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What is the state of safety in NASCAR in 2019?

during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series TicketGuardian 500 at ISM Raceway on March 10, 2019 in Avondale, Arizona.


In the late 1990s until the mid 2000s, safety was top-of-mind for NASCAR officials, teams, and fans alike. With the tragic on-track deaths of several drivers (such as Dale Earnhardt in 2001), and the serious injury of many other drivers, pit crew members, and fans, improvements to safety took center stage. In the early to mid 2000s, up until the early 2010s, new vehicle designs, on-track enhancements, and other safety-focused technologies were released. However, since that time, there is now more of a focus on improvements to other performance elements (including the new aero package).

Could it be that now, in 2019, NASCAR has no more safety improvements to make? Let’s take a look at three areas to see if this is the case.

Driver safety

As of the modern era of the sport, keeping cars and drivers safe has always been a top priority for NASCAR officials. In the 1990s, one of the biggest improvements was the addition of roof flaps to all race cars. In the early 2000s, numerous safety measures were taken to reduce the risk of serious injury and prevent all on-track deaths in the event of a crash. Some of the biggest changes that were made to this area included mandatory use of the HANS device (intended to prevent head and neck injuries), SAFER barriers, and the release of the Car of Tomorrow. While major safety developments of this magnitude have not been made within the last decade, the improvements have proven to be effective overall. However, many drivers are still calling for further developments in this area.

Fan safety

Throughout the years, spectator safety has been another area of concern for NASCAR. In the sport’s earlier years, there was a significantly higher risk of injury among those watching races in the stands. Even with the changes that have been made since that time, it isn’t uncommon for debris from crashes to fly into the air and hurt fans in attendance. While there have been many changes to seating arrangements and the catchfences that surround the stands, people are still experiencing injuries. In fact, just a few years ago in 2015, 13 spectators sustained minor injuries from a crash that sent debris into the stands.

Safety of teams

Although much focus is placed on the safety of drivers and fans, some of the individuals who have been at highest risk for injury are NASCAR team crew members. Pit crew members must lift heavy objects, perform car maintenance near moving vehicles, and work with all other dangerous elements of a race car. In the mid 2000s, NASCAR got serious about implementing rules aimed at protecting team members. There are now dozens of rules that pit crews must follow during race weekends. However, despite these measures, some team members have reported as late as this year that increasing pressure and demands have made certain aspects of the job more dangerous. These concerns point to the potential for renewed focus on assessing pit crew safety.

Over the past two decades, NASCAR has undeniably made some remarkable changes to safety that have allowed drivers to walk away from terrible wrecks, kept fans safe in the stands, and that have protected team members. Despite these many exceptional advancements, the facts show that there is still room to grow in terms of incident prevention, especially related to fan and pit crew safety.

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Posted by on March 13, 2019. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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