The crossover gates at the Daytona International Speedway and the Talladega Super Speedway are being strengthened with additional cables and tethers are being installed between the gate frames and posts all with safety of fans in mind, according to an update provided by Daytona, Talladega and NASCAR executives today. And the changes will be in place prior to upcoming events at each track.
These initiatives and other considerations were discussed in a teleconference today, coming in the aftermath of the scary accident at the end of last lap of the Nationwide Series race at the Daytona International Speedway during Speed Weeks in February. Participating in the teleconference were DIS president Joie Chitwood, Talladega chairman Grand Lynch and NASCAR senior vice president Steve O’Donnell.
They discussed the steps that have been taken during the extensive post-accident review, including NASCAR’s analysis of the data and the reports provided by two structural engineering firms. These two companies were said to have over 175 years of structural engineering know-how.
“We’re pleased with the solution that’s we’re implementing for Talladega and Daytona, but fan safety is an ongoing process, and we’ll continue to look at the fan experience across all our venues for future improvements as we continue through,” Chitwood said.
“Spectator safety is and will continue to be the number one priority at all NASCAR events, and NASCAR and the tracks where we race want to ensure that fans always have a safe and enjoyable experience,” O’Donnell state, underscoring these points and pointing out NASCAR’s efforts in this regard.
The reviews of the crash and of the car that went headlong into the fence continue. The No. 32 car driven by Kyle Larson is being analyzed by NASCAR’s Research and Development Center, to include data recorder files, videos, and photos and other related data. Specifics about the numbers, to include the speed and angle of the car were not provided.
The changes addressed today are considered to be phase 1 of a continuing process intended to improve safety, keeping in mind the near-term dates of races at Talladega and Daytona.
Some have suggested alternatives to catch fencing and cables, and while the track officials are open to new and improved safety features, none are seen as near-term.
No seats have been removed at Daytona with the redundant cables and tethers seen as significant steps in the safety initiatives.
The principals pledged the review and enhancement process is ongoing and as changes are made, they will be shared with the media and fans.