Handicapped attendees were allegedly banned from Iowa racetrack Boone Speedway on on Sept. 12. Roughly 13 wheelchair-bound fans were reportedly kicked out of the venue during the Boone Speedway Nationals Championships for sitting in the stands with the rest of the audience.
Witnesses said race promoter Robert Lawton shouted profanities and belittled the attendees in wheelchairs, reports NBC affiliate Channel 13. Lawton allegedly called them a fire hazard and ordered them to vacate the aisles and sit in a grassy area designated for handicapped patrons.
The fans reportedly refused to relocate and were subsequently banned from the venue for an indefinite period.
According to father Jack Phillips, whose 13-year-old daughter Hanah is confined to a wheelchair, the group refused moving to the designated handicapped seating because it was unsafe.
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"He (Lawton) wanted to put us in turn four where all dirt the comes flying off the cars and into the stands,” Jack, who is also a race car driver at the track, says. “It is a very dangerous spot to put a little girl in a wheelchair who can hardly defend herself.”
The venue had allegedly marked the unsafe area for handicapped use with spray paint.
Hanah, a Boone Speedway season ticket holder, isn’t taking Lawton’s alleged abuse lightly. "We were like, 'that’s not right,'” she says. “We shouldn’t have to move. We paid the same amount everyone else did … That one really made my anger go sky high. It’s just unbelievable.”
"I think a lot of this is about the money,” said Jack. “Move us down and out of the way and maybe squeeze more people into the stands."
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KWWL reports that fans believe the track may have violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
While Lawson has given no comment, Boone Speedway tweeted out this statement:
"We want to sincerely apologize for the situation with Hanah and the way it was handled. We are not going to make any excuses for it but simply say we were wrong. We will make it right directly with her. Wheelchair accessible seating will be in place by the opening day of 2016."