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Safety measure trumps horsepower

July 14, 2005|By TONY BUDNY

anthonyb@herald-mail.com

Being in the same space as a 10,000-pound monster truck that launches itself with more than 1,500 horsepower might not sound like a good idea for family-friendly entertainment, but a safety device, the Remote Ignition Interrupter, or RII, can ease audience anxiety.

Mike Dudick of Marlboro, N.J., crew chief and part-time driver of the Demon truck, said that an RII is in every monster truck.

"It's a two-way radio that sends an electronic pulse into the ignition system that cancels out the spark and shuts off the truck," he said. "If a truck is shut off by remote, the ignition system must be turned off and then turned back on to restart the truck."

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Mike Wales, United States Hot Rod Association official and former driver of Liquidator, a monster truck, said there is a minimum of two radios per truck at each event. Officials with radios often are stationed at the starting line, in view of the middle portions of the track, and near the finish line. The show director and another person in the scoring tower booth have radios, so someone with a view of the entire track has access, he said.

"Every time a truck goes to the starting line or to perform freestyle, we test the RII by pushing the button with the driver's hands in view, to make sure they aren't manually shutting off the truck separate from our test," Wales said. "If there is a mechanical failure during the race, the driver becomes disoriented for some reason, or the truck veers away from the normal path of racing, we shut the truck off to assure the truck doesn't do any damage to any spectators."

Often, if fans are in close quarters with the track, as they are at Hagers-town Speedway, the USHRA will designate predetermined areas as automatic shutdown areas.

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