Safety in drag racing and high-speed racing events

Instructions

Description: Guidelines for the safe organisation of drag racing and high-speed racing events 
Target group: Organisers of public drag racing and high-speed racing events for vehicle enthusiasts
Date: 11 June 2021
Register No. Tukes 5502/00.00.02/2021

1 Purpose of the guide

This guide is intended for organisers of public drag racing and high-speed racing events for vehicle enthusiasts. The purpose of this guide is to improve the safety of drag racing and high-speed racing events and to prevent accidents and injuries. In addition to this general guide, the organiser should familiarise themselves with the sport’s governing bodies’ guidelines, among others. 

This guide reflects Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency’s (Tukes) view on how the organiser of a high-speed racing event can meet the requirements of the Consumer Safety Act. This guide provides the event organiser with examples and options for operating safely. The event organiser can also meet the statutory requirements in other ways. Tukes and other authorities can supervise events using this guide.

For the purposes of this guide, a high-speed racing event is:

  1. A drag racing style event where drivers complete a predetermined distance (e.g., 1/4 or 1/8 mile) from a standing start, either individually or simultaneously with another vehicle. The acceleration time is usually measured, and often also the final speed.
  2. A “Standing Mile” or “Land Speed” style highest speed race with different distances, where the final speed is measured.
  3. Other similar training or testing with different vehicles. 

2 Organiser’s responsibility

The event organiser is responsible for safety at the event. Attendance is never solely at a customer’s or driver’s own risk. 

The organiser must ensure, considering the level of diligence and professional know-how required by the circumstances, that their event does not pose a risk to anyone’s safety or property. The organiser must have adequate and correct information about organising an event, and they must assess the risks involved. Before starting to organise an event, the organiser must carefully consider whether they have sufficient resources and skills to organise the event safely.

The event organiser must consider safety in the event planning and in all event stages and activities throughout the event. If any circumstances are identified which may endanger participants of the event, the organiser must intervene and eliminate the danger.

The event organiser must provide all attendees with sufficient safety-related information and guidelines to ensure that the event is safe for everyone. The organiser is encouraged to provide information in advance, for example on the event website, and in multiple ways during the event (e.g., with signs, announcements, and flyers). All event participants must follow the organiser’s instructions. 

Drivers participating in the event must cooperate with the event organiser, e.g., by having their vehicles inspected and providing a report of any factors affecting vehicle safety. Drivers must also inform the organiser of any dangerous situations they notice during the event. 

The event organiser must determine whether vehicles participating in the event need a valid motor liability insurance. More information: Motor liability insurance (LVK), www.lvk.fi/en.
If necessary, the organiser must suspend the event or some of the activities, if safety cannot be ensured otherwise. Suspended operations must not be resumed until adequate safety has been established. More information on the safety of motorsports driving shows and driving trials is available on the Tukes website: https://tukes.fi/en/products-and-services/services-for-consumers/motorsports-driving-shows-and-driving-trials.

3 Safety document, risk assessment and other safety plans

The organiser must prepare a safety document for the event in accordance with the Consumer Safety Act (920/2011). Assistance for preparing the document is available on the Tukes website. If necessary, the safety document can be included in other safety and rescue plans (Finnish Safety and Rescue Act 379/2011). In addition to the safety document, other permits or notifications to the authorities may also be required. For more information, contact your local police or rescue department or at www.turvallisettapahtumat.fi

The most important thing for the safety of a racing event is a risk assessment that is targeted to the local conditions and carefully implemented, as well as the practical measures taken to ensure the safety of customers and drivers. Any hazards and dangerous situations associated with the event must be identified and described in advance for all event-related activities in such a way that it is clear from the description how safety has been ensured in the various activities at the time of the risk assessment and what additional measures need to be taken before the incident. Risk assessment must be used in planning and organising the event to eliminate the identified risks as effectively as possible in advance.

The risk assessment must include for example driving off the road, hazards due to engine, brakes or tires breaking, weather conditions, external disturbances (e.g., animals on the track) or inappropriate audience behaviour. The fields, tracks, and other areas used for events can be different, so it is important to know the local conditions, participants, and practices.

4 Guidelines and advice to help ensure safety

4.1 Track

  • The surface of the track must be flat, and the coating must be solid. 
  • The track’s width, profile, safety zones and environment must be suitable for acceleration and top speeds. The vehicles used, the prevailing conditions (especially cross winds), and other factors must be considered when determining sufficient track width.  
  • The driving route from the paddock to the track must be planned and organised so that it does not intersect with audience routes. If intersecting cannot be avoided, traffic control must be arranged.
  • The driving direction of the track must face away from the audience.
  • Any fixed or temporary obstacles (e.g., trees, lamps, signposts, or heavy measuring equipment) or dangerous terrain (e.g., ditches, elevations, or cliffs) are not allowed in the safety zone.
  • The safety zone must be large enough to safely remove a damaged or flammable vehicle can be safely moved out of the track area. The safety zone must also allow vehicles to safely swerve off the track in an emergency.
  • The organiser may not be able to affect the safety zone structures or width at the event location. The event planning must allow for sufficient space and safety zones to safely carry out the event. If necessary, the event arrangements (e.g., track length, equipment, or audience location) must be changed so that the safety of both participants and the audience can always be secured.
  • The event signposts must be located so that they cannot cause any risk of detachment or collision to anyone in the area.
  • The audience areas must be located primarily in the departure zone. Covered or otherwise appropriately separated audience zones and viewing areas that are sufficiently far from the track may also be located along on the side of the track (like, e.g., audience zones on drag racing tracks). Audience areas must be located so that vehicles or any parts coming off of them will not cause harm to the audience under any circumstances.
  • The coated braking area must be sufficiently long (see Appendix 1). The braking area must be at minimum the length of the normal braking distance as described in the Annex table, considering, e.g., vehicles used, vehicle speeds, track conditions and other aspects relevant to safety.  
  • The braking area must be long enough to allow the driver to complete their performance in a controlled manner even under exceptional conditions, e.g., with a technical fault in the vehicle. If the braking area distance requirement is not met, the driving distance must be shortened to extend a safe braking distance. Alternatively, the event organiser must ensure safety by carrying out a risk assessment and determining restrictions and requirements for the vehicles (e.g., maximum speed, chassis, brakes, and tires).
  • The end of the acceleration track must have clearly signposted, one-way guided return route to the paddock. If a separate return rout cannot be arranged, it must be ensured that the previous vehicle has exited the track before the next vehicle enters the track. If there are any audience areas in the immediate vicinity of the return route, the return rout must adhere to speed limits of the audience areas.
  • Speed limits: The speed limit must be 30 km/h on the return route, and 10 km/h in paddock and audience areas. Instructions, signposts, and announcements addressed to participants must provide information of speed limits and other safety rules. Traffic and speed control must be available in the area.

4.2 Inspection

  • The purpose of the inspection is to determine suitability of the vehicle for the event. 
  • Those performing the inspection must be familiar with the vehicle safety requirements of the event in order to be able to assess whether the vehicle is safe to participate in the event.
  • The inspection card in Appendix 2 includes the topics for the inspection. A sensory inspection is carried out. The instructions can also be applied to vehicles other than cars.
  • If there is anything noted during the inspection that could cause danger to the participant, organisers or audience, the vehicle must be forbidden from taking part in the event.
  • During the performance, the vehicle must have a towing eye or some other anchorage in place that allows and withstands towing, for example in the event of a fire. 
  • If the vehicle is not registered for road use, the driver must provide the event organisers with an appropriate report of the vehicle, its structures, safety systems, and instructions for removing the driver from the vehicle in an emergency. The most relevant safety items will be reported on the inspection card. 
  • If a manufacturer’s rescue sheet is available in the vehicle, it must be presented to the event organisers. Tukes recommends printing a vehicle-specific rescue sheet and, if necessary, filling it before participating in an event (more information available, e.g., at https://www.autoliitto.fi/tietoa-tienkayttajalle/pelastuskortti).

4.3 Start arrangements

  • Where possible, vehicles should be placed in their own categories in drag racing events as well as in testing and training. 
  • When aiming for top speed (e.g., “Standing Mile” or “Land Speed” type events), only one vehicle at a time is allowed on the track.
  • The organiser must determine which vehicles are allowed to participate in the joint start.
  • It is advised to provide all drivers with the option of test runs at partial power before the actual performance.
  • The track must be supervised throughout the event so that potential hazards are detected in good time, and that the race can be halted immediately if necessary (e.g., if an animal has entered the track area or vehicle parts or liquids are on the track).

4.4 Vehicles

  • The driver’s seat belt must be fastened during the performance.
  • If the vehicle’s power has been boosted, it must be ensured that the vehicle is otherwise appropriate to higher acceleration and higher top speeds (e.g., brakes, chassis, and safety equipment).
  • Any structural modifications or a significant power increase must be identified during the vehicle inspection. If any structural modifications are made, it must be ensured that the safety equipment is in working order and appropriate to the changes made. Four-point seat belts should only be used in a vehicle with an appropriate roll bar or special attention is paid to installing the seat belt safely. 
  • A cardan joint is recommended for hand-built cars with rear-wheel drive.
  • The characteristics and condition of the tires must be appropriate to the desired and achievable top speed (H = 210 km/h, V = 240 km/h, W = 270 km/h, Y = 300 km/h). The speed indicated by the speed class of the tires must not be exceeded.
  • Only the driver may be in the vehicle during the performance, no passengers are allowed.
  • At best, a brake parachute can stabilize a vehicle during braking and help keep the vehicle on track. However, it requires special skills to install and use one. There is more need for a brake parachute in non-standard vehicles with a top speed of more than 250 km/h. 

4.5 Driver and driving equipment

  • The driver must not be under the influence of any substance, and they must be physically and mentally fit to drive.
  • The driver's driving equipment must be appropriate for the type of their vehicle. For example, drivers with two-wheeled vehicles must wear motorcycle riding gear. 
  • The minimum driving equipment for a standard car driver includes a helmet, solid shoes, a long-sleeved shirt, long trousers, and driving gloves. Modifying the vehicle may increase the requirements for the driver's driving equipment.
  • The event organiser must provide drivers with, e.g., the following information to ensure safe performance:
    • Clear instructions for the performance and ensuring that the driver understands the instructions
    • Track markings and braking instructions
    • Rules and action in an emergency

4.6 Audience

  • The organiser must ensure the safety of all event participants, incl. drivers, audience, paddock staff, competitors’ assistants, media representatives, and volunteers.
  • The organiser must be able to supervise the audience in the competition area.
  • A safe viewing zone for the audience must be clearly marked.
  • In an exceptional situation (e.g., an accident), the organiser must be able to prevent the audience from entering the scene of the accident.
  • The organiser must assess which instructions the audience and participants need to ensure safety, e.g., access routes, hearing protection, parking, smoking areas, refuelling areas, restricted areas, etc.

4.7 Rescue preparedness

  • The rescue preparedness of the event is presented in a rescue plan, which must be sent to the local rescue authority for assessment at least 14 days before the event.
  • The event area must have a designated vehicle and driver for accidents and emergencies. The vehicle must have towing ability, first extinguishing and first aid equipment as well as clearing equipment as specified in the risk assessment by the event organiser. The regional rescue authority may also issue specific instructions or requirements.
  • Start and paddock areas must have sufficient first extinguishing equipment. The local rescue authority must approve the first extinguishing equipment.
  • The person assigned to rescue services must have first aid and first extinguishing training.
  • Escape routes must be maintained accessible and fit for driving. The event organiser is responsible for guiding rescue service vehicles to the scene of the accident.
  • The risks of temporary storage of fuels and other hazardous chemicals must be assessed, and the measures presented in a rescue plan or safety document. If the amount of fuel exceeds the notification limit, the rescue authorities must be notified well in advance of the competition. Absorbent must be available in the event area in case of a fuel leak.

Appendix 1: Additional information about braking distances

Table 1: Braking distances at different speeds

Vehicle speed  (km/h) Vehicle speed  (m/s) Emergency breaking distance (m) Normal breaking distance (m)
30 8,3 4,5 9
50 13,9 12,5 25
80 22,2 32 64
100 27,8 50 100
120 33,3 72 144
150 41,7 112,5 225
180 50,0 162 324
200 55,6 200 400
250 69,4 312,5 625
300 83,3 450 900
  • When the driving speed doubles, braking distance quadruples.
  • The table considers a normal braking distance, under good conditions, with a car in good condition, with an experienced driver. In reality, the braking distance can be considerably longer than the values in the table.
  • Reaction distance is usually calculated on top of the braking distance, which results in the real stopping distance. For example, during a reaction time of 2 seconds at a speed of 250 km/h, the car travels ca. 140 meters before braking starts.
  • Unlike a common misconception, the deceleration of a motorcycle is less efficient than cars, which means that the braking distances are even longer on a motorcycle.

Appendix 2: Printable inspection card

Printable inspection card (pdf, 99 kb)