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August 12, 2012

Lightning strikes Pocono Raceway killing 1, injuring 9

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

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The Finger Lakes 355 at the Glen will be contested today, one week after tragedy struck Pocono Raceway on August 5, 2012. The 2012 Pennsylvania 400 ended after 98 out of 160 laps were completed due to thunderstorms in the area, but a fan was killed after being struck by lightning, while nine others were injured, with one critically, though the critically-injured victim would later be in stable condition by August 6.

The victim of the fatal strike was a 41-year old man from Moosic, Pennsylvania. He had been standing next to his car behind the grandstand at Turn 3, when he was struck by the bolt. Bystanders had attempted to perform CPR on the man. Paramedics’ attempts to revive the man proved futile, and he was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. Of the other eight victims, three were taken to hospitals, while five others were treated at the scene.

Racetrack staff had noted on the social site, Twitter to, “seek shelter as severe lightning and heavy winds are in our area.” Before the storm arrived, as well as after the race, public address systems instructed fans to evacuate the grandstands. However, fans posted on the track’s Facebook page that they never heard the warnings, and a fan stated that the races can be so loud that very little can be heard.

“You could tell it was very close. I mean, that’s the thing that’s going to take away from the victory, is the fact that somebody was affected by that.”
— Race winner Jeff Gordon

After the tragedy, various tracks that will host races later in the season have prepared for any possible storms. Watkins Glen International, the site of the Finger Lakes 355 at the Glen, stated that they had prepared in the event of an approaching storm, having set up police cars, television screens, and text messaging to warn spectators. Michigan International Speedway, which will host the 2012 Quicken Loans 400 on August 19, stated that they contacted the National Weather Service to make sure that their lightning policy remains intact. Bristol Motor Speedway, which hosts the Irwin Tools Night Race on August 25, informed spectators via signage, the track’s official website, its mobile application, as well as personnel and information booths. Richmond International Raceway stated that they intend on using public address systems and social media services to warn fans.

The Pennsylvania 400 wasn’t the only NASCAR race that was rained out this year. The 2012 Daytona 500 was postponed for the first time in its history due to rain.


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