SBD/Issue 152/Events & Attractions

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  • Fright Night: Fans Treated For Injuries After Wreck At Talladega

    Edwards Crashes Violently Into
    Frontstretch Fence On Final Lap
    Seven fans at yesterday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway were treated for injuries after driver Carl Edwards’ car “crashed violently into the frontstretch fence on the final lap,” according to Mike Bolton of the BIRMINGHAM NEWS. Talladega Medical Dir Bobby Lewis said that the most serious injury was suffered by a female fan who had a “minor laceration of her lip and ‘possibly a broken jaw.’” Another fan suffered “chest pains that occurred during or shortly after she witnessed the incident.” Lewis noted that others had “bumps, bruises and contusions,” and those people were treated and released. Lewis said that it is “unclear if the injuries were caused by pieces of Edwards’ car that fell into the stands, over the catch-fence, or pieces of the catch-fence that were thrown into the stands” (BIRMINGHAM NEWS, 4/27). Fox' Darrell Waltrip said after the crash, “Thank goodness we have the newer, much stronger, safer catch fences” ("Aaron’s 499," Fox, 4/26). NBC’s Matt Lauer: “You think the person who engineered that fence did a pretty good job. That’s amazing that it can hold off a flying race car” ("Today," NBC, 4/27). NASCAR VP/Communications Jim Hunter said after the incident, “If there was something we could do today to make it safer, it would be done” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/27).

    CALL FOR CHANGES: In Charlotte, David Poole writes, “Anybody who glorifies what happened at the finish of Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 is an idiot.” If anybody with NASCAR, Talladega or anybody else “tries to ‘market’ this in any way in trying to sell tickets for future races here or anywhere else should be arrested and charged with a criminal offense.” What happened “is not sport. It’s madness" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/27). Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. said that fans, media and NASCAR “share responsibility in the type of racing that has come to characterize Daytona and Talladega.” Earnhardt: “We have had wrecks like this every time we come to Talladega ever since the (restrictor) plate got here, and for years it was celebrated. The media celebrated it, the networks celebrated it -- calling it ‘The Big One’ -- just trying to attract attention and trying to bring people’s attention to the race. There’s a responsibility with the media and the networks and the sanctioning body itself to come to their senses a little bit and think about the situation” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/27). Edwards said, “I guess we’ll do this until someone gets killed and then we’ll change it. That’s the way it is. We do our best, we’re put in this box by NASCAR and we have to race this way” (Mult., 4/27).

    Talladega Wreck Should Remind NASCAR
    Of Importance Of Driver Safety
    SAFETY FIRST: In Virginia, Dustin Long writes, “If nothing else, the incidents this weekend should remind NASCAR officials, competitors, teams and everyone that safety should remain at the forefront” (Norfolk VIRGINIAN-PILOT, 4/27). CBSSPORTS.com’s Pete Pistone wrote there “has to be limits and the current formula used at Talladega and its sister track Daytona crosses the line.” The “only way to change it is to redesign the racetrack.” Pistone: “Forget the economy, lagging ticket sales or sponsorships ending. The biggest problem facing the sport is to figure out a way to keep drivers and fans safe at the longest oval track on the schedule” (CBSSPORTS.com, 4/26). FOXSPORTS.com’s Lee Spencer wrote the “easiest solution for NASCAR would be to change the cars. Reconfiguring the racetrack is out of the question” (FOXSPORTS.com, 4/26).

    ATTENDANCE GAP: In Alabama, Josh Moon writes while the “on-track action was typical Talladega, the attendance wasn’t.” There were “large gaps of empty seats throughout the grandstands along the front stretch on Sunday and parking areas outside the track with an unusually high number of spaces available.” Traffic outside the track, “normally bumper-to-bumper and crawling two hours before a race, was virtually non-existent.” With a “tough economy wreaking havoc on other races on the circuit, Talladega officials obviously expected a light turnout” because they “began offering ticket deals a few months ago, including reducing some ticket prices by 40[%]” (MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER, 4/27).

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