Author’s Note: This article may tick you off. I am not a monster; I am simply a man that lives in reality.
The reality of what happened on the final lap of the Nationwide race… not on the track, but in the stands is a tragedy. It is a tragedy because people got hurt.
The latest stats that I have from reliable sources, as of this writing is a total of 33 injured in all; two are in critical condition and one of them has life-threatening injuries. (As of this morning, both patients have been upgraded to stable).
My sincerest thoughts and prayers are going out to all those involved.
However… there is a storm a-brewing…
There are many out there, some from this same website, that are going to try to start a firestorm about how unsafe restrictor plate racing is. Others will just blame NASCAR in general for not protecting those that were injured. While they mean well, the reality of the situation is… well, I know this is a “family” publication, but… sh*t happens!
The technical or lawyerly side of me says, read the back of your ticket! The reality is that nobody does. But it says, in effect, you assume a risk for watching someone else risk their life for your enjoyment.
Think about that for a minute.
Why are you there? Why are you a fan of NASCAR… and/or other sports of racing? You are in the stands watching… or in the infield covering or photographing the race because… because somewhere back in your life it just never worked out for you to be in the driver’s seat! You’d be there if you could! You know it!
How many times have you heard yourself or your friend say, “I’d give my left nut to drive one of those!” (Or maybe a left breast if you’re of the female persuasion). The reality of life is, it doesn’t matter what part of your anatomy you might give up. You can’t be in the driver’s seat, so you do the next best thing; you get as close to the action as you can.
But, the closer you get, or can afford to get, to watching others do your dream, the closer the risk gets to you! It’s what you paid for… right?
The reality of the situation that happened Saturday night is again, simply, “sh*t happens.” The catchfence did its job. Yes, a tire did get over the fence but that is a freak occurrence. It’s not unheard of, and people have died at racetracks before, mainly from tires getting into the crowd. But watch the videos. You’ll notice that in this wreck, the engine and the rest of the front end are totally entangled among the catchfence cables, just as they are designed to do!
The reality of the situation is, yes, there is going to be shrapnel! You may get hurt! You paid good money to sit there to feel the “rush!” The more “rush” you pay for, the more risk you assume!
The reality of life is… or more specifically, sports is that more people get seriously injured as a spectator at Major League Baseball games every year than they do in several years of racing, from a direct result of the game. No, at this time I do not have a statistical number to back that up offhand, but I’ve been to more MLB games than I have NASCAR games in my life and I’ve simply seen more injuries from a speeding foul ball than I have debris from race cars over the last ten years I been a racing media member.
In the end, sh*t happens. People got struck by lightning last year at Pocono in the parking lot, and other people tried to blame NASCAR for that too. What are you gonna do?
The reality is, if you don’t want to take a chance? Just sit home and watch it on TV!
I’m sad people got hurt. I’m sad people got hurt and may die. Will it stop me, as a fan, or even more at risky, as a journalist, from getting as close to the action as I can? No, no it won’t.
As a photographer and media member for Frontstretch.com, I’ve been showered by debris from a “at speed” collision (St. Louis… result of Edwards vs. Keselowski) and I’ve sat behind a concrete barrier and taken a series of pictures of a race car coming right at me, the last of which is blurred and out of focus because I was running, ducking, and thinking… “Sh*t! He ain’t stopping!” (Actually it was a “she” … but the gender of the driver was lost in the moment in my mind because I was too busy trying to save my ass! ….or something like that) All I know is, I got a great series of pictures of a truck spinning right at me with the last one really really blurry!
I wouldn’t have it any other way, seeing as how they won’t let me drive!
You can’t make life accident proof. If you do, it ain’t life.
Stay off the wall, (and know what can happen if you like to be close to it!)
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