View from the Tower
By Ken de la Bastide
24, 2011) –
A pall has fallen over Anderson Speedway as
the track prepares for the biggest event of the year, the 63rd running of
the Pay Less Little 500 this coming Saturday.
Veteran driver William Mefford, known as “Willie” to his friends, died as a
result of injuries suffered during last weekend’s Anderson Late Model
feature event. The cause of the accident is believed to have been a stuck
Mefford raced for 26 year starting in mini-stocks and progressing to the
late model ranks.
A silence fell over the race control tower last Saturday as we all watched
in disbelief at how Mefford’s car sped up entering turn three and hit the
rubber safety barriers and rebounded back down the track.
For most of us witnessing an accident of any kind, precious moments will
elapse as we begin to gather our senses and try to think of a way to provide
That was not the case for Kenny Wright, race director, and the Anderson
Speedway safety crew.
Safety crew members were at Mefford’s car within seconds of it coming to
rest. The EMAS ambulance with paramedics arrived within minutes. With clear
concise words the safety crew relayed by radio to Wright that assistance was
needed from the Anderson Fire Department.
AFD paramedics promptly arrived at Anderson Speedway to provide emergency
medical treatment to Mefford.
An air ambulance was called to the track and it landed in the crossover.
Later it occurred to me how fully trained the track personnel dealt with the
emergency. Race cars and vehicles were moved so the helicopter landed.
The safety crew, AFD and EMAS paramedics and the helicopter crew took every
precaution to stabilize Mefford for the flight to an Indianapolis hospital.
Before the helicopter left the speedway the decision was made to transfer
Mefford to St. John’s Medical Center to stabilize his condition before a
transfer could be made to the Indianapolis hospital.
Having served as a medic with the 199th Light Infantry Brigade in Vietnam,
it was pleasing to see that everyone involved acted in a cool, precise
manner to do everything possible for Mefford.
For those at the scene of the crash the memory of Mefford’s accident will be
with them for weeks, months and years to come.
In case no one else mentions it, I want to thank those members of the Safety
Crew, AFD, EMAS and the air ambulance personnel for reacting to a tragic
situation in a professional manner.
One final thought. Twice it became necessary for track management to ask
fans to stop taking pictures with cameras and cellular telephones. Why
anyone would want to take pictures of that scene is beyond my comprehension.
I would like them to think if it was one of their family members involved in
an accident on a highway, would they want people taking pictures.