Car Show Articles and Reviews
Hyperdrive Accident Summit Point Raceway – Fatal Accident June 7, 2014
On Saturday, June 7, 2014 around 5:15pm at the Summit Point Raceway on the Jefferson Circuit track; initial reports indicated a vehicle had left the race track and struck a tree. Upon arrival, EMS and fire personnel saw a 2006 Pontiac GTO in the tree line with significant damage to the passenger side, where a driving instructor riding shotgun lost his life, the driver was transported to Winchester Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries.
This hits close to home for me because I have several friends who race and I spent a good part of my day photographing on that track and got to know the track officials through-out the day as well as socializing with the folks participating in the event.
I did not want to post anything initially, I am a firm believer to allow the families and friends to mourn the loss of their loved one but, after reading several arguments throughout the automotive scene via social media, I felt the need to now post this.
I usually don’t get caught up into forums or social media unless it is something directly related to a page I manage; unless I truly feel the need to speak up, like now.
Like with any Motorsport, there is a risk we take and we accept that risk by signing a waiver saying we understand the risk, in addition to attending a driver / safety course, in this case for the Hyperdrive event that took place at Hyperfest. A tragedy occurs and to not downplay the loss of a wonderful life, people are quick to jump on the bandwagon and point fingers at the event, the track, the inexperienced drivers, etc. When in reality, the folks making the comments were not present, have never been to this event, and therefore should not be speaking / sharing their opinions without knowing the facts. The members who have contributed an educational thought / comment have experienced a Hyperfest event in the past. Sharing opinions without knowing the facts only hurts the car scene. There are folks who have attended this event and may very well not care for it; there’s always the exception and more cases than not, you will get the folks who reply negatively over the folks who will reply with something positive to say.
Coming from me, someone is overly critical of things, OCD, you name it, this event is top on my list to attend. Bringing in thousands of people and offering endless entertainment is no easy task. You get your crazy campers who are drinking and acting a fool, but you get that at every event when you bring that many people into one venue; lets not single out Hyperfest.
My experience with Hyperdrive, that day
I witnessed and photographed 4 sessions in the morning. Took a photo of almost every car that came through the course. The drivers of the vehicles attended a 15-20 minute drivers safety class in a classroom setting as well as bringing their car through tech, which is a basic look over of the vehicle, nothing extensive. The drivers must wear a helmet, which can be borrowed from the NASA officials. The driver is accompanied by a driving instructor that sits shotgun. The helmets are mic’d up, and each turn on the course is manned by a “flagger” who watches the track for any issues.
At no point in time did I feel the drivers were traveling at unsafe speeds or driving like “morons” as some people have claimed. The Track Officials would monitor the cars closely and at one point they did black flag a vehicle.
The Hyperdrive experience allows for the younger generation and the older guys / gals (who want to get that bug out of their system) to allow them to drive their vehicles on the track and keep the racing off of the roadways. It allows inexperienced drivers to gain more experience when riding with an instructor. Someone had made the comment:
to watch these young drivers faces as they get out of their car after a session, the light bulb finally clicks. They have a better understanding of how to control their vehicle and most importantly the vehicles limits.
Do the driving instructors have brass you know what’s to get into a vehicle and race around the track with a novice driver, absolutely, but they are giving so many people an opportunity to gain experience in something they normally don’t have access to. To be able to tap into the knowledge of an experienced race car driver is priceless. No matter what level your driving experience is.
Can the tracks be safer, the short answer is yes. There’s always room for improvement. I can tell you Summit added an additional 1 mile length to their Jefferson Circuit Track that is not operation yet. Perhaps they have plans to install additional barriers for the runoffs, etc., but I can tell you accidents do happen, you can put the track in a bubble and there will still be issues.
We are very sorry for the loss and send our condolences to the family and friends. I can tell you every single person that was involved with managing the track were very friendly and accommodating and I am proud to have the opportunity to work with them and capture that day.