Cars crash at Talladega! Oh, and Brad Keselowski wins

http://www.theage.com.au/ffximage/2008/04/27/svCRASH_wideweb__470x309,0.jpg

With Talladega finished and Brad Keselowski the winner, people have started learning about the big crash, or the key term: “The Big One.” Take notes on that, there’ll be a quiz later. Of greater interest than the winner is of course the fact that a multi-car crash occurred. Jay Hart of Yahoo! Sports writes:

Seven people were injured Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, victims of the spectacular last-lap crash that saw Edwards’ 3,200-pound race car spiraling through the air, then slamming into the catch fence that separated him from fans only a few feet away.

That, not Brad Keselowski winning his first Sprint Cup Series race, is what will be remembered about the Aaron’s 499. Most who were there left the track ecstatic, even if Dale Earnhardt Jr. did wind up second, because they got to see the best race of the season.

But at what cost?

The injuries to the seven fans were said to be only minor, reportedly a broken jaw being the heftiest price paid. But as Edwards said, it’s only a matter of time before the price of admission goes up.

Since the instituting of restrictor plates at Talladega, each year has been one long wait for someone to make a mistake and send tons of shrapnel and drivers flying into the Alabama sun. The idea behind these restrictor plates is, obviously, to restrict the maximum speed available to those on the track. Since no one can maintain a clear mechanical advantage, it’s a race of pure skill, and luck.

I can see the obvious benefits of this: it’s exciting, the media attention is always greater following a big crash, and it makes for great photos. NASCAR has been in some sore need of that attention lately. As gasoline prices have continued to rise and attendance has dropped, things have been getting tighter off the track too.

But what’s the answer here? If the plates were taken off, though crashes might not be quite so large, they could be much more violent for the few involved. The idea behind of the specific speed calibration is to keep cars from sky-rocketing if turned sideways at 220MPH. I would not like to have a 3,200lb car land on me, potentially crushing my beer, pelvis, face, and corn dog.

I suppose I’m not smart enough to revolutionize the sport today. It’s important that these kind of issues remain in the public eye though, because someone in NASCAR needs to start considering a third option not previously discussed here. Someone who’s not busy watching something else.

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