Mansfield Motor Speedway owner rebuttals the opposition of safer barriers; Open to hosting a NASCAR dirt race
Mansfield Motor Speedway was essentially an abandoned NASCAR track. From 2004-2008, the track hosted the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. That was the safer barrier era.
By 2005, nearly all NASCAR track featured safer barriers. Mansfield Motor Speedway was one of the countless tracks that had the new safety initiative put into place. To date, Eldora Speedway is the only exception. It’s the only NASCAR track that lacks safer barriers.
Mansfield Motor Speedway closed in 2010. It has since been resurrected by Cody Sommer and converted to a dirt track…
I find it interesting that you left the safer barriers. People will argue with me on the safety topic. They tell me you can’t have safer barriers on a dirt track.
“They’re wrong,” Cody Sommer owner of Mansfield Motor Speedway states to RacingNews.co.
I’m so glad to hear you say that.
“I’m not an expert in the field. I’m not saying I am. But, I think common sense can tell just about anybody, if you’re in a car and you have a choice of hitting a solid concrete structure or a structure that’s made of steel which also moves. What are you picking?”
“Whether there’s dirt behind it or not. There’s dirt behind concrete walls, everywhere in dirt racing. It’s still a concrete wall.”
Well, their point is that the wall can’t flex into the foam with dirt behind it.
“That’s not true. If you maintain them.”
I assume you do that?
“We do. We have covers for them for this year. The benefit that we have too, is the little amount that we do race, it’s easier to maintain. If you’re running every single week, you got a lot of maintenance there, digging out the dirt.”
Do you dig out the dirt?
“We do some. But, we haven’t had to do a whole lot. Literally, you can still see the asphalt where the safer barrier is. So that it could slide.”
“Yes, if you just put safer barrier on top of dirt it wouldn’t work to it’s full potential. But, it would still be better than a concrete wall. That’s my point.”
“I think some people wanna make an argument that if it’s not working to it’s full potential, that it’s worse. I’m sorry, I would disagree with those people all day long. It may not work to it’s full potential straight up on dirt. But, if you put that safer barrier on concrete or on asphalt, around the top edge of a dirt track and it’s working at it’s full potential.”
At Mansfield Motor Speedway they did something interesting. When they tore up the old surface during it’s transition to dirt, they left the top 16-20 inches alone. Meaning, under the safer barrier, it’s still asphalt. That allows the wall to bow and slide across the concrete upon an impact.
“It’s racing. Accidents can happen,” Cody Sommer continues.
“If you had a meter measuring G force or impact. I’d be very open to any research facility that would want to do this by the way — Take a car and drive it into a safer barrier, on Mansfield. Take that safer barrier out, drive that same car, at the same speed and the same angle. It will be less of an impact on the safer barrier.”
“For the most part, people really haven’t had anything negative to say about the safer barrier. I do know, there’s a handful of industry people that have made comments about it. Even in the past, about the safer barrier not being effective. I think it’s their excuse because they’re unwilling to make that investment. Because, it is a big investment. That’s understandable.”
“But, don’t make that excuse and then point at a facility like Mansfield just because we have the luxury of having it. If it was something that was going to make matters less safe, we wouldn’t have them up.”
Do you have spares?
“We have all the spares; Straps, steel, foam. Again, you have to maintain it.”
In NASCAR, when a car hits the safer barrier they will red flag the race. They will then remove the compressed foam from behind the steel wall. Officials will take the time to replace it with a brand new piece of form. During the race, this takes time.
“The nice part is, we don’t have a sanctioning body telling us exactly how you do this or how you do that. Those NASCAR tracks, they’ve got strict regulation.”
“We kinda have the luxury of having it without all those strict regulations. We’re in a batter situation because we have it.”
NASCAR at Mansfield?
NASCAR wants safer barriers. They need seating capacity. They also apparent’y won’t go to anything under a 1/2 mile. Mansfield checks all those boxes. Did that factor into the decision when selecting Mansfield?
“Not really,” Cody Sommer tells RacingNews.co .
“My vision and my focus is on escalating the dirt racing industry. Although, if NASCAR called me tomorrow and were interested in having a race at Mansfield. I would certainly take the call.”
“That’s not at all a driving factor at Mansfield or why it’s Mansfield. The why and the what at Mansfield is all about building the sport that I love.”
“Building successful and big dirt late model events. Building successful sprint car racing events. Providing an experience that’s unrivaled for both competitors and fans. That’s what it’s all about.