As if the year of Motorsports couldn't get any tougher, but this weekend marks another sad weekend in the sport.
Everyone who encounters motorsports understands the risks involved. The drivers know this especially. Team members know this. Marshals, corner workers and volunteers understand it too.
There are two groups, however, who sometimes enter a racetrack without the knowledge of the dangers of motorsports. Spectators are always warned of the risks, and rarely become 'involved' in the action.
The media, writers, technicians know where they are and what is happening, but typically are back from the action. Videographers and photographers are the closest to the racing without being directly involved.
On lap 9 of today's Formula One race at the Nurburgring, Mark Webber made a pit stop. His team had difficulties securing the right rear tyre, which came loose and roared down pit lane.
Well, after the fact and doing some digging, I found out that the individual, named Paul Allen was transported to hospital remaining conscious the entire way. He will remain at hospital until he has recovered.
Having not watched the FIA GT race from Zandvoort, I found out later that a photographer was injured in a large accident (pictured above).
The accident happened at the Tarzan hairpin, and destroyed some of the armco barrier. This is the same barrier used at Le Mans. Which is outdated. Period.
In the research I have done, I cannot find a name or condition of the photographer. I have found an amateur video of the accident, which is very scary looking. This begs the question of safety. While typically a slower corner, with the g-forces of cars wrecking normally pulling the car to the outside of the track, why have we not looked at the possibility of a car going ANY direction in an accident?
Racing is dangerous. We all know this. Every participant be it media to competitors understand the risks. But, with the absolutely staggering number of deaths these past few weeks, I feel every track and every sanctioning body needs to look at safety. We have the Hans device and Safer Barriers because of deaths. Armco claimed Allan Simonsen's life, and nearly cost the life of a photographer today…seems like a simple equation to me.
I am a photographer by trade as well, and went to cover my first professional auto race in 2006. It was a Champ Car World Series event, and I was lucky enough to have one of the organizers pull all the first timers to the side during the Friday photo meeting and explain the dangers. Some shooters dont get this treatment and disrespect the sport, but I feel the sport needs to do its part in keeping us safe too!