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Racers discuss track woes online

Published: 
Thursday, May 31, 2018
Final farewell to driver Sirjoo
Members of the T&T Coast Guard carry the casket of colleague Darren Sirjoo during his funeral at the Caroni Cremation Site yesterday. Sirjoo was killed while racing at the Frankie Boodram International Raceway in Wallerfield, Arima, last Sunday. PICTURE AYANNA KINSALE

There is now speculation that a “dip” on the drag-racing strip at the Frankie Boodram Wallerfield International Raceway may have contributed to two crashes that occurred during last weekend’s racing event. There was an attempt to repair the “dip” ahead of the event but that instead made it into a “bump.”

One of the crashes led to the death of Sangre Grande resident Darren Sirjoo, 28, whose funeral was yesterday.

A video posted on a Facebook page titled “The Aloo Pie Report” on May 27 at 11.10 pm showed the first crash, last Saturday, involving well-known racer Ryan Garcia. At just about the eight-second mark, Garcia’s car – an SKF Lancer – appears to jerk just before swerving to the left of the track where it crashed into a tyre barrier and then into a concrete wall. Garcia managed to walk out of the crash unhurt. However, the T&T Guardian understands he was so shaken up by the incident that he took this week off from his business.

That video up to press time was nearing 300 shares and had attracted over 11,000 viewers. But commenting on the video, one of the regular drag racers at the raceway commented about his experience.

“I experienced that same thing with that dip...they paved it during this week (referring to last week)...but poorly...now it isn’t a dip...its a bump.”

The racer even called for action to rectify the issues.

“I think everyone who goes to events, as well as those who enter to race or whatever, should come together and do something...don’t have any events until things are done professionally.”

Speaking further on his comment via phone yesterday, the racer, who did not want to be named, said about a month ago he participated in a Street Night Shoot Out, also called “Gangster Drags,” at the raceway and ran into the “dip.”

“It dropped but because my car did not have all that power in it I was able to pull it back and regain control. A lot of drivers I know experienced this but didn’t say anything, maybe because they didn’t think it was that dangerous until now.”

Another racer who viewed the video also commented: “That “dip/bump” is a major problem...but safety, in and around that track combined with vehicle safety standards played a major role here... Just saying.”

Also contacted on the incident, motorcycle drag-racer, Ian Atherly, a former mayor of San Fernando, would only say that the track “is not a 100 per cent”, but added that it was the fastest in the Caribbean.

“We were racing before that crash and it went down fine. I did just over eight seconds and it felt very good for me,” Atherly, who was also at the line ready for the next race that followed Sirjoo’s on Sunday, said.

Asked if inspections were done that day, he replied: “Yes, inspections are done prior to every race, during and before. The sticky stuff, which is used for traction, was placed on the tracks and the track was good.”

Asked how many track marshals are usually at the events and if they are all trained, Atherly said about 20, some of whom are “highly qualified having received training from the FIA.”

The FIA is the governing body for world motor sport and the federation of the world’s leading motoring organisations. Founded in 1904, with headquarters in Paris, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) is a non-profit making association. It brings together 245 national motoring and sporting organisations from 143 countries on five continents. Its member clubs represent millions of motorists and their families.

However, Atherly said there was a need for more infrastructure at the venue, including stands, proper viewing areas and wash-room facilities.

Atherly extended condolences to the Sirjoo’s family. He, however, added that much education was needed on the sport.

Meanwhile, scores of racers yesterday turned out for Sirjoo’s funeral yesterday at his residence in Sangre Grande. Sirjoo was described as a humble individual and one who always wore a smile and loved racing just as his life. Sirjoo, who was a writer at the T&T Coast Guard, was later given a military send-off at the Caroni Cremation site.

Efforts to reach T&T Automobile Sports Association (TTASA) president Fyzool Madan yesterday for comment were unsuccessful.

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