Local driver Matt Firme points out a head restraint in his #32 car during a raceway rescue course put on April 6 by Phillips County Raceway and Melissa Memorial Hospital. — The Holyoke Enterprise | Johnson Publications
Ex-NASCAR staff trains responders ahead of Raceway debut
Phillips County is gearing up for the start of the 2019 dirt track racing season. Last Saturday, April 6, first responders came to Holyoke to learn about race car anatomy and to brush up on their racetrack rescue skills ahead of Phillips County Raceway’s April 20 opener.
The season is scheduled to run from April through September, and Saturday, April 20, will signal the starts of both the High Plains Late Model Series and the new Tri-State Tour.
Tri-State Tour drivers will be competing at Phillips County Raceway, Nebraska’s Lincoln County Raceway, and the Thomas and Sherman county speedways in Kansas for one championship title.
First responders from local raceways visited Melissa Memorial Hospital on Saturday to learn the ins and outs of race cars, provided by the Bussell family and local drivers Matt Firme and Charlie Harvey. Attendees also learned response techniques from former NASCAR medical liaison coordinator Robbie Dumond, who today works as the director of trauma services at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora.
Dumond said knowing the safety features and controls found in the cockpit of a car is necessary to pull a driver out of a wreck safely. He also said that trainings like Saturday’s are uncommon and reflect the county’s investment in the raceway.
“It’s a pretty novel thing, too,” he said. “For them to have an opportunity to do this before the season starts is really awesome.”
Firme and fellow driver Justin Bussell echoed Dumond and said the sport’s promotion of safety was driven largely by the community, including racers’ families.
Marissa Bussell, Justin’s wife and a registered nurse at MMH, organized Saturday’s class, and Firme said his mother bought him his hand and neck support device, which is used to protect a driver’s head during a collision.
Justin’s mother, Trevia Bussell, also came out Saturday and stressed that safety is important even for veteran drivers.
“I’d rather have Justin strapped in and doing 90 than have him doing 90 on a county road,” she said.
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