Sunday, February 24, 2013

Mayhem at Daytona

It finally happened. After years and and years of dodging bullets with these big crashes at Talladega and Daytona, NASCAR had the wreck they've been denying. A car flew into the fence and fans were injured by debris. A tire actually flew twenty rows up into the stands. A tire flew into the stands at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1999 during an Indy car race. That tire killed three people. Yesterday NASCAR got lucky. They have been bunching up their cars by using restrictor plates and last lap crashes at the start finish line are now standard and very scary. I think one of the reasons is the safety of the cars. Drivers now accept wrecking at 190 mph at the finish line because they know they are going to walk away. It wasn't like that in the 1990s before Earnhardt died. Today there will be a Daytona 500 and fans will be sitting in the lower grandstand next to the fence. Let's hope the big wreck at the end of this race doesn't injure more fans.

Maybe yesterday's wreck will cause NASCAR to finally seriously look at altering these tracks so the cars can race there without restrictor plates. The only real choice is to lower the banking at Daytona and Talladega. That will cause a lot of whining with the fans but if you lower the banking enough at these tracks and keep the top speeds under 210 then you will have a field more spread out and you won't have last lap carnage and fan injuries which is what we have now.

I know NASCAR representatives and race announcers (sometimes the same thing) are going to talk about how this wreck was a rarity. That is bull. After Dale Earnhardt died the Charlotte Observer published an investigative piece on deaths at racetracks around the country and it was sobering. There is no such thing as a freak accident or an accident that could never have been predicted. NASCAR knows that big packs at high speeds cause cars to fly into the fences. A similar wreck took place in 1996 at Talladega. NASCAR knows this is dangerous. They've done nothing to really address this issue. They are fully responsible through their neglect for the fan injuries yesterday. They need to fix this.

There are a couple of fan videos of the wreck. These views from the stands are incredible and terrifying.

This guy was sitting a few seats over from where the tire landed. Kudos to the fan who takes his shirt off and tends to the inured person.

This is a shot closer to turn 4. You can see the tire fly off.

This is from higher up but the car hits the fence right in front of you. Terrifying. This video shows really well how much distance these cars cover during the wreck.

A view from the infield

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