NASCAR is a popular pastime for many Americans nationwide. Fans of the car racing agency will pack into large raceway stadiums to view the spectacle. While it can be thrilling to watch cars drive around on the circular shaped racetrack, the spectacle is not without its risks. The sport itself can present significant danger to drivers; since the sport’s conception, there have been 28 driver fatalities in the sport’s premier series races.
While driver accidents are often at the forefront of media attention, it is also important to consider that these high speed auto accidents may potentially injure spectators as well. Large wrecks on the race track can spew debris and auto parts towards spectators at high speeds, which can result in severe injuries to anyone caught in the path of the projectiles.
While crashes can be somewhat of a regular occurrence on the race track, most racetracks take certain precautions to prevent the chaos from reaching spectators. Fences on racetracks are reinforced and curved inward to prevent debris from escaping the accident and flying into the crowd, however this does not always work. A recent case resulted in injuries to spectator observing the sport at the Daytona International Speedway. One driver’s car flipped over and hit the fence, which caught the car, but the force of impact sheared the front off of the flying car, sending a wheel, pieces of the vehicles suspension, other pieces of the car, and even some of the fencing itself hurtling towards fans in the stands.
An incident in February of 2013 resulted in a myriad of injuries to over 30 fans present at the race. NASCAR had faced several lawsuits, the last of which has settled for an unspecified amount. Attorneys representing the plaintiff were attempting to take depositions on six of the drivers who were involved in the accident when the case settled. NASCAR seemed particularly defensive over any crash analysis public. Safety engineers for the company were ordered to conduct an analysis, however, the results of it have yet to be publicized. NASCAR was even more stern when the attorneys representing the plaintiffs requested the documents themselves, citing that they had protection over the release of these documents. Officials representing the Daytona stadium also declined to publicly present any information during the case.
The settlement, however, has resulted in new changes to the crowd safety features at Daytona Speedway. Changes in fencing have been made to the more vulnerable spots along the track, including the one where the accident occurred. New and additional tethers and cabling have been added. While there are few details regarding the full settlement, the case itself has spurred NASCAR and Daytona into taking action to better protect their fans.