NASCAR is the epitome of racing exhilaration. Visit your local video arcade and littered across every wall is some kind of virtual racing alternative. The experience can be like no other. Especially when you reach the final lap and realize this is your last chance to gain on the car ahead. But on Monday, an event at the Watkins Glen International speedway in New York got ugly during one of the final turns.
David Ragan slammed into a wall near the end of the lap, but his car twisted back into the line of oncoming traffic, plowing directly into David Reutimann, who then flipped end over end across the track. Ragan was able to get out of his car unscathed, but limped to a nearby ambulance. Reutimann was much the same. But it could have been much worse. Especially if you were to witness the accident in full speed.
Local officials were discussing safety upgrades with the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility, a group who created and implemented the Steel and Foam Energy Reduction barrier, also known as SAFER. The track has been criticized by other drivers for lacking this standard and many are now arguing that a SAFER wall would have allowed a far less violent crash. Ragan was asked how he felt about the need for a SAFER barrier at Watkins Glen.
“A SAFER barrier still hurts, but it’s all about how it’s positioned. I think just a little paving, that run-off spot where I hit the grass, I probably sped up from when I got turned to impact where typically in something like that you get a chance to slow down 10-15 percent.” In other words, SAFER or not, the track has issues. Thankfully, this accident only left its victims a little more sore than usual. But every incident is cause to begin looking at future prevention.
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