RPW Column: Trained & Ready: Terri Mohrman, Bonnie Reuss, Ready To Help Those In Need

Column By: LAURIE FALLS / RPW – FULTONVILLE, NY – As we all know, in the sport of auto racing, once you enter the grounds of any racing facility, in a split second, things could go bad quickly.

The unknown, the unexpected, at tracks like Fonda Speedway or Glen Ridge Motorsports Park, may occur at any time.

With March being Women’s month, what better way then to recognize two ladies that give their hearts and souls to our sport and are a pivotal part of two area tracks. Of course, I’m speaking of a couple of the Mohawk Valley’s best, Safety Crew EMT Specialists Terri Mohrman and Bonnie Reuss.

Let’s meet these two ladies that love the sport of dirt racing, what their roles are at the race track and why they know the importance of great teamwork and preparation. It’s that which makes them two of best in the business.

Mohrman started going to the races at a very young age of four. Around 1962, her mother took her to Fonda Speedway.

“Yes, at that age, I really fell in love with the #4 of Lou Lazzaro,” Mohrman said. “Maybe being 4 had something to do with it.”

Reuss, on the other hand, started going to the track in her teens. At the age of 15, ironically, the school she was attending was handing out free admission tickets to Fonda. She and her friends went and she was hooked. That passion for dirt racing has never left.

Back then, she cheered for the #78M of Maynard Forrette. She knew the name.

“My dad happened to work with Maynard,” Reuss said. “They both were truck drivers.”

Many moons passed and the passion for dirt racing remained important in both girls’ lives. They both even married gentleman that are deeply involved in the sport.

Leo, Terri’s husband, has been crew chief for Pro Stock ace Kenny Gates for years. Gates holds eight division championships while Bonnie’s husband, Mike, has helped many of race teams over the years. These days, you can find him working in Modified racer David Constantino’s pit. We must add also that Bonnie as well is very knowledgeable around race car as well.

The elder member, Terri, now 62, is the head director of the Safety Team at both Fonda and The Ridge. She is an LPN, or Licensed Practical Nurse, away from the track and has been for the last 41 years.

How long has she been an EMT at the track?

“It’s been about 38 years at Fonda,” she said. “I started at Glen Ridge in 2013.”

How did it all start for her?

“I was in the stands at Fonda Speedway in 1983,” Reuss said. “Of course, I was cheering for the #4 of Lazzaro. Penny Smith (EMT and worked on Safety Crew) approached me one evening. She knew I was an LPN and asked if I would help on the Safety Crew because they were short.”

She was hesitant.

“I wasn’t too keen on the idea,” she said. “It was Sprint Car night. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy watching Sprints, but I also know how dangerous they are and just didn’t feel comfortable. I passed that night, but got my feet wet the next week and have never looked back.”

With Terri being a veteran and now leader of the team, she hand-picked Bonnie as her partner in crime. Bonnie, at the age of 52, has been a certified EMT at Fonda for seven seasons while being at the Ridge for the last five. She’s a Physical Therapy Assistant by trade, and has done so for the last 26 years.

“I knew she had her First Aide and CPR qualifications,” Mohrman said. “We needed help and I thought she would be a good fit.”

Bonnie wasn’t sure if she would be cut out for medical emergencies that could occur at a race track.

“I gave it a shot,” Reuss said. “Then it happened. I was just getting my feet wet when a call came for a pit side emergency.”

Once that emergency was taken care of, she knew.

“With a successful rescue, I new this was what I needed to be doing at a race track,” Reuss said. “Instead of working on race cars, I then took the next step. I became EMT Certified. Seven years later, here I am and I’m proud of what I’ve done.”

Now, in regards to that certification, what does it take to become a member of the Safety Crew? Both woman state they must maintain an EMT certificate. That is required to renewal every 3 years.

To be 99% prepared for any type of emergency or accident at the track, both women do extra trainings each year. An example of this is when the duo went to DKM Fabrications to do several drills on an actual race car. This was to gain valuable information, like where the fuel shut off is in a car, how to extract a driver for the safest way to get them out in a crash.

Both Terri and Bonnie feel it’s that extra training they do together each year which keeps them sharp. It helps them from the time they enter a track until when they leave. It’s great teamwork and being prepared to handle any situation that may occur which is essential for being successful.

“When an on-track accident happens, especially in front of us, we must not get excited,” Mohrman said. “We just need to do the task at hand and rely on our training and instincts.”

Doing a job so important and being a woman in a tough role, especially in the sport of auto racing, has to give both a sense of pride.

“With 38 years under my belt on the Safety Crew, it’s the satisfaction of how the racing community speaks of me and respects our team,” Morhman stated. “Drivers are comfortable with me caring for them in a time of need. People realize how hard I train and work to be the best I can be in every emergency situation.”

Reuss made a statement nearly exact.

“With me, it’s about the respect we get,” she said. “They know we’re doing our best. From the drivers, the promoters, the Tow Truck crews and everyone, they know we’re there to do our job.”

At Glen Ridge especially, Reuss is even more proud of the work they do.

“We are an all-girl Safety Crew up at the Ridge,” she said. “I’m proud of that fact and proud that my training could save a life. I take that responsibility at both tracks very seriously.”

She’s also very proud of to work with Morhman.

“I enjoy helping Terri out,” she said. “I’m honored to be a part of such a well-established Safety team. With our extra training specifically for race tracks, we try to go above and beyond to be as prepared as we can. We want to do our best.”

Morhman, who is a member of the Fonda Speedway Hall Of Fame, feels very fortunate to be a part of the racing scene.

“I’m blessed to be able to a job that I love while being involved in a sport that is, basically, my life,” Morhman said. “We have a great team and I’, lucky to have Bonnie at my side, ready to go, at all times.”

It’s easy to say that the last thing anyone thinks of when entering a race track is the possibility of an unfortunate incident. On or off the track, you never need the safety crew’s attention. At both Fonda and Glen Ridge, there are two special ladies that hope you never see them. However, we should all be darn glad if we need to in any type of emergency situation.

With the experience and skills they possess, it’s no wonder they are a superior Safety Crew. We are thankful to have them watching over us.

 

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