It’s what no one wants to see happen, yet we all know it can: fans injured by a racing crash. Bear in mind the terrible accident at Le Mans when a hood flew off a crashing car and spun into the mainstretch grandstands like a Frisbee. Many people were killed, many more injured. In today’s crash, it looks like around thirty people were hurt. We were lucky it wasn’t worse; after all, a front tire and hub assembly came off Kyle Larson’s car. It weighs something in the neighborhood of a hundred fifty pounds and was traveling at high speed. Two critical injuries, but everybody appears to be stable at present.
Sometimes, fans forget what’s printed on the backs of their tickets: Track assumes no responsibility for spectator safety. Proceed at your own risk, etc. NASCAR works very hard on safety, but what happened today was one of those unforeseeable events. Actually, it reminded me of Don MacTavish’s fatal when he hit a gate opening that ripped the motor from the car. It looked to me like Larson’s car struck a pedestrian gate that held up enough to rip out the engine. It was a sickening sight, to be honest.
Was it preventable? Sure—if we get rid of plate and pack racing. I don’t see how NASCAR gets out of that predicament. They will be damned either way. Still, there will be fan-safety improvements; what worries me now is the situation at local tracks around the country. I’ve read on Facebook the legitimate concerns of knowledgeable racers and fans; they all trend the same way: How about the safety infrastructure at our local tracks? One writer even reminds us that some tracks have never paid any serious attention to fan safety at all. Imagine an occurrence like this at a track where the frontstretch fencing isn’t up to code. Somebody gets hurt, or, God forbid, worse. That’s the end of that facility, folks. The smart people are saying the same thing: that insurance would become impossible.
Here’s hoping tomorrow’s Daytona 500 will be safe, because today’s finish was a horror show.