Saturday, February 23, 2013

25+ Fans Injured At The NASCAR Nationwide Series Daytona Race

The NASCAR Nationwide race from Daytona International Speedway was like the classic restrictor plate races used to be, with tight drafting packs, lots of lead changes and Tony Stewart winning the race.  But not without a misstep of an accident that not only involved the sport's participants, but also involved up to 28 fans from the front stretch stands at the track.

The pack was coming around the final corner, all closely knit together, one then the other trying to take advantage of the clean air and push draft between contenders.  Then Regan Smith made a blocking move on Brad Keselowski, sending Smith spinning,  Then the slowed car of Keselowski got pushed around spun into the outside wall.  Brad's car collected a few others, including Kyle Larson's car.  Kyle's car caught air and flew into the catch fence.  His motor and wheels torn off the car.  The catch fence caught the motor and one wheel, while the other wheel cleared the fence and per an "agent" of NB&P being in the stands above the scene, Leon reported that

"The motor and front end was just inside the breached gate in the catch fence. However, shrapnel exploded from the shredding of the front end and went everywhere!!"

Videos started hitting the web, but NASCAR was blocking them, to protect the victims and their families.  I watched one video taken from a few seats away from where the tire landed up in the stands.  The fans around that tire cleared a space and started to frantically wave for medical assistance, pointing to the space the tire landed on.

What race coverage videos we saw were of the actual incident from the ESPN coverage, and it was scary-ugly.  Drivers and fans alike were worried sick.  Tony Stewart's victory circle moment was somber, subdued and more worried for the fans than anything else.  As were all the drivers in their post-race interviews.

From that point on, almost all my news was via Twitter as media and fans started reporting what was being observed at the track.  The first reports started out with

"TV says someone going to hospital, NASCAR says "not that we've been told.""

Then Twitter had reports of multiple sirens being heard.  The numbers started to show up as to how many fans could be potentially injured.  Of course nothing that early was correct. Then the reports evolved from siren sounds to injured fans being taken away on backboards.   The tweets then evolved into news of helicopters landing on pit road.  Regardless of what was flying around on Twitter, there was a core of consistency as to a few critical injuries, and the numbers were being reported as 12 to 14 injured.

It wasn't until the official press conference held by NASCAR that 14 fans were treated on sight, and 14 were sent off site to different hospitals.  Per a Yahoo news piece,  there were 2 critical injuries,

"One of the critically injured fans suffered a "life-threatening" head injury and the other is a child according to a spokesman at Halifax Medical Center."

The latest bit of information was collected by The Frontstretch (My old haunt) was that 33 fans were hurt.


NASCAR takes the utmost level of safety precautions when and where they can.  And yet, things like this happen.  And no matter what measures they try to effect, there will always be an outlier of an event that happens.  In this case, the car hitting the catch fence, hit it at the junction of the fence where an access gate exists, and the extra beams shaping the gateway seemed to have an adverse effect on the intent of the fence.

But who knew?  You can plan for what has happened to keep it from happening again, and then there's all the potential scenarios you can spend all day long trying to prepare for.  NASCAR said they will study the event and will decide what they need to do.



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