At the race track, you never know what you will wind up facing. It may be a flat tire, it may be something dumb like running out of fuel. Or it may be something like going for the same spot that a fellow driver is going for sending you both into the wall. Well the flat tire you can fix the running out of fuel will get you some ribbing from friends, and drivers, but with the crashing into the wall, well, if your really lucky you will get to meet the best in the business, the Track Pro Safety Team.
North Georgia Speedway was blessed last week with having the Track Pro team at NGS for the Ultimate Late Model Series. They drove from Alabama out of their own pocket, to come work the race, and to offer advice to the crew at NGS. I have to say they were a welcome site.
I have been around racing most of my life, and I have seen lots of crash crews from the guy on a 4-wheeler in shorts and tee shirt to the guys who work the NASCAR events. But at a local dirt track I have never seen the level of professionalism I saw last week from these guys.
The team was formed by Gary McCullar to provide the racers at a local track a safety crew that would help them out if the need was to arise. And over the months he reached out to friends and the team grew, last Saturday the Team of Gary McCullar, Eric Burnham, Mark and Shellie Shanks were the ones who come to work NGS. I was impressed with the level of preparation they showed when we got to the track and that they were ready to go. Shellie Shanks is a Certified Paramedic who spoke at the drivers meeting, letting the drivers know basically how they worked, the words that got everyone’s attention was “ If something happens, and your ok give us a thumbs up, because if we don’t get a thumbs up we will think there is something wrong and WE WILL GET YOU out of your car, your safety is paramount to us and we want to make sure your ok, and if your not we WILL take care of you.” After talking to many of the drivers that night all were thankful for the Track Pro Team being there, and all wished they would be there each and every week.
Even though most of the night was pretty un-eventful for the Safety team there were a couple times they rolled onto the track with speed and focus that impressed all, this group is serious about the job they do.
The thing that amazes me the most about this team is they do most all of this out of their own pocket, G-force safety wear has stepped up and helped them with fire suits and safety gear, but this team needs a major sponsor to step up and help them with the expenses that they have traveling around helping tracks and providing a service that no one else provides. In speaking with the team over lunch Saturday before the races, I learned that each of them love racing and they do this out of a love of the sport, they just need help with expenses. Gary McCulllar says that they have worked with other teams all over the south advising them on safety issues facing crash crews at various tracks.
I know they were welcomed at NGS and that we would like to extend an open invite to them to come back anytime, even if it is just to watch.
Track Pro Safety Team, I want you to know this…. Should I ever climb back in a race car I would feel much better knowing it would be you who would be taking care of me should something go wrong. Gary McCullar, Eric Burnham, Shellie Shanks, and Mark Shanks, you guys are the best! Thanks you for all you do to make our sport safer,