Well race fans I just got back from Dega and what a fiasco we had there. Ol’ Edwards hit it on the head when he said NASCAR is gonna wait until somebody gets killed to change anything. You may want to take a look back in IRA’s archives to see that we mentioned, some time ago, something about a car getting back up in the grandstands again.
Soft walls are great in most instances, but, it can also create the catapult effect. You saw a little bit of that when the 99 car got flipped up in the air and then ran under Newman. That made the catapult deal and ended up getting back into the fence. We suggested to NASCAR years ago after Allison’s crash there on the frontstretch to move about 10 rows of spectator’s seating or just eliminate those seats altogether for that very reason. We also suggested they install Mar Guard or a plastic shield similar to what the Hockey rinks have to the strategic places of the catchfence. That way small debris, hot water and other flying pieces are kept out of the grandstands and away from the racefans. This is a sport where everybody knows there is danger, but, there are other safety measures they could implement. NASCAR is not naive to this problem, however, in their defense NASCAR was told by their insurance underwriters to slow these cars down and that is what they have done with restrictor plate racing. But this type of racing has inherent issues especially when you have one pack with 40 plus cars which only increases and creates the odds that favor these catastrophic events occurring.
Bobby Allison was interviewed about the 99 car crash and flip in to the fence and is not a fan of this type of racing. It was after that crash in 1987 that the restrictor plates really came back in to play. He had the same view back then. The racers know what they are dealing with but the spectators are paying to see the race and expect to be safe. I don’t know if that creates a liability or not. That is up to the lawyers and I am sure some of those injured have “lawyered up”. The catchfence definitely did do a good job of keeping the car out of the grandstands. Now they definitely need to look in to doing something more. Inspecting the fence for worn issues on a regular basis is important and I am sure NASCAR is doing that, but, perhaps our suggestions of 22 years ago need to finally be looked at and considered. After all this is an issue that hasn’t gone away.
I do have a few other observations from that race. Robby Gordon in the #7 car hit that soft wall pretty hard. One of the announcers mentioned if he had hit on the concrete it would have been a different story. Just another 100 feet or so away we would have had another tragedy.
I was glad to see Brad Keselowski get his first win. And JR fans are pretty happy. After some adversity he did finish second. Good job guys.
So, that’s my take on the Dega deal. I’d like to hear your opinions. And remember racefans…chicks dig scars and the glory lasts forever.