By Seth Morin
We can all agree that auto racing is dangerous. Just look at the number of injuries and fatalities and compare it to any other sport. There is no comparison.
The introduction of the Steel and Foam Energy Reduction Barrier (SAFER) in 2002 was highly heralded by all forms of auto racing. Until then, all tracks had – and still do – concrete walls.
But now, most tracks have placed SAFER barriers in front of the walls to absorb hard impacts.
Every track on the NASCAR circuit has SAFER barriers…but not along every wall.
Just to show you the importance of having barriers installed everywhere, get on YouTube and look up Michael McDowell’s crash at Texas Motor Speedway in 2008. Then watch Kyle Busch’s crash at Daytona just a couple of weeks ago.
McDowell’s crash is extremely scary-looking but, due to SAFER barriers and other safety improvements, he was able to walk away. In Busch’s crash, there was no barrier, and now he is out indefinitely with a fractured right leg and left foot.
After Busch’s crash, some tracks have announced plans of installing more barriers, but drivers are calling for all tracks to step up their safety standards and put barriers along every wall.
Kevin Harvick – NASCAR’s 2014 Sprint Cup champion – has said he hopes Busch’s wreck is a “wake up call.”
Every track needs SAFER barriers along every wall because a car is bound to find that one area that is not protected. It will happen and the driver will be lucky if all they suffer is an injury.
Take Elliott Sadler’s crash at Pocono, for example. Somehow, he was lucky enough to limp away.
You can put a price on barriers and walls, but not on a life.