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Old 06-14-2009, 04:31 PM   #1
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Death at Summit Point

Forgot to post this bad news
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SUMMIT POINT, W.Va. — A Berkeley Springs, W.Va., motorcyclist was killed Sunday morning at Summit Point Motorsports Park during a practice session, a track spokeswoman said.

Chad Sisler, 30, lost control of the Kawasaki 600 motorcycle he was driving up a hill after turn nine, said track spokeswoman Maria Orsini. Sisler struck a bridge abutment in the 8:54 a.m. accident and was pronounced dead at the track, Orsini said.

Orsini referred questions about the cause of the wreck to WERA Motorcycle Racing Inc., which sanctioned the motorcycle races that attracted about 200 spectators and riders Saturday and Sunday. WERA officials usually inspect a motorcycle in fatal crashes in an attempt to determine a cause, she said.

WERA officials could not be reached for comment Sunday afternoon.

Sisler was riding during a second practice session, Orsini said. Seventeen, eight-lap motorcycle races were held at the track Sunday and Sisler planned to compete in three, Orsini said.

“We’re all very sad,” Orsini said.

Sunday’s wreck was at least the fifth fatal crash at the raceway since October 2001, according to Herald-Mail archives.

The last fatal wreck occurred in November when Cale Mortensen Kastanek, 28, of Hagerstown, died after the two-seat Honda S2000 he was driving struck a wall in a turn after a straight section, track officials said at the time.

Kastanek was competing in a timed trial event where racers are judged on their best lap time, track officials said.

In May 2008, a 13-year-old Londonderry, N.H., boy was killed at the raceway when his motorcycle struck another driver’s cycle that was experiencing mechanical trouble, police said.

Alex Lyskawa suffered major head and neck trauma when he was run over by a third motorcyclist traveling at a high rate of speed, according to West Virginia State Police. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Summit Point Motorsports Park, situated in southern Jefferson County, features vintage car and motorcycle competitions. In 2004, a 2.1-mile track was dedicated at the facility, which features a hairpin turn copied from the famous Nurburgring car racetrack in Germany.
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Old 06-14-2009, 04:46 PM   #2
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Damn. That's pretty sad. I can't imagine how he did that though. Must have been bumped off track, or had to swerve really hard to miss another rider or something.

There's almost no way a racer can hit anything regarding that bridge from what I can remember.

Sad. Very sad.

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Old 06-15-2009, 07:48 AM   #3
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Always sad to hear news like this

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Old 06-15-2009, 08:17 AM   #4
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Faack...what is it with the track fatalities this year? :(
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Old 06-16-2009, 08:12 PM   #5
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damn..sad to hear. RIP to the rider and god bless
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Old 06-16-2009, 08:56 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by motokid View Post
Damn. That's pretty sad. I can't imagine how he did that though. Must have been bumped off track, or had to swerve really hard to miss another rider or something.

There's almost no way a racer can hit anything regarding that bridge from what I can remember.

Sad. Very sad.

RIP
I'm still learning about this stuff, but I wonder. One one hand, some folks may ride over their heads, and racing is inherently dangerous anyway. And we're always hearing about airfence campaigns (Roadracing World Air Fence Fund, etc.). But how much of this is attributable to track design that sometimes isn't laid out with motorcycles in mind? It's especially distressing to hear from someone that's been there that they don't know how it could've happened.

To my mind, bridge abutments should be at least as far away as any other barriers, and maybe behind them, or not present at all.

I can't help but think that would have eliminated even the possibility of this accident.
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Last edited by *98; 06-16-2009 at 08:59 PM.
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Old 06-17-2009, 03:38 AM   #7
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Here is a video of the track so you can see the bridge area. It starts in turn 1 after the long straight


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Old 06-17-2009, 03:56 PM   #8
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Well, I suppose that's the bridge at 1:17 in the video, and yes, technically there are barriers in front of the abutments, but, that's not really what I meant. There's usually more (shoulder) space between freeway overpass abutments and the freeway. And the barriers look more like sand barrels than an airfence. Sand barrels might work- for a car.

The concept I'm after here is run-off space/room. There just isn't any there. To my mind, if you have an airfence type arrangement, you still need run-off room enough so that when the bike strikes it at the expected maximum speed, death doesn't result. And if there is no airfence, and the barriers are harder, more run-off room would seem to be needed.

We all know racing is dangerous, but hopefully, in the future, tracks will be able to incorporate safer and more thoughtful designs. Perhaps an engineer can chime in, but it seems to me that appropriate run-off room and soft barriers could accomodate motorcycle racing, with hard barriers but right behind those for the cars.
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Old 06-18-2009, 04:04 AM   #9
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That bridge, as you can see from the video is about 3/4 of the way down the second longest straightaway on the track between turn 9 and turn 10.

Untold 1000's of racers have passed under that bridge over decades and decades of racing.



It's probably very accurate to say that the original Summit Point track was not designed with motorcycle racing in mind, but it would still seem to me that this would fall under the classification of "freak accident", and not something that's indicative of what SP is like as a racing facility.

3,4, and 5 wide going through that area is not uncommon, and unless there's some kind of emergency avoidance manuver that gets out of control, it just seems very odd that a person could hit that bridge.

Losing it out of turn 9 and trying to correct would not put you on a trajectory with that bridge. Catastrophic engine failure would not force you off the track in that direction.

It's very very sad, and it's even more sad when the circumstances are such that understanding what happened is just too difficult to comprehend. I flew under that bridge at least 100 times in races and never even looked at it as a possible hazard. Practice sessions, sprint races, track days, and GTO/GTU events....I never once remember thinking about that bridge as anything other than a marker for when to start thinking about turn 10.

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Old 06-18-2009, 07:22 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by motokid View Post
That bridge, as you can see from the video is about 3/4 of the way down the second longest straightaway on the track between turn 9 and turn 10...

...3,4, and 5 wide going through that area is not uncommon, and unless there's some kind of emergency avoidance manuver that gets out of control, it just seems very odd that a person could hit that bridge.

Losing it out of turn 9 and trying to correct would not put you on a trajectory with that bridge. Catastrophic engine failure would not force you off the track in that direction...

...I flew under that bridge at least 100 times in races and never even looked at it as a possible hazard...
This has me wishing I knew some motorcycle racing accident statistics. While I would agree accidents are far more likely at turns, if you look at the video, especially in full screen, physics would absolutely dictate that hitting that bridge is very possible.

All that would be needed is a change of direction, and given the closeness of the abutment, it wouldn't require a huge angle by any means. And those means wouldn't be that hard to come by. Anything from too much water on the track and the consequent loss of traction, to a bad tire, to (over or otherwise) reacting to another rider (accident, etc.) may bring it about.

As for likelihood, we don't usually need seatbelts. Afterall, how many 1000's of times have I gotten in my car/truck & not needed it, but there have been at least 2 times (not even my fault!) that it absolutely saved my life! Hence, with this, I cite the concept of the low probability, high consequence incident that efforts to ensure safety must bear in mind.

Three-quarters of the way through the second longest straightaway on the track, high speeds can certainly be expected, and since this high speed, when combined with an allision with the abutment, almost surely will (as it did) result in death, it would be best, when reasonably possible, to avoid even the chance of it.

While typical racing would avoid this scenario, no offense, but that's why they call them accidents and not suicides.
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