The Car of Tomorrow might produce boring racing, but it saves lives. Does Kyle Busch walk away unscathed after his wreck at Daytona? How about Carl Edwards at Talladega? Thanks to the Car of Tomorrow and other safety advances made both inside and outside the vehicle, Busch and Edwards climbed out of their cars looking as if nothing happened. It was not always this way. It would be unfair to blame the old car for every driver death, but it is fair to say that the Car of Tomorrow is the centerpiece of NASCAR’s new era of safety.
We are sharing the videos that follow so that no one forgets the real dangers of stock car racing or takes the sport’s current safety standards for granted. If you do not want to view these sad, shocking videos, do not click through. Our condolences and respects go out to all of the families, teams and fans who lost a driver on the track. Let us pray it never happens again.
For anyone who doubts that the COT is saving lives, we offer the following video as Exhibit A.
Now watch Exhibit B.
Notice the similarities between the two wall impacts? Both of them were head-on at roughly the same angle and both happened at extremely high speeds. What were the differences? Other than the fact that McDowell walked away and Earnhardt didn’t? Head and neck restraints, the SAFER barrier and the Car of Tomorrow – all mandated by NASCAR to better protect drivers.
Joe Weatherly’s fatal accident at Riverside in 1964: The argument for window nets
As the video explained, Weatherly’s head hit the wall when his car did. Many claim that this is what led to the use of window nets in NASCAR, but nets weren’t actually mandated until Richard Petty’s near-fatal wreck at Darlington in 1970.
Yes, those are Petty’s arms hanging out of the window after the wreck. Window nets became mandatory in 1971.
Terry Schoonover killed at Atlanta 1984
Grant Adcox fatal accident in 1989 at the Atlanta Journal 500
Adcox died of severe head and chest injuries, including a heart attack caused by the crash. A post-accident inspection by NASCAR officials revealed the driver’s seat was improperly mounted, which caused it to tear free upon impact and inflict severe injury on Adcox. As a result, NASCAR set new rules for the way seats were mounted for the 1990 season.
J.D. McDuffie dies at The Glen 1991
McDuffie’s car broke a ball joint at full speed, leaving him with no way to slow the car in turn five. Because there was no gravel trap, McDuffie slammed into the tire barrier with such force that his car launched 90 degrees straight up and landed on its roof. As a result, a “bus-stop chicane” was installed later just before turn five to slow the cars down.
Click here for Part Two of this article.