Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Edwards/Keselowski Crashes and their Applications in the Real World

NASCAR is the most popular sport in America, and is watched by millions of people (in the South and Midwest). Every August, NASCAR travels to the Brickyard (Indianpolis Motor Speedway) for the Brickyard 400, where they pack an estimated 250,000 fans into the bleachers, and approximately 150,000 fans in the pit (area inside the track). And that's just Indianapolis. Daytona, Talledega, and others draw almost as many fans, and even higher tv ratings. If you've watched any NASCAR lately, you're probably wonder just what the rules are? Crashes happen all the time, and we're told that many of them actually occur on purpose. Whether or not this is against the rules remains unclear. Just a couple days ago, Carl Edwards overturned Brad Keseloski during a Sprint Cup race in Atlanta. The footage of the horrific accident can be seen here:

But this was not the first time these two have collided. In fact, this accident was merely payback for a past accident, in which Keselowski uplifted Edwards down the final stretch in Talledega. Footage of this crash can be seen here (fast foreward to :55):

Payback in NASCAR? This sounds highly dangerous to me. What if one of these men had died? Would that be considered manslaughter? Granted, someone could never die in NASCAR because the cars (many of which are made by Toyota) are so safe, right? Imagine if similar rules could be applied to every day driving? Say, for instance, you're driving to work, and a guy in front of you absolutely refuses to do the speed limit. You're trying to be on time, and he's taking his sweet time. What in the world is more frustrating? So what do you do? You drive up behind him and fish tail him into a barricade. When the police ask why such an accident occured, you merely explain that this was payback, which would count as a perfectly viable excuse, and your day would continue as planned.

This scenario, however, does have its problems. For one, the chances of the slow driver actually living through this in a standard vehicle might not be so great, especially if I struck him going upwards of 190 miles an hour (which is how fast Keselowski and Edwards were driving). Obviously, the need for new vehicles is a must. If all cars were as safe as the current stock cars used in NASCAR races, we would have nothing to worry about. Crashes happen in NASCAR, it's part of the game. But crashes happen in real life, too, and they happen all the time. They cause traffic, they cause rubbernecking, and can even cause death. It's part of being on the road. When you are behind the wheel on the highway or on a local road, you assume the risks.

So my question is this: why not enhance these driving risks, but do so in safer vehicles that are used in modern NASCAR races? There are some potentially terrific outcomes that can follow from this. For one, if people know they could be overturned at any minute by some lunatic, chances are they will become safer, faster drivers. Maybe those ladies on their way to PetSmart in their massive SUVs talking on their cell phones with their bratty kids and family dog in the back seat will pay more attention to their surroundings. All they'd need to do was look at the lists of racecar drivers who have died on the track, which if I were to post all the names, there would not be enough room on this entire blog to fit them all. Of the well known American tracks, in short, there have been 56 deaths at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and 24 deaths at the Daytona International Speedway. That's just two racetracks. One crash in France at the famed Le Mans speedway saw the death of driver Pierre Levegh. But Pierre didn't die alone. He took with him approximately 80 spectators as well. I wonder if somebody was getting their payback on him? NASCAR doesn't need new rules, the current roadways in America need new rules, and for it, our overall driving experience will be a better one.


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