Which NASCAR Tracks Are Most Accident Prone?

With Bristol this weekend, thoughts turn naturally to carnage. Short track racing means accidents. Given the greater-than-usual level of aggression among drivers this year, we can expect there to be at least a few collisions.

But does short-track mayhem hold a candle to Daytona and Talladega? Let’s see.

Safety vs. Speed: 2017 Changes to the Chassis

The Evolution of the Stock Car ADDITION: If you are more comfortable with Portuguese, check out this translation by Artur Weber and Adelina Domingos – and thanks to them for being interested enough in my work to do the tough job of translation. While many fans decried the look of…

Can NASCAR Stop Secondary Accidents?

January is named after the Roman God Janus, who is the god of beginning, gates, transitions, time, doorways, passages and endings.  How’s that for a job description? Janus is usually portrayed as having two faces: one looks forward and one looks backward. So I thought January might be a good…

Driving Concussed

Driving Concussed This week brings the return of Jeff Gordon to the track, but under conditions I’m sure all of us wish were otherwise. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is out again (and will be next week) with “concussion-like” symptoms. Concussion, like many medical problems, is a chronic injury — meaning that it can…

Does Grass Pose a Danger to Racecar Drivers?

Now that most tracks have put SAFER barriers on any possible surface, it might seem like racetrack safety is a done deal. That’s not what we’ve heard this week at Daytona, though. Some of the drivers have some strong opinions about grass. “Grass belongs on golf courses. We need asphalt around here…

NASCAR Drivers’ Risky Behavior and the Peltzman Effect

The introduction of automotive safety innovations is usually accompanied by concern about the side-effects of those innovations. For example, when seat belts were introduced, people worried that the belts would keep them from getting out of a car quickly enough if they needed to. When HANS devices first became available,…

Daytona, Catchfences and Flying Cars

Track barriers originally were erected to keep cars separated from spectators. In addition to concrete walls to prevent the cars from driving off track, debris-spewing accidents necessitated fencing to contain airborne objects.

Catchfences should have the same properties as walls, but they can’t block the view. Chain link fence is a good compromise: It’s cheap, plentiful, easy to put up and surprisingly strong given its high visibility.

Chain-link fabric is an elastic metal mesh. It can give in two ways: gentle forces cause the mesh to deform. The diamonds stretch out of shape, but when the force is removed, the fabric springs back to its original shape. The fence can also deform by stretching the wires that make up the mesh. A large-enough force will break the wire entirely.

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