Driven by safety: Gaffney race car builder discusses what he does to keep drivers safe


GAFFNEY, S.C. (WSPA) – A Gaffney race car builder is doing what he can to prevent a crash like what you saw this week at the Daytona 500. Driver Ryan Newman didn’t suffer any major injuries in that crash.

A terrifying sight on the Daytona International Speedway. Race car driver Ryan Newman’s car pushed from behind, sending him flying into the air and eventually crashing onto the track.

“It’s scary, anytime you see something like that, it scares you,” said race car builder and owner of LIR Race Cars, Lanny Irby.

It’s a scene not so new to Lanny Irby. He makes race cars in Gaffney and he has spent a lot of time behind the wheel too.

As he’s installing a full containment seat and placing the window net, there is one thing at the front of his mind.

“We’re looking at pictures, we’re thinking we could have put a bar here, we should have put a bar there so when an accident does happen similar to Ryan Newman, we just try to always make it safe the next time,” Irby told us.

Irby told us they’re always looking for ways to do just that. In recent years, they’ve added fire suppression systems in the cars.

“It’ll just spray that fire out,” Irby said.

Just a couple miles down the road at the Cherokee Speedway, Tony Adair and Scott Childress are gearing up for a race. They told us just like Irby, racing was ingrained in them from a young age.

They also know what it’s like to be behind the wheel. But now on the other side of the fence, they’re working to keep the drivers and the spectators safe.

“We have four or five people onsite, we also have an onsite EMS crew,” said Cherokee Speedway Promoter, Tony Adair.

“Almost all tracks implement that your seat belts, your seats, helmets and all of that has to be within a certain five to seven year period,” Scott Childress with Cherokee Speedway told us.

As for our race car builder, his engine isn’t giving out anytime soon.

“Anytime we can make something better and performance wise, we’re changing them. We’re changing them safety wise as much as possible too,” said Irby.

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