Two motorcycle riders made quick decisions on incredibly fast bikes last weekend in Georgia to narrowly miss striking an ambulance crossing Roebling Road Raceway. The terrifying near-miss was caught on camera by a racer whose bike crashed shortly after. The racer, who asked not to be named pending further legal action, said via social media that he was unhurt in the crash, but lucky to be alive. His Yamaha YZF-R1 appears to be worse for the wear.
We reached out to him and the sanctioning body of the race, WERA Motorcycle Roadracing, for comment but haven’t yet heard back. We’ll update this story if we do. WERA issued a statement that begs more questions than it answers: “On March 19th in the Open Superstock race at Roebling Road Raceway, there was an incident on the front straight involving an ambulance and two riders. The ambulance was leaving the track to transport an injured rider from an earlier incident. Due to a miscommunication between the ambulance driver and race officials, the ambulance crossed in front of two motorcycles. Both riders did fall but walked away from the crash. WERA is investigating what led to this incident and will be instituting any necessary changes to prevent the same thing from happening in the future.”
According to the social media posts, the incident happened between turns eight and nine, when the ambulance pulls perpendicular to the track without visible flags. The two turns are near a paddock, although WERA’s statement makes clear that it was transporting an injured rider from an earlier incident. What’s unclear is whether that rider was injured on the track, or in the paddock, and why race officials didn’t properly cover the ambulance with appropriate flags to signal a much slower vehicle on a hot track.
For those unfamiliar with motorsports, red flags are an indicator that an on-track incident has occurred and signals to the drivers or riders to come to a controlled stop on the track to await further instructions. In some cases, with a significant on-track crash, all flag stations will wave a black flag that signals to riders or drivers to pull off the track, and into the paddock area. Both red and black flags would immediately pause any racing. It’s not only for the safety of emergency officials to pause racing when there’s an injury on track, but also because there’s presumably not an infinite supply of ambulances to transport injured people if a crash happens again—which it very nearly did.
At the very least, incidents near the track or on the track should’ve prompted a yellow flag, which would indicate to drivers or riders of an upcoming hazard and slow racers approaching an incident. In some race series, a white flag is shown to indicate slower-moving vehicles ahead—like a tow truck or ambulance—although motorcycle races have also used white flags to signal the penultimate lap.
No red, black, or yellow flags are visible at the turn 8 flag stand in the video, and the rider reported no flags were shown at any of the stations during the lap. What’s left is a gross error by race officials and emergency crews that could have resulted in catastrophic injury or much, much worse. Without more video evidence and firsthand accounts, it’s hard to know exactly what led to the breakdown in communication, but it’s very clear that, without warning, a motorcycle racer traveling faster than 120 mph nearly struck an ambulance. Motorsports are dangerous enough, people.
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