man had lost his foot, the scene was very amusing to the dirt racing fans in the crowd.
The two tractors danced around each other in turn 3. Finally, the tractor was eventually pinned, broken and stopped.
Pete Badgero has worked for the track for the previous 3 seasons. Despite the loss of his left foot, he’s maintained a sense of humor.
“Ok just sore can still feel foot and its not even there. Then they wouldn’t let me keep it,” Pete Badgero stated via his facebook page.
“Just call me Lefty, ma.”
“Give me couple months I’ll be right back at it. Just going to need little time,” said Badgero.
A GoFundMe page has been created to help support Badgero’s efforts to get back to work. He’ll need several surgery’s before that happens.
GoFundMe: Pete Badgero
Tri City Motor Speedway: Statement
Erika Puvalowski is the marketing director for the speedway. She detailed the events in a facebook post last week:
“Every time something happens to someone I always check their Facebook page to see if they posted an update because I don’t want to bug them. So, I’m posting this for all of you who are like me.”
“Tri-City Motor Speedway is blowing up the news feeds so here’s what happened.”
“It rained during the races, when it stopped, the safety crew started packing the track (drive on it to dry the clay up). It takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour to pack the track when we receive rain during the races. They just continually drive in circles. It’s boring to watch and most people aren’t interested in watching our crew drive in circles. While they were packing, two track vehicles touched, and Pete, who was driving the open tractor, fell off and the backend of the tractor ran over his leg. The safety crew saw him and took him off of the track and start to tend to him.”
“Then the tractor Pete was driving continued to operate and drive on its own. So, if you see the video connected to every news article and wonder why people are laughing, it’s because barely anyone saw the accident and the unmanned vehicle was funny to watch Steve chase around in the backhoe. It was funny but very dangerous. Steve was trying to stop the tractor before it drove into the pits and started running people over. He stopped it by smashing into it with the backhoe and breaking the tractor. All of this probably happened within 2 minutes or so. The crowded was informed there was a serious accident after the tractor was stopped.”
“Some news articles made it sound like there was a tractor driving around by itself and management (Steve and I) didn’t remove people from the infield and it ran over Pete. That is not the case. People have made rude comments about our fans because they are laughing in the video. They are laughing because it’s was funny and entertaining to see Steve chase down a tractor and break it. They were not aware anything bad happened.”
“Our safety crew, tower officials, announcer and the rest of our staff did an amazing job to keep the crowd calm, tend to Pete, repack the track and continue racing. No one but the safety crew knew what exactly happened. Steve knows not to tell me anything until I’m done working or I’ll freak out. So, he didn’t tell me. I didn’t know anything besides Pete fell off of a tractor and went to the hospital.”
“Rumors spread like wildfire all night and they turned crazy just like rumors do. At the end of the night (2:00am), I was still working in the grandstands, Steve came to find me and told me what happened. Pete already went through surgery, called Steve and the first thing he said was “did you get the races in.” Steve and I went to bed and the first thing we did when we woke up was to post about Pete so people, including our staff, knew he was alive. ”
“Pete had his left foot amputated and is in the hospital with high spirits. His family has set up a GoFundMe to help with financial burned that comes with being off work and in the hospital. The link is in the comments if you are interested in donating. The track does have insurance and workers comp on all of our team members. He’ll be in the hospital for a week or more and will not be able to work for the remainder of the race season.”
“Pete is Steve’s right hand man at the race track. Steve and Pete are two peas in a pod. I call Pete, Steve’s other dad. Steve is a tall younger version of Pete. They fix every broken vehicle, weld stuff, make stuff, build stuff, pour concrete, and do all of the renovations. Pete works 30 hours a normal week doing track prep, watering the track and mowing the grass and up to 60 if Steve and Pete are trying to get a project done before next Friday’s race.”
“So, people keep asking how Steve and I are doing. We are ok but very busy. I needed a break about 2 weeks ago was looking forward to the next possible day off that we could take which was going to be July 2nd. Day’s off are not going to happen anytime soon. We have a very heavy workload to get through. Steve will be working 16-18 hour days for the rest of the season.”
“We are currently doing our normal work, rearranging our tasks and trying to find current and past team members to fill in where we are in need of help to finish out the race season. Steve will be doing all of the track maintenance and watering for the remainder of the season, he’s teaching me how to do a few of his race night tasks and we are cutting some unnecessary stuff that just takes us too much time.”
“I think this post answers all of the text and private messages I have been getting. Sorry, I just don’t have time to reply to everyone but thank you for thinking of us.”
“A humanity tip for everyone. Before you post the first thing that comes into your head when you read a headline of a news article, do some research and get some facts. People who had to deal with the situation or the person hurt, and their family members have to read your ignorant comments.”
“P.S. The cats are all good and cute.”
– Erika Out