Unfortunately, politics has once again gotten in the middle of car club’s activities. The OMC has been using this track since 2006 without incident. Over this time, members, and non-members, have learned the capabilities of their cars and having fun doing it on a closed course. So it’s basically about “Who is in control of county property”.
However, liability is always an issue. Sheriff Whetsel makes a good point. Why can law students use the county courtrooms, and not car clubs use the Sheriff’s facility? Also, Mr. Clay failed to mention that these car clubs have not only purchased thousands of dollars worth of safety cones used by these clubs AND law enforcement, but also paid to rebuild the tower (flag stand). I for one, believe this is not about safety or liability but politics getting involved with the use of county property. I think that if either of these representatives (Maughan and Turner) ever attended one of our events, they’ll first have to sign liability waivers to just stand in the staging area. If they choose to drive, they’d be required to be briefed on track safety and etiquette and sign another waiver. And representative Turner saying he has witnessed vehicles being totaled. We can assure you that did not happen during ourtrack days.
Lets hope that these commissioners and the sheriff can work this out. This is the only facility in central Oklahoma where car enthusiasts can enjoy learning about their car’s capabilities, in a closed course environment, without fear of being pulled over by law enforcement or endangering others.
Here is the story as written by NOLAN CLAY for the Daily Oklahoman:
The “fun” days at the Oklahoma County sheriff’s track are over — for now. For years, private car clubs have been allowed free use by the sheriff of a training course built for law enforcement on county-leased property in northeast Oklahoma City. On these so-called “track” days or “fun” days, sports car drivers took turns speeding around a track and whipping by cones. The next event was scheduled for Sunday.
Car clubs were notified this week, though, that their use of the track has been suspended effective immediately “pending a review of current practices and the legality of a private organization using county-owned facilities.”
At issue is that county commissioners have not approved any private use of the track. Also at issue is that the county has no liability protection if someone is injured there and then sues. Any judgment against the county in a lawsuit would be paid for by taxpayers.
Car enthusiasts are upset, complaining that the clubs themselves have insurance for the events and that there never has been any major accidents. “Anyone else ready to start a riot?” one wrote Tuesday on Facebook.
Some have complained specifically about Commissioner Brian Maughan, who raised the issues after discovering on Facebook that clubs used the track. Maughan said he became concerned about the county’s liability after finding out how extensively car clubs have been at the track. “Essentially, they’re operating it as a clubhouse out there,” he said.
“I understand there’s quite a few negative comments about me on Facebook — that I’m trying to … shut down all their fun activities,” the commissioner said. “But my main concern is, first and foremost, the taxpayers. … I mean, you know, if somebody believes that there’s a … crack in the track and that that was ultimately the cause of a car spinning out of control and wiping out some observers and killing them all, I just don’t think they’re going to find fault with the Corvette club. They’re going to say it was a faulty track.”
Sheriff John Whetsel said he already is working to address the concerns about the county’s liability and the need for commissioners’ approval so car clubs can use the track again. He said car clubs have used the track about 25 times a year, and drivers are cautious because their sports cars are so expensive — as much as $100,000 each. He said car clubs also get insurance for their events — anywhere from $2 million to $5 million.
“We’ve never had, in the entire time, an injury. To the best of my recollection, other than a car sliding off the roadway, we’ve never had a major incident at all out there,” he said of the 15 to 20 years car clubs have used the track. He emphasized that the cars aren’t racing, that the track days instead involve timed events.
Whetsel is up for re-election again this year and has faced more criticism this time than in the past. He said of the latest controversy, “You always have to wonder about timing. “I’m not saying that it’s political. Obviously, if those are legitimate concerns, then we have no problems addressing those legitimate concerns. But it is August.”
The sheriff compared the car clubs’ use of the track to a law school being allowed to use courtrooms at the Oklahoma County Courthouse. He said, “There’s liability there. Someone could fall and break a leg. There’s going to be liability no matter what you do when it involves a public facility.”
The Oklahoma City Corvette Club president, Steven Pistole, said he hopes something can be worked out. He pointed out local sports teams like the Thunder use a public facility. “There’s got to be some arrangements or waivers or something. This is nothing new. Nobody’s just splitting the atom here for the first time,” Pistole said his club last used the track July 23 and 24.
Disputing that there have been no major incidents at the track is former state Rep. Mike Turner, who has been in contact with Maughan. “There’s been cars that have been totaled, that have hit the trees out there. There have been people almost hit by out-of-control vehicles that will spin out and get off in the grass,” he said.
Turner said he has seen some of the incidents personally, including a car sliding out of control. “Unfortunately, there have been wrecks. … It’s a lie if they say there hasn’t been accidents out there. … There’s also no fire trucks,” he said.
District Attorney David Prater told commissioners Wednesday that the insurance obtained by the car clubs would not protect the county from lawsuits whatsoever. He said the sheriff has exposed the residents of Oklahoma County to inappropriate liability. The district attorney said the sheriff, when questioned, claimed commissioners had given their approval for car clubs to use the track — many, many years ago. Prater said he had the records of commissioner meetings searched for the past 15 years, and there was no place it had been approved or even mentioned.
Prater said the sheriff then claimed commissioners years ago “knew about it.” Prater said he asked the sheriff for their names, and the sheriff replied, “Well, I don’t remember.” The district attorney said the car clubs “have done absolutely nothing wrong, at all, but maybe someone else has, because this has not been approved.”
PIRELLI WORLD CHALLENGE SERIES – UTAH MOTORSPORTS CAMPUS: Oklahoma Mustang Club member Nate Stacy update. Bear in mind, he is still not old enough to have a driver’s license! Nate is 16 from Owasso, OK. This story is from Pirelli World Challenge Series news –
No. 14 Roush Performance Road Racing Ford Mustang Boss 302 driver Stacy started sixth on the grid and managed to move into second place after the standing-start stalling incident, but slowly gave up positions to find himself as far back as fourth before climbing back to an extended battle for second place with Sandberg in the No. 13 ANSA Motorsports KTM X-Bow GT4, Scott Dollahite in the No. 46 SDR Motorsports Lotus Evora, and No. 10 Lawson Aschenbach in the Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro Z28. In lap 22 of the 24-lap sprint, Stacy was finally able to move back into and secure the second-place spot.
“My crew guys worked really hard overnight to get the Mustang ready for today’s race,” second-place winner Stacy remarked. “We lost a differential on Saturday and they worked until 1:30 (am) this morning to get the car back together. I stayed with them to help and give them some moral support. In the race, I was trying to keep the car underneath me. Dean Martin, my engineer, did an awesome job setting up the car for today. BOP (Balance of Performance) is very close now in the GTS class. We might need a little bit more help but overall it is good. When you have the top seven covered by four-tenths of a second, that is pretty good work by the series. Scott (Heckert) and Brett (Sandberg) had gotten by me, but I was very excited when the full course yellow came out. I got close to Heckert at the end of the race but didn’t have enough for him. Happily, I got second and the point leaders are behind me. So that helps us in the championship chase.”
STAMPEDE CAR SHOW – MUSTANG, OK: OMC’s largest car show of the year is just around the corner, Saturday, September 10, 2016. It’s an Open Car Show with all makes of cars and trucks are open! This year, like the past two years, the show will be held at the First Baptist Church at 928 N Mustang Road in Mustang. In the past years it was held at the intersection of SH152 and Mustang Road. It was a great location but with all the commercial growth in downtown Mustang, the car show, along with all the other Western Days activities, have moved to the North by about a mile. The folks at the First Baptist Church have been wonderful and so accommodating! They will also have food available in the gym at a VERY reasonable price and using the proceeds to help their youth programs. Back to the show! The Oklahoma Mustang Club is one of the few organizations that give trophies to the top 3 in each class. We also give out 9 special/dignitary awards. This is also the only show the OMC does that is a fully judged car show. Cars are judged on how well they have been prepared and presented. If you’d like to save $$, register on line by clicking here, STAMPEDE. If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 405.413.9501
Our congratulations to Zac Blocker for winning the SCCA Midwest SOLO Division. Zac and his dad Greg (#2 on the list), love challenging themselves on the SCCA circuit. If you’d like to know more about the Sports Club Car of America (SCCA), you can find it at scca.com on the web. Once again, Congratulations Zac AND Greg Blocker!
Currently there are three changes to bylaws that are being proposed. This is your opportunity to review and ask questions if you have them. We will vote as a club on the changes at a general meeting and we will notify and post as soon as the date is set. Proposals involve officer terms (they’re being increased), how voting occurs (methods) and a change in member dues for those members without an e-mail address. The proposal document lists the current Article first followed by the proposed change, underlined and in bold. This is your club, so take a few minutes to download and read and plan to vote when the time comes! The changes can be found here: OMC Bylaws.
The latest and greatest news is now available from the BEST Mustang Club in Oklahoma! Highlights include: Allen K, otherwise known as “El Presidente” talks about how the OMC has allowed him to meet and make friends across the country, a section on “Little Known Facts about the Mustang”, and some proposed by-law changes that as a member, you should probably go ahead and read over! You do not have to be a member to check out the Oklahoma Mustang Club newsletter! Click on the file link below to snap it up. Sheriff’s Track this weekend, August 13. Half-day track even planned as it’s going to be a HOT one! Check out the TRACK DAYS link for more info. Follow us on social media: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!