Thirteen members of the Kentucky Speedway Fire and Safety Team (F.A.S.T) will be sojourns of Autrodromo Hermanos Rodriquez in Mexico City, Mexico March 1-6 while providing services for this Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series road course race.

"We've been invited to by NASCAR and Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez for the second straight year to man three of five fire and safety trucks as well as operate our jet dryer," Kentucky F.A.S.T. Director Charles Williams said. "We'll also provide one paramedic and a firefighter to assist with pit road operations."

Williams organized the team that will work 11- and 13-hour days to ensure driver safety along the backstretch, in turns 7 and 8 of the 2.75-mile course and on pit road.

"The biggest difference for us is that there are blind spots on the track that we can't see," Williams said. "Race control has televisions to watch the cars come into the turns, but can't see the cars once they enter the turns.

"The venue itself is beautiful. It's the Olympic stadium from 1968 and has hosted Champ Car and Formula One events. When they're not holding races, it's a public park with baseball fields and other facilities. All in all, it's a neat facility that holds nearly 100,000 people between the turn and front stretch grandstands."

The Kentucky Speedway F.A.S.T. members will work along side fire and safety professionals from California Speedway, Darlington Raceway, Talladega Superspeedway and Texas Motor Speedway to help train the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez staff regarding NASCAR race procedures. The professionals also exchange safety techniques they can use when they return home.

"We're able to work with phenomenal people from other tracks, so it's a good time to learn from each other," Williams said. "NASCAR is using us to help train the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez staff because their process of dealing with on-track incidents is a little different. Overall, they do the same job and have the goals, their equipment is just more rudimentary. Eventually, we'll bow out gracefully."

In addition to working long days on a different track, F.A.S.T. team members also expect to be challenged by high-altitude working conditions and a tricky 10-mile drive to and from their hotel.

"Mexico City is a mile or mile-and-a-half higher than Denver. If you're not careful, you can get winded quickly, so we'll keep an eye on that," Williams said. "The trip to the hotel also will be a challenge. It's hard to move across Mexico City because the roads are narrow and were designed to enter or exit the city. The trip from the track to the hotel is about 10 miles, but it takes nearly an hour."

Despite the local challenges, the team expects to make its second Mexico trip educational and fun.

"We'll have a good time and learn some things along the way," Williams said. "If you're watching the race on television, you'll be able to recognize us from our yellow Kentucky Speedway fire suits."

The F.A.S.T. traveling party will be: Mike Morris and Jake Lake of Berea, Ky.; Shane Hughes and Alan Miracle of Louisville, Ky.; Scott Bates, Jim Brophy, Jeff Nance, Jason Nance and Charles Williams from Grant, Gallatin, Carroll, Kenton and Boone counties in Northern Kentucky; along with Rob Wittenbarger Brian Steele, Bruce Bowling and Kehl Hilbert from Lexington, Ky.

Race time is 2:00 p.m., March 5. The race will be carried live on the FOX Network and MRN Radio."

Story by Mike Schmaltz

~ Kentucky Speedway ~