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NASCAR cannot guarantee fan safety

Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 00:02

When it comes to attending a hockey, baseball or basketball game, fans want to make sure they feel safe and protected.   

For auto racing leagues such as NASCAR, fan safety isn’t guaranteed as was showcased on Saturday during the 300 race, and there is little NASCAR can actually do to upgrade its safety rules. 

In the final lap, Regan Smith was leading when his car was hit from behind, causing his car to spin out and hit the wall. The crash started a chain reaction of 13 cars crashing into the wall or each other, sending debris into the stands where fans were watching, injuring them in the process.  

The most serious accident was to rookie Kyle Larson, whose car launched into a catchfence, losing his engine as it smashed through the fence, injuring 33 fans as tires and shrapnel flew into the upper deck.  

The auto racing league does need to penalize drivers for blocking faster drivers in the last lap. The accident happened because Larson was blocking a faster Brad Keselowski who was coming from behind.

A similar accident happened almost four years ago.  In 2009, in a race at Talladega Speedway, Carl Edwards’ No. 99 car was
airborne into the catchfence, injuring seven fans in the process. Though no one had died from the accident, fans were injured. Twenty-two years before Edwards’ accident, driver Bobby Allison’s car blew a tire and was airborne, tearing 100 yards of fencing and injuring four fans.

Though NASCAR decided to install restrictor plates into the car, people continue to get hurt. After Edwards’ wreck at Talladega, NASCAR raised the fence to 22 feet high, but this tragedy proved the adjustment didn’t worked. Fans were still injured as tires and an engine came flying into their direction.

NASCAR should change the fence material used from  catchfence to the plexiglass that’s used in hockey. With the new material, fans sitting in the front row wouldn’t get hurt, as the glass would be raised from 22 to 30 feet high, ensuring tires or debris would not fly into the stands, but tires could still fly into the upper decks.

The National Hockey League decided to implement mandatory netting at each end of the rink at each stadium after a fan was killed by a puck in 2002, and NASCAR should look to protect its fans too. But there cannot be guaranteed
protection for fans of this sport.


Marc Seide is a junior majoring in mass communications.
 

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