Auto racing has always been a very dangerous sport. However most of the time the risk of danger falls solely on the competitors. The competitors know the risk is involved, but the thrills they enjoy outweigh the potential dangers in their minds. On the other hand, as a fan when you go to a venue, no matter the sport — or for that part any entertainment venue such as a concert or theater — you are expected to be in little to no more danger than your typical afternoon. But last weekend during NASCAR’s Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway a wreck occurred crossing the finish line on the final lap sending Kyle Larson’s No. 32 car up into the fence.
All the cars left on the track were all full throttle, with speeds exceeding 190 mph. The checkered flag was out, and all the drivers were shuffling for the highest finishing position possible. Then a block was put on by driver Reagan Smith, the then leader, resulting in Larson’s car tearing through the fencing separating the grandstands from the race track. Larson’s No. 32 was completely torn apart.
From the picture above, by Jim Roberts, you can see how the fence just completely tore the front end off of Larson’s car. That picture alone makes you feel good that Larson got out of the car. But then you begin to wonder what happened to all the missing parts. The following picture helps answer that question.
I was not the only one’s attention immediately went to the fans in the crowd. The winner of the race, Tony Stewart, at first parked his car on pit lane and did not plan on even visiting Victory Lane, but he was eventually told by NASCAR officials that he needed to go there. He did so, but did no celebrating.
Regan Smith was interviewed after the race and took the blame for the accident. But at the same time gave a solid explanation as to why he through the block on Brad Keslowski, who was about to make a move to pass him.
Smith had not intention to create the ensuing events, and while the move had a significant amount of risk involved most other drivers are going to do the same exact thing. There are certain times you just don’t back down in sports. Racing at Daytona brings out the same emotions that playing in the Super Bowl would for an NFL player. It was also the last lap, he did not make this move in the middle of the race that resulted in some fans being placed on stretchers.
Sadly you cannot have every single safety outcome accounted for in any sort of preparation, especially one at such at speeds.
But many steps have been taken and a lot of money is placed into making races as safe as possible.