Brendan Mullen climbed the catch fence, got stuck; After retrieving the driver, they raced with the car stuck on the fence
River Cities Speedway is a 3/10-mile oval. The high banked dirt track is located in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
On August 16th, the track welcomes the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series. Two major incidents took place in the main event.
The most notable of which saw Brendan Mullen fly off the banking. He then climbed the catch fence some 30 feet away from the racing surface. Upon reaching the top, the car became lodged on a pole.
Many sprint car tracks have seen the fences get a lot taller over the years. The cars are going fastest than ever. And, the viral video is evidence of the need increased safety measures in the modern world of sprint car racing.
Track officials immediately went to work. Safely, they retrieved the driver from the sky.
“From my point of view, a car came and slid up in turn two and I hopped his tire. After that, I just closed my eyes and when I opened them I was up on the fence looking down into the infield,” said Brendan Mullen said after the race.
“I’m pretty proud (about how the night went) though. We started ninth in the heat and finished sixth and made the show. We were okay in the feature… a little too tight, but I think we learned some things,” the #11 driver concluded.
“Brendan went for a wild ride during the A-main tonight. Thankfully he was okay! Thanks to the River Cities Speedway safety crew for the quick response,” Mullen Motorsports said after the crash.
The driver was now safe. But, the car remained on the pole. It was going to be a lengthy process to get the car down.
24 laps of the main event remained. Officials made the decision to leave the car on the pole and complete the rest of the race.
World of Outlaws officials on the sprint car stuck in the fence
“I’m sure Carlton [Reimers] and Mike [Hess] got together with the track and said, ‘Let’s finish this and take it down the right way,’” World Racing Group Chief Operating Officer Tom Deery said in an interview with SprintCarUnlimited.com.
“They had to get equipment [crane or lull] in to get it down. It took a couple of hours to get it.”
“In that set of circumstances, I was perfectly fine with the decision. Knowing how far back that fence is and the strength of what the rest of the fence was, the fence wasn’t compromised.”
“So, I thought it was the right thing to do. It was primarily to protect the guy’s equipment,” Deery concluded.
Drivers comment on racing with a sprint car stuck on the fence
The drivers sat on the race track with the red flag displayed. Officials eventually made the call to go back racing. Some of the drivers were confused, as a sprint car still remained on the fence.
Brent Marks: “We were all standing on the track, and Mike came around and was like, ‘Get back in, we’re going racing,’” Brent Marks said.
“We were like, ‘You’re going to leave the car in the fence?’ He was like, ‘This is for real.’ “
“Yeah, I don’t know. I guess the insurance at the track doesn’t care about that stuff, so that’s on them. I mean, I would be like, ‘That’s dumb.’ Then again, I guess they didn’t have a way to get the car down, so what do you do? I probably wouldn’t have run it with that car there if I was in charge of it.”
Daryn Pittman: “The biggest issue is that wall where the car was, you can hit the bottom of it pretty good,” Pittman said. “If one of those poles breaks, you have a car get dislodged and fall 30 feet on top of you.
“I think the fact that it was a local car played into their decision. If that was an Outlaw car, I mean, you can’t just leave it up there. Looking at it, I’m not sure that car couldn’t have rejoined the race if they could’ve gotten it down.
“Truthfully, what other decision could they have done other than to take a really, really long time to get it down, but I’m not sold on the decision that we needed to keep racing with that up there. I don’t think that was the smartest decision.”