Saturday, February 23, 2013

Calamity, Censorship Mar NASCAR Race at Daytona

28 people sustained injuries when a massive crash took place during Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Race at Daytona International Speedway.

The multi-car crash compromised the protective fencing around the track, sending at least one of the cars airborne and debris flying into the crowds that were sat at the grandstands.

14 People were transported to nearby Halifax Medical Center for treatment. All of the admitted patients were reported to be in stable condition.

SPEED reported earlier that of the six people who were treated for trauma-related injuries, one was in critical condition and was undergoing treatment for head-related trauma, while the other was a minor. 

Eyewitnesses at the scene recounted debris and "metal chunks" hurdling towards spectators in the grandstands.

The engine block, along with suspension components and a tire from rookie Kyle Larson's #32 Turner Scott Motorsports car were found littered across the grandstand where the crash and fence intrusion took place. 

Despite the violent impact, Larson was unhurt and managed to climb out of the cockpit on his own power as what was left of his car came to a rest at the infield.

Speaking to the media during a press briefing at 7pm local time, Daytona International Speedway president Joie Chitwood was adamant that Sunday's Daytona 500 feature race will go ahead as scheduled. 

"First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with our race fans," read Chitwood from a prepared statement.  "On the incident, we responded appropriately according to our safety protocols and had emergency medical personnel at the incident immediately. We transported 14 people off property and treated 14 people at our on-track care center. 

"We’re in the process of repairing this facility and we’re ready to go racing tomorrow."

Chitwood confirmed the debris was limited to "the grandstands immediately outside where the car hit, and said no changes will be made to fan seating for Sunday's race.

"We don’t anticipate moving any of our fans. We had our safety protocols in place. Our security maintained a buffer that separates the fans from the fencing area. 

"And with the fence being prepared tonight to our safety protocols, we expect to go racing tomorrow with no changes."

When asked whether the ambitious changes proposed for the race track would have prevented today's accident, Chitwood was quick to say it was "unfair" to draw such a comparison.

"I’m not sure it’s fair to compare an incident that occurred today with potentially the future development of the property," replied Chitwood. "I don't think it's fair to compare those two right now."

"The key was that we were prepared, we responded, we had the appropriate personnel in place." 

An estimated 25 feet of fencing was damaged as a result of the accident. Chitwood said the damaged sections will be replaced tomorrow with "strict fencing" and not the original crossover gate fencing, citing time constraints for the decision.

NASCAR's Senior Vice President for Racing operations Steve O'Donnell stated NASCAR will thoroughly investigate as to what happened during the fateful final lap crash.

"On behalf of NASCAR I certainly want to echo Joie's statements about the fans that were injured here today. Our thoughts are certainly with them and their families."

"As with any of these incidents, we will conduct a thorough review. We will work closely with the tracks as we do for all our events, learn what we can and what we can apply in the future."

""We are very confident that we will be ready for tomorrow’s event with the 55th running of the Daytona 500."

"The safety of our fans is first and foremost and we’ll make that happen."

O'Donnell also confirmed all of the drivers involved in the crash have undergone medical checks on site and have been released.

Michael Annett, the driver in the #43 Richard Petty Motorsports car who was involved in an earlier accident during the race was also transported to Halifax Medical Center for further medical treatment. A statement from the team confirms that he was "complaining of pain in his chest and sternum". He has since undergone a CT scan and will be kept for observation overnight.

Drivers Offer Support to Injured

In the aftermath of the crash, may took to Twitter to offer words of support to those who were injured in the calamitous incident.

"The only thing I'm concerned about right now is the people in the stands," tweeted Regan Smith, who drives the #7 JR Motorsports Car. "Praying for all those who were affected by the accident." 

"I echo what everyone else has already stated that our thoughts are with those affected by the accident today," tweeted Brian Vickers. "Prayers for them all."

"As drivers we know the risks and dangers of driving a race car. It's part of the job," tweeted former Penske driver A.J. Allmendinger. "The fans should not have to take the same risks as us."

"Just praying and hoping for good news about every spectator that was involved."

 NASCAR Takes Down Homemade Video on "Copyright" Grounds

Shortly after the accident, a video surfaced on YouTube capturing a firsthand account of the crash from the grandstand, showing the severity of the damage inflicted from the flying debris. 

However, NASCAR took down the video based on Copyright Grounds, but not before the clip was broadcast on television by CNN and ESPN's SportsCenter. Numerous clones also popped up on the Internet. 

NASCAR's chief marketing officer Steve Phelps later put out a statement saying, "The fan video of the wreck on the final lap of today's NASCAR Nationwide Series race was blocked on YouTube out of respect for those injured in today's accident. 

"Information on the status of those fans was unclear and the decision was made to err on the side of cation with this very serious incident." 

The video has since been restored, with a YouTube spokesperson citing the clip in question showed no basis on infringing copyright as NASCAR originally claimed. 

"Our partners and users do not have the right to take down videos from YouTube unless they contain content which is copyright infringing, which is why we have reinstated the videos."

The 55th Running of the Daytona 500 gets under way on Sunday at 1pm Eastern Time. Pole-sitter Danica Patrick will start alongside Jeff Gordon on the front row.


  1. Well said. Best wishes for the recovery of everyone hurt by this event.

    NASCAR and Chitwood, as usual, show nothing but ass-covering disregard for anything other than "nothing to see here, move along, and I'll take your camera, sir."