Every racer fears getting injured, and whilst few would admit it that fear is ever present. At the elite level of Road Racing and MX in Australia there is a presence in the paddock at every round that helps put that fear well and truly on the back burner, that presence is the ‘Suzuki Racesafe Medical Team’- who specialize in motorcycle racing emergency medical treatment.
At the recent V8 Supercar/ASBK meeting in Perth John Innes caught up with the Director of Emergency Services, Simon Maas and began by asking just how Racesafe actually came into being.
S.M. “The concept of Racesafe came about in 1997 after I returned from the United States, I had been working at Indianapolis where they had similar concepts in the car racing scene over there, in both Indy Car and NASCAR. When I got back to Australia I just felt that there had to be something better for our Australian riders. We produce many World Champions out of Australia, but we never provided them with best type of medical facilities in domestic racing. So that was my vision, to change that and I have spent the best part of the last fifteen years trying to do just that.”
John then asked Simon about his professional background.
S.M. “My background is as a medic and emergency management in motorsport, medical and rescue for the past nineteen years. We got like minded people together doctors, orthopedic surgeons, specialist emergency doctors, paramedics, nurses. The Racesafe team are all volunteers who give their time to come to the track, and they are all passionate motorcycle race fans, some are racers themselves and others ride motorcycles on the public roads, as I said they are all passionate about bikes and they are happy to bring their particular medical skills to the track and help.”
Do you only look after motorcycle racers?
S.M. “No, we cover around fifty events every year, but our specialty is motorcycle racing, we are the official medical team for the Australian MX Championships and also for the Australasian Supercross Championships so pretty much anything that is bike related we will happily look after. One of the reasons for our success is we have a specialized group of people who focus on a particular area and we have a core group of volunteers who travel as a group to all ten rounds of the MX Championships. This specialized group is headed up by Dr. David Kingsbury, who is a local doctor here in Perth, he is the Chief Medical Officer for the championship and as such he travels to every round. We have that core group who also love the Superbikes and love being involved with that championship as well.”
How did you convince Suzuki that they should be involved in this project?
S.M. “We are really fortunate to have Suzuki as our major sponsor, but more than that they are a partner in safety. Suzuki is an amazing company who decided to step up to the challenge of looking after riders and their safety. It’s easy for manufacturers to be focused on winning championships, but Suzuki ultimately went the extra mile and said ‘Hey” we want to be good for the whole racing industry. So we are very lucky to have them as a partner in what we do. Over the years Suzuki have had the experience of dealing with injured riders and the tragedies within the sport so they are very aware of just what we do.”
How does it all work on a race weekend?
S.M. “There is a whole lot of pre-planning that is done months in advance before we come to any round, like liaising with local hospitals etc, and we provide a level of care at this type of meeting that is exactly the same as if we are at a stand alone meeting. For example Adam Senior was treated and patched up overnight to allow him to compete over the remainder of the weekend, which was a great success and that is our ultimate goal. Traveling with the riders we get to know them and their history and we have their trust and on top of that we not only offer the on track service on race weekends where our expertise is highly valued by the whole racing paddock, because they know that they can come to us and we can find solutions for them that are a little bit out of the norm. In addition to what you see here at the track Racesafe can also offer a comprehensive service so the riders can contact us during the week and we can organize for them to see a surgeon, arrange operations, get sports medicine and physio care etc, so we can offer a complete service to the rider.”
Story by John Innes - The Western Australian, Motoring section