Despite fans' objections, NASCAR must make Talladega safer
I don't have much to add to all the elegant and moving tributes to
My tribute to Poole will be to highlight one of the last things he ever wrote -- a column for
To me, this is the crux of NASCAR's problem. So far, nobody is saying anything about changing anything. The 99 car's roof flaps, we are told, were working properly, and would have kept
That, of course, is true. It's also true that the new, safer car protected Edwards so well that he was able to walk (run, actually) away from his car. And the improved catch fence at Talladega did what it was supposed to do, as well, bending but not breaking upon impact. So let's give credit where it's due. NASCAR has made a whole host of safety improvements in the last 25 years, and every one of them did what it was supposed to last Sunday. And because of that, a very scary situation did not end in fatality.
But Poole is right. The only reason nobody's talking about changing anything right now is because nobody died because of the wreck. A broken jaw seems to be an acceptable price to pay. But what if it had been a broken neck? A severed limb? If someone had died, there would be no arguing right now about whether things should be changed -- change at that point would be a forgone conclusion. No less an authority on the situation than Edwards said afterwards, "We'll race like this until we kill somebody. Then NASCAR will change it."
Well, why do we have to wait for the worst-case scenario to come true? Clearly we now know that even with all of the safety innovations in the last generation, a horrific accident is still a possibility in NASCAR. It's still possible that a car -- or parts of one -- will fly into the stands and kill somebody, especially at a track like Talladega, which is longer and more banked than even Daytona. The track seems too dangerous to be hosting Cup races, especially with restrictor plates keeping the field tightly bunched together.
Remember, it was Talladega where
Much has been written about the yellow-line rule, which forbids a driver from going too low on the track to pass.
The only option, to me, at least, seems to be some restructuring of the track, either by flattening out the banking in at least one of the turns (from 33 degrees to zero, preferably-make it like Indy), or by shortening the straightaways. Whatever, Talladega needs to slow things down.
Unfortunately, this isn't likely to happen. Talladega is an enormously popular track precisely because it is fast and dangerous. Don't believe me? Just check out the fan video of Edwards' wreck below. Those fans are in the eye of the storm, and they
NASCAR can't count on its fans to be the responsible ones in this case. The sport of racing, which former Lowe's Motor Speedway chairman
A fan's perspective on the crash at Talladega last weekend (from the folks at