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Atlanta Motor Speedway President Ed Clark Discusses Severe Weather Planning

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Once the initial disbelief over the tragedy at Sunday's Pennsylvania 400 faded, it was inevitable that questions would start flying. Of course, one question on everyone's mind is how tracks would go about handling a situation in the event that a storm similar to the one that claimed the life of 41-year-old fan Brian Zimmerman at the Pocono Raceway strikes at another facility.

USA Today's Nate Ryan posed that question to several track presidents, including Atlanta Motor Speedway's Ed Clark.

Mr. Clark commented that it is difficult to make race fans leave while the event is still going on.

"The tough part - I'm not casting any blame here - is as long as cars are going around (the) track, a lot of people aren't going to pay attention to whatever you tell them," he said. "Not knowing what occurred (Sunday), it's hard to make a comment other than the fact that some fans, if there's a car going around the track, they'll sit in a monsoon and watch it. That's why we have the greatest fans in the world."

Though the track has not been immune to weather delays - last September's Sprint Cup race was postponed two days because of severe weather forecast for Monday - Clark said there has never been a situation where he had to ask NASCAR to stop the race for fan safety. Without precedent, it would be "hard to say" how such a scenario would play out.

"I've never been in that situation with them. I would definitely go to Mike Helton and say, 'Here's what we're being told and here's what to expect,'" he said.

Clark went on to say that fans would be advised to return to their vehicles in the event of severe weather like what hit Pocono on Sunday.

We thank USA Today's Nate Ryan for allowing us to use his quotes from Ed Clark in this story. Click here to read Nate's entire story which includes comments from Michigan's Roger Curtis, Talladega's Grant Lynch, and Daytona's Joie Chitwood.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.