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Raceway closed

Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Probe launched into driver’s death

Investigations are underway to determine whether human error or infrastructure at the Frankie Boodram Wallerfield International Raceway led to the untimely death of Darren Sirjoo on Sunday. The venue will remain closed until further notice.

Sirjoo’s death has shaken up the entire circuit and drag racing fraternity. Yesterday, T&T Automobile Sports Association (TTASA) president Fyzool Madan issued a letter to members saying information regarding Sirjoo and the machinery involved was being gathered “to help us understand the cause”.

He denied claims that the car was not equipped with all safety measures, saying, “Contrary to claims on social media, the car was fully equipped with a roll-cage and other necessary safety gear.”Extending his sincerest condolences to Sirjoo’s family, Madan assured that as soon as all facts are gathered a full report will be shared with the membership.

“However, our full attention is focused right now on doing what any of us would want in a time like this: compassion and togetherness for his dear ones,” Madan said.

He assured that Sirjoo’s memory “lives on at the race track where you found so much joy.”

Sirjoo was a member of the T&T Coast Guard and was employed as a writer. Public Relations Officer Lt Sherron Manswell yesterday also extended condolences to Sirjoo’s family on his passing.

According to reports, Sirjoo, 28, of San Louis Road, Sangre Grande, had just crossed the finish line when he crashed into a metal pole. The vehicle, a Lexus Altezza, flipped several times on impact and its engine was ripped out.

According to an official, Sirjoo had been racing for the past five years and his vehicle had passed all the safety checks prior to the race. A fellow racer and colleague, who wished not to be identified, told the T&T Guardian the “grief was beyond measure”.

“We do not know how to even begin to cope with this tragedy. It has shaken us all up and after this we would need to be told about the beefing up of safety measures for us, because our lives are precious in the end.”

Eyewitnesses claimed the Fire Service was not at the track when the accident occurred and a wrecker had to be used to free Sirjoo from the wreckage.

On CNC3’s Morning Brew yesterday, racing industry veteran Frankie “Frankie” Boodram said Sirjoo’s tragic death was a sad day for motorsport.

Boodram, who made it clear he was not present at the track on Sunday, said based on his experience, accidents similar to Sirjoo’s may be labelled as “driver error.”

“I think it all depends on the driver at the time, the condition of the track or what could have happened. I drove in all different types of tracks and in cases like this it is always a driver error, in most times, timing, calculation in the mind as to how to approach and what you do,” Boodram said.

Asked if the track was safe, Boodram said: “It is not about the track…how do you define if a track is safe?”

He added that if there is a situation with the track, the track marshals should have been able to detect it and contact the race director to be correct the issue or close it off.But in an interview on I95FM yesterday, champion drag racer Rishi Kanick blamed the “blatant disregard by the management of the event by not implementing basic standard protocols.”

Kanick, who was at the event, said there were no fire tenders, which is mandatory at such events because the jaws of life may have to be used to free drivers from wreckages. He said the lack of the proper hydraulic tool meant they could not immediately remove Sirjoo from the car. A wrecker was eventually used to free Sirjoo from the wreckage, his relatives told the T&T Guardian yesterday.

“Onlookers and supporters tried to help. The environment was chaotic,” Kanick said.

Kanick, who has also raced in the US, said sufficient concrete barriers or guard railings around the track would have prevented Sirjoo’s car from crashing into the metal pole. He referred to an incident on Saturday, where racer Ryan Garcia crashed his car during a test run.

“He crashed his car in the opposite direction to where Sirjoo’s car crashed but the difference is that that side had a concrete wall that protected a vertical steel structure. He rolled and remained in the shutdown area and was able to walk out free. Sirjoo crashed into the vertical steel structure on the other side that did not have sufficient concrete barrier,”Kanick claimed.

Kanick was the promoter for the 2016 CMRC event in which a car driven by David Lyons went airborne and ran into a stand full of spectators at the hairpin turn. He said after that incident he sold his car and pulled out of CMRC. He said, however, that the TTASA, continues to not enforce all safety measures properly.

Efforts to reach Madan for comment on this were unsuccessful yesterday as all calls to his cell phone went unanswered.


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