April 26, 2009

NASCAR Race Nearly Ends with Car in Stands: On the final lap of the Aaron's 499 at Talladega, Carl Edwards' car went airborne, flipped and slammed into the catch fence, sending debris into the stands that injured eight spectators -- the most series being a broken jaw. Edwards finished the race on foot. Watch the finish.

posted by rcade to auto racing at 08:08 PM - 13 comments

I don't watch much NASCAR, but that was a helluva piece of TV, there. Wow.

Looks like they've mastered this catch fence business, too. That could have been horrible.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 08:32 PM on April 26, 2009

What Weedy said.

posted by BoKnows at 09:28 PM on April 26, 2009

And that right there is why I can't take NASCAR seriously as a race series. I mean yes, spectacular, but that ain't racing. That's just wreckers driving in circles for several hours. Sorry, but rubbin' AIN'T racin'... That's a bullshit end to a race.

posted by Drood at 04:57 AM on April 27, 2009

Brad Keselowski didn't bump Carl Edwards to turn him around -- Edwards went down to block him but was too late and the left rear of his car caught the Keselowski's hood.

I don't want to get into a racin'/not racin' debate, which is too close to sport/not-a-sport, but I think Edwards is right about the inevitability of that kind of racing killing spectators. How much more air would have been required to send that car over the fence?

posted by rcade at 11:16 AM on April 27, 2009

If Newman's car had hit Edwards' at the right angle, not very much more. The catch fence worked impressively well in this circumstance, but as Edwards said, this will keep happening until someone dies. I guess I'll just be thankful that no one was seriously injured for the moment, because I can't think of much else NASCAR will be willing to do about this.

posted by boredom_08 at 12:05 PM on April 27, 2009

The best way to slow these cars down is to cut the spoiler down to where it was back in the old days. If you look at the spoilers then, they couldn't have been much more than a couple inches high. The key is to make them have to slow down when entering the corners. It doesn't matter how much horsepower you have if you have to slow down. That with all the roof flaps and other safety items should keep the cars on the ground and the fans safer.

posted by dbt302 at 12:30 PM on April 27, 2009

Technology NASCAR has put into place keeps these cars in these huge bunches, especially after restarts. This accident is exactly what they get by trying to keep speeds under control on the larger tracks. Too many cars, all trying to jockey for position, will get near-disastrous results. As for the "someone is going to get killed" statement, you don't get 50 cars going 200 mph, four-wide, with thousands-upon-thousands of fans right near the track without the distinct possibility of a tragic outcome.

posted by dyams at 04:36 PM on April 27, 2009

I found an interesting link about the risk to racing fans -- a 2005 AP report on the major incidents of fan deaths. Ten spectators have been killed watching the Indianapolis 500 -- here a list of all 10 -- though only one occurred since 1960.

posted by rcade at 04:59 PM on April 27, 2009

I told Nascar years ago they need to wrap the fans in bubble wrap.

posted by irunfromclones at 08:01 PM on April 27, 2009

That was a great contrast to the Formula 1 race I just watched. From "I wonder if there will be any penalties from the stewards?" to "yeeeee-fuckin-HAW!!"

posted by dusted at 08:29 PM on April 27, 2009

Of course they won't admit it, but I guarantee the only thing NASCAR officials were thinking about after the car went airborne was how much extra coverage they'd get on ESPN. They weren't thinking about Carl Edwards, they weren't thinking about the fans in the first 15 rows, and they certainly weren't thinking about how taking the plates off those motors and letting the cars run faster and spread out a little might actually be safer for both the drivers and fans. NASCAR is ignoring the advice of its drivers at its own peril, because Edwards is right: Nothing is going to change until one of those cars goes over the fence, and NASCAR might never recover from an accident of that magnitude.

posted by eccsport78 at 08:36 PM on April 27, 2009

NASCAR might never recover from an accident of that magnitude.

Fans live for this kind of close-quarters racing, which calls for split-second moves at top speed. Drivers jostle for position within a hurtling swarm, swerving into each other and then away ("trading paint"), nudging bumpers from behind to knock a car off course. It's thrilling, due in no small part to the threat of a spectacular crash. - From 'I Killed Dale Earnhardt' by Seth Stevenson, Slate Magazine.

I think NASCAR fans are too loyal, and/or crazy, to let a few fatalities scare 'em away. Already been proven.

posted by mjkredliner at 05:03 PM on April 28, 2009

Crazy, crazy, crazy. But its what the fans wanted to see. You want to see some drama going on. If you fine them for every swear word they say or every time they get mad at someone, the only thing left for them to do is have good wrecks. Sure beats watching drivers drive around in a circle for 500 miles with the same people winning the race week in week out. Racing should be a little beating and bumping and a little attitude allowed by the drivers. If you don't want your children to see them swear change the channel. i am sure they hear worse things at home.

posted by billsrule09 at 11:50 AM on May 08, 2009

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