Last week NASCAR champion Tony Stewart was involved in an accident that claimed the life of Sprint Car driver Kevin Ward Jr. Sprint Car racing is quite a bit different than NASCAR racing. The cars handle differently and a lot of news spectators have jumped to some crazy conclusions without understanding the whole situation (please read this article for a good perspective). We won’t know the entire truth until the investigation is complete and official word has been given.
One thing that is identical in all racing is tempers flaring and drivers looking to prove a point to another driver. This wasn’t the first time a driver has gotten out of his car to confront another driver in any Motorsport, it happens all the time. Now NASCAR has officially made a rule specifically addressing such behavior. The rule basically states that drivers must stay in their cars until safety comes to the scene (exiting the car is OK if smoke or fire is present). It’s always been an unwritten rule that you don’t get on the track in front of or around moving cars. I guess it took the death of Kevin Ward Jr. to push NASCAR (and hopefully other Motorsports) to make this rule official.
“Really, we’re formalizing rules that have been there,” Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice president of competition and racing development, said at Michigan International Speedway. “It’s reminders that take place during drivers meetings with drivers about on-track accidents. We’re just formalizing this and it’s something that we worked on this week.”
“Through time you have to recognize when you get a reminder or tap on the shoulder, something that may need to be addressed,” Pemberton said. “This is one of those times where we look outside our sport and we look at other things, and we feel like it was time to address this.”
Sometimes we learn lessons the hard way, it’s a tragedy that an entire Motorsports culture had to learn it this way.