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Health and Safety and Wealth and Safety

"Motor Racing is Dangerous" - it says so on the tickets. Whilst on track injuries are fortunately rare, paddock mishaps are not, so Simon and I thought we would collaborate on a few observations. All of the incidents mentioned below have happened, all are stating the blindingly obvious, and they are listed with the occassional flippant comment in the hope that if one injury is avoided it's worth the author being ridiculed. I haven't suggested how to avoid the accidents, because Mono members are clever enough to do that themselves.


Tail-lifts. The first thing I learnt on my fork lift licence was that you park the truck with the forks on the ground. Similarly, if the tailift is on the ground it presents only a minor trip hazard, but in the air it's a danger. While the forklift will injure the calfs, the tail-lift can kill. The tragedy of poor Maria deVillota is too sad to spell out. Simon has seen a car badly damaged by driving into a tail-lift, fortunately the driver was ok. Had it been a quad towing a tyre truck......

Tail Gates Don't fall off the tail gate.

Run-aways. Beware when pushing a car, it can very easily run away. My old 500 ran away from me on the return road at Shelsley many years ago and knocked outs its own front bodywork and brake cylinders. (I was lucky Nick Harrison wasn't CoC or he would have done me for dangerous pushing). Not only cars but trailers. Again at a hillclimb, a friend's trailer ran away and narrowly missed landing on some old cars. Are Bugattis worth much?

Unloading. Rolling the car on or off the trailer it is very easy to trap a finger between the rim and the caliper. Be careful what you're holding.

Running over your foot The Americans call single seaters "open wheelers" for a reason. The wheels are open, and therefore it's easy to get your foot run over when pushing. It's especuially embarrasing to run over your own foot, and if you do it when you're the driver, you are definitely special.

Push Starting As an ex-500ist I should be sympathetic but I'm not. I told Hannah who came with me a few times to avoid helping one driver because (a) the car was so badly maintained it would take the length of the paddock to start it (b) the driver was clueless and wouldn't get it going anyway (c) it was covered in so much s**t she would never get her hands clean again. But if you do decide to be the good samaritan, choose something solid to push on, make sure you don't have a wing behind you (yes, I know it's obvious but I got half run over by a hillclimb Toleman at Doune by pushing on the side of the car). And make sure you will have some balance left when the car drives away. Many push starters have been left flat, face down and damaged.

Tyre Hazards Sharp objects often get picked up by a tyre. Don't rub your hand round a tyre unless you've given it at least a visual inspection.

Mind Your Eyes Cars flick up stones, rotating parts flick off "bits", parts stick out from the car. We had 3 eye injuries last year.

Burns and Scalds Engines and their ancilliaries are hot, brakes can be hotter. If it's been producing energy or absorbing it, it will be hot. Nomex gloves are, I know from experience, a great way of ensuring boiling water stays close to your skin.

Pit Wall The action may be on the track, but cars may also be moving on the pit side of the wall, so be careful. There is another point to be made. It's very easy to drop stuff off the pit wall. If you're very lucky you might get it back. Less lucky and it will be run over and smashed. Least lucky of all, it will be thrown up by a car and hit a driver. You'll still be luckier than the driver.

Electricity Sorry to go back to hillclimbing but back in the last '80's it was the fashion to have tyre warmers, powered by 240v generators. Trailing cables everywhere, wet weather, grass paddocks, what could possibly go wrong. There are still trailing cables and gennies, though not quite so over the top. Are they checked? Can anybody trip on them? My brother was once electrocuted (not fatally I'm pleased to say) by his gas welding bottles. He pulled the steel wheeled trolley they were on over a dodgy cable and went straight through to the copper. Mind you, my brother's also set fire to a Reliant Robin while underneath it. And to my Volvo 343, but that was regarded as social comment.

Power Tools See above for mains power, but on a different subject the paddock is often a place where short cuts are taken. At home/the workshop, parts are held in a vice or at least grips, when being drilled. At the circuit, without being properly held they spin round and gash (or even severe) a finger. Please use grips or a portable vice, even I carry both.


Back at Snettetton at the end of last year (the F4 festival special meeting) a competitor had credit/debit cards stolen, together with some cash. Lesson 1 - lock all valuables away, ideally "double locking" in a glove box and locking the car/van/motorhome. I realise this isn't always possible with a large vehicle, but at least have a difficult to attack safe area - a locked toolbox bolted to the floor of a van is better than nothing. Whilst it's well known advice, never, ever write down the PIN for your card even in a coded form. The thieves could have got a job at Bletchley Park with their decoding skills, and probably "Mr Barclay" followed by a number isn't a military grade code. As well as being used at a cashpoint, if details are available a PIN Pad encryption device can be used. It is a standard piece of kit. It isn't unique to the issuing bank or card, mine will work with your card.

On a more specific point, if you spot something suspicious please mention it at the Monoposto Paddock Awning so the message can be passed. Whilst it may be old news to many, the suspected villains at Snet were some people with a North Eastern ("Geordie") accent. They were seen acting suspiciously, and after some further enquiries it was clear that the same characters had been at other venues. The accent ties in with a comment that Croft had proven to be a bad venue for petty thefts.


Bodywork A pretty FF2000 came near my paddock slot and braked. The car stopped, the nose did another couple of metres. Don't forget to do up all fasteners.

Recovery and Return Following a stop on the circuit do please use all your safety gear. Accidents have happened driving back to the paddock, and even during recovery. Belts are essential even in a very low speed incident. I'm happy to say the habit prevalent when I started competing of driving outside of competiiton with helemet strapped the roll bar and hair blowing in the breeze (I have a VERY long memory for the hair)has long passed.

This last one is a bit oddball, but I would be interested to know whether anybody has ever carried a mobile phone in their race suit. I have twice been "ignored" after parking up on circuit. On the first occassion (electrical failure) they started the next session while I sat safely behind a barrier. On another (after a collision) they didn't even know I was missing, which was a bit surprising as somebody watching TSL 150 miles away did know. On both occassions I wish I'd had a phone, though how the message would have got to "the powers" I don't really know.

Tony Cotton

Disclaimer: The above represents only the unofficial view of the writer and not of the Monoposto Racing Club in any way whatsover. Subheadlines and captions are not originated from the named author. We are unable to reproduce results due to copyright reasons. If any pictures are copyright and the owner wishes them removed please email us.




Half raised tail lift at head height (here on a truck builder's web site). All Mono tail lifts have dangly dayglo warning flags. Don't they?

Originally all red, my 500 ended up with a white nose patch after I pushed it into a tree

Sensible electric wiring.

No mask, bare feet, on a public street. It's health and safety gone mad.

All of these will work with any bank card.