NASCAR racing is all about speed, adrenaline, checkered flags, and, unfortunately, accidents and injuries. Its in the news almost on a daily basis nowadays. “Dale Earnhardt Jr. briefly lost consciousness and he hid a significant head injury from his team and NASCAR last year”, “Winston Cup driver Jerry Nadeau, critically injured during a crash during practice at Richmond International Raceway”, etc… We will discuss what causes these crashes and injuries and what is currently being done to prevent them and why more needs to be done.
The worst injuries result in death and lately their have been numerous basal skull fractures received by drivers like Dale Earnhardt and Adam Petty. Doctors have determined that a helmet harness is a good protective measure to stop some of these injuries. A basal skull fracture can result fro a severe whipping forward motion and/or a sudden abrupt stop – as in Dale Earnhardt’s case. A basal skull fracture almost always results in immediate death. Another highly effective measure is shock or crash absorbing walls instead of steel reinforced concrete walls that have zero give – These could have spared Jerry Nadeau from his severe injuries or at least limited them. These walls are now being introduced and installed at several tracks.
NASCAR is over 50 years old. Why does it take a famous death or several to begin safety measures or to take them more seriously? Why is it that our own automobiles have air bags, side airbags, crumple zones, etc… Can’t these same devices be reconfigured for NASCAR specs. Air bags have been proven in tests to be highly effective at speeds well over 100 mph. NASCAR drivers deserve more protection than we are currently giving them. The problem is that more attention has been given to advertising, advertisers, and speed. Placement of advertisers stickers on the car were and still are more important than the driver. More money is spent to make sure the different advertisers have their brands clearly displayed on the driver and car than on any safety measures. Some safety measures are thought of as increasing too much weight and are therefor discarded (thicker firewalls, absorbant
Take any other sport – Football, Baseball, basketball – the athletes don’t have stickers, or patches with 50 different sponsors all over them. They are actually more concerned about athlete safety over advertising revenue in these sports, not in NASCAR, though. Yes, NASCAR is experiencing a huge winfall in earnings lately, but that cannot bring back the great legends like Dale Earnhardt. There is no problem with sport profits, but lets focus a little more on safety of our athletes. With all the money NASCAR has they should already be installing safety walls at all tracks, not just a few. Lets focus on safety rather than just on advertising dollars. That way we won’t be left praying for our drivers outcome after a crash anymore.