Thirty-three race fans were injured at Daytona International Speedway during the Nationwide Series race on Saturday. The people enjoying the biggest race weekend of the year unfortunately bore witness to an unfortunate spectacle. The car driven by rookie Kyle Larson was involved in a crash on the last lap. His car became airborne and struck the fence. One of his tires and several pieces of debris, including several large pieces, flew into the stands.
The tire landed almost half way to the top of the section. It had traveled completely over the top of the fence meant to protect bystanders. Among the injured were 14 people who were taken by ambulance to area hospitals. Nineteen total fans required hospitalization and two were listed in critical condition. The car’s engine tore a hole in the fence.
Many sporting events are accompanied by warnings. Baseball games are often preceded by warnings about the danger of batted balls. Most fans, however, assume that the participants themselves are the ones at risk for serious injury. Racetrack officials indicated that the fence was up to safety protocols and that no changes were needed before the Daytona 500. NASCAR senior vice president did indicate that the crash and resulting injuries would be studied.
Races obviously involve enormous challenges. Heavy cars traveling at high velocity in close quarters is a recipe for trouble. The excitement felt by the fans is due, in part, to the chances taken by drivers pushing the envelope. When a crash does occur, it is important to minimize the risk of injury to drivers and fans alike.
Source: The Miami Herald, “Dozens hurt after Daytona crash debris hits stands,” by Jenna Fryer, 23 February 2013