No one will deny that drag racing is inherently dangerous. So to blame the track where a fatal accident took place for negligence seems to be a bit of a stretch.

And that’s why I call upon you…the few, the proud, the Posse…to don the judicial robes and decide whether or not this particular case has any merit in your eyes.

According to this report:

Jose Cruz, 51, was drag-racing at the popular speedway on Sept. 15, 2010, when he crashed into the track wall and his car burst into flames, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court in Camden last week by Cruz’s widow, Evelyn, a resident of Brooklyn, N.Y.

The lawsuit alleges that while the raceway kept an ambulance on site that was meant to also act as a fire truck, the rescue vehicle failed to start when Cruz’s vehicle caught fire.

Instead, Cruz’s son, the track’s owner and his family ran down the track and extinguished the flames, according to the lawsuit.

But by then Cruz had already suffered second- and third-degree burns, according to the lawsuit. Attorney Adam Deutsch said Cruz spent the next 10 months in a burn unit until he died from the injuries on July 11, 2011.

The lawsuit is seeking $50 million in damages, citing pain, suffering and economic losses.
The suit, which also names the National Hot Rod Association, claims the track and association that sanctions Atco races failed to provide a “reasonably safe racing environment” while knowing the inherent dangers of the sport.

Deutsch said the Atco Raceway had no firetruck on hand, only the ambulance equipped with a fire extinguisher.

In a Courier-Post story published in May, track director Dave Godfrey said safety was of the utmost importance to track operators.

“We provide a controlled environment,” Godfrey said at the time. “We have EMTs here, multiple ambulances, and a fire and suppression truck. Everyone has been trained, if anything should ever happen, God forbid, we’re as prepared as possible.”

According to several drag-racing websites, a 54-year-old Colts Neck man also died in a crash at the racetrack about a month after Cruz’s fiery wreck.

Hindsight is always 20-20 and the first question I asked myself was, “if Mr. Cruz was so concerned about safety, wouldn’t he have made sure there was a fire truck around…or was he content that there was, according to the lawsuit, only an ambulance on site should an accident have taken place.

I guess we'll never know since he entered the race, unfortunately with tragic consequences.