NASCAR violence

Disclosure: I’m not into NASCAR at all, and it is probably fair to call me ignorant about the subject I’m posting on.

I saw this wreck that happened a couple days ago:

And today read that the driver of the green car has been suspended for three races as punishment. I’m not sure if my thoughts belong here or the Pit…

Pay close attention at 1:42 on the video (and the announcer calls it a second later). Edwards clearly made an intentional movement to wreck Keselowski. At those speeds, that seems like attempted murder to me. Then again, can you attempt to murder someone while they’re in the act of attempting suicide? Driving that fast is not something one does for their health after all. And I know bumping each other is how they do. But at some point … WTF?! Have NASCAR drivers waived their right to sue each other? Where else can you clearly try to kill somebody and not go to prison? We have plenty of sports where violence is encouraged. I know boxers will throw the hardest punch they can, linebackers the hardest tackle, and so on, but there’s only so much force someone can put into a punch or tackle. When you use machines to take the action up to 200mph, some restraint is appropriate, no? Part of me thinks Edwards should be banned for life for such blatant disregard for safety. But then I think again, and the whole goddamn point of the sport is disregard for safety from the beginning, so where do I go from there? I guess I just don’t get it.

What Edwards did is wrong, no doubt about it, but I think this incident has been blown out of proportion by the media. Hardly a race goes by without one driver deliberately bumping or wrecking another. All forms of motor racing, and NASCAR in particular, have a long history of such behavior.

Edwards’ mistake was that he did it at such a high speed track, where the chances of a car getting airborne are much greater. He certainly didn’t intend for the wreck to be as bad as it was, but it was incredibly stupid of him to take the chance.

For a little bit of history, these two drivers have come together several times in the past, including earlier in the same race. And last year there was a similar wreck with Edwards getting airborne and hitting the debris fence after being spun around by Keselowski while racing for position at the end of a race.

And for what it’s worth, every effort is made to make the sport as safe as possible. Keep in mind that you just saw a car crash at nearly 200mph, going into the wall roof first, and the driver walked away without a scratch on him. Your daily commute probably involves more risk of death than a race car driver faces on track.

It was payback for last year’s this.

Heh, I figured someone was going to bring this up sooner or later.

Anyway, this is what you get. NASCAR announced at the start of the season that they were going to be more lenient in allowing drivers to sort out their issues on the track, so the only surprising bit for me is that it took four whole races before a car almost got flung into the stands. Hell, FOX has been promoting races all season with tag lines similar to ‘the gloves are coming off’, with lots of supporting graphics of violent crashes.

Whether the incident was payback for what happened on lap 45 (and to me it looked like both Edwards and Keselowski battling for position rather than K dumping E), or for having gotten launched by Keselowski at Talledega last year, Edwards’ post-race comments were appalling. When asked the direct question, “Did you take out Keselowski?”, he basically said “Brad knows what the deal was there”, followed by a tepid semi-apology for not anticipating that the car would lift and overturn when turned sideways at 195 mph.

If this had happened on a public highway, and Edwards were documented as saying and doing what he did, I find it hard to believe he wouldn’t be in jail right now. Apparently on the track, though, no biggie. Still, I say at least park him for a few races.

Oh, on review of the media it appears that Edwards has been put on probation for three races, not suspended, so NASCAR clearly is not overly perturbed by events as yet.

Not only is it endangering a driver it has the propensity of putting 200 mph parts into the stands. The big stuff may get stopped by the cable reinforced fences but there is nothing stopping smaller car parts from bleeding through the chain link.

Also, the accident involved air getting under the car and lifting it up. There have been cars in similar situations that went much higher which in this case could have cleared the fence.

Taking shots at other drivers like that has long been a part of racing. Iit even happens occasionally in Formula 1, like when Senna intentionally took out Prost to secure his championship, a virtual carbon copy (and in the same corner of the same track) of the incident where Prost secured his championship the year before.

It could have been forgiven completely if Edwards hadn’t been 150 laps down and it had happened at a place like Bristol where speeds aren’t so high, but this was rather ugly. I still think that it was the wing on the car that lifted him up, though. I think he intended to spin him, but the design of the Car of Tomorrow with the rear wing instead of a spoiler caused Keselowski to go airborne.

Should Edwards have been suspended? Who’s to say. It was, as they say, one of those “racing deals”. The fans know that one day they may end up eating a car and they go anyway. What’s more, they cheer stuff like this.

Stuff like this happens quite often. The only reason that this has gotten so much attention was because he went airborne.

Here’s an even more blatant wreck from two years ago:

Here’s one with lapped down cars that caused a big pile up:

Had any of these involved a car getting airborne, they would have caught the attention of the national media.

So, a hypothetical = If the front car had gone a little higher in the air and the driver gotten impaled on a fencepost, would felony charges be warranted? What charges? Would you (generic you) find the driver in the rear guilty?

I’m not sure how that would work, as it’s never come up in any racing series that I follow. I know people have died from a part of the track contacting the driver before, but not due to an obviously blatant wreck. When someone does die on the track though, there is a police investigation. I could see someone getting in trouble with the law, even if the sanctioning body took no actions.