Sunday, February 24, 2013

Fans Injured at the Finish
Of the Nationwide Drive 4 COPD 300

Watching the last lap of the Nationwide Drive 4 COPD 300, my heart was pumping. It had been a perfect race for NASCAR fans; lots of drafting and passing. That exhilaration dissolved immediately, as from the television screen, this fan witnessed the #32 car of rookie Kyle Larson spin and fly much like a white plastic grocery bag caught in a stubborn wind.

The huge wreck, which involved 12 cars, happened after driver Regan Smith, who was leading the race, tried to block Brad Keselowski. "I threw a block there," Smith said. "I knew Brad was going to try to make a move on me. ... If I'm in the same situation tomorrow, I'll do the same thing again."

Not being a huge Larson fan, my relief was still giddy as the youngster dropped the window net and bolted out of the mangled cube of metal that had been was his racecar just ninety feet prior.

Respite quickly morph into terror however, when the realization of fan injuries crept into reality. Large chunks of debris, including a tire, had landed in the stands. At least thirty spectators, including a child, were negatively impacted by the flying shrapnel of the airborne racecar.

However, today as the wait for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Daytona 500 is less than two hours long, the official word that all of the injured fans appear to be improving lifts a heavy burden.

Joie Chitwood III, president of Daytona International Speedway, said his team met with NASCAR officials at 8 a.m. EST today to review the repairs, hours before 147,000 fans will fill the grandstand seats to watch the Daytona 500 race.

Young fan enjoys spending time with K&N Pro Series West Driver Moses Smith

In light of the news that one of the injured is a child, many people have criticized parents who bring their children to these racing events. However, this author cannot imagine a better family activity. NASCAR labors tirelessly to insure the safety of both the drivers and fan of their sport.

However, you can never keep your children a hundred percent safe. If you bring your child to the beach, they can step on glass or get stung by a stingray. If you drive your child to a baseball game, they can get hit by the ball. The examples are endless.

Watching a NASCAR race in your comfortable, air conditioned house is vastly different than watching the race in the grandstands. The look on the face of young NASCAR fans as they meet their favorite driver is priceless. The bond between a father and son at the race track is rare and remarkable.

"We've always known this is a dangerous sport," race winner Tony Stewart said. "But it's hard when the fans get caught up in it."

It is indeed difficult when these misfortunes occur, but we should not allow them to overcast the wonder that is NASCAR!

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