Speedway thrill rides exempt from safety regulations




Posted on May 19, 2010 at 11:11 PM

Updated Thursday, May 20 at 11:56 PM

FORT WORTH — The family of the Dallas man who was killed in a crash at Texas Motor Speedway last weekend is still waiting for answers.

Don Krusemark was a passenger in a yellow Chevrolet Corvette speeding around the track, a part of the Texas Driving Experience.

News 8 has learned the vehicles involved in the thrill ride operation are not regulated by the state.

What is regulated? Go-carts and inflatable bounce houses to name two — but not the high speed-racing machines used by the TDE.

The yellow Corvettes of Texas Driving Experience race around the track almost every weekend. According to the Texas Department of Insurance, none of those vehicles requires a safety inspection, but smaller kiddie rides do.

Jane Stiles' bounce houses are checked by the state once a year. Licensed inspectors look over seems, webbing, and warning signs. All-Star Party even keeps track of how often the kids' jump toys are cleaned.

All of the documents go to the state for approval to do business. Without a permit, Stiles can't rent the toys, and can't sell "safety."

"If I were the consumer, I would think well somebody is watching this, somebody is patrolling this, somebody is making sure there is a standard set," Stiles said.

News 8 checked Department of Insurance standards. There's a list of requirements and permits for amusement rides, but motor sports are specifically exempt by state law.

The Texas Department of Public Safety says the cars at Texas Motor Speedway may not even need state inspection stickers if they aren't operated on public streets.

A driving experience business in North Carolina told News 8 there are no regulations or inspections in that state, either.

It's the insurance companies that require driving schools to use professional drivers and mechanics who check the cars every day.

Don Krusemark's family has hired an attorney to find out what safety standards were in place at Texas Driving Experience.

The driver of the car involved in Saturday's accident, Andre Vandenberg, has been upgraded to serious condition.

The attorney for Texas Driving Experience said Wednesday the company still has no comment on that happened.

Passengers who participate in the Texas Driving Experience do sign waivers releasing the company of any liability before riding on the track.

E-mail cnorton@wfaa.com