NASCAR Plans Review of Safety Fencing following Daytona Crash that Injured SpectatorsMar 6, 2013
Officials with NASCAR are planning a safety review after a horrifying crash prior to the annual Daytona 500 race in Florida last weekend.
According to a New York Times report, NASCAR President Mike Helton announced that the organization is planning to review the safety catch fence that failed when a crashed car came through it during the Nationwide Series race held the day before the iconic event in Florida.
During a late-race crash, portions of the car driven by Kyle Larson were thrown through the safety fencing that surrounds the track. The fence is designed to prevent debris from the racetrack from entering the grandstand section that surrounds it. It proved to be no match for the heavy pieces of racecar that rammed through it during the crash.
One witness told New York Times that one of the car’s heavy tires buzzed over her husband’s head. They were sitting in the same seats they also do for Daytona races. Over her head went part of the suspension. She told reporters that a piece of the engine was on fire as it was tossed into the stands during the wreck.
None of the drivers were seriously injured in the incident mostly thanks to the intense safety restrictions put in place because of another famous accident to occur at that raceway that resulted in the death of iconic driver Dale Earnhardt.
Tens of thousands of people were in attendance for the undercard race that day in Daytona but were clearly not as safe as the drivers. In total, at least 28 people in the crowd were injured. Half of them were rushed to local emergency rooms for treatment of serious injuries caused by pieces of the car coming at them. Two of those injured were in critical condition just after the race.
Prior to the start of the Daytona 500 race the next day, NASCAR reconstructed the safety fence that had been damaged in the wreck. This incident however, has given NASCAR cause to review the efficiency of this safety fencing as it’s not the first time it has failed and resulted in fan injuries. The Times reports that seven fans were injured during a race at the famous Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama in 2009 when the car of driver Carl Edwards was forced airborne and into the fence, spraying debris from the car onto fans watching the race.
Catch fences were also blamed for the death of a driver in another racing series, IndyCar. The Times reports that driver Dan Wheldon died in 2011 when his car slammed into and was caught in the fence at track in Las Vegas.
One NASCAR official said that the technology on catch-fences and the organization’s approach to them are always “evolving” and that these recent incidents have given reason to re-visit the issue.
Some fans told the source that they were reconsidering their seats at Daytona following the incident there this year because they had never believed they were at risk of serious injuries until that day.