Pit Crews Take Many Safety Precautions to Ensure Driver Safety at Water Follies
With the Water Follies races going on all weekend it is important for crews to be prepared for just about anything.
KENNEWICK, WA. - With the Water Follies races going on all weekend it is important for crews to be prepared for just about anything.
Hydro plane racing is not a sport to be taken lightly. The boat moves at speeds up to 150 miles per hour so there are many safety precautions the driver and pit crew must take every time the hydro enters the water.
From safety equipment for the driver to escape hatches on the boat, this is an all hands on deck operation. The team even has an experienced dive and rescue crew on call if the driver crashes.
"They travel with us all over the circuit. They know every boat and they come by to check on the boats to see if we've done anything different. They are really really great and we just relay on them to get them out," said pit crew member Cindy Shirley.
However, it isn't all in the hands of the rescue team. These drivers have tons of equipment that keeps them safe from even the most terrifying of crashes.
"He has a hand device that hooks on to the helmet to keep his head in a nice neutral position, especially in a crash his head wont go forward. It helps from getting whiplash or brain damage, stuff like that," Shirley said.
They also use flame resistant gloves, light weight helmets, full body suits, five point harness seatbelts, and small oxygen tanks that allow them to breath underwater if the boat flips. This type of equipment wasn't always around though its just been in the last few years this technology has really taken off.
"This suit used to weigh about 12 pounds when they first started making them and it weighs about three pounds now. So the technology in the fire suits has even improved over the past 10 years," said Jimmy Shane, Oberto driver.
The technology that keeps hydro racers safe continues to improve with each new season.
"It's amazing how much this sport has evolved over the past 20 years and I feel very safe driving one of these boats now a days," Shane said.